The Riven Dreams of a Crazed Web-Writer, #4

(Night of April 4–Morning of April 5th)

This one opens in sinister fashion for us: we (yes, we; this dream heavily implied a group thing, which is rare for my dreams) discover we are The Bad Guys(TM): the malicious forces of the Third Reich preparing to assault the peaceful city of Amsterdam, which… which is… which appears to be made entirely of one to two-story wooden houses with thatch roofs.

Guys, no one panic, but I think this dream might not be historically accurate.

Anyway, this dream has a consistent POV, which is to say a real-time strategy overhead camera. Do we have a minimap? You bet your goose-stepping ass we do! Do we have ruthlessly obedient German soldiers? Yes we do! They are in three lines of trenches waiting for the order to attack. Do we have tanks?

…uh…the fuck… so, some of the geniuses at Oberkommando West have decided that our main armored support for this assault will be Jagdpanthers and Sturmtigers. I will now provide pictures of these things for those of you not familiar.

This is a Jagdpanther. It entered service in 1944. It is made to hunt tanks from camouflaged hideaways between expanses of open countryside, not assault cities!

Image result for jagdpanther

This is a Sturmtiger. It entered service in 1943. It actually was made to assault cities. Shame most of what we’ve got is Jagdpanthers, isn’t it?

Image result for sturmtiger

The historical fall of Amsterdam happened in 1940. But don’t worry, dear reader, this isn’t even close to the worst part of whatever goddamn timeline this. Before we can order our Stahlhelm’d legions to advance, the entire first row of “Amsterdam’s” houses explode in roiling fire. Now comes the screaming. Dear God–the civilian population are still in the city! Oh, the horrors!

We were supposed to do the war atrocities here! (Too much? Sorry.)

In all seriousness, the impact of the alleged human agony is seriously reduced by the fact it’s comprised entirely of stock crowd-screaming sound effects. It’s also not our main focus because all this burning seems to have been caused by an artillery bombardment, and that bombardment’s just started hitting our guys in the front-line trenches. WILHELM, NEIN! Who’s going to help poor Ilse raise little Erika now?!

Now then, best use our own artillery to target the handful of open areas on the enemy sections of the map large enough to hold enemy artillery… and our artillery sucks. The red dotted lines on our minimap are not remotely close enough to the most likely enemy firing positions, except the ones straight ahead of each individual artillery position. This is probably because our artillery… the dream’s not letting me get a good look at it, but… I think our artillery is comprised of some horrid ahistorical Panther-tank modification with open turrets. The fuck? Well, the Panther’s 75mm Kwk 42 l/70 was one of the best tank guns of the war size for size, but artillery it ain’t. This at least explains our counter-battery deficit.

Image result for panther tank
(This is a Panther, sans absurd dream-world open turret)

It doesn’t change the fact that WE JUST LOST DEINHARD AND ZIMMERMANN, GOTT VERDAMMT, WIR BRAUCHEN–ahem. Yes. We are still being bombarded. Dream-Me does not have a coherent reason for not ordering the entire force straight into the “city” since the artillery seems to be the only thing actually defending it. There’s certainly no front line. Admittedly even more of it is now burning, but this historically makes less difference to attacking soldiers than you’d think. Actually, if all the buildings are on fire, it vastly reduces the odds of anyone hiding inside to shoot at you.

But no, instead we’re going to try to sneak a lone Panzerwerfer around the right/eastern flank to bombard one of the enemy’s artillery batteries. That would be this thing:

Image result for panzerwerfer

It does not, in fact, werf panzers, which would make this whole assault business much snappier. It instead fires rockets in medium numbers. Despite an interfering MG team, we’re able to coast through the idyllic meadows here and–wait a minute. Those red-brown uniforms. Those ridiculous helmets like someone made a bad origami replica of the WW2 U.S. designs. The fact that they’re using a machine gun against an armored halftrack and expecting it to do something.

IT’S THE REDS!

Now it all makes sense! What faction other than our own (remember, we’re the Nazis) would be insane enough to blow up the outer buildings of the city they’re defending? Why, the Soviet Union of course! So, er…

Why are they defending Amsterdam?

Sadly, this question will never be answered. If you think the timeline’s fucked now, you have seen nothing. NOTHING! Our Panzerwerfer shortly falls to a shell from an artillery piece at the front of the Russian “battery,” which is a vaguely-wedge shaped mish-mash of guns positioned in the open with nary a sandbag in sight. The gun in question appears to be an M116 75mm howitzer. This is an American gun which we developed for the sole purpose of it being light enough to airdrop with our paratroopers, and there’s no reason the Reds should have one.

Bullshit pieces or no, the Panzerwerfer pulls off a hail-Mary barrage against the Russian battery, killing most of the gun crews. But damn it, the guns are still operational. It’s only a matter of time before the Russians take them back and–what’s this? There are men in civilian clothes swarming the guns and killing the remaining crews! On the minimap they’re blue, which means they’re a friendly faction! It seems the good people of Amsterdam have put aside their differences with, uh…with we Nazis… to fight the greater evils of Communism! Normally civilians can’t operate artillery pieces any better than soldiers not trained to use artillery can, but this is a strategy game and people get all kinds of impossible skills.

Well, it’s been fun! Time for a complete remix of everything we thought we knew about this horrendous timeline, because it is now the Seven Year’s War. Or something. We are now the Prussians, which is fine, and the map now consists entirely of ashen-grey ridges, stake-wall fortifications (trenches didn’t exist in 1756), and a single cluster of ¬†colossal buildings in the east which look like elongated tenements, only without the depressing not-balconies modern tenements have.

The dream asserts they’re made of stone, but it’s perfectly smooth from top to bottom with nary a seam in sight. Right. Stone. They’re arranged in a vaguely hexagonal formation, but the southwestern side of the hexagon is missing and there’s two buildings on the inside as well which, combined, form an obtuse angle, and giant gaps between the buildings so it’s just not the greatest fort.

Apparently, this is still supposed to be Amsterdam. Good God, no wonder it was only two-story wooden houses during dreamscape WWII! As far as we can see, there aren’t even any rivers left during this period, just two hundred years earlier. Despite the bleak hellscape which comprises their homecountry, the Netherlanders send forth troops and armed citizens to fight us Prussians, just like–wait, no, they’re still allied with us. Again, what is this timeline?!

Our combined forces assault the tenement-fortress, and take it from the Dutch. The dream was so adamant that they were separate from the Netherlanders that I actually forgot those are the same peoples until editing this afternoon. The dream played increasingly fast and loose with these things. We discover the tenements will now serve to spawn new units for us (again, strategy game rules). These units seem to be comprised entirely of rejected Bloodborne enemies, specifically boring humanoid ones. They are organized by height, with the front rank being the shortest and the back rank all being around eight feet tall. Look, dream, this is no time to start bringing in something Frederick the Great actually did. Lord in Heaven if the back rank aren’t strangely terrifying at a second glance: their features are all wrong, elongated and gauntly misshapen, their greatcoats are just uncanny somehow, and… okay, maybe the hilariously outsize wader-boots aren’t that frightening. But still!

Dream-me goes back to check on our main front line. It’s doing very poorly. Despite having no memory of doing so, Dream-me believes he pulled troops away from the line in order to reinforce positions elsewhere. This explains why they’re now struggling desperately against somewhere around three times their number of British, French, and unidentified third-faction forces. Considering this, they’re holding better than expected. They are, after all, Prussian.

We return to the tenement fortress to start organizing our Bloodborne-reject battalions and holy hell. There are thousands of enemy troops swarming just outside, pouring in through the same vast gaps between buildings we took advantage of. This army wears entirely green, and the dream doesn’t identify them other than specifying they are not the Russians. Well, uh, thanks dream! Very helpful! There are just too many enemy units and too few of ours; the lines collapse.

Panning back to the main front, we now find that all our troops are dead, lying over barricades in great heaps. Well, fuck. The camera pans up and away from the sightless, staring eyes of a fallen baker-soldier.

Now we’re in a teensy room warmly lit by candles, sunlight through a window and a peaceful fire. Three figures sit at a round hardwood table. A peace treaty? Nope! While the dream alleges this is supposed to be related with the horrible battle we just witnessed, I’m not buying it. Character One is an Elvish type (the dream doesn’t allow us to fixate on his ears, but the vibe’s there) in dark robes with thick golden trim and an outer, ankle-length coat in the same colors (way to bring some contrast, you edgelord Elven fuck). Despite sounding Thalmor as all get out, this is a more conventional Tolkienesque elf, with porcelain skin and silky black hair.

Then there’s… good lord, what? The dream tells us this is a “bird person” because of his very long nose, which hooks down at the end. Except that’s clearly not what he is, because what he is… is a living biology mannequin. Individual parts of his body are segmented with a multitude of black dotted lines, which may or may not conform to divisions between actual muscle groups. Each segment is a different shade or hue of brown. His eyes are normal, which just makes the whole thing worse. Somehow, the fact that they all seem to be part of the same skin instead of different ones sewed together also makes it worse. But, okay, fine, bird person.

Maybe-Elf produces what appears to be a masquerade style mask with a ridiculous long nose, not quite Tengu-grade but close. It’s entirely in clay-like red brown and has multiple panels of engraving which are all just swirls. You might think this would have some connection to the “bird” man, but nope! Apparently this is the fabled mask of some ancient goblin warlord, which allowed him/her/them to control their legions (the dream was very unclear as to their gender, appearance, and personality. One goblin warlord’s much like the same, really.)

(Remorseful author’s note: despite greatly enjoying Goblin Quest, I both misidentified the author as Jim Butcher, and the goblin as Jib instead of Jig in the original version of this line. I have fixed these egregious errors. Forgive me; I’m fatigued from training up for the Corps, and sadly prone to these things). Somebody get Jim C. Hines on the line, my characters have something his characters may want. Probably not because Jig’s not a warlord type, but it never hurts to ask.

We (our character is also not specified) try to lean forward and start discussing this mask. “Bird” man interrupts to assert that he can’t understand what we’re saying because he can’t read our body language, because he is a bird man. How this matters for the discussion when we clearly speak the same words, he doesn’t explain. Look, I’m all for exploring new identities, but you, sir, are not a fucking bird. You’re clearly a mannequin-person appropriating bird-identity for your own purposes, and you need to step the fuck off. Dream-us instead kowtows to this hideous fraud, making exaggerated body movements and asking if this helps him to understand.

The dream ends before we get an answer out of him, which is probably for the best; that answer would certainly have been consummate dross.

Say something, darn it!

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