Monday, December 22, 2014

15,000 Miles From The Past {5}

Date: January ??, 1938
Location: Northwest Bay, Isla Incognita
Situation: Day 2 Ashore On The Island
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Important Suggestion: Reread Chapter 4 Landfall here:

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Previously as shadows darkened the camp at the end of Day #1 ashore, the von Stiehl Expedition calmly settled down for the night. Sentries peering outward for signs of trouble behind a chest high zariba of bushes that had been torn from the countryside and then staked around the encampment saw nothing. Deeper within men made preparations for the morrow, exchanged stories, joked and relaxed. Von Stiehl radioed the squadron in the bay and ships offshore saying all was well and that the march inland would begin early next day. The night passed uneventfully. Early in the morning von Stiehl spoke to the men.

"Meinen Kameraden! Today is the day we heroically prepared for. Within the hour we march inland. Only fate truly knows our destiny. However, YOU are the best soldiers and sailors of The Fatherland. You carry the most modern and potent weapons available. Moreover, your will is strong and you do not misunderstand what is at stake for our homeland.

Every one of you volunteered to restore our nation to its former economic health, vigor, strength and happiness. Should we succeed and I believe we will, your individual reward will be great --- as it should be.

We carry two flags. The one behind me reminds us what was lost when the Empire ceased to exist twenty years ago.

The men surge forward raising shouts of approbation amidst a few cheers for the abdicated Kaiser and Crown Prince Wilhelm.

Our second flag posted at my tent confirms that time has marched irrevocably forward. We are now responsible for the ailing Weimar Republic. Men, let us do our duty for our country, wives, children, families, sweethearts and our future. 

Officers. Dismiss your men. Reassemble in sixty minutes fully prepared for the march.

Seventy-five minutes later Leutnant Eugen Jochum's Gruppe 2 covered.... 

pitan Paul Neumann's Gruppe 1 as it crossed a shallow portion of the river.

After Neumann crossed, Jochum advanced to the stream bank remaining in close support.

Staying close to each other, both groups leapfrogged inland. 

A modest rise was ascended as they advanced deeper and ever alert into the interior.

The totem discovered yesterday bespeaking of a boundary, warning or both was reached and passed. 

Neumann continued forward without incident. 

Being careful to at first avoid vegetation which might conceal predators.

However, some singularly curious trees and other vegetation blocked their way.  

All was peaceful as they entered.

One hundred yards behind, Gruppe 2, began to think this would be a Sunday promenade.... 

Until a giant wild boar sow and her shoat unexpectedly charged out of the bush. Only one soldier was able to take aim to luckily dispatch the maddened territorial beasts. In the blink of an eye (einen augenblick) all eyes turned to the rear where raucous shouts and a blaze of firepower erupted.

The Headquarters Gruppe had just crossed the stream when a gigantic crocodile sounded, charged and heaved itself through thick vegetation to feast on the men. Major von Recker turned about with amazing speed pouring his machine pistol's magazine into it. Soldiers nearby added even more lead.   

The terrible crocodile immediately fell dead. Von Recker remembered the doctor suggesting such a creature had not been alive on the Earth for a very long time; many millions of years. Still with a plentiful food supply it could grow to impossible dimensions. He identified the one killed yesterday as Deinosuchus. Was the stream full of them?

Von Recker and von Stiehl were glad to leave the dangerous stream behind.

Everyone remained extremely alert. Fate so far had allowed only the barest of warnings. 

As another wild boar charged von Stiehl's radioman and von Stiehl himself. Fortunately this beast succumbed to rifle fire as had the others. Then....

A hideous serpent rose to strike von Recker. It too was dispatched in a wild spray of bullets.

Things changed for the leading group too when an arboreal and bipedal Monitor dropped from a tree and charged. This  fearsome creature fell dead in seconds. It was as if the island lured the expedition into the interior before springing multiple ambushes. Clever island?

Several hours later a wary von Stiehl arrived at his destination.

A stubby and cracked lava column. Eyes and weapons looked cautiously into its dark fissure. 

In you go my comrades. A few paces in a thirty-five degree shaft will appear. Pause until your eyes become accustomed to the near darkness. The way will be illuminated by a luminous chemical placed upon the walls by people long ago. Then descend until you arrive at several chambers which still should be barely lighted. Look about and report.

Fifty-five minutes later as Radioman Kuhlm, Herr von Stiehl, Major von Recker and von Stiehl's
personal bodyguard Konrad Pulvermacher waited for reports, the latter heard the unmistakable sound of returning footsteps. "Some of the men are surfacing sir."

Obergefreiter Glatzeder was first to appear saying, "We found the objects. They are uncountable."
Meanwhile the men guarding the perimeter heard shouts and gunfire in the distance. 

It is coming from the patrol - out there!

Ja. JA! I can barely see them. It's....

The islanders again! One of our men is down by an arrow.

Now they are knocking him and another on the head. They are lost!

You might want to dim or better still --- turn off the lights to view next scenes best.

A procession approached a bon fire.

 Agitated natives awaited the approach of a doolie.

One of von Stiehl's men was still alive within. 

Two women gesticulated apparently about his fate.

A decision was made and the procession continued to...

The shore of a lake where the soldier or sailor was deposited on a rock slab. Soon he.... 

Dumbly ascended to the top of a wooden platform adjacent to a volcanic cone glowing red in the moonlight.
 A pagan priest made incantations as guards stood by. Afterwards the man....

Climbed the ladder of his own volition. Why? Was he desperate to end a hopeless ordeal? Was it an appeasement to the island or a false god? We only know that moments later....

The ladder was empty. --- Not long afterwards a....
Hellish rasping sound rent the air.


1) This was the second weeknight game on the island using Astounding Tales by Howard Whitehouse.

2) After Game #1, the house rules chart for activation of island troubles was improved - for the island! Ditto after this one as well. It was a good learning experience for me. Plus, as animals were painted, these needed to be added.

3. Chuck L. again supplied generously from his collection of animals, natives and vegetation. The small volcanic cone came from a pet store aquarium department. Todd B's vegetation is also in abundance. The platform is from Miniature Building Authority. The doolie set is from Foundry.

4. Come back in late January 2015 for Day #3 to find out what von Stiehl found and his next move.

5. Thank you for looking in. I wish I could distribute virtual popcorn or other treats from a concession stand for you. Thank you as well to Chuck L. and John B. for commanding von Stiehl's bold expedition!

6. Placing your remarks and questions below at the word COMMENTS at this time will be greatly appreciated.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

15,000 Miles From The Past {4}


Date: January ??, 1938
Location: Northwest Bay, Isla Incognita
Situation: Departure and Day 1 On The Island
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Important Suggestion: Reread Chapter 3 The Old Warrior first here:

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A customary marine band did not play lively tunes ashore as we weighed anchor and gathered way departing Malabascar. We did not have one. Instead....

Herr von Stiehl arranged for each vessel to loudly play a traditional recording of "Hoch Deutschlands Flotte." This spirited march had been a staple expressing pride in our navy tasked with guarding overseas colonies from before the Great War of 1914-1918. 

It cheered the men enormously.... 

As they waived auf wiedersehen to families or anyone lining the docks.... 

Amidst gaily fluttering flags at the von Stiehl Werke.  

An hour later Malabascar began to rapidly recede on our port side.

To starboard, an intoxicating cerulean blue sea appeared. Somewhere out there lay our destination.

No doubt never far from Herr von Stiehl's thoughts as we steamed toward....


At this time you must remember von Stiehl's irrevocable prohibition that dates, course and speed must not be revealed until a future permitted time. Therefore, I beg your forbearance if I do not mention the number of days taken to sail to Northwest Bay, Isla Incognita. Still as I record all but the most secret circumstances, you will be privileged to learn many details known only by our most senior officers.   

Early in the morning of Day #1 ships boats began ferrying shore parties to a rocky beach. We did not expect trouble but everyone was ready for it. According to several officers our personnel were among the best volunteers the Kriegsmarine and Wehrmacht offered. The most modern and powerful equipment added to every one's confidence. 

Familiar vegetation amidst some singularly peculiar flora was noticed. There was not much time to contemplate if it belonged. Some thought it did not.

The first three sections cautiously moved inland alert for unknowns. Gefreiter Christian Blech at the point of our right-hand gruppe thought it odd no tropical birds rose, soared, dived or screeched in raucous complaints about our invasion. Only the pleasant sound of the surf was heard behind us. Isla Incognita was lovely and peaceful.   

Suddenly a silent arrow grazed Blech in the shoulder. He immediately fell to the ground. Our hoped for promenade ended almost as soon as it had begun.

Shots were fired in the direction from which the arrow had come....

Only to see a body of islanders already departing in haste across a narrow stream. Covered by foliage at the near stream bank, they disappeared within dense brush on the far side with amazing agility.

Once Blech recovered from his shocking encounter with death, we moved forward....

Approaching the slowly-moving stream with caution.

We wondered if the indigenous population would oppose our crossing the river.

They did not. One of their number had been killed and left behind. Therefore, we continued to move inland scouting the immediate area per orders for the day.

We encountered another curious plant. However, in the near distance we spotted a man-made object.

A totem of sorts. Was it a boundary marker or warning? Both was the opinion of the men there. Satisfied we had penetrated far enough for today, they....

Returned to the stream to rejoin comrades who had been unsuccessfully attacked by nature.

 Ferocious wart hogs charged and gored several of our men. We'd had enough and so....

Two hours later, probably more, we withdrew to the campsite established in our absence.

During our march inland, more sections landed.

These headed inland to our left around a heavily wooded ridge.

Like us, they remained alert. This was especially so because they had heard our earlier rifle fire. 

They too approached the stream. Nothing more than verdant tropical panoramas were seen.

The leading section paused until reinforced.

Satisfied with reinforcements, everyone walked toward the stream. Blocked from view by vegetation agitated water went unseen.

Then from out of the depth near the bank surged a reptile of gigantic proportions. It thrust out of the water before anyone could react. A perfect ambush was sprung with a cold design to crush and eat our men alive within snapping jaws. Of course it had no notion of the lethality of our weapons. It only knew hunger and gave no sentient thought to innumerable successes won by its dynamic power. Instinct compelled the thing forward to feast upon us. It's prodigious size proved physical abilities far above our own. Horrified....

Our men fled for their lives in three directions even as another smaller crocodile leaped from the water. 

No shots were fired as the beasts pursued us. However, when out of their elemental home, the land slowed their charge. At a safe distance we recovered our wits, turned about pouring withering and fatal fire into the reptiles. We were very lucky. Elsewhere others were not so fortunate because....

Back in the bay Dr. Krausen observed a hideous sea creature shockingly erupt from the depths. It overturned a returning ship's boat taking a screaming crewman below as a bloody prize. It was over in the blink of an eye. The unfortunate seaman was never seen again.

Much later when Dr. Krausen arrived in camp, injured men needed his attention.  

 Others inquired about impossibly large nuts, mollusk shells and berries.  

Nearby, von Stiehl waited for reports with which you are already familiar supplied by.... 

Major Joachim von Recker who added, "Losses are minimal, sir. Dr. Krausen stitched lacerations of three soldiers. They may be able to return to light duty in a few days. One sailor was lost to a sea monster. On balance, Day #1 is a success."

Von Stiehl: "Ja. Our benefactor will be pleased. By now he should know the mission is underway."

Schloss Cecillenhof, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Excuse me Your Excellency. A letter has arrived from Admiral Fürstenberg in Wilhelmshaven.

Ja, Manfried. Operation Southern Cross sailed for Isla Incognita on Christmas Eve.

A fitting wish for the Fatherland. By now they should be encamped under those stars.

And they were. By nightfall a guarded zareba enclosed the camp. 

We might imagine guards peering into the darkness while.... 

Others relaxed with comrades discussing each man's experiences and thoughts for the day.  

 Von Stiehl radioed son Rudi aboard Luchs.

Kaleu (Kahloy), your father says all is well in the camp. In the morning parties will move inland to the objective. And....

Lookouts spotted a bon fire inland. Major von Recker thinks natives started it.


1) Day #1 was a tabletop weeknight game governed by Howard Whitehouse's Astounding Tales rules. Chuck L. and John B. commanded the two shore parties while yours truly activated and moved creatures and indigenous warriors.

2) Some items featured were:
Flags: The Flag Dude.
Buildings in the snow: Inn by Miniature Building Authority.
Tropical soldiers/sailors: Brigade Games, Black Tree Design and others.
Submarine: Brigade Games.
Luchs: Richard Houston gunboat sold through The Virtual Armchair General.
Giant Crocodile: Schleich.
Red Car: Duesenberg made by Solido.
Sea Monster: Mosasaur of the Inner Sea by Dragonblood Miniatures painted by Chuck.
Tropical Terrain: Lots of scratch-built items from Pet Stores.
Custom Stream and Terrain Cloth: The Terrain Guy now out of business.
Natives, Totem and von Stiehl's son: Bob Murch Pulp Miniatures.

3) Perhaps I should restate that historical elections of 1933 maintained The Weimar Republic in this what-if story. Fascist and Communist challengers grossly failed and became insignificant. The Fascist leader committed suicide afterwards. Additionally, Malabascar is a fictional independent island nation - not a former colony of Germany. See Chapter 1 for more.

4) Chuck L. and Todd B. provided prodigious and vital amounts of varied tropical terrain. Thank you!

5) Thank you for looking in. I appreciate it.

6) The exciting and terrifying march inland will appear in early December, 2014. I hope you will come back to find out what happens.

7) Meanwhile, your remarks, inquiries and impressions are sought and welcome below at the word "Comments."
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