The Shadow Of Giants


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Scene Title The Shadow of Giants
Synopsis A woman on a mission seeks out a German officer on a day of national celebration and spectacle.
Date July 2, 1900

From one side of the lake to another, fog lays in thick curtains. The distant silhouette of the Andes mountains impresses a certain sense of gravity to the moment, even if the weather prevents what lies out on the lake from being viewed as anything more than an oblong blob of dark set adrift atop the water. Lining the shores around the lake as far as the eye can see, spectators and well-wishers stand in stark contrast to the sandy shores, a sea of darkly dressed men and woman amidst the fog.

"«The weather looks particularly poor, doesn't it Lieutenant?»" Greatcoat buttoned down to stave off the chill in the morning air and the dampness, Sargent Hugo Reisslich stares outward towards the lapping shoreline and rolling surf, the glossy, black bill of his officer's hat shadowing his spectacle laden eyes.

At Hugo's side, the soldier who joins him in observation of the dark shape on the horizon looks more severe and less bookish than his counterpart. Dark brown hair is swept back from his face, the collar of his greatcoat is lifted up at the back of his neck for the same reason Hugo keeps his hands in his pockets. "«The sun will burn off the fog, then it will warm up, and then we will all feel like idiots.»" Lieutenant Vladimir Volken's opinion on the weather is as dry as his coarse tone of voice and grumbling cadence.

Hugo's lips down turn into a frown as he regards Vladimir with a modicum of scrutiny. "«You know, Serise might have appreciated coming out to this. You didn't have to leave her back in— »"

"«She is tending to the boy,»" is how Vladimir refers to his son, not by name but by title. The boy. "«She is taking him to Paris to look at a school, I will not have an uneducated son. He deserves… the best.»" That Vladimir is distracted by trying to make out the shapes of people moving on the barge near the dark object sitting larger than the barge on the lake.

"«How long is this supposed to take?»" Vladimir asks with an askance look to Hugo, "«I refuse to stand here all day in the sand, it's undignified.»"

"«Your complaining is undignified,»" is mild chastisement from Hugo, "«besides, the fog is clearing up already. Maybe once the temperature rises just a little more we can shed these coats, yes?»" The Sargent takes a crunching series of steps across the sand and gravel underfoot, hands still tucked into his pockets. "«Ah, there… see? The fog's already parting.»"

Vladimir's blue eyes narrow as he notices what Hugo's mentioned even as a wave of cheering washes over the crowd. Coming to stand at Sargent Reisslich, Vladimir offers the younger man a faint smile, then turns to square a scrutinizing stare at the oblong structure drifting on the lake. Its body is made of wooden framework wrapped in rubberized cloth, over four-hundred feet long from tip to tip. Vladimir's eyes narrow on sight of the machination, looking incredulous.

"«That will never fly,»" Lieutenant Volken grouses, looking to Hugo as he offers that opinion, "«this is a waste of our time.»"

Lake Constance


July 2, 1900

A breeze caused by no wind rushes through the trees. Boughs sway, birds are disturbed from their perch, and soon enough branches are snapping on the noisy approach of some unknown through the dense underbrush. She matches the spectators far from the tree line, down towards the pebbly white beach sand. Her long, black coat is trimmed with soft, dark brown wool and her black denim pants are tucked into knee high military issue boots.

Each footfall crushes dried and dead branches beneath on approach to the forest edge. Standing there, staring out with cyclopean stare over the shores, the long-haired and one-eyed brunette offers a huffed sigh on seeing the long, silhouetted frame of a zeppelin parked out on the water. "Ain't that cute, they gone and got a blimp t'celebrate my arrival. Well don't that just make me all a tinglin'."

Pushing her coat open more, the eyepatch laden woman looks down to the shotgun strapped to her side, concealed by the leather coat's length. It isn't the gun she's after, however, but something in her pants pocket. Unfolding the laminated piece of paper, she stares at the countenance of a gaunt looking and long-faced man in a high-collared coat.

"Hello Dracula," she wryly notes to the photograph before tucking it back into her pocket. "He didn't tell me I'd need no garlic and stakes, this aught' be wild." Stepping out of the treeline and turning up to look at the mountains over her shoulder, the cool and humid breeze blowing in off the lake catches the brunette's long hair and sends lashing tendrils of inky black across her face, even as her one good eye squares on the cloud-shrouded mountain tops.

That one moment of serenity is cut short by the sudden uproar of applause from the crowd down the hillside and on the shore. Snapping her attention to the sound like a foxhound hearing the noise of scampering prey, her one good eye narrows as she drops into a crouch, leather fabric of her jacket crumpling at her sides as she does, barrel of her shotgun scuffing in the dirt where it swings strapped around one shoulder.

"The fuck're they clappin' ab— " her voice cuts out when the breeze parts the fog and the behemoth of wood and rubbered fabric is made more visible on the water before it begins a slow and bobbing ascent up into the skies, propellors spinning and tiny black frames beneath the main balloon where the pair of pilots are seated. "Now ain't that some sorta' sight," comes with a slight twang of accent, thin lips curling into a crooked smile as she lifts one hand to shield her eye from hair blowing across it. "Kira, girl… this is the road-trip of a lifetime."

Rolling her right shoulder and twisting her arm, Kira allows the leather cord holding her sawed off shotgun in place to slide down her arm. The double-barrel and snubbed longarm drops down into her bare hand, one thumb lovingly brushed over the trigger guard before her fingers curl around the sawed down wooden stock. "Alright Drac, where you hidin' yerself at?"

Scanning the crowd, distance and fog coupled together are making spotting the man she's looking for difficult among the sea of darkly dressed spectators. It's as though the notion of colorful attire was taboo when and where she finds herself. Impatiently bouncing one knee up and down, Kira makes a clicking noise with her gongue and taps two fingers on the side of the shotgun's barrel. Soon her head joins in the bobbing motion her knee has taken on and she's completely unable to focus ont he crowd. Once she notices her lacking attention there's a squeaking growl of frustration as she jolts up to her feet.

"Fuck it, he ain't said that I can't kill nobody else. I'll just do a bunch've 'em and make s— " Once more, Kira finds herself cut off by a sight out on that lake. The shadow of the zeppelin passing overhead blots out the muted silhouette of the sun trying to break through the cloud cover. Squinting up at the giant, airborne vessel, Kira feels momentarily tiny in its presence, and when she looks back down it is the pair of Prussian military officers marching up the shoreline from the crowd that gets her attention.

They look to be leaving the viewing of the zeppelin flight early, and while the blonde-haired gentleman in the black officer hat isn't her quarry, the dark-haired man with his greatcoat collar turned up is exactly why she's here. Kira snorts noisily and springs forward, her heels cutting into the soft and damp earth as she breaks into a sprint, not running towards the officers themselves, but the glossy and black Mercedes-Benz SSK roadster parked on the crest of a hill at the roadside, the only automobile in the area that she can see.

Her boots slam down against wet grass as she runs with the sawed-off shotgun held close to her chest, the length of her leather jacket flating out behind her. As she runs, Kira keeps her prey on her good periphery where a blind eye won't cut her off from tracking their movements. Once she's close enough that fog is no longer her cover, the brunette throws her feet out in front of herself and drops to her side in a baseball slide across the wet grass towards a thick pine tree that bristles up from the hill.

Pressing her back up against the tree, Kira holds the shotgun up over her shoulder, index finger caressing the double triggers beneath the curved metal guard, tongue flicking back and forth across her lips as she feels the pounding of her heart in her chest.

Leaning away from the tree, she looks around her cover to spot the backs of theofficers as they head up the hill towards the car, alone. Kira croaks out an excited noise in the back of her throat before springing to her feet and into motion again, clumbs of dirt and grass torn up behind her heels as she runs to clear the last bit of distance.

While she can't hear the sound of their conversation, Kira can tell by the body posture and direction of attention that they're distracting each other. It's only once she's in the ten yard stretch that they hear the crunching fall of her boots on the gravel path. When Hugo turns to see who's running up behind them and spots the shotgun-wielding woman charging up the hill at them, his eyes snap wide and the cry of "Gewehr!"

Vladimir doesn't have a moment to respond before Hugo jumps towards him and slams a shoulder into the Lieutenant, knocking him off the path and down onto the ground with a stagger and a crash into the grass. In that same motion, Hugo reaches into his jacket and swings out a matte black handgun with a body build and a narrow, long barrel. The Mauser trains on Kira at the distance too far to fire her shotgun and the crack of a single shot aimed at center mass should have arrested her progress.

Hugo isn't prepared to watch the woman drop to the ground before the bullet reaches her, tumbling into a forward roll that carries her momentum, letting the bullet zip overhead before she's back on her feet and springing forward thorugh the air. Hugo's eyes grow wide as he trains his gun up on the leaping assassin, squeezing the trigger again repeatedly with a pop-pop-pop of the 9 millimeter firearm.

Each bullet fired has Kira twisting in the air, turning her shoulders to narrow her profile as the first bullet zips past, the second ghosting below of her chin's profile and the front of her throat, while the third bullet goes through the space between her right arm and torso as she continues the aerial spin, making a tiny hole in the back of her coat.

When Kira lands with both feet planted on the ground and at point-blank range, the noise of both barrels being discharged simultaneously may as well be a crack of thunder for all the noise it makes. The explosive gunshot that she is braced for still sends her skidding back an inch in the dirt, but throws Hugo off of his feet with a misting explosion of blood from his abdomen and out his back as the buckshot tears thorugh his body.

Like a well-oiled machine, Kira is dropping the discharged shotgun, both barrels venting twin coils of smoke as it falls to the ground. She springs up off of her feet again, one foot ahead of the other and body twisting as she pirouettes in the air, one hand lashing out to snatch up Hugo's airborne Mauser from mid-flight away from his propelled body. When she lands again, Hugo's body crashes down to the dirt path with a wet slap and the assassin brings up her arm to level the Mauser at Vladimir where he is crouched in half-rise from where he'd been knocked over.

For that moment in time, Vladimir's blue eyes focus on the sight of the one-eyed girl with the black eyepatch, her hair seemingly frozen in that moment in time in the same descending motion as the trail of her long coat. Vladimir's throat tightens, eyes grow wide and leather-gloved hands creak as he curls them into fists.

Without a single word, Kira squeezes off the remaining six bullets in the handgun. One round punches thorugh Vladimir's shoulder, starting his backwards spin with a spray of blood. Another tears through his throat from side to side. A third enters under his raised right arm and impacts on the inside of his ribcage on the opposite side. The fourth bullet punches thorugh his kidney. The fifth hits him square in the center of the back and hammers into his spine. The sixth and final bullet tears thorugh the back of his neck before he even hits the ground, face first.

"Wooh," Kira exasperatedly notes with a shake of her head and a sudden look of remarkable fatigue. Sweat beards on her forehead even in the chill air, rolling down the bridge of her nose before dripping off of the tip. Throwing the emptied Mauser to the ground, Kira looks down to the sounds of shouting from the crowd gathered by the lake, reaching inside of her jacket for a white handkerchief, embroidered with the initials S.S. and wipes it across her brow.

"An' he thought this'd be hard," Kira snorts as she tucks the handkerchief back in her pocket. "Told'm I didn't need no backup, I fuckin' told 'em." Standing up slowly, Kira looks down to the crowd of people looking up the hill towards the sound of gunfire, turn abruptly looks behind herself when she hears a rattling sound from Hugo.

One brow quirks up as she notices the man she'd eviscerated with her shotgun twitching with motion. "Well fuck me runnin', lil' Adolf Junior ain't got his wings yet." Kira moves a hand down to her belt, pulling out a blackened piece of metal, and with a flick of her thumb snaps out a switchblade knife from inside. "C'mere you."

Though as the brunette moves over towards Hugo, she skids to a halt when she notices that the veins in Hugo's neck have turned jet black and his eyes are rolled back in his head. Confusion crosses the young woman's face in the moments it takes for her to realize that this isn't normal. By the time Kira notices a black vapor escaping Hugo's mouth and swirling towards Vladimir's downed body, it's already too late. "Motherf— "

A scream abruptly cuts out Kira's curse as she drops her knife and falls to her knees. An agonizing cry of pain comes as her extremities go numb, fingers twitching and lips parting in breathless agony as she notices blotches of black darkening her veins beneath the skin of her hands. Hugo's body twitches and kicks on the ground, and as Kira falls onto her side and lets out another agonized cry of pain she watches as Vladimir slowly rises back to his feet with fluidic grace.

From each of the six bullet wounds on his body, shiny pieces of warped metal are spat out like unwanted food, blood slithering back into the wounds as though possessed of a life its own and sooty black edged cauterizing the entry holes as wisps of black smoke slither from the injuries.

All Vladimir can do is stare down at Kira, scowling, one leather-gloved finger wagging back and forth in the air in chastisement. What true horror awaits Kira is witnessed in Hugo's body convulses on the ground before breathing out his last smoky breath as his life is sucked away in inky tendrils towards Vladimir's rapidly healing form. Portions of Hugo's flesh begin to blacken at this point, crack and split over bone to reveal ash beneath flesh on the dessiccation of his body.

"Wer du bist?" Vladimir's sharp tone of voice is demanding of Kira as he approaches her, slowly tugging off one of his leather gloves with brows pinched together and blue eyes squared on the young assassin. An askance look is shot down to the approaching crowd, then back up to Kira as he hears a croaking laugh come from her where she lays on her stomach.

"I don't speak Kraut," the woman grouses with an aching smile as she curls her fingers around something inside of her jacket and out of sight. Vladimir comes ot a halt not far from where Kira lays, then settles down into a crouch beside her and lays his glove over his thigh.

"An American," is stated with all the flatness expected in stilted English. "Why were you— "

Now, it's Vladimir's turn to be robbed of words. When he rolls Kira over with his gloved hand, his focus is on the grenade clutched towards her chest and the plink of the pin coming out and the spring-loaded lever arm flying off. Blue eyes go saucer-wide and his mouth opens in disbelief.

Kira's giggle comes just before Vladimir moves to throw himself away from the grenade while Kira is lobbing it underhanded to roll along the ground towards him. The brunette drops down to her side again, rolls over and then swings her legs around before scrambling up to Hugo's body and yanking his bloodied and partially dessiccated corpse over onto herself like a shield.

The grenade goes off with an explosion of dirt into the air, shrapnel flung in every direction. In the wake of the explosion, the zeppelin drifting lazily overhead is disturbed by the airborn debris, wobbling in place as perforated fabric on the air bladder begins to leak precious gas.

Ears ringing, Kira rolls out from beneath the bloodied corpse and gets on her feet staggeringly, seeing Vladimir laying flat on his back away from the grenade, clutching one arm and hissing noisily. With her pulse throbbing, brow sweating and hands shaking, Kira turns her back on her prey and begins to sprint away again, this time towards the opposite treeline of the one she'd entered the clearing from.

There's a bit of a hobble in her step, a quick look over one shoulder to see Vladimir struggling ot get up and crowds of onlookers rushing to the aid of the injured man unknowingly. The last things she hears are Vladimir's barked orders. She doesn't know what he's saying means get back, but the intention of it is enough.

On her way crashing through branches into the treeline, Kira's vision blurs and her head swims with vertigo. Running shoulder-square into a tree, she stops running and slouches her weight against the bark. There's a huff of breath, a snort, then a metal on metal sliding grind as she withdraws a hunting knife from her belt at the small of her back, well hidden by her jacket.

The knife comes up, drives into the tree and repeatedly cuts down a diagonal line on the bark so that it scores the wood an inch deep. Kira then repeats the process again, scoring the wood to make a visible and deep "X" on the bark, then throws the knife down point-first into the ground.

Exasperatedly breathing, she finally feels the heat of blood on her side and pulls away the hand she's been reflexively keeping there as shock begins to wear off. Grenade shrapnel in her ribcage, Kira pulls away a bloodied hand and spits out a dry laugh as she rests her back up against the tree.

"C'mon…" she hisses, sliding down the tree to sit on the grassy ground, moving her hand back to her side as she begins to tremble, hearing alarmed shouting coming from beyond the trees. The sudden rush of air behind Kira has her breathing noisily in relief, looking up to watch the boughs of the trees blow and leaves rustle.

"You were almost late," she grouses, turning to look up to someone blocked from view by her lacking peripheral vision on her left side. "That's kinda' funny when y'think 'bout it." The man in her blind periphery isn't alone, she can hear another set of footsteps, but that soon is distracted by his words in that smooth and richly accented tone.

"Your death wasn't in the cards, dear." Which is in a way comforting, even if unsettlingly precognitive, "Not here, not now. Let's get you patched up…"

"…and we'll come back with some friends."

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