I'm preparing to introduce Hawkx's character very soon...
Very looonnnggg entry. Spent a few hours...
New Jersey Wastelands, in the Pine Barrens...
Erik von Blucher was a deserter from the Army of the Third Reich. He had brought shame on the name von Blucher, the name of the Prussian general who had defeated Napoleon I at the Battle of Waterloo. Erik did not have respect for himself for deserting, but he knew Nazi Germany was not as invincible as it seemed. Things were going poorly in the Third Russian War, where his cousin had been killed by Ivan Stalin. There were rumors, though he did not believe all of them because he had fervently followed the Party when he was a youth, of camps for dissidents. Now, alone and on the run, he found himself in the Pine Barrens, there to seek out fellow miscreants and traitors. With any luck, he would not meet any of the "dread Jersey devils," a wild breed of monsters. When the nukes dropped, animals suffered terrible side-effects. Dogs the size of horses, cats the size of lions, "thunder birds;" mutated hawks and eagles. Even years after the last bombs had dropped, the animals drank radioactive water, breathed contaminated air, walked on poison dirt, and ate other contaminated creatures.
He started coughing vehemently. He looked at his radiation detector; it was a hot zone. He reached into his backpack and pulled out his gas mask. He removed his stahlhelm and put the mask on. "There, that's better." He donned his helmet and continued on. He thought he had seen someone in this section of forest earlier. He was desperate for someone to talk to. He pulled out his machete and started smacking branches out of the way. After he went about half a mile, he sat down on a boulder. He checked his Krupp K-89 rapid-fire machine gun and cleaned the barrel. He put a raggy shirt behind his head as a pillow and dozed off.
Ten minutes later Erik was awakened by a loud noise like a firearm. When he looked down at the ground below his rocky perch, there was a dead devil with a bullet in its skull. He immediately grabbed his Krupp and looked for the shooter.
"Vho ist dere? Vhere are you?!" He took off the safety.
"Easy, neighbor. Calm down. I just saved your life from that mutant mutt. It was sizin' you up right as I put a shot in its head. Now, I can tell yer a Kraut, pardon the expression, so what're you doing here?"
Erik did not lower his weapon. "Vho are you? You tell me first!"
The man tossed his rifle onto the ground. "Look, neighbor, I don't mean you no harm. Name's Bernie McCoy."
"Vell, 'Bernie,' my name ist Bruno Erikson," he lied.
Bernie nodded. "Ya look like one, Bruno. Tell ya what, you lower that gun, and maybe we can be friends. I can tell you're a deserter. Why else would a German be here?"
Erik was prepared to shoot the man, but he knew Bernie would not be able to tell anyone that mattered. "Okay, my name ist Erik von Blucher."
von Blucher? As in Waterloo?"
"Ja. That's right. My grandfather."
Bernie nodded again. "Well, if ya got nowhere to go, why don't ya join my group?"
"Our group of traders. We come here every so often to trade with the people around here. We're about to leave. C'mon, I'll take you to the others. We set up a mini-fort over yonder, there's fresh...er air there. We won't need these darned contraptions on our faces there." Bernie also sported a mask, like any common sense person would. The Barrens were not directly bombed, but thanks to nature, it was hard hit by fallout, and many of the trees were dead. Still, 'many' in the Barrens still left a few thousand.
Bernie checked out the mutant first. "Yep, German shepherd. Hehe, those things're scary even when they ain't mutn't. All righty, c'mon." Bernie led Erik about a mile north-west. They arrived at a partially dissembled camp. Six men, Bernie's fellow traders, were finishing packing up. Bernie shouted a greeting, and the other men did the same. Immediately they were upset over the presence of Erik.
One man who sported a "Smokey the Bear" hat like Bernie's cupped his hands to his mouth, "Say, ain't that a Kraut?! What's 'e doin' here, McCoy?"
Bernie patted Erik on the back. "Deserter. Saved 'im from a mutant shepherd back there. He seems all right, guys. He coulda shot me, but he didn't."
Erik sat on the back of one of the traders' spare horses. A few saddlebags were attached to the saddle which contained valuables, and his Krupp gun hung around the saddle horn, ready to be used in case of mutant attack or assault by Jersey "tribesmen," wild men and women, usually sporting Indian mohawks and primitive weapons. They thought they had seen a scout earlier, spying on them from a patch of bushes. Needless to say, they were nervous.
Erik pulled out his binoculars and scouted the area. Two of the traders did likewise. "See anything, McCoy?"
Bernie lowered his glasses, "Naw, nothin'. The savages wouldn't dare attack u- Sweet mother of Hitler what is that?!" A loud whooping noise was coming from the forest, mixed with a loud engine sound. Before they realized what was happening, a motorcycle-mounted, mohawked savage was coming at them with a homemade spear. Other gang members, unmounted, were rushing out of the same area.
Sweat beads dripped down Erik's face. He was a deserter. He was a coward. He had shamed the family name."No."
He lifted his Krupp gun and opened fire. The motorcycle flipped over and exploded. Getting off his startled horse, Erik took the fight to them. Spraying round after round at the attackers, it became a scene of great carnage. Calmly, he popped out the old cartridge and put in another. The traders were also firing their far more dated weapons, but they had to be careful not to hit Erik, as he was now in the midst of the fight, The savages formed a circle around him in a hope to overwhelm him, but he just did a 360 and annihilated them. Finally, a limber gang member with a machete leaped down off a tree branch. Erik was knocked over and dropped his gun, but he countered by taking out his own machete. The two dueled while packs of savages assaulted the trader caravan. Finally, the savage scored a hit, hitting Erik's swastika arm patch. Another hit scored on his thigh, but it was not too bad. Furious, he unleashed his full strength on the mohawked robber. With a weakening blow on the man's bare sword arm, he did a full roundhouse swing, decapitating the foe. He again threw himself into the brawl, throwing punches left and right and hacking with his machete. The thugs were now very weakened, and the traders intensified their shooting. Finally, they started to back off.
As the savages retreated, one made a fatal slip of the tongue: "C'mon, you guys! Les g'back to the foirm!"
"Bingo," muttered Bernie. Erik, who was close enough to hear, knew what he meant.
As soon as the traders were mounted up, Bernie announced his plan. "Okay, that one guy mentioned 'getting back to the foirm.' If you have trouble understanding their mutilated English, they have a farm, likely a pre-war one. I say we assault; you saw us! Erik fought like a man inspired and we didn't lose one guy. The time is right. Let's rid Jersey of some savages!" The others unanimously agreed. And for the first time in a long while, Erik felt a sense of pride. Maybe he just had trouble fighting for the Reich. For himself and the kind traders who had helped him? Yes, he could do that.
Later that night...
"There's their farm," Bernie pointed out. "Get your weapons loaded, fellas, we're gonna crash their funeral services, he. As if they had those. On my mark... Mark!"
The seven men burst out of the brush, muzzles flashing in the moonlight as they filled the thugs full of holes. The savages were shocked and terrified, many ran for their lives, only to be mowed down. It was like the Battle of Little Bighorn, that is, like it if Custer's men possessed rapid-fire machine guns and pistols. As the men broke through the feeble wall of junk and its defenders, the run-down farmhouse became clear. The thugs were trying to all get in at the same time. What resulted was like a crowded store that just caught on fire: people trample each other and end up killing themselves trying to get out, or, in this case, in. Erik and the traders kept firing, showing mercy only to children and some of the wounded, although Bernie seemed to be killing the wounded, too. They ancient front porch of the house became so overloaded with people and bodies and bullet holes that it collapsed. Much of the front of the house followed. Cries of terror and agony rang in their ears as the building partially collapsed.
Erik looked through the dust cloud to see only wounded and killed. Behind him, the traders were dealing with the braver thugs who had decided to make a stand. Seconds later, it was over. He looked through the wreckage. Mangled body parts and limbs stuck up like a horror movie. The traders put the dying men out of their misery. The other half of the house still stood, but only the wounded were stirring. Bernie went through the wreckage of the collapsed portion, wiping them out.
Bernie kicked one man in the side. "Die you savage! You monster!" The fellow's cries for mercy were stopped short as Bernie shot him in the ear.
Erik grew sick from the gore and tackled McCoy. "Stop it! Stop! Stop, Bernie! They're helpless and dying!" He grabbed McCoy's pistol and tossed it away. He then arm-locked him. "Enough! Vhy are you doing this?"
McCoy stopped struggling but looked just as furious as ever. "They... killed... my... family. They slaughtered them! They decapitated my parents and put their heads on pikes! I must avenge them! I must!"
"Ve've killed dozens today. Most everyone here ist dying. Get a hold of yourself. Ve destroyed them utterly." McCoy nodded and agreed to stop. Reluctantly, Erik released him.
Immediately, McCoy threw a punch which Erik barely managed to dodge. Countering quickly, Erik punched him in the mouth, followed by an uppercut that knocked him out. McCoy crashed through some boards and hit the ground. The other traders thought Erik had done the right thing and tied Bernie's hands.
Erik knelt down beside the man McCoy had gone ape on. The man had a pair of rotting blue jeans and a mutant-skin vest over his torso. Around his neck hung a cross on a chain. In his pocket, a Bible. Erik was shocked and moved. Even some of the savages 'had religion.' This one appeared to likely be Catholic like himself. He turned the man over, closed his glassy eyes, and put the crucifix in the man's crossed hands. Erik used his military shovel and dug a shallow grave and buried him. He took two boards and a nail and made a grave marker. As he stood beside the grave of his enemy, he heard a voice behind him. "Tank you." The accented voice belonged, as Erik saw when he turned around, a small boy. The kid sported a mohawk like the grown men of the gang and had some ragged 50's clothes. "Tanks for buryin' my dad."
Erik stooped down beside him. "I'm sorry. I'm sure he was a good man."
The boy nodded. "Yep. I don't know what happened to my sister. My mother's dead, too."
Erik gave the kid his canteen. "Don't worry, if you don't have anyvhere to go, ve'll look out for you."
The boy looked at his ripped sleeve. "Are you wana tem Krauts dad and mom always talk about? They dropped the Big Boom. They're supposed to have crosses on their arms, like yours."
Erik was reluctant to admit it, but he did. "Ja. Or 'yes.' I'm a German. My people dropped the Big Boom. I wish we hadn't. Our leader was too powerful for his and everyone's good."
The boy raised one of his fingers to his upper lip and raised his arm in a mock hail. "Tat leader?"
Erik smiled. "Yes, his name vas Hitler. I guess you've seen pictures of him, eh?"
The boy nodded. "Yeah! Tat's right! My dad and my grandfather used to be his men, or his successor, whoever he was."
Erik's eyes widened. "You mean... They left the army?"
"Yep! They said they weren't 'cut out for it.' My granpa had a photo of Hister."
Erik could hardly believe his ears. The man McCoy had killed was a German soldier. He knew he'd look out for the boy from now on. " 'Hitler,' not 'Hister.' Come on, let's see if ve can find your zister." Erik took out a flashlight and shone it into the rubble. When they did not find her body among the wreckage, he breathed a sigh of relief. "Maybe she's just wounded and inside the other half of the house." They climbed up the rubble and into the shell of the back part off the house. Corpses were strewn on the floor, but the kid did not see his sister. When they scanned the first floor and found nothing, Erik instructed the boy, who told him his name was Dietrich, to stay on the first floor. With a description of her from Dietrich, Erik tested the first step up to the second story. It was unstable, but he had to risk it. The first three stairs held. The fourth cracked and fell. Luckily, Erik got to the next stair before it collapsed. After about thirty seconds, he reached the second floor. There were far fewer corpses. He looked around what seemed like a former bedroom. A rusty bed frame sat broken on the floor, the mattress long gone. He spotted a closet door in one corner. Slowly, with pistol drawn, he creaked it open. His light fell upon a girl huddled in a corner of the filthy wardrobe. She looked about 18, a few years younger than Erik, 23. He scared her to death, and she fired a pistol at him. Erik's helmet went flying through the air. Feeling his head as he got out of the line of fire, he realized his brain was still there. He let her run out of rounds firing blankly at nothing. Slowly, he advanced toward the closet. "Please, don't attack me. I'm here to help, just calm down. Your brother knows me. He likes me. Don't be afraid." Slowly, she dropped the ancient Colt and stood up. She didn't have a mohawk, but her hair was still Indian-looking and had the red hair paint and feathers that were popular among the Wastelanders. She had a pair of jeans that had been patched time and time again and a worn-out flannel shirt. a gas mask hung from her mutant-hide belt. Her eyes bulged and she was shaking with fear.
"You're... You're a Nazi." She understood much more than Dietrich. "You came here to kill my father for deserting!"
Erik grabbed her arms as she readied to scratch his eyes out. "No! I'm a deserter, too! I didn't kill your father! I tried to help him, but... it was too late. I buried him. I'm sorry."
She looked at him skeptically. "A deserter? Really?"
"Jawohl, mein frau."
She clearly understood German by what she said next: "Mein name ist Sophie Fischer. Mein bruder's name ist Dietrich."
"He told me," Erik said in English. "The only reason me and mein friends attacked this place ist because your people attacked us
earlier. We needed to teach them a lesson. I'm sorry your parents are gone. Most of the nomads around here are total savages; I did not expect a civilized, religious family here. We better get back to your brother." He assisted her getting down the stairs and back to Dietrich. The kid gave his sister a hug and they followed Erik over to the traders.
McCoy looked like he was going to have a seizure. Not only had Erik stuck up for the dying savages, now he had brought survivors right in front of him. He immediately unleashed a string of oaths and curses. "Why?! These savages need to be exterminated! Shoot them!"
Erik stood in front of him. "Shut up." McCoy's eyes widened. "I've heard you condemn the Nazis. You sound like the radicals. 'Exterminate! Exterminate!' " McCoy looked a little more composed, but not a lot. "Besides, they aren't savages. They're the children and grandchildren of deserters. German
deserters. They're highly intelligent. I vant to help them. I know vhat makes them tick."
Dietrich went over next to Bernie. "Please, let us stay with you guys! We don't hate you or any'ing. Please?"
"Their parents are dead, McCoy. Do it. Let them stay. I can tell the other men like them. If you don't let them stay, I won't either. If you're bushwhacked later, I can't help you anymore. Do it." Erik was dead earnest.
McCoy stared at them for a moment. It was not as bad as he had thought. At least they were Germans. "All... All right. They can stay. But they're your responsibility! I won't let them get hurt if I can help it, but I won't be on high alert. They're your problem."
Erik grinned. "Danke. You're not that bad a man then, are you? Vell, then, vhere are we going now?"
One of the traders cut the rope around McCoy's hands. Bernie got up, dusted himself off, and put his brown "smokey" hat back on. "To Pennsylvania. I have a friend there. Will Welch is his name. Traders stick together, you know?" He loaded his weapon and mounted his horse. "C'mon. We're going to Spruce County."I'm thinking that they meet up with James, Gunner, and the Dutch right after the end of Hikaro's last post, if that makes sense.