Sunday, July 31, 2011

Achtung, Baby! Part 9

It was a very intricate plan. And as the old Irish saying goes, the fancier the plumbing, the easier it is to clog up the works. Or maybe it's a Scottish saying. I don't feckin' remember, doesn't matter.

Anyway, Harlan tried to put one over on old Krieger. The old Kraut werewolf wasn't havin' any of it. In fact, he came round and tightened my bonds, though at the time I didn't realize notice as I was still voluntarily under Harlan's hypnosis. Well, negotiations broke down and it wasn't long before Harlan ended up taking a swing at Krieger, Nate jumped on stage and cut off the mayor's son's head (well, he was a werewolf himself and a Nazi collaborator, so don't feel too sorry for him). Ciara easily slipped lose of her bonds using some escape artistry I've not quite mastered myself. She already killed two Nazi guards before I finally broke my own bonds the old fashioned way, with good ol' Scion epic strength...unfortunately by that point, our plan had exploded just like my bonds, because by this point a number of children had been shot (two, by my count) and they and the rest of the children in the square had been rushed to the safety of nearby homes and businesses in the buildings surrounding the main square...so so much for flying Ciara's helicopter out safely with the children. It's just as well. With the way my luck's been in Wolfsheim so far, I wouldn't have been surprised if I got ambushed by Messerschmitts controlled by Nazi werewolves once I got airborne.

Anyway, once my bonds were loosed, I managed to pull out my Sig Sauer P226 service pistol and squeeze off a round at a Nazi werewolf guard while he took a shot at me with his rifle. My round merely grazed his torso and put a hole in his feldgrau uniform. Lucky for me, his rifle bullet hit my vest at a very odd angle and was deflected, though the impact hurt like feckin' hell.

I was about to line up for another shot when an eerie chorus of howls unlike anything I'd ever heard echoed all over the landscape. Suddenly, on opposite corners of the Wolfsheim town square sat two gigantic wolves, straddling the roofs of large buildings. They spoke in what I took to be Old Norse at first, which none of us could follow. They adjusted and switched to modern German. They directed their attention to Harlan, whom they addressed as "Uncle", for some reason. We learned their names to be Sköll and Hati. They explained they wanted to keep Wolfsheim for themselves. If we could fix the barrier (which by now we knew how to do) they would let us take as many humans with us as wanted to leave and allow us to live as well. Although I was just getting warmed up, and I personally thought we could take them, Harlan agreed to this arrangement before any of us could protest.

Sköll taunted Ciara and I both: "I thought you Irish were neutrals in the last war. If you want us to respect that, I suggest you listen to our uncle on this. Also, you will not harm the lesser werewolves further; they are under our protection and you will allow them to retreat."

The dazed remaining Werewolves shouldered their weapons, quietly assembled into a rough formation and began a slow route-step march out of town.

It was a bitter pill, but we agreed that Harlan had a point and it would minimize bloodshed. Sköll and Hati left, giving us 24 hours. Suddenly there was an explosion up at the munitions factory and a great cheer went up. Within minutes there were Goblins swarming the square wielding M-4 carbines, newly acquired. We stood in front of the human habitations and ordered the goblins to proceed to hunt the werewolves but to leave the humans here unmolested, explaining they were under our protection. The goblins were a bit confused, but reluctantly agreed. Before long, we could hear sounds of a fierce fire-fight erupting in the woods between goblins and werewolves. Luckily, as the forces shifted to gain advantage, both sides moved further and further from the center of town. This gave us the breathing room and time we needed to assemble the townspeople and take a quick poll of who wanted to leave and who wished to stay. I'd say we managed to convince about 1/3 of the populace that leaving was probably a good idea.

Nate furthermore had a very odd conversation with the Kami of the statue device in the middle of town...it was far more haughty and arrogant than its brother the silver rod had been. Nate asked the priestess what position the rod was in before they removed it; they told him what they could remember, and the rod was reinserted and shifted back to the way it was. The barrier lowered and we were able to evacuate early the next morning.

We managed to resettle the villagers but a lot of it was tricky, since some of had been descended from the original inhabitants in the late 18th century in a corner of Germany that time basically forgot. Not only did they lack modern skills, they lacked anything like proper paperwork, birth certificates, etc. I started the legal process of getting citizenship rolling, and, coordinating with Nate, Laurel did what she could for us from the USA, calling Nancy Pelosi's office and doing other things. I used my INTERPOL credentials as best I could and made some headway, but then suddenly things got rushed through as if by magic. It became far easier than it should have been, much to my pleasant surprise. One weekend, Aisling and I managed to slip away to Ireland...we got married in the Irish countryside near Tara by a very stoned Celtic Reconstructionist pagan Priestess who had been one of my former probationers in Dublin...I found her and promised not to Narc on her to her current probation officer in County Meath...I'd ignore the fact that she'd fallen off the wagon again if she'd do our marriage ceremony and keep things low key. She agreed and was most grateful and congratulatory.

Our union sanctified by the Irish state and the Tuatha de Danann, the new Mrs. Aisling O'Shea and I headed off for a week-long romantic honeymoon in Paris, France, before getting back to business helping Nate and Ciara with the resettlement of the Wolfsheim refugees. Some had descended from Rheinlanders and I helped some of them re-settle in and around Strassbourg, even though this was today part of France.
Some ended up resettling across the border in Austria. It was a complicated bureaucratic shuffle, but we managed to pull it off.

Aisling and I returned to my apartment in Lyon and I went back to doing case review work for INTERPOL while Aisling stayed home watching TV and trying to learn more about human history outside of Ireland. We had been back in Lyon only a few days before I heard from Nate that Laurel and Gunnar would be joining us back in Germany, and we'd all be heading back into Wolfsheim. It seems that Laurel felt we should go above and beyond for the people of Wolfsheim and that Dionysus had agreed to create a wine-growing commune for the displaced Wolfsheimers, so they could peacefully re-settle into the calm, quiet village life they were used to and even become economically sustainable on their own with a little Greek investment up front. But there's always a catch, of course, and that catch is, we needed to bring Dionysus the ol' statue in the middle of Wolfsheim. We agreed to give it a shot.

We all met in Stuttgart and headed back out on the regional train and then made our way by car to the outskirts of Wolfsheim and then proceeded on foot. Laurel was accompanied by a new band member, a young blonde American woman who carried an expensive camera and an even nicer hunting rifle slung across her back. She mentioned something about being a freelancer, something about National Geographic...I didn't really pay close attention, to be honest. I think her name was Kassandra, or something.

Laurel and Gunnar were also slightly shocked to see Aisling in her new form and even more shocked to learn we were now married, matching rings and everything. They had been told of all this, but it still took them by surprise to behold her with their own eyes.

Acquiring the statue itself was easier than I thought it would be. Well, we did run into Hati and Sköll again, and Gunnar had to lay low a bit...an Aesir like him was viewed as a rival and not welcome...but Gunnar was a skilled Chicago gumshoe & a skilled Norse woodsman and knew how to stay hidden and knew how to double back. Harlan also showed off his impressive fast-talking ability and before long had Hati and Sköll chasing Goblins in their realm---with no direct way to return to Wolfsheim.
Very nice fake out, I had to admit. A classic "Let's you and him fight", more or less.

We met Dionysus on the edge of town, with Nate easily toting the statue with one hand, holding it aloft and gently helicoptering it. What happened next went so fast I could hardly keep up with it. Dionysus was joined by Zeus and Odin, then suddenly Dionysus changed his visage and we saw before us Harlan's dad, the very Loki himself, who grabbed the statue from Nate saying "thanks so much,", and heading away with it at high speed. Zeus and Odin both hurled ranged attacks that utterly destroyed some of the trees on the edge of the forest, but Loki had already vanished.
The real Dionysus showed up, ashen faced, and changed himself from how he had looked at Laurel's wedding to his true god form, a muscular blonde and beautiful Greek man of indeterminate age. I didn't catch much of the conversation but I did think I heard him tell Laurel that he was "sorry" and that he had "fucked up big time.", he cradled his hands in his head in frustration, rubbing his temples...

Well, nothing left to do but damage control now. Our next task was to accompany Laurel and Gunnar to the Norse underworld known as Helheim, to ask the Goddess Hel herself for a small favor. I knew a thing or two about this place from legends I'd read in High School and college. Despite her protests, I put Aisling on the next train/ferry combo to Dublin; she carried Nevermore in a cage, and Kassandra's cat in a pet carrier. I had bought Aisling a British Army Royal Irish Regiment forest green caubeen with feather and silver harp crest and I put it on her head. She looked even more beautiful like that. I cautioned Aisling that this was another divine realm and there was no telling how long I might be gone, but to look after mother and Nevermore and Kassandra's cat until I returned. Aisling nodded, then pulled me to her and kissed me deeply for nearly a minute before letting go, looking deeply into my eyes and saying "I remain your loyal partner, always..."

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