Drakaina #1 - Birth of the Dragon
The winter of 1941, Belgian Congo, Africa
The German Officer pushed through the thick scrub, the caravan of German, Italian and levied Ethiopian troops following in his wake. Things had been going badly in the East African Campaign for the Axis and the mixed team of specialists was a last spit in the eye to the British and their Free French Allies. The plan was a gun and mortar attack on the Exiled Belgium Government, a spiteful plan but one authorised by the Fuhrer himself despite the protest of the generals in the north of the Continent and their cries for more equipment and men.
“Captain.” One of the senior Italian officers wheezed in heavily accented English, the common language that the vast majority of the strike force shared. “There is a problem…with the men we levied in Abyssinia and Ethiopia.”
“Find the man responsible for spreading whatever ails them and kill him and flog the others till they move.” The German Captain stated, his pace increasing as the bulk of the Germans marched to the front of the group.
“It is not that simple.” The Italian Officer stated as he ran to keep up. “They wish to continue, it’s just, there is a pit near here…one that kills all who go near it.”
“Native superstition, that’s what holds up our noble work?!” The German roared. “Private Elise,” He snarled as a man dressed in the Wehrmacht’s African combat gear walked past. “Find the bravest of those savages and find this pit, go there and then come back. That should quell these backwoods superstitions that hamper our progress.” Elise nodded, brown eyes staring back at his superior as he walked to the group of Africans.
“I need someone to show me the pit.” He stated softly as he gathered up an additional canteen and some rations. The men near him flinched and backed away leaving only a tall man, his skin wrinkled and his back bowed although he still towered over most who had been gathered around him.
“I will help you boss, I went to the pit you speak of when I was a boy.” The dark skinned man stated as Elise threw him a canteen. “But I must ask you to not ask me to go down into the Devil’s Mouth.”
“Devil’s Mouth?” Elise asked as the men around him flinched.
“Not here boss, I will tell you more away from the others.” The man pleaded, Elise nodded, he had been born in Tanzania not Germany and understood something about the superstitions that haunted Africa. He also knew enough about the pride of the men who followed him not to push the usual stance of Aryan bluntness towards others on them.
”Don’t call me Boss call me Karl, I’m not a soldier not an officer.” Elise told his guide as the pair of them split off of the attack force.
“Okay Boss.” The man answered. “I am Joro. I must admit you are a very strange man, you don't behave like the others.”
“I take that as a compliment.” Karl replied as they headed out of earshot of the outermost sentries. “I know of the bravery and cunning of Africans, you are not so different from us despite what my superiors think. I serve Germany rather than the Fuhrer, there are many things that the government does that I don't agree with.” He added as the pair of them entered the denser part of the forest, an almost impenetrable wall of green and brown before them. “Now what of this pit, the Devil’s Mouth.”
“The pit is quite large and one would assume quite deep.” Joro explained. “No one knows because all who go in never return.”
“Is it flooded? Are the sides steep?” Karl asked as they reached a small ridge and dropped down.
“There is something down there, like water but black and with a smell unlike any other I have smelt. “ Joro answered as the pair continued through the jungle. “You will smell it yourself; it’s not far from here.” He added. The pair continued for almost an hour and a half before Joro changed ‘not far from here’ to ‘very close’ despite Karl’s (mostly) polite enquiries about their time of arrival. Things changed when they reached an area where the trees had been felled and a rough road cut into the forest leading away to the south.
“Looks like a mining camp.” Karl commented as Joro crouched down on the edge of the road. “Was this here when you came to the pit last time?”
“No this is new.” Joro answered as the sound of a plane flew overhead, the tiny aircraft circling the mining camp twice before taxiing down the road next to the closest building. From their observation point both Karl and Joro could see the ‘cross’ of the Luftwaffe on the side as the pilot and his passenger disembarked. As they left the plane the two figures were met by a platoon of German troops all dressed in the black uniforms of the SS.
“Wait here.” The Passenger ordered the pilot as they both saluted the leader of the SS brigade. Moving back to the camp the SS unit and there guest quickly moved out of earshot leaving a confused Karl and Joro alone within spitting distance of the plane. Silently Karl left the brush and made his way under the tail section of the aircraft and grabbed the pilot from behind, the woman spinning round instinctively only to relax when she saw a fellow figure in a German uniform.
“What are you doing here*?” She asked, her voice carrying an accusing tone,
*Translated from German of course.
“We are part of the Rache Mission.” Karl replied. “We hit some difficulties an hour or two ago. My superiors sent me and a local guide to scout the terrain ahead of us while he dealt with the situation.” He added waving for Joro to reveal himself and walk up to the plane. “We heard that there was a pit near here? We hopped maybe you had seen it on your flight in.”
“I know of no pit.” The pilot replied as a pair of SS agents emerged from one of the buildings in the mining camp. “Guards we have intruders!!” She screamed as she caught sight of her reinforcements. Panicking Joro levelled his rifle at her but a steady wave from Karl made him lower it just as the majority of the camp swarmed to meet them. “They asked about the pit Heer Rosenberg.”
“Calm yourself Frauline Reitsch, we are in need of more observers of our experiments.” The passenger from the plane announced. “Come gentlemen, you are about to see the future of our glorious Reich.” He added as the SS agents grabbed Karl and Joro and marched them into the mining camp. The pair were taken to a low hut overlooking a massive sore in the earth, a putrid smell rising from the hole that made both men wretch as the SS agents disarmed them and left, locking the doors behind them.
“Gentlemen, here you will witness what the material from the pit can do. While I refuse to buy into the idea of Scandinavian mythology we have called it Eiter, the material that gave birth to the world and the poison that could kill with even a mere touch. And while it can kill we have found it can do much more.” Rosenberg explained as something moved in the corner, chains clinking softly against the floor.
Cautiously Karl and Joro moved forward, fists balled ready to fight until the figure revealed herself. Standing before them was an African woman clad in nothing but a loincloth, her skin covered with tumours running up and down her arms and legs.
”Please kill me.” She begged in a soft, weak voice, her eyes pleading for mercy.
“What have you done to her?!” Joro bellowed, his voice echoing around the room as Karl removed his jacket and draped it over the woman’s shoulders.
“See for yourself.” Rosenberg hissed as a bullet ripped into the room and slammed into Joro’s leg, blood seeping from the wound. The effect on the mystery woman was almost instantaneous, as above the men’s cursing came a rattling hiss as her skin hardened becoming reptilian, her arms sprouted thick leathery wings and her face went from human to a grim monstrous visage, silted pupils glaring down at Karl and Joro. “Meet the first child of the Eiter, meet the Fuhrer’s She-Drache.”