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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 18, Part 1

Krauss walked into the room looking for his mentor who had sent a rather odd summons to him. Metzger was there, all right. But he didn't look himself. His uniform was disheveled, his eyes were bloodshot, his hair was a mess, he had not shaved. In his hand was a large bottle of vodka. Krauss was taken aback. In the conversation that followed, Krauss saw Metzger in a way that he had never seen him before. He had always been calm, thoughtful, and intelligent. Now he was emotional and agitated in a manner more terrifying than if he had been his usual terrifying self.

Metzger was looking out a window at the collected Claw.

"Look at them Krauss! The biggest collection of useless rabble on the planet! Skinheads, KKK members, militia members, revolutionaries, criminals. Idiots, every last one of them!"

Metzger swung his bottle as if to hit them with it, but he lost his balance. Krauss caught him and thrust him back to his feet. Metzger staggered about a bit.

"It never would have been like this in the old days, Krauss. No, never. I was in the army, like every other capable man...Do they still have mandatory service in the Fatherland?"

"Ah, yes, sir," said Krauss trepidaciously.

Metzger grunted.

"So I did my time, and then went career. Never led in battle, of course, no battles to lead into. I was in charge of covert operations - you know, strikes against terrorists, that sort of thing. Black operations - your superiors know about it but they deny knowledge of it if you're caught. All that.

"I must have been pretty damn good. I got to be a marshal."

Krauss took Metzger by the shoulders and began to push him gently towards his room.

"Perhaps you should get some sleep, marshal."

Metzger struggled out of Krauss' grip.

"I'm fine! I was telling you a story. Where was I? Oh, yes, the black op. Military Intelligence had received word that a group of rebels in the Bavarian countryside were planning something big. An assassination, a coup, something. They sent me with a small squad of men to a little farmhouse one night.

"A whole lot of them were congregated there. It was just like the MI men had told me. So we took them out. They fought back of course, took out my whole squad. But, when it was over they were all dead and I was still standing. I ran off and almost directly into a police car.

"I was arrested, charged with mass murder. My superiors denied everything, of course - it was a black op. Oh, and it turns out that all the people I had killed were Jewish. They were holding religious services in a farmhouse since their temple was being fumigated or something. So, I got branded as a Neo-Nazi Anti-Semite.

"The papers called me "Der Metzger von Bayern", The Butcher of Bavaria. The name just stuck."

Metzger took a long swig from his bottle.

"You know, it was in jail where I learned my harshest lessons. They all took me for a Neo-Nazi. I got regular beatings and rapings - from the prisoners and the guards. It was...the worst time in my life. In jail there was a real Neo-Nazi (I never knew the man) but he decided I was a hero. He talked to his contacts in America, where they were forming a new sort of conglomeration called The Claw under that man Basilisk. Basilisk and the Claw busted me out of jail and took me back to America.

"I'm a German, general, so I don't know all that much about American political affairs, but as they explained it to me, this has to do with groups for anarchy. Militias, revolutionaries, lonely rabble. They all collected together. But even they knew the only thing they had was hopeful ideals. Even they knew it would take a strong leader, a real leader if they were going to accomplish anything.

"They had this uniform tailor-made for me. Based on Nazi, but blood red and with Claw insignia. They wanted to call me Grand Imperial Dragon Wizard Something Something, but I wouldn't have it. I submissed on the uniform, but I told them, 'I'm a marshal, I've been a marshal for longer than I can remember, I will remain a marshal'.

"And then I led this coup on the American government. You know," he said wistfully, "It's kind of ironic. Back in the day I was loyal and idealistic. I would have done anything to prevent a revolution. But when I tried to prevent a revolution, it set me on a path to causing a revolution."

Metzger sat on the floor and sobbed. Krauss approached him in a roundabout fashion. He suddenly leapt up, and Krauss jumped back.

"I suppose I proved to be a good enough leader, eh? I still remind myself, though, that it was America that chose me, not me who chose America."

He leaned in close to his protégé.

"Krauss, there's a secret that I've discovered and I want to share it with you. Do you think power lies with mustached führers or men with white sheets on their heads? Do you think it lies with kings and presidents, revolutionary leaders and armies? It doesn't. It lies in the one place it never should. Power lies in the people. Nothing can be accomplished without the people. The proletariat, the huddled masses, the fools, they have all the power. Not me, not you, not any big name. Them."

The bottle slipped from his grasp and shattered on the floor. He walked to his room.

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