Triumvirate and Entente
June 30, 1908
The station they got off in Tunguska, a remote part of Siberia north of Lake Baikal, at was little more than a run-down platform. It took a week of transport by local horses to finally reach the site. Even with Wendy's thaumaturgy, it still seemed like an eternity. Eventually, the trio reached a crumbling, old cathedral in the middle of the clearing. Eerie chanting emerged from the structure, and the ominous sound of a pipe organ could clearly be heard.
What such a grand cathedral was doing in the middle of the woods, away from any major cities or paths, Taylor neither knew nor cared. The sun had yet to rise, though some light was appearing over distant mountains. The intense light appeared in the sky and hovered, causing the trio to cover their eyes and run into the old cathedral's strangely open doors.
Inside, the sight was strange. Several naked men and women were lying around, some flagellating each other with whips, some fornicating, and some doing both. On the pipe organ was a fully-clothed Alexei Yarofev. A nude chorus stood by his side and sang.
The Russian turned to face the trio. "Ah, welcome to a service of the Khlysti sect!" he said in accented English. "I assumed you would arrive later, but no matter. You're free to partake in the services, if you desire."
"This 'liturgy' is a warped sadomasochistic ritual and an affront to true asceticism!" Lazar exclaimed. "What kind of name is Khlysti, anyway? I've never heard of it!"
"It's a made up Russian word, which when translated literally, means Christ-y, or 'Christ-like,' which seems ironic," Taylor added.
"We flagellate ourselves to cleanse ourselves of sin," Yarofev explained. "Or so the tradition goes. Normally, it brings out this sort of mood, which allows me to more efficiently power a certain thaumaturgical ritual."
"And what ritual is that?" Wendy added.
"One that even you cannot stop," Yarofev explained. "Even my teacher, Rasputin, quite before he could master such a rite, instead using his existing powers for secular gain. If not for this sect, in fact, I never would have meet him."
"What kind of ritual?" Taylor asked, leveling his revolver.
"That's for me to know, and you to find out," Yarofev explained. "Now, Wendy, I know you are not Japanese, but you were born on Japanese soil. By the rules of the ritual, that is enough for you to represent Japan for this ritual."
Yarofev gestured for his flock to leave. The group of naked parishioners, almost as if mind-controlled, immediately stopped fornicated and whipping, and stepped outside.
"And you want to face me?" Wendy drew the Sword of Saint Patrick. "For revenge for some war I had nothing to do with?"
Alexei drew a distinctive sword from beside his organ, a Japanese katana. "On the contrary, you have everything to do with that. For the Russo-Japanese War, Britain was allied to both sides, and remained neutral instead of helping us. Nothing personal, but as a Briton born in Japan, I must kill you as a matter of honor, as the Japanese would say," the Russian continued. "I got this sword from an enemy officer. I added a few enchantments of my own to it, and let's see who is better with the blade!"
The Russian cut outwards and up with the katana, causing Wendy to parry with her blade. She barely stopped Alexei's blade before the Russian returned to a defensive stance. He sized up Wendy, who was readying herself for another strike.
Lazar calmly checked his pocket watch. Just then, Taylor decided to act. He fired at the Russian with his revolver, but to no effect. Alexei, enraged, swung the katana horizontally towards his target. Just then, Wendy attacked. She brought down her sword onto the katana, which was perpendicular to it. The thicker European blade hit shattered the katana, as it had been struck on the side, its weak point.
The Russian discarded the shattered blade and drew his own Nagant M1895 revolver. He turned and fired back at Wendy, just as Lazar shot him in the back of the head. The bullet missed Wendy's face by millimeters. Yarofev fell dead.
"The bastard was just trying to buy time for his ritual to take effect!" Lazar yelled. "We've got to get out of here!"
Taylor and Wendy followed Lazar outside the cathedral, and saw why. Or rather, covered their eyes from the reason. The sky was full of a bright light, directly above the trio.
"You see, that bastard summoned an asteroid!" Lazar explained. "He wanted to waste time fighting so it would arrive! He never intended to win that fight!"
"So, what do we do now?" Wendy asked.
"Huddle near me," Lazar replied. "Let's just say I've got some willpower to spare."
Just then, a bolt of electricity collided with the source of the light, blasting into smaller fragments. One of the fragments still was directly above the group. There was another blast of lightning, and Lazar started laughing.
"What do you find so funny, pray tell?" Wendy asked.
"That telegram I sent to my friend Nikolai Tesla. I told him to fire up Wardenclyffe Tower about twelve hours from now in that telegram," Lazar explained. "Now, hold on to me. I know some shield thaumaturgy."
The fragment hit Lazar's shield head on, utterly destroying the cathedral, forest, and most things around it. Lazar, however, simply stood laughing as he protected his two comrades. The ground did shake, but no more objects appeared in the sky. In time, the dawn sky returned from normal.
"What is Wardenclyffe Tower, anyway?" Wendy asked.
"A tower my friend Tesla constructed for research," Lazar explained. "There are some, alternative uses, however. Like blasting asteroids. As for the twelve "
Taylor scanned the hundreds of bent trees around them. "In retrospect, it might have saved us, but it was even more devastating to the land," he noted. "When it was blasted in mid-air, each of the fragments hit a larger area. Like a shotgun blast. If we left it alone, it would have been more concentrated, like a rifle."
"If it wasn't blasted, that asteroid would've been too much for us to handle," Lazar explained. "As for how I knew it was an asteroid, let's just say I've had a hunch when a strange objected started to move around the sky two weeks ago. I had a feeling that was Alexei's doing."
"Yes, but why today, and why twelve hours from now?" Wendy asked.
"I estimated when it would hit, and I added twelve hours to compensate for the time zones," Lazar answered.
"Interesting," Taylor mentioned. "But I think we should get out of here. I'd rather be out of here when any Russians come to investigate."
"I agree," Lazar mentioned. "We've ensured that the Entente's governments will lose power this century. However, we'll still have some work to do. We must ensure the New Powers do not follow the path of colonialism and mindless nationalism that corrupted the Old."
"Sadly, though, looks like Japan has such intentions," Wendy continued. "And to think I represented them for the ritual. Does that make me guilty of something?"
"No. The Japanese government might be looking to expand, and in doing so they'll overstretch themselves and become easy prey for a rival nation," Lazar replied. "What happens to Japan is the responsibility of the Japanese, and them alone. Though you might've represented them for the ritual, whether they stay or fall as a Great Power is up to them."
"How about Germany, Lazar?" Taylor asked.
"One of the drawbacks with monarchy has always been a rash monarch taking power," Lazar explained. "Ever since one such monarch dismissed Bismarck and began looking for colonies, the Germans are on the same path as the Japanese, British, Russians, and, even daresay, French."
"How about America?" Taylor inquired.
"That is for you to decide. They've recently entered the colonialist game, and hopefully, they don't remain in it too long. It would be both sad and hypocritical for the USA, several former colonies themselves, to build a colonial empire," Lazar explained. "There's racist bastards still with power inside that country, and whether they colonize with the excuse of 'civilizing' or 'spreading democracy' makes little difference. The USA certainly belongs in the ranks of the Great Powers, but I would rather see the US as an offshore power than simply filling the void that Britain will leave when its empire collapses."
Just then, Taylor felt something within his pocket. It was as though the letter was demanding to be read. He reached into his pocket, and saw the letter had changed: Charles du Gaulle here. So, you fools might have stopped Master Petiot and his comrades in the Entente, but this is not over! I will make you all pay, and humiliate your countries! Especially you, Lazar! I will make your beloved Germany serve me! I will stand up to whoever the dominant power is, and move to start a World War that will fill Master Satan's appetite once and for all! I swear, that-
Taylor's reading was stopped by Wendy, who removed the letter from Taylor's hands, and burned it with her thaumaturgical flame. "Du Gaulle's an incompetent Satanist. Don't worry about him," she mentioned.
"I never said I was," Taylor replied.
"So, who's up for a hike to the nearest village?" Lazar asked. "Last I remember, it was a few days south from here."
The monk smiled to himself, and lead the other two away from the impact site. The sun continued to rise in the sky above them.
Notes: Taylor, Wendy, and Lazar are fictional characters, as are the members of the Triumvirate. The Entente was a real alliance, and would later become the Allies in the First World War. Nikolai Tesla, Charles du Gaulle, Rasputin, Aleister Crowley, and Seth Low were real people used in a fictional manner. The Wardenclyffe Tower was mainly abandoned by 1908, but was historically just a structure Tesla used for experiments in radio broadcasting. The Eiffel Tower is not a thaumaturgical antennae, as well. The Tunguska Event happened at around 7:15am in Tunguska, a region in Siberia, Russia. An asteroid exploded above the ground, creating several objects that devastated the region. The version in this story is entirely fictional. Also, the secret society of the Triumvirate is fictional. The Order of Hermes and Khlysti sect are real organizations. The various books and texts are also fictional, with two stolen from HP Lovecraft. Hope you enjoyed it!