Getting to Know the Locals

Playlist: Sole Survivor - Blue Öyster Cult

Lower Level, Black Sun Base, Intsy, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 5th 1941 16:32

Olga Kuryakina
Keeper Note: There are considerable borrowings in this adventure from Aimo's excellent book Zombie Antarctica. It's a good read, zombies and ice and irreverant humour.Lurch over to Amazon and pick up a copy!

There was a tense moment as Olga challenged them in Russian; "Ostanovis' pryamo tam!” However, once she spotted the rescued scientist, she switched to English. "Comrade Kurchatov!" she exclaimed, "you have rescued him! I thought I was the only survivor."

At her suggestion, they repaired to the mess room through which they'd entered the base, where Olga fired up the stove and got some coffee and hearty if plain Russian food going. Kurchatov was settled into a chair and some basic first aid applied, though malnutrition and shock were his main problems. As all the team tucked into the best meal they'd had in a month, Olga unfolded her account of recent events.

The Soviets had landed via rubber boats after being dropped off by a ship out of sight of the base, and had dealt with the German occupants very easily; it was apparent from what she said that there'd been no survivors. Having cleared up and stored the bodies outside in the natural freezer, the Soviets had started to take stock of their prize.

As the team already knew, they had rapidly realized that they were in out of their depth, and had requested more specialist help - themsleves. Then they'd settled in to wait. Olga, being an experienced shot with the Kazakh bow, had taken to supplementing their diet with game from the sparse woodlands dotted across the tundra. One day, on returning to the base, she'd found what she referred to as "zombiskis" wandering around outside - both her former comrades and the previously dead Germans. She lay low while they were around, snatching the chance to grab supplies from the upper level store room on one occasion, when she found that an arrow in the body did not especially deter the things. Shortly after that, the base power failed (unknown to her, when a zombie German soldier had wandered into the power room and fallen into the active generator. After that, she couldn't get the outer doors open, and was stuck outside. After that she subsisted on the rations she'd grabbed and what she could shoot - sparse game, meaning she was just as eager to eat as the others.

Igor Kurchatov

The food and company had wrought improvements in Igor Kurchatov, and after Olga had finished, he filled in his experiences. He'd been blindly lucky. He'd been investigating some of the crates in the South Annexe and had found one filled, rather oddly, with gas masks. He actually had one in his hands when 'the green smoke' came through the door. All the warnings from the last war about “gas gas gas” and the preparations for it this time triggered a subconscious reaction; he put it on. When he went to investigate, he found all his comrades flat out and deeply unconscious, with some kind of transformation seeming to begin… His eyes went wild at this point and he began to mutter and moan, occasional words emerging about “Germans, comrades, walking dead, aaaiiighhh” and similar. Olga gently stopped him from trying to remember and calmed him down. Evidently, he'd retreated to the cells, and had to watch the undead trying to reach him through the bars until they wandered off and he was able to forage for supplies with what little rationality he retained.

Steam from coffee filled the silent aid for a moment, and then Francoise said slowly, "That spilled liquid in the laboratory was green..." Heads came up sharply, and glances were exchanged. "Maybe that's what's done this," said someone. "But it's frozen," said Marcus. "We started the heating," commented Joe, and they all realized that they'd loosened or removed some of their cold-weather gear as the temperature climbed. "Maybe we'd better turn it off again!" said Cyril. "Where's the crate of gas masks?" Birapeer asked Kurchatov urgently. He gave directions, and Anné and Jimmy went off to obtain them.

Gas Mask

They found the crate and opened it. Sure enough, there they were, packed individually in straw. As they took out enough for everyone, they noticed that eight slots were missing. Hurrying back, they passed them out.

Darkness had already long since fallen outside, and nobody wanted to go out to investigate in the dark. Anné and Marcus decided to settle down with the books and documents they had obtained, while Joe organized guard rotas and ensured the entrance door and dock were as secure as they could be (after he'd battered it down).

Birapeer, fascinated by the bizarre gadget in the corner of the laboratory, was determined to get it open, and returned there, placing a grenade under it to try and crack it. Having pulled the pin, he scrambled for the exit but got tangled in the door and only Francoise's timely intervention got him to safety before it blew. The wreckage it made of the lab was considerable - but the device was undamaged! It was slightly warm, however. A little experimentation showed that the other unit was also warmer than it had been; and when the first one was walloped, the other moved slightly. They were linked, somehow.

Francoise had come to try and do something about the green ice. Returning to the lab, she discovered the blast had cracked and scattered it as well as damaging the floor. After some searching, she found a steel specimen jar, and scraped as much of it as she could into that, before collecting any rubble that seemed to be tainted and dumping it in an empty diesel drum. Birapeer swore he could smell something strange, but nobody else could detect it. Adding the steel jar, she lugged it out onto the dock, into the cold, and stood it as far away from the booby-traps Joe had set up as possible.

Jimmy, Birapeer and Joe had attempted to get the base radio working, but although the system seemed to be on, nothing happened. Hanging up the earphones, Jimmy shrugged. "Maybe the antenna is damaged?" asked Anné. "It'd be up top," said Jimmy. "Maybe a zombiski has fallen over it?" said someone else. There were no volunteers to go out in the dark and try fixing it; calling for rescue was going to have to wait.

Birapeer and Anné went up to the upper level to check security there, taking Olga's key. Beyond the storeroom was concrete-walled blockhouse with a powered metal weather door and vision slots, two occupied by MG-38 machine guns - both frozen to utter uselessness. A heavy lamp was hanging on one wall, and shining that through the slots gave a view of the snowy ground outside and two sandbagged defence points. A lump in the snow at the egde of the light looked suspiciously like a covered body, but they couldn't be sure. They checked the outer door was secured and carefully locked the inner weather door.

Joe and Marcus, having learned from Olga that the last two rooms in the base to the south were the German scientists' quarters, went to have a look. The scientists’ bunks were straight off the corridor, probably a subtle insult from the military planners. All five beds looked to have been used; a few personal effects were stored underneath each.

I despair at illustraing this beastie!

The scientists’ eating and rec area, was fairly comfortable. There were plenty of books, mostly either turgid reference tomes or cheap and tawdry pornography, though Marcus found a couple that looked to be more on the Occult side and probably necromantic. A slide rule rested on top of the bookcase.   Also atop the bookcase, in the shadows, was a classic parrot cage, containing a small animate creature. It was roughly the shape of a wingless owl with large blue eyes, and appeared to have no skin; parts of it pulsed disquietingly. It watches them attentively as they peered at it, and made the occasional gurgling noise, but otherwise did not react or look hostile. Joe cast the Voorish Sign and looked gingerly at it, expecting the same zombie vibes. He might as well have been looking at a clock; it had no aura at all. After a moment, they noticed that it didn’t seem to be breathing. Marcus very carefully picked it up and took it with him.

Finally, they settled down to sleep, Joe taking first watch at the lower entrance, and Birapeer dragging a mattress up to the outdoor store room to keep watch above.

Upper Level, Black Sun Base, Intsy, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 6th 1941 05:16

A few hours before dawn, Birapeer was jerked from a doze by a heavy blow on the outer door. A moment later another followed it, and another; before long an almost continuous rain of impacts were ringing through the level. Grabbing some steel water canteens, he hurled them down the spiral stone stairs while shouting "We have visitors!" as loudly as possible.

Zombie Soviet Soldier

He dashed back through the weather door and out to the blockhouse. Peering through the vision slits, he saw a confused jumble of bloody, frozen shapes in a variety of shreds of clothing - white coats, Soviet green, Heer grey. Faint moans rose from the figures as they lumbered around, battering at the door with utter disdain for the damage their limbs suffered in the process. Birapeer unpinned a grenade and pushed it - after a bit of trouble getting it past the frozen machinegun - through the gunport. The explosion was followed by a distinct reduction in the assault, but it slowly resumed, presumably as more undead shambled forward.

Keeper Note: Yes, I know that the phrase Molotov Cocktail was probably not yet coined...

Anné, Cyril, Jimmy, Francoise, Cyril and Marcus arrived, having left Joe and Olga on watch below. Brought up to date, they glanced around and several at once hit on the fuel for the skiddoo as a possible weapon. Finding a bottle, Anné whipped up a Molotov cocktail, after Marcus proved he had no idea how to make one, and then came very close to dropping it inside the blockhouse while trying to throw it out. From the sizzling sounds and temporary decrease in battering this seemed to have worked.

Fire in the Hole!

Birapeer had found a stirrup-pump for fuelling the skidoo, and dragged it and a drum of fuel through to the blockhouse. Rigging the tube through a gunport, they pumped frantically, spraying petrol over the creatures outside and the remains of the Molotov. The fuel ignited immediately, and soon heat was washing in through the gunports - and through the splits in the door. Realizing that, the team stopped pumping and started to pull back. As they did, Marcus poured a generous pool of fuel out across the blockhouse floor. Once they were through, Marcus flipped an everburning match through the door and the blockhouse became an inferno. Birapeer was beaten back by the flames twice but eventually slammed the door, turning the hot key in the lock.

As they fell back across the store room, they shoved the skiddoo into the centre and barricaded it with all the furniture and barrels of fuel they could, excepting one drum which Cyril and Marcus started lugging down the stairs, Birapeer's plan was to set fire to the barricade and then scarper down the stairs; the bulging, distorting shape of the weather door at the far end of the room made it clear that moment was imminent in the extreme.

Lower Level, Black Sun Base, Intsy, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 6th 1941 05:16

As the rest of the team raced up to help defend the upper level, Joe and Olga guided Kurchatov out to the radio room and settled him out of the way. They heaved one of the heavy tables across the outer door and settled in, bow and Bren, to wait. Joe, remmebering Marcus' encounter, also drew his Totenmesser and laid it near to hand. Olga gave the night-black blade a worried look but said nothing.

Moments later they heard the thump of one of Joe's grenade booby traps going off, and heavy, soggy thumps began to shake the remnants of the weather door to the dock...

Session Date: 26th May 2020 - in CyberSpace!