So uhm... yes... WWII + War of the Worlds ... a really odd concoction
I have no idea where this came from...
edit: I only recently became aware of Harry Turtledoves books... I have read them and there are MAJOR differences between us... so I don't want to be accused of stealing ideas...
Have Fun reading xD
Chapter 1 -- The Awakening
Arctic Circle - Norway
9:37 Pm Feb. 1st 1943
The frozen wasteland stretched out in all directions as far as the eye could see. The eternally dark sky draped itself over the icy landscape creating a nearly impenetrable black curtain around the environment. Windy weather had been blowing in over the last half hour and now it had escalated to a hurricane-like storm with gusts of wind that could knock a man off his feet. The gales threw the loose snow around creating a veil of white that made the amount of visibility nearly zero. In the middle of this godforsaken wasteland, a glow of light issued from the electric lamps of the tiny encampment. The tents were fastened into the ice by ropes and iron nails that were nearly six inches long, but even that was having trouble standing up against the deadly artic winds. The canvas billowed inwards and out with every blow of the wind that whipped through the camp. Standing just outside the ring of light that was emitted from the lamps that were set up around the perimeter was a lone figure.
Lieutenant Anton Isenhaus stood just outside the ring of light; the snow blew around his feet and was managing for find its way onto every slight opening in his coat and the scarf around his face. It was a bitter reality, he hated this. He had been born in the warmest part of Germany and this frozen wasteland was a far stretch from the whether he was used to. Although he wore the latest design of snow gear, he still felt himself shivering against the biting cold. The large goggles that made him appear to have insect opticals were starting to develop an icy build-up around the edges. He blinked his gray eyes and raised a hand and tried to wipe off the crystal screen that had formed. A disgruntled look came into his face behind the cloth scarf, why on earth had he accepted this mission?
He had done it to feed his own pride; that was the single conclusion that he could draw. Isenhaus had always wanted to ingratiate himself with the Führer and completing this task he had been appointed would be the ideal opportunity to do just that. Though he was but a mere lieutenant of the SS, he had been nominated by his superiors to be the one to head the mission to search for the elusive Russian atomic stockpile that was supposedly buried under the levels of the frozen tundra. If he could find it, the Reich could easily commandeer it and integrate it into their own struggling field. This perhaps could give them an advantage over their American counter parts that seemed to have jumped far ahead of the Germans.
After he had finished trying to scrape the icy vale from his goggles, he used that same hand to rub the aching, swollen gash that marred the left side of his face. His high cheek-bones were cut across toward his ear, by a hastily bandaged lesion that was the result of foolish usage of equipment on behalf of his subordinates. He blamed it upon the foolish private Koller's horse-play with the digging machines. Isenhaus was lucky, had he been a few inches closer, he might have been s much shorter man. Considering that he was stranded out here until the plane could find a clear patch of the weather to get through to them, he should think himself lucky that the only thing he had to worry about was frost-bite. As far as he knew, any sort of infectious diseases could not survive in this sort of environment. It stung. Even though it was almost three days old, the nip of pain had yet to leave the wound.
According to the schedule set down by the Reichsfuhrer, The lieutenant was supposed to leave with his fifteen man crew tomorrow for the return trip to Germany. However, the way that the weather was acting, they might be stranded here far past their due time to return. Isenhaus, unthinking, licked his pencil thin lips that had started turning blue from the cold and was awarded with a mouthful of fuzz from the scarf around his face. He made a face as he was forced to swallow what was in his mouth for he could not risk lowering the cloth to spit. If he did, he risked losing his own tongue to frost-bite. They would be returning empty handed. Der Fuhrer would not be pleased with this. They would need to find the location of the atomic pile sooner or later if there was any hope for the Reich to survive, should the Russians discover how to harness the power of the atom as well as the American's the two-front war might become a two-font atomic annihilation for the German soldiers.
"Herr Lieutenant!" suddenly cried a voice from behind him.
It was almost lost in the howling of the wind, the storm surge seemed to be worsening. Isenhaus turned to find the figure of another stumbling toward him. The others gait was awkward and strange because of the many layers of clothing that he was wearing; the hood of the parka was up over his head, fur lining was being blown in all directions. However, despite the cold, the man running toward him did not have any goggles on or even a cloth protecting his face from the merciless storm. He must have been out for only a few minutes, but even still, he features were already going beet red.
"Sergeant Von Schreiber, where are you goggles?" Isenhaus stated when the man came within a few feet of him so he would not have to shout over the howling wind.
Von Schreiber at first gave no response that he had even heard his commanding officer speak to him because his eyes still remained closed against the wind. A thin layer of white ice was already starting to form on his eyebrows and along the fur lining that the exposed to the elements. The veins in his pale cheeks were starting to show through from the cold environment making it look like tiny scratches laced jagged lines under his eyes. The man coming toward Isenhaus wore no gloves to protect his fingers, he could easily see that the root of the nails were already starting to drain of their natural pinkish hue and were being replaced by the sickly pale purple-blue of someone who is extremely cold. He could only conclude that the man had already long since lost the sensation of touch.
Isenhaus let out a sign of frustration at his question not being answered immediately; he pulled down the scarf that hung in front of his mouth to make himself clearer to the sergeant who was approaching him. "Where are your goggles, sergeant?" he said in harsh tone as Von Schreiber finally waddled up to his side.
"Herr Lieutenant!" he said once again over the whistling of the wind.
It became apparent to Isenhaus that the wind had stolen away his question to his subordinate and that had been the reason for the lack of response given. The sergeant's deep gray eyes were almost completely closed against the frosty wind and the particles of ice that danced in its throws. The lieutenant had already started loosing the feeling in his face for he had not replaced the scarf. His lips were starting to drain of even more color. Isenhaus, however, paid no attention to it for he was still waiting for a reply to be given to him from Von Schreiber.
Before the Lieutenant could say anything more, Von Schreiber continued, "Sir… we've…" his voice suddenly dropped.
Isenhaus raised an eyebrow, "Vas?" he snapped. The lieutenant had been running around and being led in circles the entire mission. It made him angry, he hated people who were not punctual and did not have an entire sentence formed in their mind before they spoke. He hated it when people start to talk and then floundered around with their words because their mouths moved faster than their minds. Von Schreiber was dragging him in circles now. Even Heinrich Himmler had pulled him around on a wild goose chase when he had given the lieutenant his assignment.
The Sergeant's eyes opened fully despite the wind, "we've found something…" he bit his lower lip as he waited for his over officer's reaction.
"Is it a Russian warhead?" he said with a suddenly hopeful voice, if it was a warhead this discovery could save him and the other members of the mission a lot of hassle with the high council.
Von Schreiber shook his head, "Nein, sir, this looks like no Russian warhead I've ever seen."
"Don't underestimate the ingeniousness of the Russian swine…" The Lieutenant snapped.
The sergeant was still shaking his head, "I still don't think it's of Russian make… to tell you the truth, sir, I have never seen any war head that looks like this. I dare venture to say it's not of human make by the symbol on its side.
As soon as Von Schreiber mentioned an insignia upon the supposed alien thing that he had found, Isenhaus was immediately drawn in. Insignias and symbols of armies and ancient cultures had always been a strange fascination of the lieutenant's, it made quite the subject for small talk with new officers and it got him out of many situations at parties. Although he found it enticing, the many others whom he associated with did not. He had bore many a man to tears with his talk of symbols and all of their ancient origins and meanings. This talk of markings coupled along with Isenhaus' seeming almost infinite vocabulary made it plenty difficult for many of his fellow soldiers to follow what he was saying.
Von Schreiber realized what he had done with his mention of an insignia on the side of the object. The sergeant had once been the unknowing helpless victim of one of Isenhaus's lectures on the origins and meanings of each of the SS's division symbols. "You have to let me see the symbol and I shall enlighten you," The lieutenant said in a scholarly tone as he dragged Von Schreiber back around the face the camp. At that very instant a powerful gust of wind blasted from the north causing both men to stagger to keep their footing. Isenhaus, being far more lithely built than the sergeant had to grab hold of Von Schreiber's shoulders to keep from hitting the ground. The sergeant was nearly towed along with his commanding officer, but he threw his weight forward against the wind to keep his balance against the relentless wind. The sudden gale finally slowed.
"You alright, Herr Lieutenant?" Von Schreiber asked in a small voice.
"Hurry!" Isenhaus shouted when he regained his footing, "before the storm worsens." He started off toward the camp but his winter gear restricted him to nothing more than an awkward waddle. Von Schreiber followed him with no less grace or ease, both struggling against the wind had started to pick up again.
The encampment was stationed on the top of a rising ice plateau which gave little or no protection against the changing whims of Mother Nature. The tents encircled around the drilled openings in the icy ground. The other members of the team had been specifically chosen to help because of what their former jobs had been; before the war, many had been miners or had worked in earth sciences before joining the army. This reduced training for the machinery greatly for many already knew how to use it and this allowed for the mission to commence ahead of schedule. The tunnel was built in the style of the salt mines back home. They had drilled in to the ice in levels, which in turn stretched out as far as the need called for. The deeper they went into the ice the more careful they had to be for as soon as they hit the third level and started to drill into the fourth, the group had hit the permafrost level. Knowing that the Russians were not stupid enough to continue deeper, a fourth level was abandoned. The only place to go form there was horizontal.
They had spent relentless alternating twelve hour shifts from then drilling into the icy walls hoping to hit some sort or opening or metal casing that would indicate where the Russians had hid their stockpile. Isenhaus had every reason to believe that there was absolutely nothing under the ice when he first arrived at the site. The spies in Russia supposedly had gotten the general location of where the hiding place was and now it was his duty to pinpoint a direct spot in the area. The lieutenant was skeptical, why would Stalin waste precious resources to hide something so important to his scientists under the ice? It would be hard to find, Isenhaus had to agree with that, and it would be hard for his enemies to find it, but up here without any real consistency in weather and landscape it might be hard for the Russians to find it as well. On the first three days, he and his team had attacked this area with mine sweeps that were to detect the metal of the warheads. It only took three days to find the faint signal of metal, and it took nearly three weeks to find an exact location of its origin. Isenhaus for a while had though that the sweeps might have been defective, but after Von Schreiber came running to him with news of finding something; his doubts disappeared and were replaced with hopeful triumph.
The opening to the tunnel was drilled straight down and was just wide enough to allow the pulley stationed above it to lower the equipment into it. The pulley had been stowed away to protect it from the storm leaving the opening of the tunnel covered by the only thing the team had to spare, tarp and nails. Von Schreiber and Isenhaus pulled back the fabric and nearly dove into the hole to protect them from the wind. The wall of the opening went down about seven feet before it came to a small ladder which led to the ground floor of the first tunnel. To go those seven feet, small hand holds were drilled into the ice to allow for the teams members to get down. Both men quickly scurried down to the first floor as they listened to the sound of the storm howling around the opening. Down in the tunnels, the air was still. It was still freezing cold, but it felt much warmer because of the lack of movement.
"This way," the Sergeant motioned as he stepped around the lieutenant and started heading up the right side of the tunnels. He pulled down the hood of his jacket letting his scruffy tawny hair fall over his face. Isenhaus lower his own hood exposing his graying hair and put the goggles he wore on his forehead.
Even though the grade was very gentle, both stepped gingerly placing each foot in front of the other carefully so as not to slip. Von Schreiber led the way though the tunnel warning Isenhaus of every bump and abrasion in the icy floor where the machine might have malfunctioned or just did not chip away in as straight a line as it should have. Isenhaus did not need to be lead around like he would break if he fell, but sadly his arrogance was torn down with a single misstep. He took a step forward and his heel fell into a small depression in the floor, it slid forward flipping him backwards onto his side. His hands flailed around uselessly as he tried to grab onto something that might stop his fall but he was only met with open air.
"Lieutenant!" Von Schreiber exclaimed as he turned around to see his commanding officer flat on the ground. Isenhaus's embarrassment was hidden by the fact that his face was still red from the outside cold, but it was a welcome change to feel the warmth of his own blood rush to his freezing face.
"I'm fine, I'm fine…" He shouted rather loudly to try and hide some of his shame. The Sergeant offered him his hand, but Isenhaus did not take it for he was intent on winning back some of his pride by finding his own footing. He finally did and shakily raised himself from the ground; he felt he would be getting a rather nasty bruise on his thigh that should become apparent tomorrow morning. Von Schreiber withdrew his hand. As soon as Isenhaus straightened up he returned quickly to business, "So, Herr Sergeant, where is this warhead?"
"This way, sir," The sergeant continued on down the hallway. The work lights that were strung to the icy wall had been left on; Isenhaus had given his team this shift off because they were supposed to be leaving tomorrow. Now that he thought about it, what was Von Schreiber doing down here anyway without the rest of his shift. It had become such a routine to the lieutenant that he had not even bothered to ask what the sergeant was doing.
"Von Schreiber, what were you doing down here anyway?" Isenhaus asked.
"Uhm…" the sergeant was caught off guard for a moment, but then he found his tongue again, "Digging." He said frankly. "Waldfogel, Koller and I had run one last sweep over our end of the tunnel to find the strongest signal to date and we just started digging from there."
"Hm…" Isenhaus did not say anything more.
The two walked in silence over the last few hundred meters of the tunnel until they came to a dead end, this was obviously the end of the group's progress over the last few hours. Siegfried Waldfogel, a scrawny, twitchy blonde, was leaning up against the wall smoking a cigarette letting loose clouds of gray smoke from his mouth. Joachim Koller, a boyish-faced dark haired man sat cross-legged on the ground, his pick-ax was balanced over his shoulder as he fiddled around with the gloves on his hands. As soon as both of them saw Isenhaus they both jumped to attention and gave him a salute, Koller more than Waldfogel because he was still afraid that Isenhaus had it in for him as payback for nearly accidentally decapitating the lieutenant. Isenhaus waved off the salute as Von Schreiber ran forward to the wall of ice in front of them. He kneeled on the ground and pointed to a cleared patch of the ice.
At first nothing looked out of the ordinary, but Isenhaus took a closer look to find that the cleared patch of ice was not really ice at all. He kneeled down next to the sergeant; Private Waldfogel and Koller leaned in over their shoulders, unknowingly blocking the lights.
"Koller hand me one of those work lights," the lieutenant ordered as he held out his hand. In an instant the private had disconnected one of the lights from its hook on the wall and was handing it to his commanding officer. Isenhaus pulled the light closer causing the ice to glitter like stars. The cleared patch, however, did not react the same way as the ice for it did not fracture and disperse the light but merely redirected the beam making it clear that it was not ice but some sort of metal.
"What is it?" Koller asked in a voice that was more befitting of a thirteen year old child of the Hitlerjungend than for an SS soldier of the Reich.
Isenhaus was silent; he had no answer for them. "I don't know,"
Von Schreiber pointed to a small engraved symbol in the upper right-hand corner. The lieutenant leaned in so that his eyes could see every curve and line clearly. It was an upside down triangle shape with two more elongated triangles sprouting from the top left and right corners. A single 'u' shaped line connected the two and ended with a curl inward. An obtuse 'v' shape opened from the sides of the two top triangles and shot out from the side of the single large triangle. Another 'v' shape framed the nose of the main triangle and was complimented by two lines disconnected lines on each side that came from the nose. A circle surrounded the mass of triangles and lines and was broken in three places, one over the top and two an either side of the nose.
"Now, that is… that's really atypical…" Isenhaus commented; his nose barely inches away from the ice as he scrutinized every detail of the insignia.
"Vas?" Von Schreiber asked.
"It's… It's nothing like I've ever seen before." The lieutenant felt helpless, he had never, in all his years of study and research, ever seen anything that looked like this. It was unnerving because, on top of his lack of knowledge on this insignia, it did not look like any other symbol he had ever seen in his books. Usually if he had never seen an insignia before, he could at least give a culture and a brief history from similarities in looks. Isenhaus examined it once more, bringing the light much closer. He tapped the edge of the metal work lantern against the insignia and was awarded with a loud gong-like sound echoing through out the cavern. The lieutenant was startled and jumped back nearly knocking over Von Schreiber in the process. The other three were just as surprised as their officer, Waldfogel and Koller looking around them as the sound resounded through out the tunnel and then eventually died out.
"Damn…" Koller said. Waldfogel elbowed him in the side to get him to be quiet for the private wanted to hear was Isenhaus had to say.
"It's hollow." The sergeant stated the obvious as he leaned forward again to look at the patch.
"Fascinating…" Isenhaus was enthralled by the insignia and was eager to find out what it was and what it stood for, as well as who had carved it into this buried ice. He now could safely say that he had never seen any Russian marking that looked like this in his life. His investigation was cut short as the rattling of the tarp by the raging storm outside. The snarling and howling of the wind against the tarp sounded like a caged animal thrashing around trying to get out of its cage.
"Uh… Sergeant, Lieutenant…" came the cautious voice of private Waldfogel. "The storm is getting worse; we should get back to the camp."
It only took another long rattle of the tarp before Isenhaus answered, "I must agree with you Private. Although this symbol is baffling to me, it must wait." The lieutenant stood up quickly and hung the work light back on its hook. "Come," He ordered and led the group down the tunnel and back toward the opening. "Von Schreiber," Isenhaus called his sergeant up next to him. He leaned into him so that only Von Schreiber could hear what he had to say. "Remind me to call that end of the tunnel off-limits and to bring a couple of pick-axes down there."
Isenhaus was curled up in his sleeping bag, his hands were shoved into his sleeves to keep them warm for the cloth and insulation of the bag was not enough for him. He did not bother taking off his jacket for he knew he would be far too cold to than evening if he had with the storm raging around them dropping the temperature to dangerous levels. The group of fifteen men was split between two tents and Isenhaus was lucky enough to be put in the tent with the odd number. The walls of the tents were strangely still in the early morning and had been for the past hour or so as the eye of the storm passed over them. He turned over within the confines of his sleeping bag; his mind was still working on the symbol that he had seen earlier before. The curvature of the broken circle around it, the jagged edges of the many triangles and the dual lines all burned a very foreign picture in to his brain
It was about four o'clock in the morning and the wind was slowly starting to come back making the walls of the tent start to billow slightly. Even though it was very early in the morning the glow of the sun started to creep over the ice plateau, it was the lightest that it would be all day. This was still very foreign to the lieutenant and the only way that the group held any sense of time was the large battery powered clock that was set on a makeshift table in the primary 'lab' tent. Isenhaus's internal clock slowly started to rouse him. His eyes fluttered open, he had formed a habit of waking twenty minutes earlier than needed during the regular days, but today he had also called to take off while they waited for word of the transport and if it could reach them or not. He grumbled as he turned over and tried to make himself go back to sleep.
Perhaps that fall he took yesterday did more damage that was visible then for now every bone in his body seemed to ache. Especially on the side that he had landed on, his hand gingerly touched the area on his leg where he had hit the ground. The lieutenant felt a welt starting to form and a sting of pain shoot down his leg as he calculated the amount of black and blue he would be seeing when he took his shower later that morning. His shoulder was also in a substantial amount of pain as he slowly tried to rotate it in its socket only managing to go about two-thirds of the way around before he had to stop because of the amount of hurt that it caused him. He winced, how he wanted to go home right now. A slow sigh escaped his lips as he shifted again in the sleeping bag.
Isenhaus was just starting to doze off again when his forming dreams were split by the sound of screeching metal. His eyes shot open and he was into a seated position in a split second. Looking around confused, he was still half asleep as he tried to comprehend where that sound had come from. The camp was not on the edge of the plateau so it could not have been the breaking of ice. Isenhaus had never heard any wind sound like that; he then looked to the side of the tent and immediately ruled out the wind because the cloth was barely moving.
"Gott in himmel?" He said groggily as he wormed his way out of the sleeping bag.
He heard it again, but this time the scream of metal was much shorter and now the thrum of a motor accompanied it. The lieutenant's face was screwed up in confusion as he crawled on all fours over to the edge of the tent, the door was zipped closed. He did not open it but merely put his ear to it, his hands subconsciously reaching for his snow boots. He tore his ear away and quickly slipped into to them, not bothering to lace them up. There came another screech of metal and in a flash his fingers were trying to find the zipper of the door. Isenhaus struggled for a few moments, found the zipper and quickly opened the flap; he tumbled out onto the snowy ground outside the tent.
The horizon was dyed with a faint rosy aura signifying the most sun that they would be getting today. The tundra was unusually still this morning as Isenhaus straightened up and surveyed the area. His eyes fell upon the drilled opening of the tunnel. Large cracks had formed from the opening and had snaked their way outward like spidery fingers. Odd. Isenhaus thought to himself as he started to make his way toward the cracks to investigate them more, however he was stopped when another sound of screeching metal met his ears. It seemed to be coming from the hole; the lieutenant's eyes were fixed upon the ground in front of him. At the sound of the ear-splitting screech, the ice seemed to shake and shudder as the cracks fanned out even more. Another screech and the ground seemed to swell as the thrum of metal grew louder.
Suddenly the ground seemed to explode as two metal objects shot into the air and then withdraw back into the icy ground. Isenhaus's eyes were fixed as a noise of shock and surprise fell from his mouth. His look of confusion only deepened, creasing his face more severely. After that there was silence and abruptly there came the sound of an almighty crack as the ice gave a great shudder and collapsed inward on itself into a large sinkhole sending a cloud of icy dust. Once more Isenhaus let out an exclamation as he realized that the tunnels that they had dug were falling in on themselves. Nearly a month's work of digging and drilling had all disappeared in an instant, it almost felt as though his stomach dropped out as the feeling of being nothing more than an insignificant human being on the face of a great wide earth. Isenhaus's hand flew to cover his face as the wind blew the dust back toward him, stinging his eyes from the cold. The sound of screeching metal continued, but the lieutenant dare not open his eyes for fear of harming them from the ice cloud.
The blast of ice dispersed and he lowered his hands from his face to find the strangest thing he had ever seen standing in front of him. It was some sort of machine that stood easily over three stories high. A sleek capsule shaped body with several long lines running horizontal form the tip of the nose to the tail fin which rose sharply from the body disrupting the smooth line of its back. The capsule was attached to a steel table which had four mechanical legs sprouting from it. The legs looked very much like a crab's with the two shortest lengths near the top and then a very long, un-jointed, piece which stretched all the way to the ground. A three toed mechanical foot spread out from the end of the leg. At the front of the capsule, near the nose dropped two shorter arm-like appendages which ended with a pincer which was probably used for grasping objects, that was what must have drilled though the ice. Isenhaus could do nothing but stare.
The machine suddenly seemed to turn its attention toward him. There was a long pause followed by the sound of metal sliding back as if from an opening; two needle shaped objects sprouted from the side of the capsule attached to two metal arms. The needle twisted and then broke at the top and spread out, like a hand opening its fingers, exposing a flat nozzle nestled within. A faint green glow pulsed at the nozzle. Isenhaus's mind could not comprehend what he was seeing as the green glow started to pulse faster; faster and faster until the green seemed to glow a blinding white. The nozzle seemed to lower itself toward the lieutenant, like a giant eye it snaked to him, blinking and glowing. Then came the sound as though the prop of an air plane was starting up, followed by a loud gong-like sound.
A single thought ran through Isenhaus's mind before the machine let loose a beam of fiery white with the sound of a raging motor at the Lieutenant and the rest of the sleeping team, "I should have stayed in the tent…"