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Elven Engagement: Blizzard Blitzkrieg

Alpanon Nov 28th, 2016 (edited) 2,267 Never
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  1. ”So what are you in for?”
  2. The question broke the relative silence among the soldiers huddled up in the back of the truck. It was not welcomed with anything more than glares.
  3. “Me, I got caught trying to jump the border. There didn’t use to be any control there, see I crossed over this one time with my dad, we were on summer vacation and…”
  4. “Nobody asked”
  5. “…just making conversation man, ease up”
  6. “Shut up”
  7. Silence returned, save for the noise the truck made as it trudged along the uneven road in the middle of nowhere. The back of the truck was filled with all the usual shit, chopped up logs for easy conversion into firewood, six cases full of barbed wire and the porridge that would serve as the breakfast for the people stationed at the destination. Hidden away behind the logs were eight men, picked especially for a mission of dubious importance. Each and every one of them should’ve been back at the barracks right now, enjoying the relative peace and quiet there. This had been denied them, though. At four in the morning they’d been gathered up and sent to pack up the firewood into the truck, an unnecessary quantity of it. After enjoying a brief breakfast they’d been told to hide behind the wood with a small guerrilla tent and the standard gear required for camping out, an axe, a saw and a billhook. Their instructions had been to hide and keep quiet until eleven in the evening, which was, of course, an unreasonable amount of time to be in that cramped space, but they were told in no uncertain terms that they “should’ve thought about it before they fucked around”, so here they were, sitting on their packed bags, pissed off and directing their hate at each other for lack of a better target.
  8. At six in the morning there had been rustling when the barbed wire and the food were loaded up and then the truck was driving off. The driver didn’t know they were there. Nobody but the Lt. knew they were there, and that was supposed to be their advantage against the superior numbers of the 1st platoon.
  9.  
  10. “Anyone got any playing cards?” asked the annoying voice again. It belonged to the lanky guy with the round glasses.
  11. “No”
  12. “Okay. You know what? We should, like, go over the plan, maybe?”
  13. Everyone was now staring at him intensely.
  14. “What fucking plan?” asked the corporal, who had been dragged in all this for filling in his weekly self-evaluation improperly. He wasn’t going to tell that to anyone though.
  15. “Well you know, sir, we’re supposed to, like, interfere with the… who are we going to be interfering with again?”
  16. The corporal sighed and closed his eyes. His feet were getting cold and his ass hurt. He’d be stuck in here for…
  17. “What time is it?” he asked, not bothering to open his eyes.
  18. “7:24” replied a ginger lad who was hugging his knees and shivering.
  19. “Didn’t put on long underwear, did you?” the fat man next to him said from behind a thick scarf.
  20. “No…”
  21. “Dumb punk” the fat man said and slapped him on the back.
  22. The floodgates had opened, and there was no stopping the talking now.
  23.  
  24. “…I mean, if I hadn’t run into him, I’d have been there in time, and that fuckface KNEW that, so he held me out there on purpose so I’d get into shit. I mean come on, what the fuck?” the ginger was saying.
  25. “Yeah, I know what you mean. The MPs are all assholes!” said the one with the glasses.
  26. “I’m an MP” said the private first class who had remained quiet until then.
  27. “O-oh…”
  28. The PFC waved his hand and pulled his helmet down on his eyes, leaning back against the logs.
  29. “So what was all that stuff about you getting caught crossing the border?” asked another man who hadn’t been talking before, this one having the complexion and dark hair of a gypsy.
  30. “Oh, I was on leave and tried to leave the country, and uhh, I didn’t have my passport, just, you know my army ID. So they wouldn’t let me. My platoon leader found out about it and thought he’d fuck with me for, you know, making the army look bad by, you know, being an idiot” the one with the glasses was saying.
  31. “You really are an idiot, ahahaha” laughed the fat one. He was by far the oldest of the group, probably in his mid-twenties.
  32. “So seriously, what ARE we going to do when we get there?” asked the ginger kid.
  33. The silence that followed signalled the corporal he was the one being addressed.
  34. “Oh. Uhh, we’ll sneak out, check out a place for our tent, it’s a guerrilla one so it’s easier to hide, and then we’ll chill” he said.
  35. There was some awkward laughter.
  36. “No, I mean really” the ginger repeated.
  37. “Like I said. Chill. The hell’d you think? We were told to go out there and be a wild card, and that’s it. Having to spend the week in the fucking woods is punishment enough, so why would we put in more effort than we have to? We get bored, we’ll attack. Maybe we’ll steal some shit from them, I don’t know”
  38. That’s when the floor was opened to suggestions. Much planning was done in regards to stealing things, letting air out of the tires of jeeps and writing insults into the snow with piss. This raised the issue of tracks being left in the snow, and so they began to wonder about how they were supposed to remain hidden when they’d leave tracks behind them. Detours were proposed, and the enthusiasm for night-raids against the 1st platoon was beginning to seem less appealing.
  39. The truck halted.
  40.  
  41. “Okay, quiet” the corporal hushed everyone. They waited, and there was some excitement again. Stealth like this wasn’t a normal part of anyone’s training. The truck moved up again, and after an uphill stroll came to a halt again. The engine was turned off. The one with the glasses giggled while the ginger tried to hush him.
  42. The back of the truck was opened. There was rummaging and cursing and shouting as breakfast was removed and put to the side while the barbed wire was taken out to be taken to the three checkpoints the campsite had. Oh the joy.
  43. Eventually the back of the truck was closed up again.
  44. “Alright, nobody sleep. Anyone opens this place up and hears you snore, we’re busted” the corporal said. “That goes for you too, Vilke”
  45. The PFC lifted his helmet up to send a murderous glare his way and then let it drop again while grunting something nondescript.
  46. “So whaddya guys wanna do to pass the time?” the one with the glasses asked.
  47. “How about we rest up and don’t think about needing to take a piss until… what time is it?”
  48. “8:30” replied the ginger.
  49. “Fff-fucking really….”
  50.  
  51.             ***
  52.  
  53. “Okay it’s 22:58, come on, let’s just fuck off already” the ginger was saying.
  54. “Shh, shh” PFC Vilke was shushing him.
  55. The back of the truck opened. Someone was shining a flashlight back there. It illuminated the ceiling rather nicely and made them hold their breath as someone grunted and grabbed a bundle of logs while someone else was berating them for being a retard. Once they were gone, the gang waited.
  56. “23:03” the ginger whispered.
  57. “Okay” the corporal said, getting up with great difficulty. “It’s a bit of a climb out of here with this gear. We’ll make a chain to get the bags and the tent out, let’s hustle. Aarnio and Fagerström, you stay back here…”
  58. Aarnio, the fat one, and Fagerström, the one with the glasses, stayed in the hidey-hole while the rest climbed up, with Vilke leading the way, opening up the truck and jumping out. He gestured for the chain to get started, and in a jiffy the bags, the tent, the stove and the tools were out. After everyone had their bags on their backs and the other stuff had been distributed, those with nothing to carry grabbed as much logs as they could and closed up the truck.
  59. “Where to next?” the gypsy, Rantala, asked.
  60. “They’re camped out down there” the corporal, Niininen, said, pointing down to the bank of a lake that was down a very steep cliff. “So we’ll have to stay away from there. And we can’t use the road, they’ve got checkpoints there. And…” he paused to think before pointing. “Out there. That’s where we had it when the Course was camped out here”
  61. There was some grinning at this. “The Course” was a source of great hilarity to those who had not bothered to undertake it. Except in the case of Kuusisto, who had wanted to, but who hadn’t made the cut.
  62. “Alright, we’re going there” corporal Niininen said, pointing at the opposite direction. And off they shuffled, eight figures in the dark of the night, loaded up like mules, the stove clanging, the snow crunching under their feet. Here at least there had been too many people walking and too many cars driving around for their footprints to make a difference, but it was still something they would have to address. With some effort Untamo, the one walking last, managed to place the saw he was carrying between his back and bag, thus freeing a hand to carry a branch they broke off a spruce so he could wipe their trail as they walked. It wasn’t particularly effective, he pointed out, but they still did it, as part of the game, if for no other reason.
  63. And thus they disappeared into the woods, corporal Niininen, private first class Vilke, and privates Aarnio, Rantala, Fagerström, Kuusisto, Nevansivu and Untamo, utterly unaware of what would soon await them.
  64.  
  65.             ***
  66.  
  67. It took them an hour and fifteen minutes to find a spot Niininen was satisfied with. It had to be far enough from the 1st platoon’s camp that the sound of making firewood or the sight of smoke from their chimney wouldn’t carry over to them, but close enough to the road that they could go get their own meals at the rendezvous point. Eventually the appropriate spot was discovered. Then they spent a good thirty minutes digging with their shovels to clear snow and piling on branches from nearby spruces and pines to make a more comfortable padding. Setting up the tent took another fifteen minutes since they had to find branches to sue as poles – the guerrilla model did not come with any – and masking the tent with the incredibly inconspicuous white camouflage. The whole gang got their bags in and their mats and sleeping bags stretched out, their bladders emptied en masse, and then the arguing began over who had to stay up and who got to go to sleep.
  68. Aarnio, by token of seniority, went in the tent and went to sleep even before there was a fire in the stove. He cussed everyone out and told them to pour the lamp’s petrol into the stove if it got them to light it quicker for all he cared, but he wouldn’t lift a finger to do a damn thing himself.
  69. Kuusisto, ever the boy-scout, always prepared, volunteered to stay up and make firewood. Nevansivu, a perpetually angry young man, demanded the wood be chopped small so it would burn hotter. He hated the cold, he said. Untamo dug around for his long underwear and complained loudly about the cold, which he’d brought on himself, really. Fagerström tried his best at lighting the stove by gathering twigs off of bushes, but nothing came of it. Vilke wandered off to throw pinecones on the ice of the lake – which pissed Niininen off a great deal as it could’ve given away their position – and ultimately Rantala peeled off some birch-bark for kindling and got the fire going, saying he didn’t mind staying up for the first watch. One by one the lot began to file into the tent to enjoy their broken night’s sleep.
  70.  
  71.             ***
  72.  
  73. “I’m hungry” Untamo said, pacing back and forth.
  74. “Uh-huh” Vilke replied, sitting on a rock and whittling a huge chunk of wood.
  75. “What’s that you’re making?” Fagerström enquired.
  76. “Dick”
  77. “Seriously? It’s huge!”
  78. Vilke put the piece of wood down and gave Fagerström an incredulous look.
  79. “What? What did I say?”
  80. “…the more pissed off you are, the bigger you make it. How pissed d’you think I am to be here? For a whole week? When I should be going home this weekend?”
  81. Fagerström mumbled something and walked off, after which Vilke continued his work.
  82. “So when do we eat?” Untamo asked.
  83. “Dunno”
  84. “Man, I’m fucking hungry”
  85. “Uh-huh”
  86. “D’you think we’ll eat before or after the guys at the camp?”
  87. “I don’t”
  88. “D’you think it’ll be the same porridge?”
  89. “…”
  90. “Fuck I’m hungry”
  91. “…”
  92. “Fffuuuuck!”
  93.  
  94. Corporal Niininen was rubbing his temples. Lt. Karisto had told them to pick up their meals at the left fork of the y in the road that led southward from the crossroads that led to the campsite, so he’d seen to it that they had pitched their tent on the southern side of the camp, but where in the road would they have to get to? It might take a while to find. It’d be better to head on out right away.
  95. “Alright bucks, let’s…” his voice trailed off. Something was off here. It’s almost like he smelled…
  96. Niininen went back inside the tent to find Aarnio, Rantala and Nevansivu bunched up around the stove, with open tins of beans and some fatty meats cooking on it.
  97. “The hell are you doing?” he demanded.
  98. “Breakfast” Aarnio replied, taking a sporkful of beans and chewing loudly. He made an OK with his fingers and the other two chowed down as well.
  99. “WE are going to go get breakfast right now” Niininen pointed out.
  100. “That’s great! Could use some bread to go with this” Aarnio replied.
  101. “YOU are coming WITH us”
  102. “No I’m not”
  103. “Neither am I, I’ve got to mind the fire” Rantala added.
  104. Niininen turned to Nevansivu, who shrugged his shoulders and kept eating.
  105. “So you’re not going to say anything?”
  106. “Fuck you corpse”
  107. Corpse. Corporal. Corpse. Nice.
  108. “I see. I’m sure the Lt. is going to appreciate this when I tell him”
  109. “But you won’t. Because that’d be more effort on your part than not telling him. You guys came here unprepared, we didn’t. You need to go get your breakfast, we don’t. Just run along now” Aarnio said in between mouthfuls.
  110. Niininen knew this to be true. He could TELL them to come, he could order them, he could shout and yell and make a fool of himself, and they wouldn’t care. Everybody was here as a punishment to begin with, himself included. There was just no rhyme or reason in taking this any further.
  111. “Fine” he resigned and turned to leave.
  112. “Don’t forget the bread” Aarnio added to get the last word in. Niininen shivered with anger as he stepped out of the tent.
  113.  
  114. Fagerström walked up to the corporal with an unsure look on his face.
  115. “Uhh, corporal?”
  116. “What?” Niininen snapped, his patience severely tried.
  117. “Well, like, I was thinking. We’re here to, uhh, you know, for the 1st platoon…”
  118. “Stop mumbling and get to the point”
  119. “Well I was just wondering which 1st platoon is it?”
  120. Niininen stared at him, uncomprehending.
  121. “What do you mean WHICH 1st platoon?”
  122. “Well I mean, we’re not from the same units at all, right? I’m an artilleryman; Vilke and Rantala are military police…”
  123. “What is your POINT?”
  124. “Isn’t it obvious? We’re from different units, so which one of our platoons is this one? It’s not mine, I’M from the 1st platoon, we’re not here, I’d be here too if we were, I mean I AM here, but we’re not…”
  125. “Just shut the fuck up” Niininen said and walked past him, right up to Vilke, who was still whittling.
  126. “You any good with orientation?” he asked.
  127. “I don’t get lost” Vilke replied.
  128. “We need to find the rendezvous point and all I’ve got are some pretty shitty directions”
  129. “Well good luck with that”
  130. Whittle, whittle, whittle.
  131. “Excuse me?”
  132. “I wished you luck with your endeavour”
  133. Whittle, whittle, whittle.
  134. “Those three in the tent just refused to leave. I won’t have any more insubordination. We’re here for a week, we need to eat at some point, so just get off your ass and help me drag these dweebs” at this point the gestured with his hand at Untamo and Fagerström, “to breakfast. Can you do that for me, private first class?”
  135. Whittle, whittle, whittle.
  136. “Sure. Just one problem with that, though”
  137. “And pray tell, what is that problem?”
  138. “One of us is missing, chief”
  139. Niininen blinked heavily.
  140. “What are you playing at, soldier?”
  141. “Funny, I figure that’s the type of thing he’d have said, eh?”
  142. Niininen whirled around. His gaze swept the area. Nope. Nowhere to be seen.
  143. “Where’s Kuusisto?” he asked.
  144. “Missing, like I said”
  145. Whittle, whittle, whittle.
  146. “Since when? Are you shitting me? S-shit? He’s just taking a shit! You shit!”
  147. Niininen kicked the snow and hit a rock so hard he lost his balance and almost fell over. Fagerström was laughing at him and Untamo was sniggering.
  148. “Got some ideas on how long he’s been gone” Vilke said. “My watch wasn’t before or after his. Untamo here says Kuusisto went right to sleep after his watch and when I asked Nevansivu, whose watch was last, Kuusisto was still around when we all started waking up. His tracks, as far as I can tell, go over there” Vilke pointed.
  149. “So why didn’t you follow them? Some wardog you are, can’t even track someone through snow!”
  150. Whittle, whittle, whittle.
  151. “Maybe you’d like to check yourself, chief?”
  152. Whittle, whittle, whittle.
  153. Niininen pinched the bridge of his nose and checked his watch. They really should be going.
  154. “You three get ready to move out” he said to the men outside. “I’ll be right back”
  155.  
  156. Corporal Niininen followed the tracks that had been indicated, thinking back on his time with The Course. He’d never really been into the idea of becoming an NCO, but it had happened, somehow. Guess he DID want it since he applied and got in, but he hadn’t enjoyed it. But if he’d learned one thing it’s that you needed the men to respect you. These men didn’t. Of course they didn’t, they didn’t know him. He wasn’t going to earn their respect by losing his temper, tripping over his feet or giving orders nobody followed. But what else was he supposed to do, huh? This whole operation was HIS responsibility, and it was falling apart despite being easy-peasy. Fuck.
  157. He reached a spot where Kuusisto had stopped and pissed. The tracks of both him and Vilke continued from there though, and he followed until he reached the shore of the lake. This is where Vilke had turned back, but…
  158. Yeah. Kuusisto’s tracks just disappeared. They ended right there on the ice, which should’ve implied he’d fallen through. Niininen felt cold in the pit of his stomach. He bent down and touched the ice. It was solid, hard, and most definitely hadn’t been broken. Nobody had fallen through this last night, and most certainly not this morning. No tracks went in any direction from here though, except Vilke’s. For a moment he tried to wrap his head around it, and the only theory he could come up with was that Vilke had walked back in Kuusisto’s tracks to play a prank on him, but no. Kuusisto had bigger feet and the tracks definitely had been left by Vilke.
  159. “What the fuck…”
  160. He stepped on to the ice. He shifted his weight from one leg to the other. He stomped on the ice. No effect. He wasn’t going to crack it. This was all wrong. Niininen rubbed his chin. He thought back on what Fagerström had asked him. About which unit the 1st platoon was from, how they were all strangers from different units. This was just plain wrong.
  161.  
  162.             ***
  163.  
  164. “Are we there yet?” Untamo whined.
  165. “No, shut up. Everyone remember what we agreed? We don’t say a goddamn thing about Kuusisto, we just… just say the other four are back at the tent because they had their own food” Niinine repeated for the umpteenth time.
  166. “You know they ARE going to find out he’s gone soon enough anyway” Vilke pointed out.
  167. “He could turn up” Niininen argued.
  168. “He could. Or we could disappear”
  169. “Oh shut up, you’re not helping”
  170. “All I’m saying is we should bring a proper dog here to sniff him out. It’s not YOUR fault he disappeared; it’s the Lt. who brought us here who will end up in deep shit for it”
  171. “He’ll take it out on us” Fagerström chimed in.
  172.  “No he won’t, he’ll be fucked”
  173. “Shut up, all of you, we’re going with my decision here!”
  174. “Why? Aren’t you endangering an underling by keeping this hidden?”
  175. “OR he’s just fucking with us and I’m keeping us out of trouble, have you considered that?”
  176. “My feet hurt” Untamo added.
  177. “How could they fucking hurt when we’ve been walking for five fucking minutes?” Niininen snapped with his voice almost breaking.
  178. “Hey, my company went on a long march last week” the ginger defended himself.
  179. “Yeah. Last week. How the fuck is that going to have an effect on anything? What were you doing last week, Vilke?”
  180. “Guard duty. Night shift”
  181. “So what’s that like?” Fagerström asked.
  182. “Like movie night, mostly. If you’re on patrol you’ve got to actually walk places, so Rantala and I tried to psyche each other out by pointing our lights in a random direction really fast and shouting ‘LOOK, SLENDER’. Good times”
  183. “So how come you and Rantala are here?” Fagerström continued.
  184. “We didn’t do our job well enough, there was fresh snow so our superior saw we hadn’t been everywhere we should’ve been to, and voila, another weekend ruined”
  185. “That sucks, man”
  186. “It does”
  187. “Shut up, I can see the road!” Niininen interrupted them.
  188. “Fucking finally!” Untamo exclaimed and rushed off with his supposedly sore feet.
  189.  
  190. They got on the road, and then stood around for a while.
  191. “So, uhh, where’s the chow?” Untamo asked.
  192. Niinine checked his watch. THEY were late, so Lt. Karisto was probably waiting for them and pissed.
  193. “Uhh, Vilke?” Fagerström asked.
  194. “What?”
  195. “You said you don’t get lost, right? Can you, like, do something?”
  196. “What would you have me do? Check my invisible map for the marker that shows where the car is? Or maybe I’ll just follow the map marker on my HUD? Oh right. I don’t fucking have any of that shit, do I?”
  197. “You don’t have to yell at me”
  198. “Yes I do you stupid fuck”
  199. “Alright, that’s enough. We’re going left” Niininen said, hoping he didn’t sound like he was just making an educated guess.
  200. “Why?” Vilke asked with a confrontational voice.
  201. “Because I’m in charge here” Niininen said, faltered, and added “and because there’s obviously a bend in the road there, so if our secret operation is going to get fed anywhere, it’s there. Out of sight, right?”
  202. Untamo was already walking that way by the time he finished, and with a shrug Vilke followed.
  203. “You’re pretty smart, figuring that out” Fagerström said.
  204. “Thanks” Niininen muttered as he trailed behind his men.
  205.  
  206. They found the car right where Niininen had said they would, which was just fine. The problem was that there was nobody there. No Lt. Karisto, no footprints of anyone having left anywhere, and nobody inside. The doors weren’t locked and the key was still in the ignition.
  207. Untamo and Fagerström hadn’t worried their heads much about that part, of course. They’d opened the back doors and were eating their fill of flavourless porridge and hot juice, while Vilke nibbled on some bread and paced around the car with Niininen.
  208. “What do you figure about this then, wardog?”
  209. “I figure it’s aliens” he replied.
  210. “What, fucking really?”
  211. “Stands to reason, doesn’t it? No tracks, no signs of anything having gone wrong. Two guys disappeared. Secret government ops are going on. Yeah. Aliens”
  212. Niininen felt a shiver down his spine.
  213.  
  214. They found a walkie-talkie inside the car that was tuned to listen in on the 1st platoon’s chatter. Niininen considered trying to contact them, but what was he going to say?
  215. Further exploration of the van offered up cases full of blanks.
  216. “D’you think these are meant for us?” Vilke asked.
  217. “How would I know?”
  218. “You’re in charge, aren’t you?”
  219. Niininen considered this. It seemed that he was.
  220. “Now seeing as I’m your second in command, maybe my humble advice of maybe calling someone and telling them about all this would be something worthy of consideration?”
  221. Niininen looked at the radio in his hand.
  222. “No” he said. “We’ll just… just take all the cases with the ammo. We’ll need those” he said.
  223. “For what?”
  224. “For whatever is going on here”
  225. “They’re blanks”
  226. “Yeah. But they make noise, right? That’s better than nothing”
  227. “You’re spooked”
  228. “Aren’t you?”
  229. “Hmm. This might not be the best time, but Rantala and I brought some vodka for our little camping trip”
  230. Niininen stared at him.
  231. “You brought vodka” he repeated.
  232. “We did indeed”
  233. “Why?”
  234. “We earned it”
  235. “So, what? Your plan is to just sit in the tent for a week and get drunk?”
  236. “We were going to do whatever half-assed nonsense this lieutenant of yours wanted us to do, but yeah, a little drink never hurt nobody”
  237. Niininen shook his head.
  238. “This whole thing is falling apart, two people have disappeared and you’re just… you’re just… FUCK!”
  239. He kicked a tire and almost fell to the ground again.
  240. “We were planning to share it you know”
  241. “Enough. That’s enough, Vilke. Just shut up. Don’t say a goddamn thing, just eat up, and then we’ll take the ammo, and… and we’ll just go back to the tent”
  242. Vilke shrugged.
  243. “And the van?”
  244. “Leave it. Where would we go with it?”
  245. “Into town. This Karisto guy was the only one to know where we were, so if we go and hit up some bars for a week, who’s going to know? Any MP runs into us, Rantala and me can talk to them, it’d be fine”
  246. “I’m not going to let you do that”
  247. “Suit yourself, chief”
  248. With that they joined the other two at the porridge pot. Once they’d had their fill, they picked up the ammo crates, Niininen slipped the walkie-talkie in his pocket and then a thought occurred to him.
  249. “We don’t know when we’ll get to eat next. Let’s take this stuff with us” he said.
  250. “How? Our hands are full” Untamo criticized his far-reaching foresight.
  251. “Well, we’ll just… come back for it. Close the lids properly so it stays warm”
  252. “We did”
  253. “Then do it again!”
  254. “Don’t snap at me like that”
  255. “Stop talking back to me!”
  256. “Guy’s there’s a car coming” Fagerström pointed out.
  257. Niininen didn’t bother thinking about it or looking around, he simply let his well groomed corporal’s instincts take over and shout a command.
  258. “To the woods!”
  259.  
  260. And to the woods they went, jumping over the ditch and leaving a row of trees between themselves and the road, lunging down to the ground and leaving the ammunition cases lying on the ground as they took aim with their empty rifles.
  261. The car Fagerström had heard eventually showed up. It drove past the road and the van way faster than was appropriate on a road like this during the winter. The men all jumped when the radio Niininen had picked up came alive.
  262. “Karisto, are you there? We’re in the last car, we have to…!” then the transmission was cut and by the sound of it the car swerved off the road.
  263. “Jesus Christ!” Fagerström said, less cursing and more actually praying.
  264. “We need to go see if they’re alright, don’t we?” Untamo asked.
  265. “Or we could just go back to the tent first, set up our blank-firing adaptors in to the rifles, then come back” Vilke pointed out.
  266. “What? Are you fucking serious?” Untamo snapped. “The people in that car could be dead or injured! They crashed!”
  267. “Yes and why did they crash? If there’s someone or something out here that can nab people without leaving a trace, maybe it would be a good idea to keep our heads down and pack something that at least sounds like heat, eh?”
  268. Niininen nodded.
  269. “He’s got a point. Whatever is going on here, we’re in way over our heads” he said.
  270. “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” Fagerström began.
  271. “So why don’t we just get in the van and drive out, huh? Leave the others in the tent to deal with this shit?” Untamo demanded.
  272. “That car certainly didn’t get anywhere. Right now the only advantage we have is that they don’t know we’re here” Niininen said firmly.
  273. “Yes they do, they nabbed Kuusisto from right next to the camp” Vilke pointed out.
  274. “Fuck”
  275. “Yes. Now let’s get back to the tent and hope there’s someone still there, eh?”
  276.  
  277. They grabbed their ammo and walked off through the woods, jumping at every shadow and noise, most of which were their own doing, until they got back to the tent, where to their immense relief smoke was rising up from the chimney and Rantala was outside, chopping up more firewood.
  278. “Heeeyyy, had a good bite? You bring anything for us?” he asked, greeting them with a grin.
  279. Vilke tossed the ammo crate he was carrying on to the ground.
  280. “We’re fucked, man. We’re FUCKED” he said to his friend.
  281. “What, the Lt. was mad we weren’t there?”
  282. “No” Vilke replied, getting back in the tent, where he saw Aarnio snoring.
  283. “Hey, where’s Nevansivu?” he shouted from inside the tent.
  284. “I don’t know, he went to take a shit, I guess” Rantala shrugged.
  285. “PERKELE!” Niininen cursed. This didn’t bode well.
  286.  
  287. Without bothering with any explanations, the gang got to work on filling their magazines with blanks and getting their guns ready for use. Aarnio was grumpy when they woke him up and laughed at the idea of Kuusisto, Nevansivu and Lt. Karisto having disappeared. When he saw how serious everyone was about it though, he agreed to set his gear up as well.
  288. Ultimately the remaining six men all had three full magazines and their gear on. It was time to think about what to do.
  289. “The smart thing to do seems to be to go meet up with the 1st platoon guys, right?” Untamo offered.
  290. “Could be. Could be we’d be walking into an ambush” Vilke shot it down.
  291. “We could wait it out here” Aarnio offered.
  292. “We’ll starve if we don’t get picked out one by one” Untamo rejected.
  293. “We should join hands in prayer” Fagerström said.
  294. “Shut the fuck up!” came the chorus of everyone present.
  295. Rantala dug around in his bag and took out the bottle of salmiac flavoured vodka.
  296. “Tuikka murheeseen” he said, and passed it around.
  297. “I think” Vilke offered, “that we should go out to investigate the car that crashed now”
  298. “Why? There’re never any tracks or clues anywhere people disappeared, why would there be any there?” Untamo inquired.
  299. “True, but this time the people who were attacked KNEW they were being attacked. The element of surprise was removed, and that means we could have a chance of finding something”
  300. “And so what if we do?” Untamo asked. “We find something, and then we do what?”
  301. Vilke shrugged. He had no real answer to that.
  302. “We could just drive out” Aarnio offered.
  303. “The last car that tried that didn’t make it out” Untamo reminded them.
  304. “Skål” said Rantala, and sipped more vodka.
  305. “We could split up” Vilke offered. “Two guys go to the car, two to meet the 1st platoon and two stay here. Nobody is ever alone that way and we can accomplish the most, right?”
  306. Niininen agreed to this last offer.
  307. “Then how do we split up?” Rantala asked.
  308. “Vilke and Rantala, you go check the car” Niininen said. “You know how to do that, you’ve got training. You’ll know what to look for. Alright?”
  309. The two shrugged, but said nothing.
  310. “…right. Fagerström and Aarnio will stay here, and Untamo and I will go to the 1st platoon. Seem alright?”
  311. Aarnio smiled. “Oh yes. Very much”
  312.  
  313.             ***
  314.  
  315. “So is all this shit serious? People disappearing? You’re kidding, right? It’s just another game, like that time during Basic when we had to pick up all the trash in gasmasks because it was ‘toxic’ waste?”, Rantala asked incredulously.
  316. “Not a joke, man. This is real, and I don’t want it to be. Just keep your eyes open and be very, very quiet”
  317. “Quiet?”
  318. “We’re hunting wabbits”
  319. “Uhh?”
  320. “Ahahaha”
  321. “You’re such a fucking creep”
  322. Vilke lifted his fist to silently signal for them to stop and dropped on one knee. This was the spot where they’d watched the Jeep driving past on the road.
  323. “So how are we going to do this?”
  324. “Well advance. I’ll go up to the end of the tree line; then you’ll get up to the van. You’ll keep watch down the road, towards the Jeep. I’ll come up to you, you’ll get to the other side of the road, you’ll keep a bead on the Jeep, I’ll come to you, and we’ll go from tree to tree until we get there. Sound good?”
  325. “Okay”
  326. They advanced thus.
  327.  
  328. The Jeep had spun out of control and veered off the road, but not quite so fast that it had been damaged. It looked fine. The back tires were hanging in air, the front tires were dug into the snow bank.
  329. “This is so weird” Rantala whispered.
  330. “Hm?”
  331. “There’s no footprints, just like you said. And there’s no one inside. It’s like, like magic”
  332. “Hmm”
  333. Vilke opened the door to the shotgun seat. The seatbelt was unfastened. So was the one on the driver’s seat. The key was in the ignition. He reached out and turned it. Nothing. He tried again. Nothing. Not even a stutter.
  334. “Hmm”
  335. “Hey, check this out!” Rantala exclaimed much louder than would’ve been necessary. With a cringe Vilke joined him at the back of the car.
  336. “Look” Rantala pointed at something on the floor of the Jeep’s trunk. It was a flower.
  337. “A carnation” Vilke said, blankly.
  338. “Yeah? Why’s it here?”
  339. Vilke picked it up and smelled it.
  340. “Pretty fresh” he said, offering it to Rantala.
  341. “No thanks”
  342. “Hm”
  343. Vilke placed the flower in his breast pocket.
  344. “So what do you know about engines?” he asked.
  345. “Something, why?”
  346. “I can’t turn this one on”
  347. Rantala walked up to the driver’s seat and turned the key. Nothing happened.
  348. “Huh”
  349. “Yeah”
  350. “Let’s open it up”
  351. They had to dig around in the snow for a bit to get the hood exposed, and they soon found another issue.
  352. “Why isn’t it opening? Goddammit!” Rantala grunted.
  353. “I think…” Vilke looked at the sides of the hood. “I think it’s frozen”
  354. “Huh?”
  355. “Yup” he said, and then started banging it with the butt of his gun. Shards of broken ice jumped out.
  356. “Dude, you’re making way too much noise!”
  357. “There’s nobody here anymore”
  358. Rantala shrugged and started banging up the hood as well. The Jeep was dented pretty badly by the time they were able to open the hood up, but what they saw on the inside left the idea of any repercussions for damaging government property out of their minds.
  359. The engine was frozen as well. Frozen solid. There was ice all around every single piece of it, from top to bottom. The inside of the hood was just one solid block of ice.
  360. “Perkele”
  361.  
  362.             ***
  363.  
  364. “…I mean what if they’re just going to shoot us?” Untamo was asking.
  365. “With what? They don’t have live ammo” Niininen answered.
  366. “Well, what about the enemy?”
  367. “We can’t just wait around for them to snatch us now can we? We’ve been over this, why are you still whining?”
  368. “I never signed up for this”
  369. “You’re in the fucking army, what did you sign up for if not being in danger of dying?”
  370. “I just didn’t want to change some retard’s diapers for a year”
  371. “Oh, so you’re in the army to avoid that. Well tough break you little shit”
  372. “Hey fuck you! YOU didn’t come here to get killed either, we’re not at war with anyone, we haven’t been at war with anyone for as long as my fucking parents have been alive!”
  373. Niininen shook his head and bit his lip. He didn’t put up with the shit on the Course to be talked to like this. He should just beat this little shitheel up, but that wasn’t an option. Untamo might not have been particularly dependable from what he could see, but surely having him around would be better than nothing. Worst comes to worst, he could just dump the ginger and run away. Yeah. No man left behind? As if.
  374. “Alright, this is where we came down” Niininen said when they’d reached the foot of a cliff.
  375. “It’s pretty steep when you look at it from below” Untamo whined.
  376. “Yeah, but it’s not frozen. We made it down just fine”
  377. “It’s still kinda steep…”
  378. Niininen clenched and unclenched his fist. It was close. It was very close.
  379. “Okay. Tell you what. Why don’t we go around over there” he pointed towards the lake.
  380. “They’ll have tents down there”
  381. “How do you know?”
  382. “Because… I already explained this yesterday, were you even listening?”
  383. “Yeah, yeah, you’re the high and mighty corporal, whatever”
  384. Niininen exhaled sharply and sauntered off toward the lakeside. That’s where the tents were. That’s where the people would be. It made sense. Why would they even have gone up to where the cars were parked? They’d just had to have come back down here again to reach the camp. Silly.
  385.  
  386. “Hey I can see the tent!” Untamo blurted out about fifty paces away from it.
  387. “Yeah, thanks”
  388. “You’re welcome”
  389. He was being serious?
  390. “Ahoy!” Niininen shouted. No response.
  391. “It occurs to me we don’t know their password” he said.
  392. “Well NOW who’s dumb?” Untamo giggled.
  393. “You. You’re dumb. I’m just absent-minded”
  394. Untamo snorted and spat. What a badass.
  395. Niininen opened the flap and got in the tent. It was empty. There were backpacks there, sleeping bags, firewood, the oil-lamp hanging off a y-shaped branch… everything was there but the people. He stepped out.
  396. “Two… no, three more to go” he observed.
  397. “Huh? I can’t see three”
  398. “Math. How many people fit in these tents? How many people in a platoon? Apply yourself a little, will you? Let’s check the rest”
  399. Untamo sulked and dragged his feet, leaving Niininen to actually doing the checking. After a little wandering around he found the tent he hadn’t seen yet, but in the end they were all in the same condition. Nobody was in any of them.
  400. “There’s still the checkpoint” he wondered out loud while standing in the NCO tent, which he recognized as such due to the radio in there. There was a phone line as well, which of course led to the checkpoint. He tried the phone. Nothing. Then he opened the case with the radio in it and started wondering what to do with it.
  401. “Hey, did these guys pour water in their stoves?” Untamo blurted out.
  402. “What?”
  403. “Well it’s got ice in it”
  404. Niininen looked at the stove and noticed that this was indeed so. The thing was frozen on the inside. Not just a little bit, it was full of ice.
  405. “That’s not right” he said.
  406. “If they left in a hurry, isn’t that what they’d do? Pour water on the fire?”
  407. “Look how much of it there is, this is like two bucketfuls of water, and there isn’t any ice on the ground so they can’t have poured it in, the water would’ve leaked out through the air holes”
  408. Untamo scratched his face.
  409. “So they were just being asses?”
  410. “In their own tent? These guys would know they’d need the heat when they came back, and breaking all this ice would be a huge pain in the ass. It doesn’t make any sense”
  411. Niininen was kicking himself for not having noticed this in the other tents.
  412. “Come on” he said. “Let’s go back and see if this happened with the others, too”
  413.  
  414. It was the same case with every stove. All of them were full of ice.
  415. “Any ideas?” Untamo asked.
  416. “None. This type of thing doesn’t just happen. I don’t even know how it COULD have happened”
  417. “Maybe it’s like, a survival exercise? They’re out doing some shit, and while they’re gone the trainer comes here and freezes the stoves so when they come back they’ll have to deal with that shit”
  418. Niininen considered this. It seemed appropriately dickish. It made sense in the context of Karisto bringing in this penalty squad to mess with people. But there was too much weird shit happening for it to make any sense.
  419. Their silence was broken by the walkie-talkie Niininen had with him coming alive.
  420. “Hey, Niininen? You there?”
  421. It was Vilke’s voice.
  422. “I’m here” he replied.
  423. “We found something pretty weird”
  424. “So did us. What’ve you got?”
  425. “The Jeep’s engine is frozen solid. Like someone had filled the whole thing with water over night”
  426. Untamo’s jaw dropped.
  427. “But… the car was JUST being driven” Niininen said.
  428. “Yeah”
  429. “So you didn’t find anything else?”
  430. “The walkie I’m talking to you on right now. This was the channel it was on, so I guess this is the one used by whoever was trying to talk to Lt. Karisto. Now I might just be speculating here, but whoever was talking did say they were in ‘the last car’, right?”
  431. Niininen remembered this.
  432. “Yes”
  433. “Then something must be wrong with the rest of them. Have you checked?”
  434. Niininen felt embarrassed that he hadn’t. But it wasn’t his fault; Untamo was the one holding him back. He should’ve taken someone else. Like… like… fuck.
  435. “Not yet, but it’s funny you should say the engine was frozen. All the stoves here are frozen from the inside too”
  436. There was a brief moment of silence.
  437. “We’ve got a problem” Vilke finally said.
  438. “Oh, you don’t say?”
  439. “Rantala just checked the van. The engine’s frozen on that too. My guess is that the same goes for all the cars parked up there”
  440. Niininen watched as Untamo mouthed what-the-fuck silently.
  441. “We’ll go check, just to be sure. You two try to get the food back to the tent. I think it’s for the best if we do some serious thinking”
  442. “Roger that”
  443.  
  444. “So now what?” Untamo asked. “This is getting worse and worse. What the fuck freezes shit just like that, huh?”
  445. “Liquid nitrogen”
  446. “What?”
  447. “Liquid. Nitrogen. You know. The stuff that’s gaseous in three fourths of the fucking atmosphere? The air we breathe?”
  448. “Nah man, that’s OXYGEN we breathe”
  449. “You’re one stupid fuck, you know that?”
  450. “At least I know what I’m breathing”
  451. Niininen gave up and headed off to the parking area. Every car had its doors ajar, and obviously people had managed to get in them and had rushed out again. Apart from the big truck, the cars had apparently gotten on the move; they were not parked in any semblance of order. After a little checking Niininen was able to confirm that yes, the engines were indeed frozen. He was unable to find a sign of where anyone had gone after this, though. They just… disappeared.
  452. “This is so fucked up. Look at all this. There was a proper PANIC here. People were running around, they were driving out to get away… from what?”
  453. Untamo was looking out to the checkpoint.
  454. “That one car just drove on through” he said. “Didn’t even try to go around the beam”
  455. Niininen looked and saw that the Jeep had indeed driven through the beam that functioned as a gate.
  456. “We can’t even get out of here, can we?” Untamo asked.
  457. “Like hell we can’t. I didn’t complete the Course so I could just get shat on like this. Fuck the cars, we’ll go cross-country if we have to”
  458. “There’s too much snow there”
  459. “No there isn’t. You’re just lazy. You’ll deal with it”
  460. “Can we go back now?”
  461. “Yes”
  462.  
  463. By the time they got back to their tent, their minds were filled with fear of what they might find. This fear was alleviated by the sight of smoke rising from their chimney, and they practically ran into the safety of their companions.
  464. Inside the tent, the canister of porridge was open next to the stove, and Aarnio was sitting by it, eating right out of it. Fagerström was in the closest thing that qualified as a corner and was whimpering and praying. Rantala and Vilke were lying around and passing the bottle.
  465. “Quite the stories you guys are telling” Aarnio said.
  466. “Not stories. We’re in some deep shit here and we need to get the fuck out” Niininen replied.
  467. “Yeah? How’d you figure we’ll do that then?”
  468. “We walk. Through the woods. We’ll avoid the roads, just stick to the woods, keep our eyes and our ears peeled, and we’ll be back in civilization in a couple of hours max”
  469. “That is if we go the right way” Rantala pointed out.
  470. “Not going to be a problem” Vilke said.
  471. “Yes it is, you’re drunk”
  472. “Am not”
  473. “Are too!”
  474. “Ay, shut up and gimme”
  475. The bottle passed to Vilke and he took a good swig.
  476. “NOW I’m drunk” he said.
  477. Niininen took his helmet off and scratched his head.
  478. “You are not really appreciating the seriousness of the situation, are you?”
  479. “Are too. It’sh shitty. Sho what?” Vilke slurred.
  480. “You stop that right now!” Niininen snapped and grabbed the bottle.
  481. “Oi!”
  482. “No more drinking!” he said and poured the contents on to the fire for added effect.
  483. “Reminds me of something me and the lads used to do” Aarnio grinned and took some of the blanks out of a magazine.
  484. “What are you doing?” Niininen asked.
  485. “This” he replied, twisted the wooden tip off and poured the gunpowder into the fire.
  486. “Nice” Untamo said.
  487. “To hell with it!” Rantala said and joined in.
  488. “You can’t be serious! We need that ammo!”
  489. “For what? They’re blanks; they’re not going to help. You’ve seen what happened. Just let it be” Rantala said.
  490. “I am sick and tired of this insubordination! I am in charge here! I am your only chance of getting out of this alive!” Niininen shouted.
  491. “I’mma take, take me a pishhh” Vilke said, struggling up and stumbling out of the tent.
  492. “Don’t go anywhere!” And you forgot your rifle!”
  493. “Don’t need no, ahhh, shaddup!”
  494. And gone he was.
  495. Niininen thought about his options. He could go back out after Vilke, or stay here and try to keep the situation from escalating into any greater stupidity. Maybe he should…
  496. “Oi, you giddown from there!” Vilke shouted.
  497. “The hell is he saying?” Niininen muttered.
  498. “You hear me, lady? Dan…danza... dange… s’ that!”
  499. “Who the hell is the talking to?” Untamo asked.
  500. “DELIVER US FROM EVIL!” Fagerström shouted, and as he did, there was a clang down their chimney, and then their fire was frozen solid.
  501.  
  502.             ***
  503.  
  504. For a moment everyone was as stiff as if they had been frozen themselves. Then Fagerström fell into a fetal position and began to recite another prayer while sobbing. The spell was broken and Niininen resumed his duties as the squad leader.
  505. “EVERYBODY OUT” he screamed and headed the charge. It occurred to him as he came out into the open that he wasn’t wearing his helmet, and that he had no clue what he was getting himself into. Great start.
  506. Niininen turned around to point his rifle up at the top of the tent. He saw nothing. His gaze darted to Vilke, who was on his ass on the ground. His rifle wasn’t with him. Of course. He’d left it inside like the drunken idiot he was!
  507. The others were out now. Aarnio was there, keeping a bead to the right of the entrance, he was actually being very diligent. Untamo’s weapon hung from its strap uselessly, Rantala was tilting to and fro, his hands shaking, but he was TRYING to keep a line of fire to the left of the entrance… and Fagerström was still inside.
  508. For a moment Niininen considered going back in and dragging him out of there. He could get his helmet back and Vilke’s rifle too. It seemed prudent. Even more prudent would be to tell Untamo to do it.
  509. “Untamo, get in there and…”
  510. THUD
  511. There was an impact on his neck. Like someone had punched him lightly.
  512. “Oww…”
  513. Niininen reached for his neck, but found nothing. He felt… slow. Sluggish. Limbs were so heavy. Turning around was hard. He managed. He saw nothing… but he tried lifting his rifle anyway. With glacial speed he managed. He didn’t know what had happened, couldn’t really think much about it. He pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Right. Safety’s on.
  514. Niininen let out some rapid fire, his rifle swinging wildly as he couldn’t keep a steady aim. His finger was still pulling the trigger when the magazine ran out. The smell of scorched oil filled the air. That’s right. He’d oiled the gun before coming here, and hadn’t had a chance to clean it out yet. Burned oil was such a pain to clean…
  515. He fell on his knees. The rifle was just too heavy. Keeping his eyes closed felt so much more comfortable, too. But… the magazine. He had two more. Got to change…
  516. “Hey, where’d Niininen go?” Untamo was asking.
  517. What are you babbling about, man? I’m riiight heeere…
  518. “He was here just a second ago!” Untamo was screaming.
  519. “Shut up! SHUT! UP!” Aarnio snapped, assuming control of the situation. “Vilke! The hell did you see?”
  520. “Wash a girl” Vilke replied, throwing his helmet away. “Tight little assh on her. May… might… coulda… been that… what’sherfashe? From the… air… anti… her?”
  521. “You mean that girl you said… the one with the horoscopes?” Rantala asked.
  522. “Horoshcopes an… an bitcshes!” Vilke said and fell on his back giggling. “Had earsh like dish” he added, putting his hands in the air to signify a distance that made no sense.
  523.  
  524. Why is everyone acting like this? I’m still here, Niininen thought. He’d managed to load his gun again. And he saw a threat. He saw exactly what Vilke had been talking about. There was a woman there. She was dressed up in the winter-camouflage, same as them. She wasn’t wearing a helmet though. Blonde hair fell to her shoulders, with flowers in it. That was weird, live flowers in the middle of winter. And Vilke had been right about the ears. They were long and pointy. She was smiling and holding up a crossbow. That was silly. Why would she have a crossbow?
  525. There was a silent whirr as the bolt was loosened and it hit Untamo, the one who was behind everyone else’s back at this point and was only in Niininen’s line of sight. The bolt caught him in the chest and just disappeared. Maybe that’s what hit me, Niininen thought. No time to waste.
  526. “UNTAMO WAS HIT!” he shouted and with the powers of adrenaline he… failed to lift his rifle up. He fell on his stomach, took aim – which was very hard because his vision was blurry – and he took two shots at the woman. She didn’t even try to dodge. Of course not, he realized. He was firing blanks. They couldn’t harm her, not a piece of them would even get close to her. He…
  527. A weight fell on his back and someone grabbed his arm. Unable to resist he just grunted as his hands were cable-tied together. Who the hell was doing this?
  528. Nobody had noticed Untamo getting shot, nobody had noticed him shouting, and nobody had noticed his shots. Rantala and Aarnio were back to back now. Their words were so distant…
  529.  
  530. Something hit me in the chest, Untamo thought. He felt weird. Light-headed. He wasn’t even all that scared, all things considered.
  531. Then he saw Niininen. What the hell he was just laying there like a lazy fuck!
  532. Then he saw the woman. It could’ve been the woman Vilke had been talking about. She was carrying a fucking crossbow. He wanted to yell at Niininen to be careful, but then he saw him shoot. The blanks didn’t do anything, of course, but they made the woman sneaking up on him stop for a minute. Untamo wanted to warn him again, but then…
  533. “Where the hell is Untamo? Did the fucker run?” Aarnio yelled, spittle flying.
  534. What the hell is he talking about, Untamo thought. I’m right here.
  535. “Uhh, I’m right in front of you” he said. Aarnio stared right at him. And through him. Huh? Was there something behind him?
  536. Untamo tried to turn around and tripped on his feet. He fell on the ground. There wasn’t anything behind him though. Whatever. He’d had enough. He threw his rifle away and crawled back into the tent.
  537. Fagerström was there. He was standing up now. He was doing something weird.
  538. “The hell are you doing?” Untamo asked.
  539. There was no reply. Fagerström simply took a handful of porridge and rubbed it on his face.
  540. “I am a warrior of the Lord” he said. “Faith is my shield. The Word of God is my sword”
  541. “Okay?”
  542. Fagerström had picked up the rifle Vilke had left behind as well as his own. He was walking out with his face covered in lukewarm porridge and two rifles in his hands.
  543. Untamo tried to grab his leg to stop him, but his hand just fell through. Must’ve missed. With great difficulty he dragged himself outside, where Fagerström was making a Rambo-charge and shooting everywhere while yelling something.
  544. “Well at least he came out” Aarnio mumbled. He tried to take a step back, and walked right through Rantala, who was kneeling on the ground, holding his throat. The woman who had been behind Niininen was now sitting on him and put a bag over his head. What was happening here? This was just too weird. Too weird.
  545. “Guys? Guys?” he tried to shout, but his voice only carried so far. There was a whirr and Aarnio was hit in the thigh. Niininen was being dragged away by his feet. One of the women had walked up to Vilke.
  546. “’ullo” said Vilke. “Drop dish?” he pulled a flower out of his breast pocket. The woman sat on his lap, took the flower, put it on her head and leaned down to kiss him.
  547. That was sick. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t right at all!
  548. “I AM A SOLDIER OF GOD! I AM A SOLDIER OF GOD! I AM A SOLDIER OF FINLAND!” Fagerström was hollering, both his rifles empty but still in his hands. He wasn’t even trying to change the magazines.
  549. “He’s a scary one, isn’t he?” a voice asked from somewhere around the edges of Untamo’s consciousness. A woman’s voice.
  550. “I’ll be right with you, doll” it said, and a whirr sent a bolt right into Fagerström’s neck.
  551. Whoever it was, she’d been standing on the tent. That didn’t make any sense; it would’ve sagged under her weight…
  552. She fell right on top of him. Right on his back. It didn’t hurt at all. What was happening?  Why was it happening? She was trying his arms behind his back now.  Please don’t hurt me.
  553. “P-pllh” he tried to speak, but couldn’t. So tired.
  554. “Shh, shh” he cooed into his ear as she took his helmet off and pulled a hood of some kind over his head. Her next words were the last thing to enter his fading consciousness.
  555. “We’re going to have so much fun”
  556.  
  557.  
  558.             ***
  559.  
  560. It had been a very curious day, Vilke though to himself. The inside of the bag over his head smelled like cinnamon buns. He had a rather hazy recollection of being dragged off after the nice lady with the pointy ears had sucked face with him, and now he was quite resigned for whatever would happen. He might’ve been unconscious at some point. He most likely had been, yeah. No clue where he was. Well, some clue, plenty of clues around if you knew to look for them. Hands were tied with ropes now, around the forearm rather than the wrist, not too tight but tight enough. There was a pole behind him, that’s what he’d been tied to. It was a sturdy one, pretty thick too, could rest on it easy enough. What else? His legs were tied together at the shins. There was heat. Probably a fire somewhere in the direction of his feet. Hmm. That’s about it.
  561. There was a shuffling sound, someone entered wherever it was that he was. It was time for answers and such now, right?
  562. More shuffling and a gentle humming of a tune. It was a woman’s voice, certainly. The bag over his head was pulled off and Vilke was treated to the sight of a gloomy adobe, some kind of wigwam or tepee or whatnot. That didn’t matter though, what mattered was the lady in front of him. Curly auburn hair reaching past her shoulders, her ears pointed and long, her eyes green, some nice freckles here and there and she was wearing a thick, navy-blue sweater and nothing else. Her pale, bare legs were goosebumbed, her puppies pushing their noses against the taut sweater, her toes kneading the air as she sat in his lap and petted his hair.
  563. “Soldiers have such silly haircuts” she cooed, her breath tickling his face. She had flowers in her hair. One of them was a carnation. He remembered that. He’d picked it up.
  564. “Feels like a hedgehog” she whispered. She was a little bucktoothed. It gave her a very adorable look. If only she’d had her hair done in braids, Vilke’d have broken free and… and she was giving him an Eskimo kiss.
  565. “I had to beg for you, you know. My friends saw what a gentleman you were though, so they let me have you for myself”
  566. Vilke tried to think back on what exactly he had done other than get drunk. Something about the flower? Yes. He’d offered it to her. Oh you smooth operator, you!
  567. She gave a little peck on his lips.
  568. “We’ve got all night” she said and gave a peck on his cheek. “I hope you’ll like it as much as I will” she kissed his other cheek, then leaned back, held his face in her warm, soft hands and stared him in the eyes.
  569. “You don’t have to, though. I won, so you’re my bitch now” she concluded, and as she stuck her tongue into his mouth, Vilke found himself quite erect. It wasn’t so bad, was it?
  570.  
  571. The Elf woman opened the zipper of his coat. Vilke hadn’t realized his vest was gone. Not that he missed it, mind you. The war was lost, the treaty signed and so on.
  572. Their lips parted and dimpled appeared around the Elf’s mouth as she smiled. Such a warm smile, she could met a man’s heart like that…
  573. “Hmm?” wondered.
  574. “What?” he asked, but she pressed a finger on his lips.
  575. “No talking” she commanded, and pressed her hips tighter over his. Even through the layers of clothing he was wearing he could hazard a guess that she was not wearing anything under that sweater.
  576. She moved her hips, grinding slowly but forcefully. He gasped; she was hitting the right spot alright.
  577. “Like that?” she asked, and Vilke drew breath to answer but she covered his mouth and nose with her palm.
  578. “I said no talking!” she rebuked him, yanking at an ear with her free hand, grinding all the while without stopping.
  579. “Do you understand?”
  580. He nodded.
  581. “Good” she said and let him breathe again. She undid his belt and slipped her hands under his shirt, feeling him up.
  582. “Mmm, keeping fit, are we?”
  583. He nodded again. She stuck her tongue out at him and wagged it, inviting him to reach out with his. As he did so she pinched his nipples, making him cry out.
  584. “Hey, I said no talking!” she said, feigning irritation. “If you’re going to be like that, I’ll have to teach you some manners!”
  585. The Elf stood up and without a hint of embarrassment lifted up her sweater, revealing her soft thighs and her Elven grace.
  586. “Let’s put that mouth to a better use!” she said, placing herself right on his face. Vilke did not find the position to be disagreeable, even when she let her feet leave the ground and grabbed the pole behind his back for support.
  587. Wet noises filled Vilke’s ears, the musk and taste of woman filled his nostrils and taste buds. The Elf was making very satisfied sounds somewhere up there.
  588. “See, isn’t this better than talking?” she asked. He couldn’t really respond to her, but she most likely wasn’t interested in a response. He’d have to agree anyway.
  589. “Here now, let’s try this” she said and her feet found their way to his pants. With some agility – and gripping his head between her thighs for balance – she got her feet around his erection. She squeezed the base with her toes, her grip as nimble as a monkey’s.
  590. “Earn it” she said, and he resumed lapping up her womanhood. As he did so, she began to rub his manhood with her feet. In his current state he was rather easily excitable, and without much warning caught his climax.
  591. “Hey! I don’t recall saying that was okay!” she said, and in her rush to get her feet away from the sticky discharge she lost her balance and fell off him.
  592.  
  593. Vilke couldn’t help but laugh at the display of the plump derriere thighs of the woman sprawled on her back before him.
  594. She darted up with her hair in her eyes, her mouth in a grimace.
  595. “Going to be like that is it?” she hissed. “Fine” she stepped over to him and pulled his pants and layered underwear off with some effort. Seeing he was at half-mast she grabbed him and encouraged greater attentiveness, then sat on it and took him inside in one go, making both of them cry out.
  596. “Oh you shut up!” she snapped and pulled her sweater over his head, leaving his head buried around her breasts. Holding him tightly like this she began to move her hips while he was still sensitive from his last climax.
  597. “Aah, ah can” she tried to taunt him, “can keep this uuhhp all night!”
  598. Vilke wasn’t trying to resist anything; he was letting the waves of pleasure fall over him as the stuffy warmth all around his head left him light-headed. This was nice. He might go to sleep like this if he wasn’t so overwhelmed by the tightness squeezing his sensitive bits. Was this even real? It had to be real. It felt real. But this type of thing didn’t happen. He licked at her breasts.
  599. “Hey that tickles!”
  600. Does it now? He licked her some more.
  601. “S-stop that!” she said, slowing down her hips. Vilke saw no reason not to pick up the slack on her behalf and began to move his.
  602. “Oh! Oh! You! You little…!”
  603. He found a nipple and gave it a little bite.
  604. “Ah! Okay!”
  605. The Elf hugged his head into her bosom with both hands tight enough to squish off his air supply and began to grind in rhythm with him, the two of them thrusting their pelvises at their top speed. It didn’t take them long to finish each other off, and when they did the Elf lifted herself off and once more lied down on his back. She struggled with getting the sweater off of herself and threw it in a corner, letting Vilke enjoy his first decent view of her whole body.
  606. “So what happened…” he said in between his gasps “…to me being your bitch?”
  607. The Elf sat up and looked at him, brushed the flowers out of her hair and crawled up to him on all fours.
  608. “We still have all night” she said, caught his member and let her saliva drip over it.
  609. “How long is all ni-umf” he tried to ask her, but a kiss shut him up as she began jerking him off.
  610.  
  611.     ***
  612.  
  613. I must not fear, fear is the mind-killer. The chant was from Star Wars, right? Nerdshit. But smart. Kuusisto was trying very hard to concentrate on it. He’d been out to scout out the area, before anyone else had left the tent. It was only fitting for a man of his calibre to be the first out and about, checking out the landscape, seeing if there had been any enemy movement in their vicinity, emptying his bladder, seeing how the weather was… and then he’d gone to the lake in the hopes he might be able to see the 1st platoon’s camp from there. IT would’ve been a big black mark against them if he could. But he hadn’t. He’d been hit in the neck by something. He’d turned around, slipped on the ice, fallen down, scrambled around, lost consciousness, and woken up… here. Wherever here was. Imprisoned, obviously. At first he had assumed it had been the 1st platoon who had tied him up and put a bag over his head and he’d wanted to cuss them out, but then he’d thought it would be more dignified to be quiet. They’d just laugh at him if he made an ass of himself.
  614. That was when he started hearing the voices. The female voices. This wasn’t expected at all. They giggled and talked in a language he didn’t understand. Russians? Didn’t sound like Russian. But that’s who the enemy would have to be. What other explanation could there be?
  615. They took off his boots. Then his socks.
  616. “Hey! What the fuck!” he snapped. It wasn’t exactly dignified or gentlemanly, but this was just too weird now.
  617. The voices had a hushed conversation, and then two sets of soft hands caught his bare feet and began to massage them. It felt rather nice, actually, but…
  618. “Stop that! The fuck are you doing?”
  619. A voice clucked her tongue.
  620. “Fuck this, fuck that. Is that all you’ve got on your mind?” she asked.
  621. “Let me go you bitch! I’ve had just about enough of this!”
  622. “You haven’t really had anything yet though” she said.
  623. “What?”
  624. “Fuck, as you called it. You’re going to, though. Lots of it, too”
  625. This talk, the helplessness of being tied up, the hands caressing his feet… Kuusisto couldn’t help the fact that his dick got hard.
  626. “I… who are you?” he asked to change the subject.
  627. “The girl who took you down”
  628. “How?”
  629. “Shot you in the neck”
  630. “With what? How does that even make any sense?”
  631. “Don’t worry about it, boy. Your neck isn’t the issue here. THIS is”
  632. She caught his junk in her hand and squeezed.
  633. “Gah!” Kuusisto yelped, involuntarily.
  634. “Oh, you’re up already?” the voice asked and all three giggled.
  635. “Don’t touch that! This… this is harassment!”
  636. “So?” asked the one touching his dick, rubbing it through his pants.
  637. “So? So I’m going to… to report you!” Kuusisto tried desperately, feeling more and more that his situation was not one where his threats meant anything.
  638. “Oh? Well we can’t let you do that, we’d get in sooo much troubleee~!”
  639. There was more laughter.
  640. “My friends will notice I’m gone. They’ll come and…”
  641. “And come and come and come, just like you will. We know. That’s the point!”
  642. Kuusisto tried to spit at her, but the bag was in the way. That was dumb.
  643. “That was dumb”, she whispered and undid his belt, throwing it away.
  644. I’m going to get raped, Kuusisto thought. For real. He’d read about this, in a war novel. There’d been women in the Soviet Army who raped men and then castrated them. That’s what these women were, weren’t they? No. He didn’t want that. It couldn’t happen to him anyway, there was no war. This was all just some elaborate joke. That wasn’t funny.
  645. His legs had been tied together, but now the ropes were untied to slide his pants off.
  646. “Don’t…” he tried.
  647. “We will” one of the voices answered.
  648. They removed his long underwear too.
  649. “Please…”
  650. “Beg more”
  651. “Please! Don’t do this!”
  652. “Why not?”
  653. The hands were now caressing his bare legs. He wanted to try kicking them, but he couldn’t muster the courage. His boner must’ve been a ridiculous sight with nothing but his boxers to cover it.
  654. “It’s wrong! That’s why!”
  655. “Wrong? Why is it wrong?” one of them was now behind him, tracing his arms with a finger.
  656. “Because I don’t want it!”
  657. “Of course you do, look at Mr. Weenie!”
  658. One of the girls slipped his boxers off and threw them away, leaving him exposed.
  659. “That’s just…” he tried.
  660. “Just what?”
  661. He couldn’t answer. He had nothing to say to that.
  662. There was suddenly a sound of tearing fabric. The one behind him had stabbed through his clothes. She’d STABBED through his clothes!
  663. “Oh God…”
  664. One of the girls cupped his balls while another slipped her hand up his shirt.
  665. “Relax” the one behind him said. “We’re just getting you undressed”
  666. With his hands tied to… to whatever the frame behind him was, they couldn’t undress him. Sure. So they just cut his clothes into shreds to get them off. The idea of having to fill in a form for the destruction of government property made Kuusisto shudder. Nobody would believe this had happened, they’d think he had cut them up himself. Hahah. As if he’d ever make it out of here alive.
  667. “Ahahah”
  668. “Oh, you’re ticklish here?” a girl asked as she traced his armpit.
  669. “This guy could use a laugh” another said, teasing his other pit.
  670. The one who was still fondling his balls loosened her grip and began to tap the bottom of his scrotum with her fingers. He couldn’t help but squirm and eventually they did make him break into hysteric giggles.
  671.  
  672. “So who gets to go first?” one of the girls asked after they’d gotten bored of tickling him, which had taken much longer than Kuusisto had expected. If he hadn’t been rock-hard he might’ve wet himself.
  673. “I shot him, so I do”
  674. “You want to do him now?”
  675. “We shouldn’t until the evening, that’s when everyone else will have caught their boys”
  676. “Aww, we have to wait that long?”
  677. “For his dick, yeah. Or… wait, give some of that ribbon…”
  678. “What are you going to, ohh, you’re so meaaan!”
  679. Kuusisto had a bad feeling about this talk, but before he could think too much about what they were planning there was something wrapped around the base of his dick, and then wrapped around and around along the base and at last pulled taut.
  680. “AGH! What are you doing?”
  681. “Wrapping up our present with a pretty little bow” the girl answered.
  682. “Take it off!”
  683. “No”
  684. “I’m serous! You take that thing off of me right now!”
  685. “Is that any way to talk to a lady? I’m saving up your precious virginity for a few more hours so how about you show some gratitude, huh?”
  686. The girl flicked at his dick, making him wince. Then the bag over his head was pulled off and finally Kuusisto saw his captors.
  687.  
  688. There were three women. They all had Santa hats on and were wearing… well, red ribbons. The kind you wrap Christmas gift with. They had a single strip of it covering their nipples, barely, going around their chests, and another covering their vaginal slits, rising vertically to the top where the two ribbons were tied into a bow. The same ribbon had been tied tightly around his cock. Then he noticed their ears. The long, pointy ears.
  689. “The fuck…?” he asked.
  690. “Of a lifetime? Sure will be!” one of the girls said, putting a Santa hat on his head.
  691.  
  692. Kuusisto took a deep breath. He’d seen plenty of documentaries where recruits to the SAS or Green Berets were being broken, mentally and physically. You could endure it if you were hard enough. Or was it flexible enough? Was it about bending rather than breaking? Whichever one I was, he could do it. He was it. Yeah. He could take anything these whores did to him. He was a soldier. A real hardcore motherfucker, A-Team material, Tropa de Elite was his favourite movie, nobody could hold a candle to him at his company, just because the peer reviews hadn’t given him enough points to make NCO didn’t mean he was some bitch who’d…
  693. “ARGH!” he cried out when one of the girls bit his nipple. Another girl began to circle the other with her tongue.
  694. “Stop that!”
  695. “No” said the third one from behind his back, licking his ear, nibbling on his earlobe. He shook his head to get her off, dropping his hat in the process.
  696. “Not feeling festive?” she asked from behind him and picked the cap up. She balled it.
  697. “Open” she said.
  698. Kuusisto held his mouth shut. He wasn’t going to make this easy for them.
  699. Both Elves at his front applied their teeth.
  700. “Gha-“ he couldn’t finish his gasp before the balled up cap was stuffed in his mouth.
  701. “There, now you keep quiet” the one behind him cooed, massaging his shoulders, pressing her breasts against his back while the hands of the other two explored his chest, his sides, his belly, his thighs…
  702. “Hgghg!” he tried, but it was meaningless. They had no intention of stopping, and there was nothing he could do about it. He’d just have to bear it. And he would. Until his allies came to rescue him. Yeah.
  703. “Mmm, I think he’s relaxed a little” the one on the left said.
  704. “Yeah, maybe he figured we’re not going to eat him” the one on the right said.
  705. “Oh we’re totally going to eat him” the one behind him said and slipped to his front, getting down on all fours and giving a long, slow stroke along his member with her tongue.
  706. “Come on, help me with this” she said, and the other two lowered their heads, reaching out their tongues. The two on the side teased his tip while the one in the middle worked his shaft. It wasn’t altogether an unpleasant experience, he had to admit. He could endure it, easy. Damn whores couldn’t even… eww, they were drooling all over him!
  707. “That’s enough, don’t you think?” the one on the right asked.
  708. “Sure” agreed the one in the middle, and the other two backed away as she lowered herself on him and…
  709. “Hngh!”
  710. It was hot inside her. It was a tight fit. It was unlike what he’d been through before. It was overwhelming. She…
  711. “Hold his head” she said, and the other two did. She looked him in the eye. He couldn’t turn away.
  712. “I’m going to fuck you” she said, starting to move, slowly.
  713. “A lot” she whispered as his body went rigid. It was too much. The ribbon around the base of his dick was extremely uncomfortable now.
  714. “You like that, don’t you?”
  715. She moved faster.
  716. “Ooohh…”
  717. “Hey, hey, how is it?” one of the Elves holding Kuusisto asked. He couldn’t tell. He wasn’t paying attention anymore.
  718. “It’s just what, ahh, just what I thought… ooh, you’re going to love it!”
  719. There was a blush on her cheeks. Her ears were turning red. And at no point did she break eye-contact with him.
  720.  
  721.             ***
  722.  
  723. “…so you see it’s perfectly reasonable that we play our war games with you” the Elf said, pouring tea for Aarnio.
  724. “Makes sense” he agreed.
  725. There were several people in this hall; it was some kind of log-house built who knows how long ago. Everyone there was either an elderly Elf – not that you could differentiate them from the younger ones from anything other than a little more meat on their bones – or soldiers who were either married or engaged, such as Aarnio. Lt. Karisto was there as well, but due to his violent language and behaviour he had been restrained, gagged and left in a corner to mull over his choices in life.
  726. As it turned out, the reason the Elves – for that is what the attackers indeed were – had performed this mass-kidnapping was that the young ladies were undergoing something akin to the military service the men being grabbed were in. It was a sort of mirror of what the men were doing, culminating in the losing of their maidenhead in the act of love with prey they themselves had captured.
  727. “So if you’ll pardon my asking” Aarnio asked after sipping his tea, “how’d you do all this stuff? Being invisible, making people disappear, freezing engines and stoves, all that stuff?”
  728. The Elf CO smiled proudly as she began her explanation.
  729. “To freeze is as simple as this” she said, took a small stone from her pocket and dropped it into Aarnio’s cup. The tea froze instantly.
  730. “A cold stone” she said.
  731. “Huh. Like, uhh, what Jaakko throws into the lake on the…”
  732. “The 25th of July” she finished for him.
  733. “Right, that” Aarnio agreed. He remembered the idiom or saying about how on Jaakko’s day a “cold stone” was thrown into the lakes signifying that the temperatures would begin to drop from that point on, but it was not really all that accurate since you could still get higher temperatures in August. And on top of that, a literal stone?
  734. “So how does the stone work?” he asked.
  735. “Magic” she said, waving her hand as if to dismiss the whole idea.
  736. “Fair enough”
  737. “Your people do have a religious explanation for it though” she added.
  738. “Yeah?”
  739. “Yes. As I understand it, you humans believe that Saint Jacob, during a pilgrimage, threw a stone into a lake to symbolically cast off his sins”
  740. Aarnio considered this.
  741. “Wouldn’t happen to be the lake we were camped by, would it?” he asked.
  742. “Of course not. It never happened” she said, Irishing up her tea some more.
  743.  
  744. Aarnio noticed something at this point he considered worthy of bringing up.
  745. “So how come you’ve got Nevansivu tied up too?”
  746. “Ah…” the Elf looked a little embarrassed about this part.
  747. “He… does not, how should I say this? Like girls?”
  748. Aarnio laughed heartily at the revelation.
  749. “Nevansivu sucks dicks?”
  750. “Indeed. It would be possible for us to offer him some assistance in, ah, embracing his inner, hmm, femininity?”
  751. Aarnio looked at Nevansivu at the wall, tied up like Cacophonix at the end of an Asterix story.
  752. “So what does that mean, exactly?” he asked.
  753. “We could make him a girl” the Elf offered.
  754. “A girl”
  755. “Yes”
  756. “A… girl?”
  757. “Yes”
  758. “With tits and a pussy?”
  759. “And horns and wings and a tail”
  760. “Ah. Well, that’d be inconvenient in our society”
  761. “They would not necessarily be visible”
  762. Aarnio shook his head.
  763. “It just doesn’t seem like a good idea to go around doing things like that, missy”
  764. The Elf twirled a lock of hair around her finger and looked at him through half-closed eyes. She was starting to feel the Silver Shamrock.
  765. “He’d be better off, you know. It’s not right. Being a man when you should be a woman, I mean. Poor thing must be confused”
  766. Aarnio winced at the nonsense he was hearing.
  767. “He doesn’t want to be a woman, he’s just gay”
  768. “I don’t… is there a difference?”
  769. “Yes!”
  770. “What?”
  771. “Don’t ask me, ask him”
  772. “We tried talking to him, but he seems unusually upset” the Elf appeared quite sad to think about this topic.
  773. “Can’t blame him. You DID kidnap him”
  774. “Just a little though” the Elf whined in a pouty manner quite reminiscent of someone much younger than she was. It seemed prudent to change the subject.
  775. “So how’d you knock us out?” he asked. It was the first thing to come to his mind, and the fact that there didn’t seem to be any markings left over from where the bolts had hit was… strange.
  776. “Now Mr. Aarnio, I am not going to hand you the recipe to our tranquilizers, or the secret of Demon Realm Silver, but I can tell you that that’s what we used” the Elf answered, letting out a little drunken hiccup.
  777. “Demon realm?” he asked.
  778. “Mmhm. Jussh a name though. Not, not really a realm. More like a, like a place. Realms got borders and stuff, y’know, taxes? They don’t ‘ave that there. You look cuddly”
  779. The Elf was well in her cups. Aarnio lifted his left hand up to remind her of his wedding ring.
  780. “Ooh, I’ll go play with one of the boys…” the Elf said as she got up. Aarnio remained at the feasting table with many others, pondering the implications of what he had learned.
  781.  
  782.             ***
  783.  
  784. In the end, the Elves partook of the pleasures of the flesh with the young men all night, some even becoming pregnant. Their rite of passage into adulthood had been completed successfully and was properly celebrated over the next few days among their own people. Come morning the soldiers awoke back in their own tents, however, their weapons, clothes and vehicles all in the shape they had been before the attack. No proof of anything having happened existed, apart from a very lively carnation in private first class Vilke’s pocket, and as he kept it hidden from the others, it was unanimously agreed by all to not speak of the events that transpired to anyone who had not experienced them.
  785. This all took place in the winter of 2012, and five years later something happened that made their silence moot. The breaking of the dimensional barriers is a tale yet to be told…
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