Merciless Ice, Part 3
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Last time on Nexus:
Merciless Ice, Part 2

In his office, Steuer slapped a file folder in front of Elli and Dean on the table. Soviet Gibberish was written on it.
While Kulzer supplied Chloe nearby with a military ration, which she only ate out of politeness, judging from her facial expression, Elli browsed the folder. Sadly, the radio operator seemed to not been acquainted with Cyrillic Morse code and had given up on writing letters after two pages. The rest was simply kept as Morse code, requiring a bit of interpretation effort from Elli. Especially because the radio message was encrypted.
"This radio message here came from the east, somewhere from the depths of the Soviet Union," the commander explained. "We were unable to decrypt the code until no-"
He aborted when he saw how Elli started to write letters on a sheet of paper.
"I AM ALEXEI, BY GRACE OF GOD, EMPEROR AND AUTOCRAT OF ALL RUSSIA," she began translating.
"Golly!" Steuer exclaimed. "Is this code known in your time?"
"No," Elli deflected. "I just think faster than other people, which reminds me…"
Without warning, she reached into her purse which was still held by a soldier. Several weapons were pointed at her immediately but Elli only got her flask out and poured its content inside her.
The soldiers lowered their guns again, warily.
"Woah, was that necessary?" Elli commented after she had finished drinking.
Slowly but steadily, she had become dangerously sober…
"Is that some sort of medicine?" Steuer asked.
"In essence, yes," Elli replied and started writing again.
The major part she translated indeed seemed to be drivel. As if the radio operator had lost their marbles or suffered from Alzheimer's. But then she actually got what she was looking for, when she hit another encryption.
"The Grigori successfully eradicated the troops," she read. "The word Grigori comes up again and again. 'Grigori resumes the siege', 'German troops at the Werwolf Bunker currently in stalemate with the Grigori.' Hm…"
"What is a Grigori?" Steuer asked.
"A group of biblical angels," Elli explained. "Guardians. Some got thrown out of heaven because they rebelled against God. Oha!"
"Does that mean those things out there are angels?" Kulzer asked from behind.
"Kulzer, I do the talking here," Steuer reprimanded him. "But yes, what he asked. I mean, they don't look that angelic. No wings and halos and all the stuff. It could be a code word."
"They are shining white, and come down from the heavens to defend Soviet territory," Elli replied. "You don't need more than that as a guardian angel. Also, I was able to measure significant amounts of empyrean energies before Wenkmann put the pistol to my neck. So, in any case, we are dealing with something angelic. But if it really is a Grigori, it's amazing that the Soviets have so many of them under control… Although… Then none of your weapons would work against them… Hm."
Elli's brain, freshly lubricated with alcohol, clattered.
"Maybe it is just one severely weakened Grigori," it then came to her. "Through this, a pact can be made more easily and it doesn't lay waste to the surroundings. Yes, of course, that explains the automatism!"
"The soviets have a pact with angels? Sounds more like demons, if you ask me," Steuer retorted.
"Fallen angels are a kind of demon," Elli answered.
"I am amazed that you are accepting all of this so readily, commander," Dean noted.
"I have seen several kinds of unbelievable stuff in the SKP, good Sir. This is only a small alteration for me. But if there is a pact, what does the angel gain from the Soviets?"
"As it looks like, the Grigori only obeys the Russian Tsar," Elli said. "Tsar… Tsar…"
"Requesting permission to speak, " Kulzer asked.
"Permission granted."
"Uh, the Bolsheviks killed the last Tsar, so there shouldn't be a Tsar anymore, right?"
Elli suddenly started to smile.
"Correct, but it is all about symbolism. The Tsar was the supreme guardian of the church in Russia and due to this God's proxy on this Earth, the next thing to the word of the White Beard an angel could have here. Similar to the pope. All you need is somebody that thinks of himself as the Tsar and is acknowledged as such. Doesn't have to be publicly. Maybe the soviets found a survivor of the Tsar line but maybe they just drugged the hell out of somebody and brainwashed him. Both would be completely sufficient for an angel."
"Are angels really that stupid?" Steuer asked skeptically.
"Most lower metaphysical beings like angels for example live only through symbolism and the belief in it. For them, those are natural laws. But, I can give him something better than just a proxy of God."
"And what?" Dean asked.
"Presumably, the Grigori wishes to regain God's favor to return home, otherwise he wouldn't listen to one of his proxies. And he needs God's favor, because only a mighty god can open a way to the divine sphere. But I believe I can take the work from him. But for that I need your gold."
"Gold?" Steuer echoed. "We are a bunker, Ma'am, we don't have any gold here."
"I can make do with bronze, but if I am supposed to save you I need gold and an elevated point in the area. And Chloe."
Chloe jolted up from her meal and gulped.

Kaiser and Kulzer ate a can of stew in the medical wing, in which the former had to dwell because of his wound. Tasted horribly but the stomach got filled.
"You think that family can help us?" Kulzer asked suddenly.
"I don't know," Kaiser admitted honestly. "But if it's about putting the Ruskies noses out of joint, I'm in for now out of principle. Especially after I have seen how those monsters cracked our tanks."
Kulzer shuddered at the thought. He had not forgotten how brutal those ice men operated. Even if you threw away your weapon and stood there with raised hands, they would gun you down without hesitation. Even white flags and the red cross were simply ignored by them. They just massacred.
"I saw earlier how the boss already fetched documents to nominate the woman for a medal," Kaiser chuckled before abruptly becoming serious again. "You seem to be rather amicable towards that girl," he noted with faint sorrow.
Kulzer shrugged with a light grin.
"She reminds me of my Helga back home. Should now be almost as old as her. Hopefully, nothing happened to her… Dear Lord, I haven't seen her and Getrude in two years!"
"Didn't you have furlough?" Kaiser inquired confused.
"How could I?" Kulzer replied in resignation. "I am always stuck in the middle of that crap where no men can be spared."
"Hmm," announced Kaiser's sympathy. "My boys already moved out. I think my Werner has to fight in France, provided they didn't get him already…"
"Maybe we really will get out of here," Kulzer got his hopes up. "I heard the men talking already. They believe that this woman knows what she's doing."

"And you are really absolutely sure it's a Grigori?" Dean asked while rummaging through the pile of objects in front of him. "Couldn't it also be an elemental spirit or some sort of mutant."
"I don't believe that," Elli answered while inspecting a ring. "You don't need a Tsar for those and his radio calls were all over the file. Additionally, they would not have such high metaphysical energy levels. And it can't be a terracotta army like that in China because those are exhaustible. And aliens currently have other problems than killing for Russia."
Elli and Dean were currently occupied with looking for gold in the jewelry and belongings of the soldiers inside a barrack, under the attentive stares of several guards. Some of them had already taken severe hits because of jewelry falsely identified as gold.
"And if it is something not fitting to anything you just said?" Dean inquired further while weighing a necklace in his hand. "You are depending on stuff you guessed. We don't know if it works."
"Du you have a better idea?" Elli gave back with a look on a brooch, probably stolen from somewhere, judging from the Cyrillic inscription. "Sorry, man, that's brass."
She flicked the piece of jewelry to its owner, who hastily caught it.
Suddenly, there was a flash.
"GAH!" Elli exclaimed while looking annoyed to the soldier with the camera.
"Sorry," came shyly from the perpetrator.
Elli decided to not further involve herself into this. After all, she confused historians all over the multiverse with her face already.
"How much do we have right now?" she then asked.
Dean weighed their yield in his hand.
"Something beyond one kilogram."
"That should suffice. Chloe?"
Chloe, which had sat at the side, shaking, looked up.
"Yes?"
"I need you help for what I want to do. You'll need to wear a tiara."
Elli, with the gold in her hands, tipped on her chair towards the window in which a portal to the Nexus opened. The guards immediately aimed their weapons at Elli but seemed to be unsure if they really should fire. Elli herself only rolled her eyes and held the gold through the portal. The screaming of metal was heard briefly before Elli pulled out some sort of small crown made out of gold. The thing only remotely resembled a tiara, seemed more like a hair circlet that attempted to look like the sun. A crucifix was emblazed upon it.
"Hey, buddy!" Elli yelled to the man who carried their belongings in a bag on his person. "My purse."
Making a visible effort to get over obeying a person that didn't outrank him, he approached and allowed Elli a grab into her purse. The power of despair inside the soldiers seemed to be bigger than everything else. Chloe had seen some guards that only looked with glazed eyes upon the world but now since Elli had presented a way out, a spark of hope glimmered in them.
Elli meanwhile got an object with the appearance of a grey game boy with a keyboard from her pocket. On its upper side it sported a white and a black rod.
"Now we only need-"
An alarm siren started howling.
"What's going on now?" Dean asked.
"Dunno, better you go into the bunker until we have gotten rid of the problem" one of the guards reported.
With an escort of six men Elli, Dean and Chloe left the barrack and immediately saw what was going on.
Everywhere was banging and hissing while soldiers tried to ward off the increasing number of ice soldiers. A task that seemed to be pointless because the enemy lines sported impulse tanks that duelled intensively with the dwindling number of the tanks of the nazis.
"Impulse tanks!" one of the guards exclaimed. "The Soviets must have gotten one somewhere!"
"For now, that's irrelevant" Elli said and pointed at the roof of one of the bunkers. "Me and Chloe need to get up there. Once we are there, we can stop the attack in one swoop."
"Irrelevant?" Dean inquired and pointed towards the west.
The horizon and most parts of the forest where a single wall of snow falling from the sky. New troops continuously emerged from it.
"We will never get through that skirmish, Ma'am," the guard replied with a gesture towards the chaos going on outside.
"You won't," Elli affirmed. "We don't."
Elli got up, snatched the bag with their belongings from the other guard and ran outside.
"Stay right besides me," Dean whispered to Chloe.
Together, whereby Dean always got into the lines of fire Chloe could get into, they also started waddling. Other than Elli, who seemed to make haste in reaching the bunker, Dean choose a slower approach that included sneaking from cover to cover.
"Dean, stop this nonsense, we have no time!" Elli yelled at him while walking behind some soldiers that did their damndest with machine guns, bazookas and other military equipment to hold back the white army that kept flooding the base with the unstoppability of a glacier.
Suddenly, the world went on in slow-motion for Chloe when she saw the ice warrior that took aim at Elli…
"ELLI, Watch out!"
BANG!
Elli got yanked to the side while running when the icy projectile passed her hip.
Dean accelerated his advance while Chloe looked around scared for soldiers that could take them into their crosshairs. But none of them seemed to take note of them.
Elli was already being treated by a field medic when they finally got to her.
"Elli, are you alright?" Dean asked.
"My pelvic bone got penetrated, it itches just a little bit," Elli hissed through her pressed together teeth while the medic stabilized her.
"I take that as a yes," Dean replied dryly. "But why did they shoot at you?"
Elli rolled her eyes.
"I think I know now why the Grigori ignored us before. He only attacks individuals belonging to an invading military force. Steuer, that idiot, probably has probably listed me as an ally and put that on paper, so I became a valid target. I can't go on like this."
Elli put the crown and the device from her purse into his hands.
"Listen Dean, in essence we are improvising a church, like the St. Peter's Basilica. Therefore the gold as a conductor for the metaphysical energy. Because Chloe has devoured Ku, she has a tremendous divine potential. If we give it a spark from my metaphysical accumulator here in an elevated position, it should suffice to open a door to the domain of the gods with Chloe's tiara as a focus. It's similar to how lightning gets drawn to lightning rods during a thunderstorm. The angel should then stop his attack immediately."
"And if not?" Dean asked.
"Then you know what has to be done with Chloe. But the angel would be particularly stupid to let such a chance slip through its ha-"
Not far from them a grenade hit the ground that spread its shrapnel and left the ears of everyone present ringing. The last thing Chloe heard was a hard "Donk!" from Deans direction, then there was only whistling in her ear. She couldn't understand anymore what Elli said but she made clear hand gestures.
Together with Dean, who had now a heap of snow stuck to his hip after the impact, she got on her way, while the soldiers while the soldiers behind them were gradually crushed by the superior white force. Even if they were hurt, surrendered or just begged for their life.

Wenkmann murmured to himself while the world seemed to end outside. He had been put into prison for insubordination, from which he hadn't been freed before the guards had left their posts in a hurry.
"No saboteurs, pah! I told them, I told them repeatedly but no, they have to get wimpy when faced with the enemy. Stupid morons, all of them!"
The door got banged open. Contrary to Wenkmann's hopes, no soldiers entered but two ice warriors armed with machine pistols. And they marched unconcerned towards his cell.
"Wa- Wait!" Wenkmann yelled. "We can negotiate, I give you what you want, my money, my clothes, everything. I… I. I SURRENDER! I SURRENDER! I-AAAAAHHHHH!"

The hissing and banging of the guns and explosions echoed everywhere, only underscored by the shouts of pain of the wounded. The cloud had reached the bunker meanwhile and let new ice warriors emerge everywhere. Weapons had become useless, as the wounded enemies repaired themselves with the falling snow. So the Nazis had to give up their positions and did their best to escape. It was just that they had a foe on their heels that didn't know exhaustion or pain and eradicated everybody he met. Chloe saw Kulzer, how he tried to carry Elli away. She couldn't hear what she said but her face spoke volumes, while everybody around her got shot down, one after another.
The sight gave Chloe nausea again to the point of puking when they finally reached the roof of the bunker.
Dean put the crown on her while Chloe's observed helpless, how one one of the ice warriors relentlessly made his way towards Elli and her savior.
"Dean, hurry up!"
"I can't just magic this!" Dean gave back while he tried to operate the accumulator.
"Stupid future tech! Chloe, grit your teeth!"
Without warning, Dean smashed the device against the back of her head.
"Ouch!"
Chloe adjusted the little crown and together with Dean, looked around perplexed.
"Was something supposed to happen?" she then asked.
"According to Elli, there should have-"
A loud cracking noise resounded. Not on the battlefield but above them.
A golden light penetrated the clouds, aiming at Chloe. It made a deep hum while it struck down and hit her directly.

Deep inside Chloe, at a place she only reached in her dreams, some sort of thunderstorm started to rage. Finally, a lightning bolt struck down from it and hit something that longed to live again.
Ku opened his numerous eyes. And grinned with more mouths than anyone would have been able to count.
On the outside, Chloe's hair suddenly became snow-white…

The advance did not stop. The ice warriors marched unperturbed and Elli meanwhile looked ironically into the barrel of a MP40 made from ice.
Then one of the ice soldiers looked up and noted the golden light.
More ice men looked up, until the entire attention of the ice battalion was fixed upon the gate. The roaring and and hissing of their war equipment went silent.
Wind came up. First a light breeze that quickly evolved into a squall. Many Nazi soldiers had to grab onto something to not get blown away, while the ice warriors turned to snow one after another and joined the snow cyclone, with Chloe at the center of its eye.

She felt relief from the masses of snow that kept on vanishing in the beam of light. Above them, the cloud too shrunk down bit by bit.
The storm kept going for a while before the cloud and the enemy army had vanished altogether. The beam of light from the sky became thinner until he faded away completely. The gate had closed itself.

Elli, still partially crippled from her wound, raised her head tentatively. Besides her, Kulzer looked into the sky.
"Are- Are they gone?"
Everywhere on the battlefield, soldiers looked around in confusion. Then scattered rejoice could be heard, soon growing into an outright cry of victory.
Thanks to this development unnoticed, Elli finally indulged calmly in a Panacea from the depths of her purse, and while her wound still healed, she searched with shaking hands for a big rock…

"You knocked out a soldier. Again," Dean commented as they returned to the Nexus through the bunker door.
The soldiers had been way too distracted to note their departure.
It was a brief while before Elli answered, because she had her flask to her lips and was apparently determined to never put it down again.
"Deshperate meashuresh," she then defended herself, staggering. "Ash long ash shat guy looked at me, I couldn't take a pill. Because he would have wanted some for everyone. By she way, everyshing alright wiff you, Chloe? Your hair ish completly white. Even your eyebrowsh and eyelashesh…"
Chloe became less panicky due to this circumstance than expected. Well, it had to happen eventually…
Just, how would she explain this to her mother…
Questions for later! For the time being she only nodded jerkily.
"Didn't you change history right now?" she asked after she had gotten over her shock. "I mean, the Nazis did lose, after all."
"One battle doeshn't deshide a war, Chloe. The bunker will be abandoned in three months and the hashish retreat. All I did wash ti shafe she life of a few dshen men. Do you have everything?"
Chloe had gotten back her belongings from Elli but scanned everything again to be sure. Then her heart was in her mouth.
"I don't have the NIVEA anymore!"
Elli briefly made a thoughtful face.
"Hm, Shteuer hadn't it with him during hish interogashun. hatte ihn bei scheinem Verhör nicht dabei. Prolly got losht. Doeshn't matter. That thing comesh back, without you, it'sh ushelesh anyway."
"Are you sure?" Chloe asked frightened.
"Of coursh. Will prolly get crushed by a Rushian by accident when the Red Army takes over the bunker. We have no disadvantage from this losh, Chloe. Don't worry. And now let me take a look at you, I want to know if it wash really jusht your hair that got affected."
Unobserved by Chloe, Dean finally pulled out the ice shrapnel stuck in his side. It had been there since the grenade explosion. When he was done, he frowned at the exposed metal that could be seen beneath…

Commander Steuer sat in his office and was filled with mixed feelings. On one hand, he had a lot now that the icy menace had finally been overcome, but on the other hand, he was also restless. Their benefactors had vanished without a trace in the chaos after the victory. Of course, he had ordered a perimeter search, but he had the feeling that he would not see them again. Maybe they had returned to their own time, or something like that.
"Meier?" he called his second-in-command to attention.
"Commander?"
"Give the order to retreat. This bunker cannot be held with so few troops, we will-"
There was a knocking at the door.
"Come in?"
A man Steuer recognize as a radio operator entered and proceeded to salute.
"Obersturmbannführer, reporting most dutifully . We got a message from Berlin. Apparently, there was a Soviet force nearby, jamming our signal until now. I are to keep defending this position. Reinforcements and somebody to repair the bunker are on their way. Because of this ice weapon they didn't manage to get through to us until now."
Steuer took a deep breath and slowly let the air out again while wiping over his eyes with his hands. No, not that. If he retreated now, it would be akin to insubordination, and the top brass didn't like that at all. All that just to defend a bunker that would fall within a few months anyway…
"Meier, prepare a list with those things the reinforcements should bring with them. Also, I want our tanks to be ready for combat as fast as possible again. Anything else, soldier?"
"Uh, Kulzer pushed something for you into my hands outside, Commander."
Following those words he produced an object looking like a deep blue creme jar. Reminded him somewhat of NIVEA… He took the object and picked away a spiders thread hanging onto it.
"What is that?" Steuer asked.
"As far as I know, this was taken from the Winters. It laid on the floor in the examination room. Had apparently fallen off the table."
Steuer looked at the button on the inside. At least now he had the hint of a proof for this story when the headquarters would ask him. And they would ask…
He signed.
"Alright, soldier, you can go. Oh, and Meier, go ask if we can get a more up to date calendar than the one outside at the door. It's not 1943 anymore but 1944."

Next time on Nexus:
A Good Girl, Part 1

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