The Hohenzollern Empire 5: Renewed Phoenix - A Roman Reich Megacampaign in New World Order

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

zenphoenix

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Disunion, Part 1

SMS Arcturus, Arctic Circle, 67 miles north of Greenland, cruising depth 1000 feet – February 7, 1995

The submarine captain ran down the hallway, saluting officers as he passed them. He reached a ladder and climbed up to the control room, where he moved over to his radar officer.

“What have you got?” the captain said.

I'm not quite sure, sir,” the radar operator said, “We picked up some paint approximately two minutes ago.”

The captain looked at the radar screen. “Looks like the damn thing's just hanging there.”

“Yes, sir,” the operator said, “It's approximately two-hundred meters below the ice. Looks to be about eighty meters across and it's noisy.”

“Noisy, how?” the captain asked.

“It's emitting radio signals across the spectrum, but it's, it's just random noise, sir,” the operator said, “We can't detect any pattern.”

“Get me Atlantic Command on the satellite uplink,” the captain ordered.

“Yes sir,” the operator said, adjusting some controls.

The captain picked up a phone. “Yes, admiral. I don't know what we found but it appears to be some kind of craft. … Yes, sir, that's correct. … But we're on a cartography mission, admiral. My crew isn't prepared to... Shouldn’t this be the KL's and Heidelberg’s job? … Yes, sir. … Understood, sir.”

He hung up and walked to the control panel.

“Set a course heading 0-4-7,” he ordered.

The navigator started flipping switches. The captain walked back to the radar operator.

“Toward the object, sir?” the operator asked.

The captain picked up the phone. “Weapons room, lock torpedoes on target. Prepare to fire on my command.”

“Captain, shouldn't we at least attempt to identify this object first?” the operator said.

“We have our orders, Lieutenant,” the captain said.

“But, sir...” the operator said.

A loud ringing noise pierced the air. The officers covered their ears, and the ship rumbled. Crewmen screamed as consoles exploded. And then the ringing stopped. The lights went out, and red warning lights went on.

“Everything's down, negative!” the navigator said.

“Reactor's gone down,” the captain said.

He picked up the phone. “Engine room?”

“That won't work, captain,” the operator said, “We've only got battery power.”

The captain hung up. “I'm going down there. Prepare to surface at once!”

“Surface into what?” the operator said. “We're under thirty-two feet of glacial ice.”

“Oh, scheiße,” the captain said.


Vacation Village Motorlodge, Kynigos – 7:41 PM

“Angie?” Anders said. “You there? Was that swearing? What’s happening? Find something on Sentinel?”

She slowly turned around and looked at “Anders.” He mouthed the words "who is it?"

“No, sorry,” Angela said, hanging up.

“Who was that?” Anders said.

“It's a wrong number,” Angela said, “Where have you been, Anders? I've been trying to get a hold of you.”

“I, I was trying to reach you,” Anders said, “I went by your house but you weren't there. I got here as quickly as I could.”

“Why didn't you call when you got my message?” Angela said.

“I, I, I did call. I, I couldn't get through,” Anders said.

Angela drew her gun and aimed at Anders. “Put your hands against the wall!”

“Angela, what’s going on?” Anders said.

“I said put your hands against the wall!” Angela shouted.

“What's wrong?” Anders said.

“Do it!” Angela said.

“Angela, it’s me,” Anders said, turning around and putting his hands on the wall.

“I don't know who you are,” Angela said.

The real Anders would’ve called her ‘Angie’.

“Okay, I'm going to take my left hand and reach into my pocket and get my I.D., okay?” Anders said. “Just don't shoot me. I got shot once and I didn't much care for it.”

“I said keep your hands up!” Angela shouted.

Anders spun around and backhanded her with his left hand. He then punched her with his right, sending her flying into a nearby wall. She felt blood trickling from her nose. She looked up and saw “Anders” morph into the default form of the bounty hunter.

“Yep, definitely not him,” Angela said.

“Where is he?” the bounty hunter demanded.

Angela reached for her gun and fired twice, hitting the bounty hunter in the left hand. What looked like machinery and more of the green liquid was blasted off by her shots, though no gas was released. She realized this thing, whatever it was, was made of the same thing as the clones and the vats were. It was hunting them down. It killed Bernhard Weiss. It had impersonated Ambrose Kirchner so she could lead it to the clones.

She tried firing again, but the gun jammed. The bounty hunter grabbed her by the throat and slammed her against the wall.

“That was him on the phone, wasn't it?” the bounty hunter said. “Tell me where he is.”

“I don't know what you're talking about, discount Eliminator,” Angela said, “And for a discount Eliminator you’re doing a horrible job.”

He slammed her against a glass table.


8:00 PM

Anders knocked on the door. “Angie?”

He got no response. Annie sighed and pushed him aside.

“Allow me,” she said.

She punched straight through the door and grabbed the doorknob on the other side, unlocking it. They walked inside and found the lights off. The room was in shambles. Anders tried flicking the light switch, but it didn’t work.

“Angie?” Anders said.

“It’s been here,” Annie said.

“Frak, not again,” Anders said.

She picked up a lamp and turned it on, looking down at the broken glass table. She then picked up Angela’s Walkman.

“Angie’s still alive,” she said.

“How do you know?” Anders said.

“He took her to get me,” Annie said.

“There's no sign of a break-in,” Anders said, “She wouldn't have just let him in.”

“It may have impersonated you,” Annie said.

“True,” Anders said, “Here we go again.”

“Again?” Annie said.

“Angie was abducted a few months ago,” Anders said, “I’ll explain later.”

They walked back to the car.

“It’s going to contact you,” Annie said, “It’s going to say it wants to make a trade, Angie’s life for mine.”

“Why, why does he want to kill you?” Anders said.

“Because I know how to kill it,” Annie said.

“How?” Anders said.

“By piercing the base of its skull,” Annie said.

“But that would kill anybody,” Anders said.

“Yes, but this is the only way to kill it and it must be precise,” Annie said, “I'm fairly sure it'll work.”

“Fairly sure?” Anders said.

“He's got upgrades I've never seen before,” Annie said, “If it doesn't work, there's a chance you could die.”

“From what?” Anders said.

“The blood utilized in its systems is toxic, and human exposure to it is fatal,” Annie said.

Anders looked away, trying to catch up with his sister.

“I know this must seem incredible to you...” Annie said.

“No, no, no, no, no... that's just it,” Anders said, “It doesn't seem incredible at all. Now, how do we find him so we can kill him?”

“We don't,” Annie said, “It'll find us.”

“Well, isn’t that just great,” Anders said.


Anders’ apartment – 9:38 PM

Anders paced around his room as Annie sat on the couch, changing channels every few seconds.

“I don’t remember there being this much Star Trek on TV,” Annie said.

“Well, there is now,” Anders said, “Too bad Doctor Who’s gone. Though The Berserker and Twin Peaks are still going strong, last I checked. When’s he going to show up?”

“It'll call,” Annie said.

“You're sure?” Anders said. “It’s not going to just kick down my door and kill us in a minute, while wearing Walter’s face for good measure?”

“I know what it wants,” Annie said.

“And if he doesn't get it?” Anders said.

“I know this is hard for you, Anders...” Annie said.

“No, it's not hard,” Anders said, “It's unbelievable.”

“You don't believe me,” Annie said.

“After 22 years, two decades of hardship for all of us, why come back?” Anders said.

“I've explained to you...” Anders said.

“No, no, Annie, you've explained only what you had to!” Anders said. “I know next to nothing about these people you call your parents or about the man, or the machine, or the thing who wants to kill them.”

Annie stood up. “The men you've been seeking are the creations of two original visitors, aliens who have been attempting to establish a community on our planet since the 1940's and Agadir.”

“A community?” Anders said. “Or a colony?”

“Loosely,” Annie said, “The community, by necessity, is dispersed. There are clones identical to my parents living in virtually every part of the Reich and its neighbors. The clones are not truly alien like their creators, but they have been modified to blend into our society and conduct their research without being noticed.”

“What are they trying to accomplish?” Anders said.

“It's their belief our stewardship of the planet is being forsaken, and that by default, they'll someday become the natural heirs,” Annie said.

“And in the meantime?” Anders said.

“Through hybridization, they've been working to erase that aspect which has forced the community to scatter...” Annie said. “Their identical natures.”

“The clones all worked in abortion clinics, why?” Anders said.

“Access to fetal tissue,” Annie said, “Though the physiologies are incompatible, they finally found a way to combine human DNA with alien DNA.”

“And this bounty hunter...” Anders said. “Why has he been sent to kill them?”

“The experiments weren't sanctioned,” Annie said, “It was considered a dilution of their species, a pollution of their people. So the bounty hunter was dispatched to destroy them and terminate the colony.”

“That's a good story, but I've heard a lot of good stories lately,” Anders said.

“I've got no reason to lie to you,” Annie said, “I'm your sister, Anders, you have to trust me.”

Someone knocked on the door. Anders picked up his gun and walked to the door.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“It’s Uncle Erich,” Erich said.

Anders looked at Annie, who turned off the TV and ran to the side.

“Anders?” Erich asked.

“The door’s unlocked,” Anders said.

Erich opened the door and walked into the dark apartment. He walked in and looked at Anders, who sat on the couch.

“Make yourself at home,” Anders said.

Annie took out a sharp knife from a kitchen drawer.

“What's going on here, Anders?” Erich asked. “Why are the lights out?”

“A fuse blew,” Anders said.

“I heard the TV on,” Erich said.

“Just happened a few seconds ago,” Anders said.

Annie snuck up behind him, knife raised.

“I've been trying to reach you and Angie,” Erich said.

“I haven't checked my messages, Uncle,” Anders said, “And I can’t because my answering machine’s disabled by the blackout.”

“Are you aware that Angie incarcerated four men with Agent Kazdan’s office?” Erich said. “And those men are now dead?”

Annie turned on the lights. Erich spun around. Anders stood up and pointed his gun at Erich.

“It's alright, it's not it,” Annie said.

Anders sighed and put down his gun.

“What the hell is going on here, Anders?” Erich demanded.

Anders pointed at Annie, who waved.

“Hi Uncle Erich,” she said.

“Annie?” Erich said. “That you?”

“Long story,” Anders said, “Didn’t Aunt Magda fill you in?”

“Sharon’s still in Mainz,” Erich said.

“I don’t have time to explain, but Angie’s missing,” Anders said.

“Again?!” Erich said.

The phone rang. Anders immediately picked it up.

“Hello?” he said.

“It’s me, Angie,” Angela said.

Anders looked up in shock and signaled to Annie, who picked up another receiver. “Angie, where are you?”

“I don't know, I'm... I'm in a telephone booth,” Angela said, “He's got my gun, Anders. He says he's going to kill me if you don't give him what he wants.”

Erich cursed. “Not again…”

“Well, what does he want?” Anders said.

“He wants Annie,” Angela said.

“Alright, tell him we'll negotiate,” Anders said.

“He doesn't want to negotiate,” Angela said, “He says he wants to make a trade.”

“Let me speak to him,” Anders said.

“He wants you to be at the East-West Bridge over the Bosphorus in one hour,” Angela said, “The same one where Grandpa died.”

“Angie, I need time, I need more time than that,” Anders said.

The bounty hunter hung up. Anders slammed down his phone angrily.

“Where’s Angie?” Erich said. “What's this about a negotiation? Is she in danger?”

“We don't, we don't have any time, Uncle Erich,” Anders said, “If I ever needed your help, your trust, I need it now.”

Erich rolled his eyes. “Here we go again…”


East-West Bridge, Bosphorus Strait, Constantinople – 10:36 PM

Anders didn’t want to be back on this bridge. It was the place where they killed Uncle Hans, during another exchange. He cursed his luck as he drove onto the bridge with Annie. He told himself nobody would die today, unlike last time. But he had his doubts, of course, even with Erich and a sniper hiding in the bushes nearby.

“Anders, move into position,” Erich said over Anders’ earpiece, “We need to expose him.”

“Got it,” Anders said.

He stopped near the middle and waited.

“We just need to get him out of the car,” Anders said, “Make him think we're going to make a trade for Angie. We just need one shot to the base of the neck.”

“You sure you can get the shot on the first try?” Annie said.

“Uncle Erich’s known Sergeant Makarios since the war,” Anders said, “Called in a favor from the senator. Hermann can hollow out a one mark coin at two hundred yards.”

A car pulled up in front of them.

“Also, Annie, don’t take any unnecessary risks out there,” Anders said.

“Of course,” Annie said, “I always beat you at Stratego.”

They got out of the car and walked towards the other car. The bounty hunter stepped out, grabbing Angela by her arm, holding a gun to her head.

“Angie?” Anders said.

Angela noticed Annie. “Annie?”

“Hi Angie,” she said, “Everything’s going to be fine.”

She started walking towards the bounty hunter.

“Sergeant, take your shot when you got it,” Erich said, over Anders’ earpiece.

As Annie approached, she locked eyes with Angela, and the bounty hunter relaxed his grip. He then pushed away Angela and grabbed Annie. Angela ran over to Anders.

“Angie, you okay?” Anders said.

“Yeah,” Angela said, wiping away blood from her mouth, “Is that—”

“Long story,” Anders said.

The bounty hunter put his gun away as Angela got into Anders’ car. It slowly walked back towards its car, moving behind a column.

“Frak, I lost the shot,” Hermann said.

Annie looked back at Anders and mouthed the word “sorry.” Then she spun around and lunged at the bounty hunter with the kitchen knife, slashing him on the neck. The bounty hunter knocked the knife out of her hand and grabbed her again. Anders aimed his gun.

“There's no way out!” he shouted. “We've got both sides of the bridge covered. Now let her go.”

He slowly walked towards the bounty hunter, who backed off.

“Tell me where she is!” the bounty hunter demanded.

“I don’t know who you're talking about, so let her go!” Anders shouted.

The bounty hunter slowly moved past the column and back into Hermann’s sights. Hermann pulled the trigger, and a shot rang out, hitting the bounty hunter in the neck. The bounty hunter staggered and fell over the side of the bridge, taking Annie with him. They plummeted into the dark waters of the Bosphorus. Anders ran over to the railing.

“Annie!” he shouted. “Annie!”
 

TheAnguishedOne

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Oh, Anders is getting the monkey paw treatment, isn't he? "You want your sister back? Sure, you didn't say she had to stay alive long."
 

zenphoenix

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Oh, Anders is getting the monkey paw treatment, isn't he? "You want your sister back? Sure, you didn't say she had to stay alive long."
Anders just can't get a break, can he?:rolleyes:
 

zenphoenix

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Disunion, Part 2

East-West Bridge, Constantinople – February 8, 1995, 8:00 AM

Anders watched two scuba divers jump off a boat and into the Bosphorus. A car pulled off next to him, and Angela got out.

“You should be in the hospital, Angie,” Anders said.

“I was discharged an hour ago, and I asked to come here,” Angela said, “Have they found anything yet?”

“Nothing yet,” Anders said, “You think she could've survived?”

“Maybe... but the water's thirty-six degrees, and it’s the Aegean,” Angela said.

“Well, maybe she went into hypothermic shock,” Anders said, “I've heard about people who have lived after being stranded in water like this... eight to ten hours.”

“Are you sure it's Annie?” Angela said.

Anders looked at her. “Why would you even question me on that?”

“Because back at the motel, Anders, it was you but, but it wasn't you,” Angela said.

“Well, it was her,” Anders said, walking away.

Angela followed him. “Well, then who is this man and what does he...”

“It's an alien,” Anders said, “Oh, and you should have this.”

He handed Angela her Walkman and got into his car.

“Is that what you're going to tell Dad?” Angela said.

“I already told Uncle Erich, that was the easy part,” Anders said, “Now I got to tell your mom and Grandpa.”

He drove off.


Anders’ apartment – 8:30 AM

Anders opened the door and found Conrad inside, sitting on the couch. He was watching an old black-and-white movie. Anders closed the door, and Conrad got up and turned around.

“You didn't have me come all this way to give me good news, did you?” Conrad said.

Anders turned away.

“What is it, Anders?” Conrad asked.

“Annie’s gone, Grandpa,” Anders said, “I lost her.”

Conrad walked towards him. “What do you mean, you lost her?”

“There was a man... he was holding Angie hostage in exchange for Annie,” Anders said.

“You let this man take Annie,” Conrad said, “Isn't that what you're trying to tell me?”

Anders turned away. “I, I can't explain it to you, but, um, I... I really believed I was doing the right thing, Grandpa.”

“Was this your decision?” Conrad said.

“Yes. I'll tell Mom,” Anders, “Uncle Erich will tell Aunt Magda.”

“Do you realize what losing her again is going to do to your mother?” Conrad said.

They looked at each other. Anders tried holding back his tears, but he couldn’t.

“Do you?” Conrad repeated.

Anders opened his mouth, but no words came out. His eyes wandered to the floor, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“I'm sorry, Grandpa,” Anders said, “I'm sorry. I'm... I'm sorry.”

Conrad headed for the door. He took out an envelope.

“Annie left this at the house for you,” he said.

He put it on a table and left, closing the door behind him. Anders picked up the envelope and looked inside, finding a letter and keycard to a clinic that said 4A.

"If anything should happen to me or if we become separated, you must meet me here: 1235 Vrachosstrasse, Therapia, Constantinople."


Women’s Health Services Clinic, Therapia, Constantinople – 9:15 AM

Anders drove up in his car. As he got out and walked up to the clinic, the phone rang. He took it out and answered it.

“Humboldt,” he said.

“Anders, where are you?” Angela said.

“Angie, she left a path in case we got separated,” Anders said, “I think she's alive.”

“Anders, I think you should come back as soon as you can,” Angela said.

“Why?” Anders said. “What'd you find?”

“It's Annie,” Angela said, “We just pulled her body out of the river.”

Anders put down his phone. He stared into the distance, overwhelmed with shock and grief.

“I’m sorry, Anders,” Angela said.

“Are you sure?” Anders said.

“It may have been 22 years, but I still recognize Annie,” Angela said, sighing, “ You know... whatever you're feeling, you can't blame yourself.”

Anders sighed. “What about a second body? Did you find a second body?”

“No, not yet,” Angela said.

“I'll be there as soon as I can,” Anders said.

He walked back down the stairs.


East-West Bridge – 9:20 AM

Louise Kazdan appeared from behind the Athanatoi ambulance and approached Angela.

“Agent Hansen?” Louise said. “There's something you need to see.”

“What is it?” Angela said.

“It's the body we pulled from the water,” Louise said, “Something strange is happening.”

They walked to the back of the ambulance. Angela swung open the doors to see Annie’s body dissolving into the green substance.

“I hope you can explain to Anders how his sister just dissolved into a pile of goo,” Louise said.

“Looks like I’m not going to be eating breakfast today,” Angela said.


Women’s Health Services Clinic, Therapia, Constantinople – 9:25 AM

Anders stood on the stairs, thinking. Angela just told him Annie was dead, but there was probably a reason Annie left that letter. It must’ve been something important. Did she predict her death? And what did it have to do with yet another abortion clinic?

Deciding the bridge and Angela could wait, Anders turned around and ran the keycard through the sensor. The door beeped and clicked open, and he walked in. He looked around the room, which was full of boxes, and heard a beeping in the distance. He drew his gun and walked towards the beeping, arriving at a stairwell. He heard a noise downstairs and descended, walking into a room where a person stood at a desk. He pointed his gun.

“Imperial agent,” he said, “Put your hands where I can see them and turn around. Slowly.”

The person turned around.

“Who are you?” Anders asked.

The person took off her goggles and doctor’s mask, revealing it was also Annie.

Annie?!” Anders said, lowering his gun.

“She's dead, isn't she?” Annie said.

“What the hell is going on?” Anders said.

“Come, please,” Annie said, opening a door, “There's not much time.”

“Who are you?” Anders said.

Annie rolled her eyes. “You idiot.”

Andres tentatively walked into the next room and saw another Annie standing at a computer. Green vats sat around the room, with wires and cables attached to them.

“It was all a lie,” Anders said, “I should’ve seen this coming.”

“We needed your help,” the first Annie said, “We knew you could be manipulated.”

“Manipulated, really?” Anders said.

“It'll be coming,” the second Annie said, “We must hurry now.”

“Who?” Anders asked.

Another Annie clone walked up behind him, this one in a lab coat.

“This is getting out of hand!” Anders said.

“The bounty hunter who's been sent to kill us,” she said.

“He's dead,” Anders said.

“How do you know?” the first Annie said.

“He was shot and stabbed in the back of the neck!” Anders said.

“How did he die?” the second Annie said.

“He fell off a bridge... with one of you,” Anders said.

“Then we don't know for sure,” the third Annie said, “You could have been followed. Come with me, er, us.”

They walked down a hallway to a door, which the third Annie unlocked with her keycard. A fourth Annie stepped out.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Anders said.

“The rest, including me, are disposable,” the third Annie said, “She was the first clone. The one from which we all came. The one you must save.”

“You’re all alien clones,” Anders said, “I'm not your savior.”

“You must help us,” the fourth Annie said, “You have no choice.”

“No, I... I do have a choice, and my choice is to walk out of here and drink myself to sleep,” Anders said, “I don’t think I got a lot of sleep last night.”

“We know where your sister is,” the fourth Annie said, “The real one.”

“The real Annie?” Anders said.

“Ask yourself, Anders, how else would we know so much about her?” the fourth Annie said.

A fire alarm went off.

“He's here,” the third Annie said.

“Of course discount Eliminator shows up right when I’m promised answers,” Anders said.

The third Annie turned to the other Annie clones. “Evacuate, now!”

They ran past him, some of them now armed with guns and knives. Anders walked in the opposite direction, gun in hand, reaching a hallway filled with smoke. He coughed into his elbow as he reached for a door. When he turned to go through it, the bounty hunter kicked it open and punched him in the face.

“Oh come on!” he said as he went down. "Not again!"

He didn’t know how long he was out, but the next thing he remembered was a firefighter helping him up.

“I found one!” he shouted.

Anders coughed again.

“Sir, we're going to get you out of here,” the firefighter said.

“What about the others?” Anders said.

“We got real lucky,” the firefighter said, “There are no others.”

“Any green substance?” Anders said.

“What are you talking about, green substance?” the firefighter said. “Must be the smoke playing tricks on you.”
 

TheAnguishedOne

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A part of me is worried that this is all just in Anders' head, unable to accept that Annie died after finally finding her.
 

zenphoenix

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A part of me is worried that this is all just in Anders' head, unable to accept that Annie died after finally finding her.
Yeah, but why would Anders' mind create a hallucination of several Annie clones only to kill them all five minutes later?;)
 

zenphoenix

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Disunion, Part 3

Imperial Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases – February 12, 1995, 11:30 AM

After being treated for smoke inhalation, Agent Humboldt was released from St. Eudokimos Hospital in satisfactory condition. At his request, the abortion clinic where he was found has been searched repeatedly, but the bodies of the women he insists were there were not found, nor were any traces of green substance like the body found in the Bosphorus dissolved into recovered; it is possible they may have escaped. My report on this case remains incomplete. Many aspects continue to defy explanation including the identities of the identical men and women. Agent Humboldt's claim of alien origins cannot be substantiated, but neither can it be concisely refuted. The man suspected in their disappearances is still at large and has now been charged with the death of Athanatoi Special Agent Bernhard Weiss, whose body has been quarantined at the Imperial Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases before its release to Weiss’ family. Weiss' cause of death involved a thickening of the blood. It is now believed that he was subjected to a toxic chemical whose origin and behavior are also unexplainable. It is my hope that further analysis of this contagion will aid in the solution of this case…

Angela paused her Walkman and watched Bernhard’s body, previously autopsied, lie in the containment chamber, as a man in a hazmat suit picked a scalpel off a tray. She then looked through a microscope at a sample of Bernhard’s blood, where she saw several long blue entities. Dr. Adam Gardner leaned back in his chair as Angela sat up.

“This is a virus?” Angela asked.

“Sort of, but none of us here have ever seen anything like it,” Adam said, “We had a hard time trying to classify it. Calling it a virus is just a close approximation. I’d prefer chemical, which fits about as well, but this is clearly biological, yet seems to be mechanical as well. Do you recognize it?”

“Was the thickening of Agent Weiss' blood an immunological response to this chemical?” Angela asked.

Adam pointed to a nearby computer screen. “Apparently. When the body's exposed to it, it triggers a massive production of red blood cells. Now, take a look at this.”

He clicked, and a picture came up on the screen of the blood with fewer of the blue entities in it.

“We took a second culture and were able to control its growth,” Adam said.

“What did you do to it?” Angela said.

“All we did was lower the temperature by five degrees,” Adam said.

“So the chemical is inhibited by cold,” Angela said.

“Knocked out by it,” Adam said, “For some reason, this chemical is neutralized at cold temperatures.”

“We pulled a body from the Bosphorus yesterday that was chilled near freezing,” Angela said, “When it started to thaw, it began to dissolve.”

“Dissolve?” Adam said.

“If you find out anything else, you let me know as soon as possible,” Angela said, walking out.


Adenauer Center, Constantinople – 9:00 PM

X, wearing a tuxedo, appeared from around the corner of the building and approached Anders.

“You wanted to see me?” he said.

“How was the opera?” Anders said. “I heard they got the perfect cast for Persepolis this year.”

“Wonderful, I've never slept better,” X said, “You know I don't like these hasty public meetings, Agent Humboldt.”

“I’m sorry,” Anders said, “I need your help.”

“It's over,” X said, “The fat lady is singing.”

“I need to know what you know,” Anders said.

“Okay, we don’t know,” X said, “They could be dead, or not. But whatever happened, you will not be able to contact them.”

“And the bounty hunter?” Anders said.

“He thinks they’re dead,” X said, “His mission is completed.”

“Then where’s he going?” Anders said.

“A nuclear submarine, SMS Arcturus, located his craft north of Iceland five days ago,” X said, They were ordered to destroy it but they were disabled. A Kaiserliche Marine attack fleet left port from Glasgow this morning to make sure this man does not leave.”

“I got to get up there,” Anders said.

“You'll only win the war if you pick the right battles, Agent Humboldt,” X said, “And this is a battle you can't win.”

X walked away.


Anders’ apartment – February 13, 1995, 9:30 AM

“Anders, are you there?” Angela said, knocking on the door. “It’s Angie.”

She looked down and saw two newspapers stacked. She kicked one, revealing a key inside. She unlocked the door and went inside, where she turned on Anders’ computer. The window had been taped over with an “X.” The computer beeped, and she saw a small box that read:

"Message Notice E-mail message waiting Humboldt, 000517"

She double-clicked it, and it expanded to an e-mail to her with the heading:

"MAIL-238479 TO: Angela Hansen, 001813 FROM: Anders Humboldt, 000517"

Angie,

I have lived with a fragile faith built on the ether of vague memories from an experience that I can neither prove nor explain. When I was twelve, Annie was taken from me, taken from our home by a force that I came to believe was extraterrestrial. This belief sustained me, fueling a quest for truths that were as elusive as the memory itself. To believe as passionately as I did was not without sacrifice, but I always accepted the risks... to my career, my reputation, my relationships... to life itself... Angie, anything that happens to me out there justifies every belief. If I should die, it would be with the certainty that my faith has been righteous. And if, through death, larger mysteries are revealed, I will have already learned the answer to the question that has driven me here... that there is intelligent life in the universe other than our own... that they are here among us... and that they have begun to colonize.

Angie, when you get this message, I will be too far away for you to stop me, but where I'm going I cannot allow you to follow. I won't let you jeopardize your life and your career for reasons purely personal to me. You were right, Angie... you said a line has to be drawn somewhere. I'm drawing it for you here. I'll contact you when I can.

Anders

“God damn it Anders, not again,” she muttered.


Erich’s office – 10:00 AM

Angela suddenly barged into Erich’s office. The Assistant Director looked up from the report he was writing.

“Dad?” she asked. “I'm sorry to come unannounced, but your assistant wasn't at her desk.”

Erich stood up. “What is it, Angie?”

“May we speak off the record, Dad?” Angela said.

“About?” Erich said.

“Anders,” Angela said, “He’s gone.”

Erich shut the door. “Where?”

“I don't know, I was hoping that you could tell me or help me to find out,” Angela said.

“When I spoke to Anders the day before yesterday, he said he was going to take some time off,” Erich said, “I understand why, from what your mother tells me.”

“He told me the same thing but I don't think this matter with Annie is settled,” Angela said, “Dad, is there any way that you can reach him through unofficial channels?”

“Angie, I can’t help you,” Erich said, turning back to his desk.

“Please?” Angela said.

Erich looked back at her. “Angie, you and I both have a greater responsibility to consider and that is to the Athanatoi. Anders' actions in this case are in violation of his duties, his oath of trust and bureau protocol. He's risked my position, your life.”

“Anders saved my life!” Angela said.

“If Anders wanted or expected you to do the same, he would have told you where he was going,” Erich said, “I would’ve.”

Angela sighed and left.


Anders’ apartment – 6:00 PM

Angela turned on Anders' desk light and shone it through the window on the "X." She snuggled up on the couch and put on her headphones. The relaxing tunes from her Walkman slowly lulled her to sleep. A knock on her door woke her up a while later. She opened the door and found X standing there. X looked surprised to see her.

“Where is Anders?” she asked.

“Sorry, I must have the wrong apartment,” X said, walking away.

Angela walked after him. “Where's my cousin? I need to know, damn it!”

“I'm sorry, you've mistaken me for someone else,” X said.

“I'm losing time!” Angela said.

X got into an elevator. “I'm sorry. I can't help you.”

The door closed. X let out a deep breath and looked down at the floor. The elevator stopped, and the door opened. X went to leave, but he found Erich standing in his way.

“Excuse me,” he said.

“Did you tell my daughter what she needed to know?” Erich demanded.

X stared at him for a few seconds. Then he reached for his gun. Erich grabbed him by his trench coat and slammed him against the wall of the elevator.

“How hard do you want to make this?” he said.

“No harder than it has to be,” X said.

X headbutted Erich and punched him with his right hand, knocking him back. X reached for his gun again, but Erich punched him in the gut. Erich then headbutted him and pushed him towards the corner. He grabbed X by his trench coat again, but before he could deliver another punch, X pointed his gun in Erich’s face.

“I've killed men for far less,” X said, “And that’s not even talking about my associates.”

“You pull that trigger, you'll be killing two men,” Erich said, “Now I want to know where Anders is. You owe Angie that.”

Back upstairs, Angela heard a knock on the door. She opened it and found Erich standing there, blood running down the side of his face. His nose and lips were bloody.

“Dad?” Angela said. “What are you doing here?”

“Anders took a commercial flight to Reykjavik,” Erich gasped, “From there, he caught a military plane to Greenland.”

“You’re kidding me,” Angela said, “At least last time he just went to Hesse.”

“He used his Athanatoi credentials to charter a Cessna and an all-terrain vehicle,” Erich said, “It's still a ten-mile hike across the ice.”

He wrote down a set of numbers on a piece of paper and handed it to Angela.

“These are the coordinates of his final destination,” Erich said.

“How did you get this?” Angela said.

“Unofficial channels,” Erich said.

“I know it’s X, Dad,” Angela said.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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Anders had to go on a mission to find/save Angela, only fair she gets to do the same for him now.
 

zenphoenix

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Anders had to go on a mission to find/save Angela, only fair she gets to do the same for him now.
That's not counting the time she bailed him out of military imprisonment in Heppenheim. Or the time she got Hans killed securing his freedom from the crew-cut man. Or the other times Anders was stupid enough to get captured. Anders owes Angela a lot.:p
 

zenphoenix

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Disunion, Part 4

67 miles north of Greenland – 7:00 PM

Anders looked at the small GPS device he had, checking his location. The ice stretched around him in every direction, and the untrained explorer could easily get lost or eaten by polar bears, at several Roman polar expeditions had in the last couple years. He wouldn’t suffer their fate, because his connection to the GPS satellites was much better. He’d asked Agent Atsumi to modify his device to also tap into the SVI satellites and gain access to their coverage. There were some setbacks, notably the unexpected classification of some files under Sentinel, but it was nothing he couldn’t get around. The end result was that his GPS device worked perfectly in the Arctic.

Carrying his flashlight, Anders walked a little farther and found the SMS Arcturus, its conning tower poking through the top of the ice. He walked around and found a ladder, climbing up to a hull door, which he opened and climbed inside. For a Kaiserliche Marine ship, it sure was easy to get inside. The room below was dark and quiet. He took off his hood and unzipped his coat, shining his flashlight around the abandoned consoles and equipment. He saw nobody until his beam fell on the body of a dead sailor. Advancing into the ship, he saw two more dead men. Suddenly, he heard a bang and footsteps. He drew his gun.

“Hey!” he shouted. “Stop!”

Anders ran after the noise. He climbed down a ladder and looked down the hallway, seeing a man running through a hallway a few doors down. He ran after him and climbed down another ladder to another hallway. He heard a clang to his left and walked towards it, finding a man hiding between a pipe and a wall. The man gasped.

“Who are you?” Anders asked.

“Lieutenant Theodor Wilmer,” the man said.

“Step out of there!” Anders ordered. “Come on!”

The man slowly moved out of his hiding place. Anders grabbed him by the arm and began leading him back up to the control room.

“What happened to you?” Anders said.

“I don't know,” Theodor said, “We, uh... we just lost power. We, we... we drifted under the ice for days. Then, um... then we hit a...”

He turned his head towards Anders, who aimed his gun.

“Don’t look at me, face forward!” Anders shouted.

Theodor turned back. “We hit a shallow patch and punched through. That's what happened.”

“So why did you run?” Anders said.

“A man came,” Theodor said, wiping away tears, “He, um... he sealed most of the men below decks without any air and, uh... and then he started to execute the rest of us. Every... they're all dead. I, uh... I thought you were him, I didn't know if you were him.”

“How is it you managed to survive?” Anders asked.

“I hid under the body of a chief petty officer,” Theodor said, “I, uh... I played dead.”

Anders flipped a switch, and the submarine regained power, its lights coming back on. Theodor looked around and found Anders had handcuffed him, his gun to the back of his neck.

“What's this for?” Theodor said. “What are you, crazy?”

“No,” Anders said, “I'm just tired and you're not getting back to your ship until I get the truth. Now tell me where my sister is, discount Eliminator.”

“I don't know what you're talking about,” Theodor said.

“Base of the neck!” Anders shouted. “Now, you tell me how I can find her and I'll let you get back to your ship before it's destroyed!”

“Please... please...” Theodor pleaded.

His voice changed to a very strong and deep tone. “You’re making a really big mistake.”

Theodor tossed Anders across the room. Anders slammed into the radar station. He got up and watched as Theodor morphed back into the default form of the bounty hunter. But despite its immense strength, it couldn’t break free of the handcuffs.

“Not so super now, huh?” Anders said. “Guess you really are a discount Eliminator.”

The bounty hunter easily tore the handcuffs apart, grabbed Anders, and slammed him against the radar station again.

“I think I spoke too soon,” Anders said.

“If I wanted to, I could've killed you many times before,” he said.

“Where is she?” Anders asked.

The bounty hunter slammed him against the floor. “Is the answer to your question worth dying for? Is that what you want?”

“Where is she?” Anders said, groaning and coughing.

The bounty hunter slammed him against the radar station again. Anders groaned more.

“Just tell me where she is,” he said.

“Alright, fine, she's alive,” the bounty hunter said, “Can you just die now? You annoy me.”

“Nah, I’m good,” Anders said.

The bounty hunter started dragging him out the door. Anders grabbed his gun and shot the bounty hunter in the back. The alien leaked green fluid and turned back to Anders, who screamed in agony as the toxic gases surrounded him. The bounty hunter dragged Anders outside and threw him onto the ice, just below the wing, before climbing back inside, shutting the hatch. The riding lights came on, and the wing turned and assumed a vertical position. The sub started diving, the wing coming down at Anders. Using the last of his strength he rolled out of the way, and the Arcturus descended into the ocean again.


Emergency Room – 9:05 PM

Angela ran into the emergency room. She found Anders sitting in a tub, an oxygen mask on.

“No change in B.P. or pulse,” the nurse said.

Angela approached the doctors and held up her badge.

“I’m Angela Hansen, Agent Humboldt’s partner,” she said, “What are his vitals?”

“He's suffering from extreme hypothermia,” the doctor said.

“No, you've got to get him out of the tub,” Angela said.

“He's dying, he's lost all his body heat,” the doctor said.

“You've got to listen to me!” Angela said. “If you keep him in there, you're going to kill him! The cold is the only thing that's keeping him alive.”

Andres flatlined.

“His heart stopped!” the nurse shouted.

“Give me one amp of epinephrine in a cannula!” the doctor ordered.

“You don't know what you're dealing with here!” Angela said. “Agent Humboldt has been exposed to a toxic chemical resulting in hyper-viscosity syndrome.”

“I want you out of my E.R. right now,” the doctor said, “Nurse!”

The nurse walked over to her.

“His blood has thickened...” Angela said.

“Ma'am...” the nurse said.

“That's why his heart is failing!” Angela said.

The doctor turned around. She was furious now.

“No, his heart is failing because he's lost all his body heat!” she said.

“No, the only thing saving him right now is the hypermetabolic state induced by the cold,” Angela said, “Now, if you don't do what I'm saying, you are going to kill him!”

The doctor stared at her for a second. Then she sighed.

“It’s on you if you’re wrong,” she said, “Let's get him out of that tub now.”

They hauled Anders out of the tub and onto a table, where the doctor put an oxygen mask on Anders’ mouth. Angela readied the defibrillators.

“Not technically an electrocution, and not a cadaver, but this’ll do,” she muttered, “Sorry Anders.”

“A hundred joules, charged and ready,” the nurse said.

“Clear!” Angela said.

She put the defibrillators on Anders’ chest, and they went off. There was no pulse.

“No rhythm,” she said.

“Charge?” the nurse said.

“No,” the doctor said.

“Clear!” Angela said.

She tried again, and Anders’ body tensed up as it reacted to the shock. The life support systems picked up a slight pulse.

“I'm picking up a faint pulse,” the doctor said.

Angela sighed and put down the defibrillators. “I want a digoxin 0.1 milligram I.V. Hang a heparin drip at 1,000 units per hour. And get him two units of fresh frozen plasma now.”

The nurse ran off to do so.

“This patient's not even in...” the doctor began.

Angela ran her hands through her hair.

“He's going to make it,” Angela said.


10:00 PM

Angela sat in the “waiting room.” It obviously wasn’t like an average waiting room, because this was a military hospital north of the Arctic Circle, so of course they wouldn’t have many patients and thus families of patients to wait somewhere. The doctors gave her a chair to sit on and a small TV tuned to a Kanatan news station with a terrible signal. While she waited for Anders to wake up, she pulled out her Walkman and hit record.

“Transfusions and an aggressive treatment have resulted in a steady but gradual improvement in Agent Humboldt's condition,” she reported, “Blood tests have confirmed his exposure to the still unidentified chemical whose origin remains a mystery. The search team that found Agent Humboldt has located neither the missing submarine nor the man he was looking for. Several aspects of this case remain unexplained, suggesting the possibility of paranormal phenomena... but I am convinced that to accept such conclusions is to abandon all hope of understanding the scientific events behind them. Many of the things I have seen have challenged my faith and my belief in an ordered universe...”

The nurse appeared and opened the door to Anders’ room, beckoning for Angela. She got up and walked in, finding Anders lying in bed. He no longer had the oxygen tube, and he looked much healthier than before. She continued recording.

“...but this uncertainty has only strengthened my need to know, to understand, to apply reason to those things which seem to defy it. It was science that isolated the chemical Agent Humboldt was exposed to, and science that allowed us to understand its behavior. And ultimately, it was science that saved Agent Humboldt's life.”

Anders groaned. Angela smiled and stopped recording. She put away her Walkman.

“Hey,” she said, “How you feeling?”

“Like I got a bad case of freezer burn,” Anders whispered, “How did I get here?”

“A naval reconnaissance squad found and flew you here,” Angela said, “Where I promptly electrocuted you.”

“I’m not quite a cadaver yet, as you can see,” Anders joked.

Angela laughed, and then her expression hardened. “Thanks for ditching me.”

“I... I'm sorry, I... I couldn't let you risk your life on this,” Anders said.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Angela asked.

“No, no,” Anders said, “But I... I found something I thought I'd lost. Faith to keep looking.”

“Annie?” Angela said.

“The Annie we met before, that wasn’t her,” Anders said, “But the real Annie’s alive. She’s still out there, somewhere.”

Angela smiled. “Then we’ll keep looking for her, Anders. We’ll bring her home.”
 

TheAnguishedOne

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Nearly froze to death again, but Anders continues to be a resilient man. Plot armor! :D
 

CaptainAlvious

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Poor Anders, you could say he.... wanted to believe.:p:( At least he can still find Annie.

Also since this story arch is set in the 90s this song would be really appropriate for maybe a car chase or the climax of this part of the story arch.:D
Also I found a little conservation in page 12 of this AAR early on explaining a little more about how Meritocracy works and I think it would be a good idea if you included that in the table of contents.:)

Also when we get to the 21st century, would there still be 80s nostalgia like in OTL when a brutal World War was fought in there? I understand 90s nostalgia but I´m wondering how would 80s nostalgia culture would work since millions of people died in war in that decade, especially the parents of people that grew up in WW3. Maybe it would be seen as something similar to the ¨Greatest Generation¨ of WW2 for the generation that fought WW3. Something tells me that because of WW3 there was a lot of orphans after the war ended since I´m pretty sure Women served in combat along with the men in WW3.:eek: Also how are the political and social reforms doing so far? Have LGBT rights been expanded to equal rights at least since its been awhile since there were national LGBT reforms for the Reich?

While I´m at it, what was the origins of Meritocracy in the first place anyways? I understand that it was a governing principle that originated in China but I´m wondering how it came into being as basically a replacement for Democracy in the Reich. Also I´m wondering where did you get the idea for creating a whole new system in Meritocracy instead of becoming a democracy in Vicky 2, Hoi3 and NWO?

Edit: While we know the Norse won the Battle of Stanford Bridge because of a literally deus ex machina :)p) I´m curious towards how historians would try to look at how the result of Stanford bridge and the Pagan Resurgence came to be in terms of secular reasons like political, economic and military factors. I guess the entire Pagan Resurgence period would be a bit of a enigma for secular historians due to how mysterious yet quick it was, through I´m pretty sure the religious faiths have plenty of religious interpretations towards how the Pagan Resurgence occurred. The restoration of Rome and the collapse of Islam would be easier for Historians to analyze than the overall Pagan Resurgence even through it played a big role in both of those events.

Also how would the Joe Steele novel (where Stalin grew up in America and became president, eventually turning the US into a dictatorship) or the Fatherland novel go in TTL. I´m thinking that TTL´s Joe Steele could instead focus on Valentin´s parents being Tsarists instead and moving first to Tsarist Russia/Sweden and then to the Reich when Valentin is born. Valentin then becomes Chancellor of the Reich during the cold war and slowly turns the Reich into a nationalist dictatorship, gaining back the Occupied Territories early due to the Prague and Budapest rebellions succeeding and he goes on to crush Siam with some of the brutal methods he used the original timeline in Prague, Budapest and World War 3. Fatherland would focus on either Angeloi or Rasa society after they win World War 2.
Also for good measure, Valentin would be part of the KRA because why not.:p
 
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zenphoenix

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Nearly froze to death again, but Anders continues to be a resilient man. Plot armor! :D
Unfortunately, that plot armor requires the sacrifice of at least one supporting character per story.:p
Poor Anders, you could say he.... wanted to believe.:p:( At least he can still find Annie.
Plot twist, Annie never existed!:eek:
Also since this story arch is set in the 90s this song would be really appropriate for maybe a car chase or the climax of this part of the story arch.:D
I am so going to use something like that if I do a car chase.:)
Also I found a little conservation in page 12 of this AAR early on explaining a little more about how Meritocracy works and I think it would be a good idea if you included that in the table of contents.:)
I'll get on that after I post the next update.
Also when we get to the 21st century, would there still be 80s nostalgia like in OTL when a brutal World War was fought in there? I understand 90s nostalgia but I´m wondering how would 80s nostalgia culture would work since millions of people died in war in that decade, especially the parents of people that grew up in WW3.
80s nostalgia would be similar to real life nostalgia, but with the war added. The tech boom of the 80s still happened, and there would still be arcades and the great movies that came out that decade, so people would still remember that. But they would also remember the devastation the war brought, especially in the former Occupied Territories. There'd be a legacy of RAF terrorism and economic malaise in the east, while in the west there'd be an economic boom which would see many new jobs created. In addition, everybody would've had a family member serve in the war (maybe even lost), and some veterans would come back with Vietnam-like war stories. References along the lines of "my dad served in the war" would be widespread, like they were after the two previous world wars in real life. 80s kids would remember the games and movies they grew up with, not focusing much on the war, while their parents would've tried to keep them in line with bedtime stories of equalist terrors in the east. There'd also be a lot of drills for nuclear war in school, and each family would have a bunker (I guess Mike's basement in Stranger Things would be a nuclear bunker instead). Many villains in TV and movies of the decade would be equalists or neo-Angeloi.
Maybe it would be seen as something similar to the ¨Greatest Generation¨ of WW2 for the generation that fought WW3.
Oh, they will definitely be remembered as another "greatest generation" decades down the line.
Something tells me that because of WW3 there was a lot of orphans after the war ended since I´m pretty sure Women served in combat along with the men in WW3.:eek:
Women did serve in combat, but due to some concerns raised by the General Staff most of those who saw actual combat were men. There'd be a lot of orphans after the war ended, like many big wars. But there'd also be families reuniting after the Occupied Territories are liberated, one of which I'll go over in this update.
Also how are the political and social reforms doing so far?
Because the Kaiser is very vocal in pushing through reforms the Diet doesn't want, more has been done than in real life in some areas, though not all.
Have LGBT rights been expanded to equal rights at least since its been awhile since there were national LGBT reforms for the Reich?
Homosexuality has been decriminalized since the 60s, I think, but there is still stigma surrounding it, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic only made their situation worse. Legal equal rights have not been passed yet because the Kaiser does not believe public opinion would support it at the time. However, equal rights for men and women was passed after the birth of Princess Wilhelmina.
While I´m at it, what was the origins of Meritocracy in the first place anyways? I understand that it was a governing principle that originated in China but I´m wondering how it came into being as basically a replacement for Democracy in the Reich. Also I´m wondering where did you get the idea for creating a whole new system in Meritocracy instead of becoming a democracy in Vicky 2, Hoi3 and NWO?
I'm actually preparing a segment dedicated to Roman meritocracy (and the exact functioning of the Roman government), which I'll post sometime down the line. I never gave much thought to how the system developed, though. The idea didn't really come to me at any time because it was gradually built up over the course of the megacampaign. Back in CK2/EU4, I didn't have any idea of what government I should adopt when I reached Victoria 2/HOI3, other than it should be a monarchy. Then towards the end of EU4 I started suppressing democracy and liberalism in the Reich, but at the same time I didn't want to remain an absolutist autocracy because I wouldn't be able to make use of many mechanics in Victoria 2. Granted, I still remained an absolute monarchy in Victoria 2 because I had to keep my mod compatible with the converter, but I made a compromise. Meritocracy slowly made itself the governing ideology of the Reich. As for how it became the governing ideology...
It generally began with the Augustinian Code in the 1440s, which was written as a way to codify the rights and responsibilities of Roman citizens without outright limiting the powers of the Kaiser. This established the Diet as a meeting place for the aristocracy to suggest policy for the Kaiser. Over time, the Kaiser's policy became dictated by certain traditions and customs, some of which were codified as such (technically still not limitations on his power). In the 1830s, the Augustinian Code was amended and modernized by Sigismund II and Chancellor Metternich, who established what would become the Metternich system. This system granted the dynatoi (traditional nobility from the old HRE, Byzantine Empire, and other realms absorbed by the Reich) and aristoi (minor nobility and wealthy commoners) more representation in the Diet. Not all nobles and industrialists had representation. A yearly examination system was set up (and partially integrated into the public higher education system) to ensure that the best educated nobles and industrialists were chosen to sit in the Diet and advise the Kaiser. This system remained in place until the 1930s with limited modifications (notably granting women representation), when the Angeloi manipulated its limitations and the inexperience of the young Otto to put themselves in power and take over the Reich. After World War II, Kaiser Otto overhauled the Augustinian Code again and reformed the examination system to include the majority of Roman citizens, among other things, which would prevent the Angeloi or another radical group from seizing power.
 

zenphoenix

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Diabolus, Part 1

Sigismund Park, Prusa, Marmara – February 15, 1995, 9:00 AM

The Holvey family was enjoying itself. A miniature train chugged by, and young Karl Holvey watched from a railing, a balloon in his hand. His mother, Lena, stood a short distance away with Karl’s brother, two-year-old Theo, while his father Stephen approached with four chocolate ice cream cones.

“Karl!” Lena said, handing Theo a balloon. “Come on, Karl.”

“Karl, hey!” Stephen said. “Ice cream!”

Karl took the ice cream, but he wasn’t very happy about it. As Theo ate his ice cream, his balloon floated away.

“Look,” Lena said, “There it goes.”

“There goes your balloon,” Stephen said.

“Going to balloon land,” Lena said, “Go bye-bye.”

Theo dropped his ice cream and started bawling. Lena picked him up, while Stephen offered him another ice cream.

“Oh, sweetie,” Lena said, “Don't cry.”

“Hey, look!” Stephen said. “Here's some ice cream! Here's some ice cream! Want some ice cream? Look.”

Theo continued crying, so Stephen took Karl’s balloon and gave it to Theo. Karl glared at him with an anger rarely seen in young children.

“Theo, Theo, here's your balloon,” Stephen said, “Look at that.

“Shhh!” Lena said. “Oh, such a mess. We gotta clean you up.”

“Karl and I will wait for you,” Stephen said.

Lena walked off with Theo, while Stephen stayed behind with Karl.

“That was my balloon,” Karl complained.

“Eat your ice cream before it melts,” Stephen said.

“I don't want any ice cream,” Karl said, “I want my balloon.”

Stephen sighed. “We'll get you a balloon, okay?”

“No, I want my balloon,” Karl repeated.

Stephen rolled his eyes and took Karl’s ice cream. “Fine, we’ll get you another balloon. That was a waste of good money.”

He dumped the ice cream into a trash can.

In the restroom, Lena wiped the ice cream off Theo’s face. She put him on the sink, attaching his halter to one of the supports.

“There we go,” Lena said, “That's a boy. Good boy, Theo. I'll be right back, okay?”

She went into a stall and closed the door, singing to Theo to keep his attention.

"There were six in a bed and the little one said ‘Roll over! Roll over!’" she sang. "So they all rolled over and one fell out. Five in the bed and the little one said ‘Roll over! Roll over!’"

Meanwhile, Theo let go of his balloon again and watched it drift up to the ceiling.

"And they all rolled over and one fell out. Four in the bed and the little one said, ‘Roll over! Roll over!’"

Strangely, the balloon moved across the ceiling on its own. Then it moved down a foot and flew out the gap at the top of the restroom door. Lena finished up and walked out, only to find the restroom empty.

“Theo?!” she shouted, running outside.

Theo ran after the balloon, which led him down an embankment and out of Lena’s sight. Rather than flying upwards, the balloon moved as if someone was holding it while walking. Karl watched silently from a distance.

“Theo?!” Lena shouted again.

The balloon led Theo onto the railroad tracks, where a family posed as a father took a picture. After doing so, the father noticed Theo on the tracks just as the train whistle sounded.

“There’s a kid on the track!” he said.

“Mein Gott!” Stephen said, running over. “Theo! Theo! Get away from there!”

Karl stood impassively, his expression cold. Lena heard Stephen’s shouts and ran towards the tracks as well. Theo now stood in the middle of the tracks, where he held the balloon. The train rounded the curve, and the engineer saw Theo ahead. He pulled the brakes, but they broke. An invisible force instead floored the gas pedal. The engineer frantically sounded his whistle. Karl continued watching.

“Theo!” Stephen shouted.

“Get off the tracks!” Lena shouted.

Theo continued holding the balloon, not hearing the warnings over the roar of the approaching train engines. Stephen reached the tracks just as the train slammed into Theo with a sickening splat and thump.

“NOOO!!!!!” Stephen screamed.

The balloon drifted away, and the train continued on its journey. After the last car passed, Lena and Stephen ran onto the tracks.

“Mein Gott!” Lena shouted.

They knelt besides Theo’s body, tears flowing from their eyes. Karl, meanwhile, watched as his parents grieved, still showing no emotion. The balloon flew down into his hands, and he smiled.


Agent Leza Atsumi’s lab, Omar Mukhtar Building – March 24, 1995, 10:00 AM

Anders turned on the projector, displaying the photo of the father in the park on the screen. He gestured at details to Angela, who sat in a chair.

“This photo was taken at an amusement park three months ago,” Anders explained, pointing out Theo at the gate in the fence next to the tracks, “The young boy in the background is Theodor Holvey, aged two. He was killed just seconds after this was taken.”

“How?” Angela asked.

“According to the police report, he wandered onto the tracks of the park's miniature train,” Anders said, “The conductor was unable to stop due to a malfunction in the braking system, though a later investigation later concluded he also stepped on the accelerator. They’re bringing charges against him, but that’s not enough to Theo’s parents. Theo's father, Stephen Holvey, works for Foreign Affairs, so a coroner's inquest was held due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the accident.”

“And did the inquest come up with anything unusual?” Angela said.

“No, but the County Medical Examiner called me afterwards,” Anders said, “He was disturbed by this case and by this photograph, and I think with good reason. You see, this is a helium balloon here, and the one thing I did learn in kindergarten is when you let them go, they float up, up and away, but you see this is moving away from him, horizontally.”

“Did you learn about wind in kindergarten?” Angela said.

“Well, I called the Imperial Weather Service, and they said on the day Theo died the wind was blowing north,” Anders said, “But you see, the balloon is moving south, as if it's being pulled against the wind.”

“Pulled?” Angela said. “By whom?”

“I don't know,” Anders said, “That's why I came to our friend Leza, the current Kaiserin of digital imaging. Leza can extract incredibly small details from a simple photographic print.”

Leza sat at a computer and waved them over. “Not details - information. Watch the monitor. We have limitations on how much information the eye can perceive unaided and how much resolution the initial photograph gave us, but with this special software - which I designed - we can, uh, depict hidden information.”

“What is this, Law & Order?” Angela said.

Leza sighed. “Anders said that last time too, when you were abducted.”

Angela punched Anders in the arm again.

“Hey!” Anders shouted.

“Anyways, we can manipulate it to a certain degree,” Leza said, “Now watch right here. There it is.”

After several passes of the software, the image showed the light, humanoid outline of a person holding the balloon string.

“There's clearly a concentration of electromagnetic energy,” Leza said, “Shaped like a person.”

Angela turned back to Anders. “So you're saying that, uh, a ghost killed Theo Holvey.”

“Hey, I killed three psychological vampires and accidentally worked with a demon,” Anders said, “A ghost is nothing.”

“Vampires exist?” Leza said.

“Long story,” Anders said, “And it was psychological.”

“Has anyone checked the camera that took this photo - the lens or the pressure plate?” Angela said.

“It all checked out, Angie,” Anders said, handing her the camera, “I think from the information here, this is clearly some kind of poltergeist activity.”

“Anders, this information is the same reason why you'll see a newspaper photo with Jesus' face appearing in the, in the foliage of an elm tree,” Angela said, “It's called pareidolia, the chance occurrence of light and shadow.”

Leza leaned back in her chair, still confused. Anders reached for an evidence bag.

“In order to get on those tracks, Theo Holvey had to escape this child-proof halter that his mother had tied to a bathroom sink,” Anders said.

“I've seen some pretty slippery two-year-olds,” Angela said, “I remember how Anna was when she was two.”

“So the C.M.E. took it home and put it on his own two-year-old and found it was physically impossible for the kid to reach around and free himself,” Anders said, “So unless Theo Holvey was the reincarnation of Houdini - and that would be an X-Division case in itself ...”

Leza sighed. “Is this what it’s like every day?”

“Yes, Leza,” Angela said, “It’s as annoying as you’d expect.”

“I’m right here, you know!” Anders complained.

Angela punched him again.


Holvey residence, Nicomedia – 9:00 PM

Angela drove up to the house, and she and Anders got out. As they approached the door, they didn’t notice an old woman in a black shawl watching them from upstairs, behind a stained-glass window marked with a reverse swastika. Angela knocked on the door, and Lena opened it. She held up her badge.

“Agents Hansen and Humboldt,” she said, “We’re with the Athanatoi. We’d appreciate it if you could answer a few questions.”

Lena opened the door wider and led them to the living room, where she sat on the couch. Stephen tossed more wood in the fireplace and joined Lena on the couch.

“I don't understand,” Lena said, “There's already been a formal inquest.”

“We're here separate from that investigation,” Anders said, “We have reason to believe something may have been overlooked.”

“Like what?” Stephen said.

“The possibility Theo may have been helped onto the tracks,” Anders said.

“Mein Gott,” Lena said.

“There were over a hundred witnesses,” Stephen said, “We saw Theo ourselves.”

The fire suddenly flared up, drawing Angela’s attention.

“He was chasing a balloon,” Stephen continued, “There was no one else around ...”

Angela looked up and noticed Karl standing in the hallway.

“... It was an awful accident,” Stephen said, “But that's all it was - an accident.”

Karl looked up and to his left and then ran away, as if called by someone. Angela walked back into the hallway.

“Do you have any reason to suspect someone may have wanted to hurt Theo?” Anders said.

“He was just a baby,” Lena said, “Why would anybody want to hurt him?”

“Look, I don't know what you're getting at,” Stephen said, “We loved Theo. If you're suggesting that this is anything like that Satanist child sacrifice in Bialystok a few months back, you're way out of line.”

Angela walked to the stairs and found Karl had gone to the old woman, who sat on the stairs. She was drawing a symbol on the back of Karl’s hand, a reverse swastika with four dots placed around it.

“Frau Holvey, did you hear anything in the bathroom right before Theo disappeared?” Anders asked, taking out a small brown book with a pentagram on it. “Any strange noises, sudden drops in temperature, flickering lights, sulfur smells?”

“I already told the inquest,” Lena said, “I heard nothing.”

Angela walked back to the living room. “Frau Holvey, at the time of the accident, did you have any hired help?”

“No,” Lena said, “My mother Golda came to live with us once Theo was born. Brought her here under the Occupied Territories Family Reunification Act of 1988. It was a miracle she survived the war, given how fierce it was in Dacia. She told me half of her village was killed and most of the children orphaned.”

“Around the time of Theo's death, had you noticed anything strange happening around the house, uh, things moved, odd objects appearing, the things I previously listed, anything like that?” Anders said, still reading from his pentagram book.

A loud, shrill alarm screamed across the house. Stephen cursed.

“It's that damn smoke detector,” he said, “I'll be right back.”

As Stephen walked out, the lights went out. Lena cursed. Anders flipped back a few pages.

“Ah ... does this happen often?” Anders said. “Electrical problems?”

“It's an old house,” Lena said, “We have a problem with the wiring.”

The lights came back on, and Golda stood in the hallway with Karl. The old woman was speaking in the old Dacian language.

“Diavol lol ... diavol lol ... nu ieste el cauza,” Golda said.

“Mother!” Lena said.

“Diavol lol,” Golda continued.

“Mother, it was just a false alarm,” Lena said.

“No,” Golda said, “Asea este problema ta baiatul este blestemat.”

Dacian wasn’t spoken by many people around the world, even in Dacia itself. It had been promoted by the Soviets in the Occupied Territory of Dacia from the 1940s to 1980s as part of the deromanization program, but most people still used German (in Transylvania) or Greek (in Wallachia and Moldavia). Only a handful of people, the very traditionalist sort, spoke Dacian. However, the Soviet Army and its divisions in Dacia frequently encrypted their communications in Dacian. Some RAF cells there still used Dacian in their communications. The Athanatoi had taught Angela some Dacian in the academy. She was sure Golda had said “We must perform the ritual or the killings will continue.” Meanwhile, Anders noticed the reverse swastika drawn on Karl’s hand and a red string tied around his wrist.

“Mother, please,” Lena said.

“Ye dracul!” Golda shouted.

“Stop it!” Lena shouted back.

Stephen ran into the room. “Lena!”

“You marry a devil,” Golda said in broken German, “You have devil child!”

She left the room, pushing Karl in front of her.

“I'm sorry,” Stephen said.

“We’ll show ourselves out,” Angela said.


X-Division, Constantinople – March 25, 1995, 9:00 AM

Angela entered the office carrying a file. She found Anders at his desk, still reading the pentagram book from last night. He held up the book and pointed to a page.

“You recognize this?” he said.

“Sure, it's a swastika,” Angela said, “Hindu and Buddhist symbol, briefly coopted by the Rasas before they discarded it and moved on to a more intimidating symbol. Guess they thought it didn't look cool enough.”

“It's also known as a gammadion or a fylfot,” Andres said, “It's an ancient symbol used for protection or good luck. It's been used by various Indo-European cultures, including many of the pagan Europeans, since the medieval period. The Holvey's child had one on the back of his hand last night. My guess it was drawn there by Golda, to protect the boy.”

“You're right,” Angela said, “I saw her drawing it.”

“And you didn't think that was strange?” Anders said.

“Well, I think this boy needs as much protection as he can get, but just not from ghosties or beasties,” Angela said, “Take a look at this.”

She handed him the file. “Have you ever heard of Munchausen by Proxy?”

“Yeah, my grandfather used to take that for his stomach,” Anders joked.

“It's when a parent or caretaker brings harm to a child by inducing medical symptoms, usually as a way of getting attention or status,” Angela said, “If you take a look at Theo Holvey's medical history, you'll see that he was admitted to various hospitals ten times during the two years that he was alive. That's once every three months.”

“Projectile vomiting at three months,” Anders read, “Diarrhea at four months. Vomiting ... diarrhea ... diarrhea.”

“Each time they were unable to determine the cause of the illness,” Angela said.

“And no one questioned this?” Anders said.

“Well, the family moved around a lot because of Stephen's job, and records take time to transfer from hospital to hospital,” Angela said, “But this kind of abuse is not limited to just one child, so I checked out Karl's history as well.”

She pointed at the file.

“Karl had medical problems, too?” Anders said.

“Since his brother was born, which is right when Stephen Holvey's mother-in-law moved in,” Angela said, “Often the perpetrator of Munchausen by Proxy will view the child as evil. Golda would be a likely candidate, but it could be any family member.”

“Do you speak Dacian, Angie?” Anders asked. “She was saying a lot last night.”

“A little,” Angela said, “Something about evil spirits and killings. Would work great as a motive for Munchausen by Proxy.”

Anders got up. “Do you feel like taking a walk over to Foreign Affairs, Angie?”


Stephen’s office, Bureau of Foreign Affairs, Constantinople – 9:30 AM

“Things have been strained since Golda moved in with us,” Stephen said, “I met Lena while stationed in Dacia in 1984, just before the war began. Golda forbade our marriage - said I was the devil. After I transferred back to the Reich, things got somewhat better, until Theo was born and she came to live with us. That's when the strangeness really started.”

“What kind of strangeness?” Anders said.

“Superstitions rule Golda's life,” Stephen said, “I guess that’s how she survived the Soviets and the war, by being so superstitious the equalists wouldn’t touch her. She'll spit when anyone compliments the kids. Once she moved in with us, she started pouring hot water over the threshold and making salt rings to ward off demons, tying red strings around the kids' wrists. One day I caught her throwing chicken guts on the roof, and I don’t know where she found time to get the chickens. Then Theo and Karl started getting sick - a lot.”

“And you suspect Golda?” Angela said.

“She'll call Karl evil right to his face,” Stephen said, “But at the same time, she dotes on him like she's afraid of him.”

“Afraid of him or for him?” Angela said.

Stephen shrugged. “I just don't know.”

“Are you familiar with Munchausen by Proxy?” Angela said.

“Are you accusing us of child abuse?” Stephen said.

“Not necessarily,” Angela said, “But Theo's medical records have raised some questions.”

“I can never say this to Lena, but I've wondered if it wasn't Golda who snuck in and let Theo out of the bathroom that day,” Stephen said.

“I'd like to interview your son Karl, Herr Holvey, but with a professional counsellor,” Angela said, handing him a card reading "Karen F. Kosseff, L.C.S.W., Psychiatric Social Worker, Athanatoi, etc. ..."

“Oh boy,” Stephen said, “This is going to be hard.”


Holvey residence, Nicomedia – 2:00 PM

“Lena, please!” Stephen said.

“What do they want?” Lena said. “To take Karl away from here?”

As the parents argued in the living room, Anders and Angela sat with Karl at the kitchen table, while Golda cooked something in a pot.

“They just want him to talk to the social worker,” Stephen said, “She's expecting him.”

“Social worker?” Lena said. “You know them. They'll put lies in Karl's head.”

“You're being unreasonable,” Stephen said.

“You want to take him away from me,” Lena said, “You blame me for Theo, and now you want to take him away from me.”

“I'm not going to listen to this,” Stephen said, “This is ridiculous. If you want to come, you can, but I'm taking Karl now.”

Golda discreetly sprinkled a powder into the pot, taken from a yellow envelope hidden in her apron pocket. Angela noticed her.

“No, Stephen,” Lena said, “He’s my son too!”

As Golda brought the pot over to Karl, Angela stepped forward. “What was that?”

“There’s nothing more to say,” Stephen said.

Golda turned to Angela and said something in rapid-fire Dacian. The academy didn’t teach her enough Dacian to catch up with her, even without her heavy accent and the slang probably used. Stephen walked into the kitchen with Lena.

“Come on, Karl,” he said, “Let’s get your coat.”

Golda muttered some more Dacian phrases under her breath.

“You have no right to do this!” Lena said.

“Lena, please,” Stephen said.

He turned to Karl. “Come on, let’s go.”

He then looked up at Angela. “We’ll meet you guys out front.”

Lena stormed out. Angela looked at Golda suspiciously. She was sure something was off about this old woman, but she couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Deciding she didn’t have time for any of this, she looked at Anders, and they walked out.

Meanwhile, Stephen and Karl entered the garage and got into the car. Stephen looked behind and made sure Karl was buckled up.

“Alright, you buckled in there?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Karl said, again not enthusiastically.

Stephen pressed the garage door button on his visor, but the door didn’t open.

“Damn it,” he said, getting out.

He got a stepladder and climbed up to the garage door opener, throwing his tie over his shoulder. He tried the manual button on the opener a couple of times, but nothing happened. Below, the car doors locked. The chain on the garage door opener started, catching Stephen’s tie. It pulled him into it, and the ladder fell out from under him. As he choked and struggled, Karl screamed.

“No!” he shouted. “No! Daddy! No! No!”

The garage door opened, and Angela saw Stephen hung from the garage door ceiling. By the time she ran over and grabbed his legs, he was dead. Karl continued screaming, but Angela had tuned it out long ago. Anders pulled out his phone.

“I’m calling the Inquisition,” he said.
 

CaptainAlvious

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I´m also going to bring up these questions as well since I edited them in later and so that you can look at them.:)
Edit: While we know the Norse won the Battle of Stanford Bridge because of a literally deus ex machina :)p) I´m curious towards how historians would try to look at how the result of Stanford bridge and the Pagan Resurgence came to be in terms of secular reasons like political, economic and military factors. I guess the entire Pagan Resurgence period would be a bit of a enigma for secular historians due to how mysterious yet quick it was, through I´m pretty sure the religious faiths have plenty of religious interpretations towards how the Pagan Resurgence occurred. The restoration of Rome and the collapse of Islam would be easier for Historians to analyze than the overall Pagan Resurgence even through it played a big role in both of those events.

Also how would the Joe Steele novel (where Stalin grew up in America and became president, eventually turning the US into a dictatorship) or the Fatherland novel go in TTL. I´m thinking that TTL´s Joe Steele could instead focus on Valentin´s parents being Tsarists instead and moving first to Tsarist Russia/Sweden and then to the Reich when Valentin is born. Valentin then becomes Chancellor of the Reich during the cold war and slowly turns the Reich into a nationalist dictatorship, gaining back the Occupied Territories early due to the Prague and Budapest rebellions succeeding and he goes on to crush Siam with some of the brutal methods he used the original timeline in Prague, Budapest and World War 3. Fatherland would focus on either Angeloi or Rasa society after they win World War 2.
Also for good measure, Valentin would be part of the KRA because why not.:p
Now that I think about it, It would probably make more sense for the Joe Steele book to focus on Molotov instead since he did explain that he liked the SPR and it would fit with the ¨Stalin was a democrat¨ statement that inspired the book in OTL in the first place after the author heard that in a song.:p:eek:

Also I´m wondering if there is strong patriotism for the Reich similar to American exceptionalism in OTL, since the stigma towards Roman nationalism that grew after Siam and WW2 seems to have been negated with Roman victory in WW3. While I´m at it, I´m wondering how would that particular song from the satire film Team America: World Police would go in TTL.:p

Also it’s a bit unfortunate that LGBT equal rights isn’t being pushed or considered for the moment, through things might happen in the future for them, especially in the late 90s and early 2000s in terms of representation and rights. I’m pretty sure in real life a lot of queer politicians and figures started to gain notice and I think positive or neutral representation started to show up in TV in that times so maybe things will be looking good for them in the late 20th and 21st after all. :) Plus I´m pretty sure that a lot of queer people (I don´t know how else to say it that would be acceptable to the forum guidelines) would´ve served in the war and contributed to the Reich (like Alan Turning :() so there´s still hope for them I think.

Btw, you may want to include that recent description of 80s nostalgia and meritocracy in the table of contents too. I also noticed that the 1 number next to meritocracy doesn’t have a link attached to it so you may want to check that too. :) I think I also found a few culture descriptions from pages 77-80 and I think those might be worth checking out.

Edit: Does Mark Twain still exist in this time because I´m wondering how would his works like the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would go here since they were based on American culture?

Is it weird that I´m wondering what Tumblr would be like here, since the Equalists are discredited more completely than OTL´s communists I´m wondering where does that leave the SJWs now.o_O:p I guess Antifa would be like Neo Nazi groups in OTL and Neo Angeloi groups in this timeline (ironically) since they do lean towards the radical left, causing the radical left to join the radical right I guess as hate groups.:eek:
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Ooh, we might get the "fun" moral questions. Is the Inquisition okay with hurting a child that prove dangerous? Are Anders and Angela?
 

zenphoenix

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While we know the Norse won the Battle of Stanford Bridge because of a literally deus ex machina :)p) I´m curious towards how historians would try to look at how the result of Stanford bridge and the Pagan Resurgence came to be in terms of secular reasons like political, economic and military factors. I guess the entire Pagan Resurgence period would be a bit of a enigma for secular historians due to how mysterious yet quick it was, through I´m pretty sure the religious faiths have plenty of religious interpretations towards how the Pagan Resurgence occurred. The restoration of Rome and the collapse of Islam would be easier for Historians to analyze than the overall Pagan Resurgence even through it played a big role in both of those events.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge would be an enigma to future historians, because the English had the upper hand when the battle began (the Norwegians weren't aware there was even an attacking army until it was within sight). The Norwegian victory would also be so total that barely any English soldiers survived, and nobody could explain how Harold was seen in London just a few minutes later and how almost every dead Englishman's body was found severely burnt (these would both be explained away as local folklore, not historical fact). The unexpectedly rapid spread of the Pagan Resurgence would also perplex historians, as it would take months for news of the battle to spread to places like northern Russia and Finland, let alone Central Asia (and the resurgence of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Zunism is particularly confusing). The pagan faiths have plenty of explanations (since the Pagan Resurgence forms the cornerstone of their new faiths), with one explanation--that an emissary of the gods appeared in their time of need to lead them to victory--shared among all pagan faiths. Historians would just attribute the spread of the Pagan Resurgence to faulty record keeping and consider the reformations to have taken place mostly independently of each other. As for the restoration of the Reich and the conquest of the Middle East, that would be well documented, as records of the Kaisers' decrees and military expeditions would have survived.
Also how would the Joe Steele novel (where Stalin grew up in America and became president, eventually turning the US into a dictatorship) or the Fatherland novel go in TTL. I´m thinking that TTL´s Joe Steele could instead focus on Valentin´s parents being Tsarists instead and moving first to Tsarist Russia/Sweden and then to the Reich when Valentin is born. Valentin then becomes Chancellor of the Reich during the cold war and slowly turns the Reich into a nationalist dictatorship, gaining back the Occupied Territories early due to the Prague and Budapest rebellions succeeding and he goes on to crush Siam with some of the brutal methods he used the original timeline in Prague, Budapest and World War 3. Fatherland would focus on either Angeloi or Rasa society after they win World War 2.
And at the end of the book, Valentin would start World War III with China. I haven't read Joe Steele, so I don't know how to end my adaptation. Fatherland, due to its name, would focus more on Angeloi society after victory in World War II.
Also for good measure, Valentin would be part of the KRA because why not.
That would be hilarious.
Now that I think about it, It would probably make more sense for the Joe Steele book to focus on Molotov instead since he did explain that he liked the SPR and it would fit with the ¨Stalin was a democrat¨ statement that inspired the book in OTL in the first place after the author heard that in a song.
Molotov might work as well, maybe as a spinoff of Valentin's Joe Steele.
Also I´m wondering if there is strong patriotism for the Reich similar to American exceptionalism in OTL, since the stigma towards Roman nationalism that grew after Siam and WW2 seems to have been negated with Roman victory in WW3. While I´m at it, I´m wondering how would that particular song from the satire film Team America: World Police would go in TTL.
Kohl did encourage Roman patriotism in the line of American exceptionalism, and it has become very popular because of World War III. As for the song, it would go something like "RHOMANIA, FICK JA!":p
Also it’s a bit unfortunate that LGBT equal rights isn’t being pushed or considered for the moment, through things might happen in the future for them, especially in the late 90s and early 2000s in terms of representation and rights. I’m pretty sure in real life a lot of queer politicians and figures started to gain notice and I think positive or neutral representation started to show up in TV in that times so maybe things will be looking good for them in the late 20th and 21st after all. :) Plus I´m pretty sure that a lot of queer people (I don´t know how else to say it that would be acceptable to the forum guidelines) would´ve served in the war and contributed to the Reich (like Alan Turning :() so there´s still hope for them I think.
For your information, the more appropriate word would be just LGBT. A lot of LGBT figures (celebrities, politicians, and war veterans) would come out during the 90s, and there would be more positive representation on TV (especially in Star Trek), so the Roman people will be ready for reforms soon.
Btw, you may want to include that recent description of 80s nostalgia and meritocracy in the table of contents too. I also noticed that the 1 number next to meritocracy doesn’t have a link attached to it so you may want to check that too. :) I think I also found a few culture descriptions from pages 77-80 and I think those might be worth checking out.
The "1" is supposed to be for the meritocracy discussion I'm planning. I just want to set it up in advance. I'll find the links for the other discussions and include them after the next update is posted.

Edit: I think I already added all of the posts on pages 77-80.
Edit: Does Mark Twain still exist in this time because I´m wondering how would his works like the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would go here since they were based on American culture?
Sadly, Mark Twain does not exist. I don't know how to rewrite him into Roman society or any German/Greek author I could replace him with (except maybe Goethe, but he died three years before Mark Twain was born).
Is it weird that I´m wondering what Tumblr would be like here, since the Equalists are discredited more completely than OTL´s communists I´m wondering where does that leave the SJWs now.o_O:p I guess Antifa would be like Neo Nazi groups in OTL and Neo Angeloi groups in this timeline (ironically) since they do lean towards the radical left, causing the radical left to join the radical right I guess as hate groups.:eek:
SJWs would be more moderate, because anything more would bring accusations of equalism. Antifa, like in real life, would remain a loose association of moderately left-wing organizations who protest (peacefully, because if they escalate they could be arrested as "equalist saboteurs") against members of the far right. There would still be far left terrorists led by splinter cells of the RAF, but Antifa would not be one of them (it doesn't even meet the requirements to be a single organization).

Tumblr would be a haven for the far right, unfortunately. Neo Angeloi groups would be more violent than in real life, but the government cracks down on them even harder than the far left. There are very strong anti-fascist laws in place to crush every group as soon as it is detected. But the religious right, though...:eek:
This is reminding me of Lucius... :eek:
I haven't played that game, but I had a few early episodes of Supernatural in mind.
Ooh, we might get the "fun" moral questions. Is the Inquisition okay with hurting a child that prove dangerous? Are Anders and Angela?
Well, first off, does the child know what he's doing? Is he actively doing the killing? And will hurting the child solve the problem or get more people killed?:p
 
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zenphoenix

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Diabolus, Part 2

Holvey residence, Nicomedia – 9:00 PM

Angela closed the door to Lena's bedroom as she slept on the bed with a doctor nearby. Walking into the hallway, she approached the two Inquisitors Anders had called, Dieter and Munster.

Dieter opened the door to a room. “See this?”

Angela walked inside. The room was lit with several candles placed on a table in the center, on which lay two dead roosters and other trinkets. She also noticed the stained glass window with the reverse swastika. Walking to the window, Angela saw Golda standing next to a car as three men got out, all wearing Inquisition garb. They conversed briefly in Dacian, and Golda pointed to the garage.

“From what your cousin told us about on the phone, we classify this incident a Class 2 event,” Munster explained, “Due to the complex social situation of this case, we needed to call in backup with the appropriate training.”

“Exorcists?” Angela said.

“Not like the movie,” Dieter said, “But yeah. All of us are trained in that.”

“You do know most of what we’re saying is classified, right?” Munster said.

“Of course,” Angela said, “I mean, realistically, I’d prefer a more science-based explanation to use in my report.”

“Don’t worry,” Dieter said, “We’ll corroborate your story, if you need that.”

Angela entered the garage, where Anders stood on the stepladder, collecting evidence from the garage door mechanism.

“Your friends weren’t of much help,” she said, “Find anything?”

Anders climbed down and handed her a bag containing black powder. “Yeah, maybe.”

“Looks like ash,” Angela said.

“Yeah,” Anders said, scraping more off the top of the car, “It's everywhere. Look at this.”

“The Holveys said earlier that they had some problems with the wiring of the house,” Angela said, “It could be from the motor shorted out ...

“No, I checked the motor,” Anders said, “It's working fine.”

“Well, what do you think it is?” Angela said.

“I don't know, but I'm going to have this analyzed,” Anders said.

“Well, before we do anything, I think we should get Karl out of this house,” Angela said, “I just put a call into a social worker who's going come down and make a report.”

“Uh, the courts are reluctant to intervene in these matters,” Anders said.

“Not when a child is in danger,” Angela said, “And not after they see two dead roosters in the Golda’s bedroom.”

“Really?” Anders said. “You still think this is Munchausen by Proxy, Angie?”

“Without a doubt,” Angela said, “You didn’t have to call your Inquisition friends.”

“They said it was a Class 2 event,” Anders said, “Which implies it’s much more than Munchausen by Proxy.”

“They could be wrong,” Angela said.

The garage door suddenly opened.

“Not when that just happened,” Anders said.

“What did you do?” Angela said.

Anders shrugged. “Nothing.”

On the other side, they saw Karl, with Golda behind him and the three Inquisitors next to her.

“Stay away from our house!” Golda said, taking Karl inside.

Dieter appeared in the doorway. “Hey, uh, ma’am, they’re fine, they can—”

“No!” Golda said, pushing him aside and slamming the door behind them.


Angela’s office, Constantinople – March 26, 1995, 9:00 AM

Anders rushed in and tossed a piece of paper in front of Angela.

“Hey, Angie,” he said, “You want to see something weird?”

“I’ve seen enough weird stuff for two lifetimes,” Angela complained, taking off her headphones.

He pointed at a graph with a flat horizontal line. “Chem-lab analysis of the ash from the Holvey's house. No trace of any metal, no carbon, no oxygen, no nothing.”

“What do you mean?” Angela said.

“It contains nothing organic or inorganic,” Anders said, “In fact, according to the technicians, this ash doesn't exist.”

“They told me the machines were malfunctioning today,” Angela said.

He grabbed his coat and walked out.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To get a second opinion,” Anders said.


Leza Atsumi’s lab – 10:00 AM

Leza held up the bag and looked at the powder inside.

“Oh, wow,” she remarked, “Haven't seen this for a while. Not since India, 1979.”

“India?” Angela said.

“Before Agent Atsumi here succumbed to the glamor of public service, she did a tour of duty on the old hippie trail,” Anders said.

“It’s called vibhuti, or bhasma,” Leza said, “Holy ash. It’s made of burnt dried wood and used in a number of rituals.”

“Our machines were malfunctioning,” Angela said, “That settles it.”

“Technically, it's known as an apport,” Leza said, “Something that materializes out of thin air.”

“But you just said it was made out of burnt dried wood,” Angela said, “And nothing materializes out of thin air. Laws of conservation of mass and energy.”

“You've read the Bible?” Leza said. “You remember the story about Jesus creating the loaves and the fishes?”

“Yeah, but that was a parable,” Angela said.

“In 1979, I witnessed a guru named Sai Baba create an entire feast out of thin air,” Leza said, “It was groovy.”

Angela rolled her eyes. “Too bad you didn't take a picture. You could have run it through your computer and seen the entire Last Supper, including Judas about to stab Jesus.”

Anders snickered a little.

“In more spiritual terms, Vibhuti is, uh, created during the presence of spirit beings, or during bilocation, which is, uh, a phenomenon where a person's energy is transported to a different location,” Leza explained, “Of course the physical aspect of the creation is burning dried wood, but there’s the spiritual aspect as well.”

“That energy could have been what set off the garage door opener,” Anders said.

“Yeah,” Leza said.

“Yeah, that or somebody activated the remote control,” Angela said.

“Well, who are you suggesting did that?” Anders said.

“Well, who was standing outside when the garage door opened unexpectedly on us yesterday?” Angela said.

“Golda,” Anders said, “…and Karl.”


Holvey residence – 10:15 AM

“No, sir, the anomaly seems to be self-contained,” Dieter said into his phone, “We do not see any need to deploy a tactical containment team like in the Bialystok incident. The Inquisitors we called are sufficient to neutralize the anomaly.”

Karl eavesdropped against the door to Golda's room. Inside, Golda and the three Inquisitors chanted in archaic Dacian. They stood around the table with the dead roosters and light matches, tossing them into a pot of reddish liquid in the center of the table. Golda poured a liquid into the pot, and smoke rose from it. In the smoke appears an image of Karl, which yelled in Dacian at Golda and the Inquisitors. Meanwhile, Lena answered the front door to find a social worker.

“Frau Holvey?” she said, holding up a badge. “My name is Karen Kosseff. I'm a social worker with the Athanatoi. I've been instructed to file a report for the court. May I come in?”

Lena shook her head. “No. Please, I've already had enough trouble.”

“I understand, Frau Holvey, but if you won't talk to me, I'm going to have to put that in the report and it could very well complicate your situation, including custody,” Karen said.

Lena reluctantly opened the door and let Karen in.

“Mommy!” Karl shouted from upstairs.

Karen and Lena ran upstairs, finding Karl on the floor in front of Golda’s door.

“It’s okay, Karl,” Lena said, hugging him, “It’s okay.”

She turned to Karen. “He's been sick. My mother was supposed to be looking after him.”

They heard the chanting from Golda’s room and saw lights and smoke coming from underneath the door.

“Not again, Mom!” Lena shouted, throwing open the door.

She saw Golda and the Inquisitors still in the middle of their ritual. Golda turned to her and said something in Dacian.

“Get out of my house,” Lena ordered.

Golda said something else in Dacian. The men also said a few phrases in Dacian. Lena hugged Karl protectively.

“Get out!” she shouted.

Dieter ran up to her. “Ma’am, if you could please listen for a moment—”

“They’re sacrificing chickens and doing weird stuff in there!” Lena said. “And what business does the Inquisition have being in my house?!”

Munster arrived at the door just in time to catch the last of Lena’s rant. He turned to the Inquisitors at the table.

“You heard her,” he said, “We’ll talk about this back at the office.”

The Inquisitors walked out. Lena stared daggers at Golda.

“I have had enough, Mother,” she said, “I want you out of my house.”

“The boy's blood must be cleansed,” Golda said, “It is the only way.”

She grabbed Karl and pulled him into the room, closing and locking on the door. Lena pounded on the door.

“No!” she yelled. “Mother! Mother!”

Dieter picked up his phone and dialed a number.

“I should’ve known this wouldn’t be easy,” Munster said, drawing his gun, “Child possessions are always the worst to contain. Should’ve transferred to Calarasi when I had the chance.”

“Sir, we have a situation here,” Dieter said into his phone, “The grandmother has just barricaded the affected child in a room and might be armed. … Yes, sir, I understand.”

Munster also picked up his phone. “Agent Humboldt, we have a situation here, and we might need you to help us out.”

He turned back to the door and pulled out a marker, with which he started drawing a sigil. Inside, Golda picked up a large knife and pulled Karl’s hand towards her.

“We must finish this,” she said.

“Mother!” Lena shouted.

A minute later, Angela pulled up in her car, Anders beside her. They ran out and met Karen at the front door.

“Agent Hansen, the grandmother's taken the child,” she said, “She's locked him in the room with her. She may have a knife. I've called 119.”

“What happened?” Anders said.

“Who called the Inquisition?” Karen said.

“That would be me,” Anders said.

“Well, they’re performing a ritual,” Karen said, “And things escalated from there.”

They heard Karl yelling from upstairs and rushed inside. In the room, Golda moved the knife towards Karl’s palm. Suddenly, every candle blew out. Golda clutched Karl to her and waved the knife around, as if at an invisible enemy. She screamed and hugged the boy.

“Mihai!” she yelled. “Mihai! Mihai! It is the only way.”

She put the knife to Karl’s palm again, but he screamed and ran to the corner of the room, where he cowered. A table across the room, striking Golda in the back and knocking her down. Outside, Anders and Angela reached Elena, Dieter, and Munster. Dieter had finished drawing his sigil on the door and put his hand to it.

“Alright, get your guns ready,” he said, “There’s a chance this could turn ugly.”

Angela and Anders drew their guns.

“Aperta ianua,” Dieter said.

Nothing happened.

“Mom!” Lena shouted.

“That’s strange,” Dieter said, “It should work. Unless…”

“This is a Class 3,” Munster said.

“Scheiße,” Dieter said.

Inside, Golda regained her senses to see Karl standing over her, holding the dead chickens.

“Esiti din mina trup periti,” Karl said with a disembodied voice.

He dropped the roosters on her, and they suddenly became alive, squawking and pecking and clawing at her. Golda screamed.

“Class 3?” Dieter said.

“Would explain why the standard sigils aren’t working,” Munster said.

“Then how do we get inside?” Dieter said.

Angela pushed them aside and kicked down the door, which gave way surprisingly easily. She entered to find the room quiet and Karl sitting on the table. Lena rushed over to Golda, who lay dead on the floor. Two dead roosters lay next to her.

“Oh my God!” Lena cried. “Mama! Mama!”

Anders looked at Karl, who looked back at him blankly.


3:00 PM

Anders, Dieter, Munster, and several policemen collected evidence in Golda's room. Anders sniffed the contents of a glass container on the table as Angela walked in.

“Did you talk to Karl?” Anders asked.

“He says he doesn't remember anything,” Angela said, “Now, the coroner's preliminary report states that she died of a heart attack ... but those wounds, Anders, I'd swear it looked like her eyes were pecked out. That and her eyes were basically pecked out. I’m not getting that image out of my head anytime soon, am I?”

“Well, there was more ash on the floor under the old woman's body, and look at this,” Anders said, handing her the container.

“What is it?” Angela said.

“It's mugwort,” Anders said, “I think it's a ceremonial herb.”

“You think this was a ritual killing?” Angela said.

“No,” Dieter said, “The reverse swastika on the window and the red string around Karl's wrist - those are protective devices.”

“Protection against what?” Angela said.

“We don’t know yet,” Munster said, “But we think Golda knew her family was in trouble. We sent the Inquisitors to perform a Dacian exorcism ritual, not the usual basic exorcism. Honestly, we don’t know what to make of this case. We’re waiting on more instructions from the Nicomedia office.”

They heard Lena yelling and walked out to see her arguing with the Inquisitors.

“I told you before,” she said, “Get out of my house!”

One of the Inquisitors said something in Dacian.

“We should’ve picked Inquisitors with better German language skills,” Dieter said.

“I am not interested in your superstition,” Lena said, “Now get out. Now!!!”

The Inquisitors left. Anders turned to Munster.

“They’re not conventional Inquisitors,” he said, “Who are they? Sentinel?”

“Calusari,” Munster explained, “Traditional Dacian equivalents of Inquisitors, responsible for the correct observance of sacred rites, many of them pre-Christian. We absorbed them into the Inquisition during the Fifty Years’ War as a division specializing in Dacian lore.”

“What did he say?” Angela said.

“He said it's not over,” Lena said, walking up to them, “The evil is still here.”

“Excuse me,” Anders said, walking out the door.

He ran up to the Inquisitors, specifically the lead Calusari.

“Sir?” he said. “Can I have a word with you? Sir, I'm with the Athanatoi. I'd like to ask you some questions.”

He held up his badge, but the Inquisitors continued walking to their car.

“I’m a friend of Dieter and Munster, by the way,” Anders said, “I know you’re Inquisitors. You don’t have to keep secrets from. You were trying to protect the family, weren't you? You said there was still evil here. Sir?”

He grabbed the lead Calusari by the arm. “I can arrest you if I have to.”

The lead Calusari sighed and turned around. “The evil that is here has always been. It has gone by different names through history - Cain, Lucifer, Gandhi, Angelos. It does not care if it kills one boy or a million. If you try to stop us, the blood will be on your hands.”

The Inquisitors got in their car and drove off. Dieter ran up to him.

“I was about to say they’re not really the talkative kind,” he said.


3:30 PM

Lena stood at the fireplace, looking sadly at pictures of her family on the mantle as Anders and Angela walked in.

“Frau Holvey?” Angela said. “I know this is a difficult time, but there are some questions that need to be answered.”

“My mother used to say that evil follows evil,” Lena said, “Once someone suffers a misfortune, they'll always have bad luck. I used to think that was just a superstition. Now I don't know what to believe. I blamed her, you know, for all that's happened. I thought maybe she was putting a curse on us to punish me.”

“Punish you for what?” Angela said.

“For abandoning the old ways,” Lena said, “I was raised to believe as she did, in spirits, the unseen world. It was a way to cling to our traditions under the equalists, who wanted to destroy our way of life. But once the war was over, it felt redundant. When I married Stephen, I left all that behind.”

“Do you know what kind of ceremony she was performing upstairs?” Anders said. “The Inquisitors wouldn’t tell me.”

“She was trying to cleanse the house of evil,” Lena said, “She thought Karl was responsible somehow. How could he be responsible for all this horror? He's just a little boy.”

“I think we should talk to Karl and find out what happened in your mother's bedroom,” Angela said.

Lena nodded.


St. Matthew’s Hospital, Nicomedia – 4:00 PM

Angela, Anders, Lena, Dieter, and Munster sat in the waiting room, watching Karen talk to Karl in a playroom. Karl sat quietly and played with an Etch-a-Sketch.

“Karl?” Karen said. “I was told they found you in your grandmother's room yesterday. Can you tell me about it? Do you remember how you got there?”

Karl shook his head.

“Your mother said you were there,” Karen said, “Don't you remember?”

“I wasn’t there,” Karl said sharply, walking away.

“Many people saw you in the room,” Karen said.

Karl kicked toys across the room. “It wasn't me! I wasn't there! It wasn't me!”

“Who was in the room?” Karen asked.

“No!” Karl shouted.

“Was there someone else in the room?” Karen asked.

“No!” Karl said. “I didn't hurt her!”

“Karl?” Karen said. “Who hurt your grand ... Karl?”

“It was him!” Karl said.

“Who?” Karen said. “Karl, who?”

“It was Michael!” Karl said. “Michael! Michael!”

Lena gasped and turned from the window.

“Frau Holvey?” Angela said.

“We never told him,” Lena said, “It was agreed upon. It was our secret.”

“What secret, Frau Holvey?” Angela said. “What are you talking about?”

“Michael,” Lena said, “He was Karl's twin. He was stillborn. Stephen and I agreed never to tell Karl about it. My mother, she wanted to perform a ritual of separation when she heard of Michael's death, to divide their souls. She said if we didn't, the world of the dead would follow Karl. But it was just a superstition.”

Karl suddenly seized up and collapsed.

“Help!” Karen said. “I need your help!”

They ran into the playroom.

“He's having a seizure,” Karen said.

“Alright, don't restrain him,” Angela said, “Let's turn him on his side so he doesn't aspirate. Karl, you're going to be okay.”


7:30 PM

Angela walked up the stairs towards Anders, who stood on a landing beside a window.

“How’s Karl?” he asked.

“He’s resting,” Angela said, “How’s Frau Holvey?”

“I'm amazed she hasn't broken down completely,” Anders said, “She's in the waiting room, trying to get some sleep.”

“The doctor said that Karl had a seizure, but they've been unable to determine a cause,” Angela said, “Have your friends found anything?”

“Dieter and Munster are still working on a solution at the Nicomedia office,” Anders said, “But from what they’re telling me, I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Still thinking it’s a demonic possession?” Angela said.

“Not really,” Anders said, “But the Inquisition still doesn’t know what’s going on.”

“Look, Anders, I’m sure there’s a reasonable scientific explanation for this,” Angela said.


7:45 PM

Karl lay on a hospital bed. He was startled by a nurse pulling aside the dividing curtain.

“Oh, I'm sorry Karl, I didn't mean to scare you,” she said, “I'm Nurse Castor. Now, I'm just going to give you a little something to help you sleep.”

“No, I don't want a shot,” Karl said.

Castor regardless started rubbing antiseptic on Karl’s arm. Karl struggled against her.

“I know, but that's what happens when you spit out your medicine,” Castor said, “We have to give it to you some other way.”

“No!” Karl said.

“Now, Karl, I just want you to relax,” Castor said, “It's not going to hurt, and afterwards I'll give you a lollipop.”

“Leave me alone!” Karl said.

“Karl, it'll just be a little pinch,” Castor said, “Now, I want you to relax.”

“Stop it!” Karl said.

“Karl, now, I want you to behave,” Castor said.

Across the room, Karl saw his twin standing behind the door. Castor had her back to the door and reached for a syringe.

“Karl, I want you to behave,” Castor said, “Just relax.”

Michael approached the nurse, picking up a metal stool.

“No!” Karl shouted. “Don't do it! Don't do it!”

“Karl…” Castor said.

“No, Michael!” Karl said. “Michael, don't!”

Castor looked over her shoulder just as Michael slammed the stand into her head.


8:00 PM

Karl walked up to Lena, who slept on a chair in the waiting room, and shook her awake.

“Mommy?” he said. “I want to go home now.”

“Karl?” Lena said. “What are you doing up? Why are you dressed?”

“They said I could go home now,” Karl said.

“Who said that?” Lena said.

“The doctors,” Karl said, “They said I could leave.”

“All right, then,” Lena said, getting up, “Let's just get your coat and we'll talk to the doctors.”

“No, Mommy,” Karl said, “Let's just go home - now.”

“Alright, Karl, we’ll go straight home,” Lena said.

She took his hand and led him out of the waiting room.

On the stairwell, Angela listened to her Walkman as she waited for results. She noticed something happening out the window and looked outside. Anders walked up to her.

“What are you looking at?” he asked.

Angela pointed outside. “Is that Frau Holvey? I think she's got Karl with her.”

“Oh, scheiße,” Anders cursed, getting out his phone, “I’m calling backup.”

Angela ran to Karl’s room and saw Karl was still in his bed, fast asleep. She found Castor lying on the floor, rubbing her head. She ran outside.

“Nurse!” she shouted.

Running back in, she helped Castor to her feet.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

“He hit me,” Castor said.

“Who? Karl?” Angela said.

“No ... not him, the other one,” Castor said, “There were two of them, two boys.”

Another nurse arrived to help Castor. Angela walked into the hallway and joined Anders, who finished his call and put away his phone.

“You have to get to Frau Holvey's house,” Anders said.

“Why?” Angela said.

“That boy you saw leaving with Frau Holvey - that wasn't Karl,” Anders said, “It was Michael.”

“You're saying Frau Holvey left here with a ghost?” Angela said.

“A spirit, a ghost - it's what we saw in the photograph,” Anders said, “It's what Golda was trying to protect the family from. Dieter and Munster confirmed it. They’re sending backup.”

“Anders…” Angela began.

“Whatever it is, it's killed three people, and you've got to get to Frau Holvey's before it happens again,” Anders said.

Angela walked into the elevator and hit the lobby button. “What about you?”

“I’m waiting for the backup,” Anders said.


Holvey residence – 8:30 PM

Michael sat at the kitchen table. Lena set down some food for him.

“There you go, Karl,” Lena said.

“Aren't you going to have some?” Michael said.

“No, dear,” Lena said, “I'm not hungry.”

“Tomorrow we can go to the park,” Michael said.

“Yes, sure,” Lena said.

“Can I have a balloon?” Michael asked.

Lena’s eyes widened in fear. She nervously nodded.

“Can we ride the train, Mommy?” Michael said.

Lena was now very uneasy. Something was wrong. She fumbled through a drawer and grabbed a matchbox.

“Now you finish up and mommy will be right back, okay?” she said.

She went to Golda’s room and lit some candles. She took out a book and started reading from it in Dacian. She lit three matches and dropped them into a bowl of liquid, their flames extinguishing as they hit the liquid and floated on the surface.

“Please, God,” she muttered, “Don't let it be true.”

One by one, the matches sank. She gasped.

“What are you doing, Mommy?” Michael said.

She turned to see Michael standing in the doorway. His hair moved as if wind was blowing through it. Lena picked up a knife and held it over her head, approaching Michael as she spoke in Dacian.

“Mommy?” Michael said.


St. Matthew’s Hospital

Anders waited in the hallway outside Karl’s room. The four Calusari Inquisitors entered the hall and approached him, Munster walking next to them. They walked into the room.

“Guard the door,” Munster said, “We’ve got only one shot at this.”

Anders closed the door.


Holvey residence

Angela entered Lena’s house and turned on her flashlight. The lights were off. She tried the light switch, but nothing happened. She walked into the kitchen and heard a noise from upstairs.

“Frau Holvey?” she said. “Hello?”

Angela drew her gun as she saw a figure approaching her from across the room. She swung her flashlight into the figure’s face.

“Whoa!” Dieter said. “Easy there, ma’am.”

“You scared me,” Angela said.

“Agent Hansen, we don’t have much time,” Dieter said, “Listen carefully.”


St. Matthew’s Hospital

Munster took out a can of salt and made a salt circle around the perimeter of the room. When he was finished, he put away the can and took out a marker, which he used to start drawing sigils on the walls and windows.

“Don’t worry about vandalism, Agent Humboldt, it’s all erasable,” Munster said, “The wonders of modern technology.”

“But they didn’t work last time,” Anders said.

“These are stronger and should work for a little bit,” Munster said, “Long enough for my friends to complete the ritual.”

The Calusari surrounded Karl’s bed and bowed their heads in prayer, chanting in Dacian. The lead Calusari unbuttoned Karl’s pajama shirt. One Calusari sprinkled powder on Karl’s chest. He suddenly woke up and hissed at them. Two Calusari restrained his arms, while a third held back his head. The fourth, the lead Calusari, sprinkled a herb into a bowl of liquid, and it bubbled like a witch’s cauldron. Karl continued hissing and now thrashed on the bed.

“Fie newt, avet a plaratariat,” Karl shouted, “New potex ... new potex ... new potex. Suffragettes agitaball. Pulley tot allso puritay from freeditay. Suffragette a agitaball. Ohh saaa ... pu chette ... agitaball ... boy gotz.”

Munster started chanting in Latin. The lead Calusari added a red powder to the bowl of liquid, which turned red and bubbled violently, emitting smoke. Karl continued thrashing, while the other Calusari continued chanting. The lead Calusari gestured to Anders and Munster.

“Come,” he said, “Hold him down.”

They grabbed Karl’s feet. Karl continued to struggle, growling and giving Anders and evil stare.

“Don't look at him,” Munster said, “Look away, or it will recognize you.”

Anders turned his head, seeing an orange liquid covering the walls.


Holvey residence

Angela and Dieter opened the door to Golda’s room. The stained glass window with the reverse swastika shook, and then both windows shattered.

“I’m staying back,” Dieter said, pulling out his marker, “I’ll draw some sigils.”

“They didn’t work last time,” Angela said.

“These are stronger,” Dieter said.

“Tell me later!” Angela said. “I’m going in!”

Angela shielded her eyes and then entered, pushing against the strong wind howling through the windows. She panned the room with her flashlight. A glass object broke at her foot. She heard faint chanting in Dacian, and her head was suddenly touched by a pair of feet. She looked up and saw Lena pinned to the ceiling by an invisible force. Angela saw a shadow move across the wall and turned to the window, but she saw nobody there. The door to the room suddenly slammed shut. She turned to the door.

“Agent Dieter?” she said.

“I can’t get in!” he replied. “It’s the ghost!”

Angela kicked the door, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Find something with iron in it!” Dieter said. “They’re weak to it!”

Angela looked around. “Karl?”

“Mommy?” Karl’s voice said, coming from Lena.

Angela looked up at Lena. Then she was grabbed by an invisible force and slammed into the corner of the room, next to the window. She fell to the floor and was dragged with some furniture into another corner.

“Whatever you’re doing out there, you should do it now!” Angela said.

Dieter didn’t respond.

Michael picked up the knife and advanced on Angela. Angela grabbed her gun and opened fire, shooting him in the upper torso and his head. But although the bullets impacted Michael, no blood leaked from his wounds, and the bullets simply left Michael and embedded in the wall behind him. He continued walking, now with holes running through his body.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said.


St. Matthew’s Hospital

The lead Calusari drew a large knife over the bowl of bubbling red liquid. Karl continued screaming at the Inquisitors in Rumanian. Anders and Munster continued holding his feet. The bed shook and levitated several feet off the floor.

“It hurts!” Karl said.

“Don’t let go!” Munster said. “It’s tricking you!”

Munster squeezed a liquid into a small cup and handed it to the lead Calusari, who added it to the other bowl of liquid. The lead Calusari then picked up a white feather and dipped it into the liquid, using it to paint a reverse swastika on Karl’s chest. Karl continued screaming and convulsing as the Inquisitors chanted.

“It shouldn’t take long!” Munster said.

The lead Calusari completed the reverse swastika, and at that moment, Karl relaxed. The bed fell back to the floor.


Holvey residence

Michael vanished. The knife clattered to the floor next to Angela. The wind vanished, and Lena fell back to the floor. Angela rushed over to her.

“Are you okay?” she said.

“Karl?” Lena said.

They looked around the room, but nobody was there. There was gray ash on the floor and a small wisp of smoke. At that moment, the door broke down, and Dieter ran inside, his gun and a dagger drawn.

“Ghost! Or demon! Or whatever!” he shouted. “Reveal yourself!”

When he realized the room was empty, he lowered his weapons and cursed.

“You’re a bit late,” Angela said.


St. Matthew’s Hospital

The Calusari stepped away from the bed.

“Let the boy rest,” the lead Calusari said, “We must find his mother. The boy needs her.”

They left the room, leaving Munster and Anders looking at Karl.

“He’ll be fine,” Munster said, “Took longer than I expected, but it should be over. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wipe away the sigils.”

He took out an eraser and started removing the sigils on the walls.



9;00 PM

Anders stood in the hallway outside Karl’s room. Angela, Lena, and Dieter ran out of the elevator and towards him.

“Angie, what happened there?” Anders said.

Angela tried fixing her messed up hair. “Air conditioning was worse than Eurisko.”

Lena ran past him and into the room, where she hugged Karl.

“Karl!” she said. “It's okay! Karl!”

Munster walked out of the room and turned to Anders. He sighed.

“We did it, right?” Anders said.

“It is over, for now,” Munster said, “But you must be careful. It knows you.”

“If you need anything, again, just call us,” Dieter said.

They joined the Calusari and walked around a corner. Anders and Angela stared at each other for a moment. Then they walked the other direction.
 
Last edited:

TheAnguishedOne

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Not the smoothest joint operation for Angela and Anders with the Inquisition. The Calusari aren't as cooperative as Anders' pals, at least.