Fire and Tears


Top of the Pit, Ard Griba Diamond Mine, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 10th 1941 14:31

Zis5 Truck

After some careful calculation, Cyril cautiously drove the lorry down the sloped road, stopping three turns of the road above where the horde of zombies moiled around (presumably) the entrance to the mine tunnel. Joe, driving the police car, followed him, and executed the nerve-wracking three-point-turn.

While Joe punched holes in the tops of the drums, Cyril got the lorry's old-fashioned lever throttle set, turned the wheel hard left and prepared to let go the clutch. Lifting his foot, he dived for the door - and was brought up short as his coat caught on the door handle! In horror, he twisted frantically, and the coat tore, tumbling him out of the door just as the lorry pitched over the lip of the road.

End for end it toppled down, crashing across the two roadways below before finally smashing down into the midst of the milling zombies, flattening several - though some of those could be seen trying to pull their way out from under the wheels. The fuel began to spread from the dented and torn drums.


A few of the monsters looked up, observing the two living faces looking down at them, and began to scramble up the slope. Calmly, Joe unclipped a grenade and lobbed it down onto the wreck. The explosion finished the job of breaking the drums, and a vast ball of flames erupted across the bottom of the pit. A peculiar shrieking - the sound of superheated air being forced out of Abpraller lungs rather than a vocalization - and a disgustingly appetizing smell arose. The pair climbed into the police car and drove back up to watch the fire burn.

Meanwhile, Francoise had had a bit of a brainwave, and had gone to look where bored soldiers might keep a bit of what you fancy to ease the long cold nights. She'd got lucky; a whole crate of bottles of bootleg vodka, tucked away in a corner. Sharing out the contents of one among the water-canteens of the surviving policemen not only freed a bottle but recruited willing volunteers to throw bombs, and they rapidly made up a dozen Molotovs.

Collapsed Mine Entrance

After half an hour, when the flames had died down, the last pathetic surviving Abpraller were finished off with the bottle-bombs and the team descended to the floor of the Pit. As they'd suspected, there was an entrance to a mine-shaft, collapsed to keep the monsters out.

Some morse code from Jimmy, tapped out with a rock, established contact with the occupants, and after a while they dug their way back out with their tools. A battered, exhausted and traumatized group of seventeen miners emerged, and were brought up to speed by Olga. Wearily, they set out to trudge up out of the pit towards where the fire engines waited to take them to safety.

Mine Town, Ard Griba Diamond Mine, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 10th 1941 14:31

While all this was going on, Birapeer was patrolling the upper area in his fire engine, keeping watch for more monsters; Igor, almost unnoticed, huddled quietly in the back of the cab. As he rolled among the ramshackle, deserted houses he neared the one that still oozed a dribble of smoke into the air. Three or four Abpraller were gathered around the building, and Birapeer rather casually ran them down. As he rumbled past the house, something caught his eye - it was a human figure, waving frantically. After a couple more passes to break up the zombies in the area, he pulled up outside the house and Igor, pulling himself together, opened the door and gestured the survivor to board. Rather surprisingly, he disappeared inside instead; a few minutes later, he returned leading a gaggle of other survivors - his wife, three children, his mother-in-law and a postman. Igor and Birapeer made sure the granny was safely stashed in the cab before loading the others and the engine rumbled off again towards the petrol dump.

Petrol Dump, Ard Griba Diamond Mine, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 10th 1941 15:13

With the addition of miners and family, the two fire engines and police car were very full as the team took the decision to abandon the mine. A second car from the lake car park eased the crush, and the convoy set off down the road towards Archangel.

Road to Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 10th 1941 15:45

Half an hour later, a column of smoke came into view ahead, in line with the road ahead. Worriedly, the convoy slowed as they created a low rise and took in the scene below.

The fire engine Borozkin and the other survivors took was slewed across the road, with smoke rising from it. Several corpses were strewn around it, and figures could be seen moving in the same vicinity. The three focussed their binoculars, and what they feared to see was confirmed. Three Abpraller in Soviet uniforms, three in German – one officer in each case – one in a scientist’s white coat and two females, looking much like the police station typists.

Of the corpses scattered on the ground, some appeared dead of gunshot wounds, while other seemed to have been dismembered and fed upon. Francoise stifled an exclamation as she spotted a familiar green smear on the snow surrounding a German soldier's bullet-riddled body. From the look of it, the fire engine had overtaken the walking German expedition, and a firefight had resulted. Fatefully, the German soldier carrying the sprayer of reagent had been shot with an automatic weapon, releasing the vapour and rendering the original fight irrelevant.

A quick conference produced a plan of action. The fire engine tanks still contained a fair volume of petrol; if a big pool of that could be created, and the zombies lured over that, they could be dealt with easily. As they began to set this up, however, something unexpected happened.

Hauptmann Henzer

One of the prowling Abpraller, distinguishable even at this distance in a Nazi officer's uniform, started shouting distinguishable words and pointing at their position. Imediately, all the other zombies began to turn and lumber off towards the team's position. The officer - it had to be Hauptmann Henzer - then drew a Luger, pointed it up the slope and squeezed off two rounds!

Parabellum P.08 Luger

The words of the Tägliche Läboräufzeichnungen returned to Francoise. "... hopeful that process refinements could lead to 'retention of ante-mortem skills'..." It seemed that some random factor in Henzer's accidental transformation had achieved this objective - a happening not without deep irony. "Maybe he's got the Demon's Tear in his pocket or something," she said with unerring intuition.

A quarter of a mile is a bloodly long shot for a Luger; but a fire engine is a big, bright target. One of the bullets tore through Birapeer's engine's bodywork with a loud clang, and the Sikh promptly reversed it back over the ridge; no-one in their right mind wanted to sit in a vehicle loaded with petrol stored in a tank not designed for it and be shot at.

Francoise and Cyril returned fire with rifles, scoring a couple of lucky hits on Henzer with the usual minimal results.

Joe entertained some hopes that the advancing Abpraller might be persuaded to walk into the pool of fuel in any case; but responding to a shout from below, the monsters spread out, walking up the snowy ground to either side of the road. The trap was not going to work!

Mounting up, the convoy retreated back down the ridge and backed off for half a mile as the relentless zombies crested the rise. It dawned on several of the team that, this side of the ridge, Henzer couldn't see to direct his troops - another trap might prove viable. Both fire engines were set to soaking the ground either side of the road with fuel, and backed off to lure the Abpraller onward. Sure enough, six of the advancing creatures stepped into the fuel, and Olga obliged again with burning arrows to ignite the trap. Joe, Cyril and Marcus advanced down the hill with buckets of petrol and managed to soak the last two and set them off.

Returning to the wrecked engine, they discovered that Henzer was in cover behind it, ready to take potshots with his pistol. Francoise, Joe, Marcus and Cyril fanned out and advanced down the hill towards him, Joe and Francoise battering him with Bren and StgW fire, doing little damage but keeping him off balance. Finally, having been knocked down had enough to knock his gun out of his hand, the zombie officer backed further into cover away from Joe and Francoise - exposing himself to Cyril and Marcus. It occurred to Cyril that no battle-experienced officer would have done that, and that whatever Henzer now was, he did not have all his prior faculties.

Blevins Steam Carbine

Marcus delivered a blast from the Blevins enzymatic carbine at twenty yards. The bullets ripped through the zombie, doing little damage, but the biochemical fluids mixed with superheated steam ripped the undead body apart. Henzer dropped to his knees, then toppled over forwards into a spreading pool of slime.

With a stick, Joe prodded the shredded leather greatcoat deftly, dislodging a lump he'd spotted in one of the pockets. An irregular, unobtrusive stone the size of a softball tumbled out into the snow, which began to melt around it.

The Voorish Sign confirmed the hideous, sickly necromantic power flowing around it. With the stick, they tipped it into a bucket and picked it up. It wasn't hot, exactly, but no-one wanted to touch it.

Soaking the pool of spilled reagent and remaining corpses with the last of the petrol, they set light to it and headed on towards Archangel and sanity.

Session Date: 14th July 2020 - in CyberSpace!