This is the third "fan fic" adventure of a group of original, previously-published characters. It was conceived as a fan fic for an old movie, which I found didn't have its own page, so I decided to post it on the Cthulhu Mythos page. There's always been a significant Mythos influence on the future world of the exotroopers. This story line is intended to tie in to Robert Howard's story "The Black Stone", and also introduces a counterpart to the fictitious tome Unaussprechten Culten.
From Book of Lost Tribes, by Stefan Teudtman, 1895
Of all the tongues, tribes and nations of men, surely only a fraction of a tithe survive. I posit furthermore that, for every living people, at least ten have not only perished, but vanished even from the memories of the living... For a nation to disappear without a trace would seem a rare thing, but we forget the nation is largely a recent construct. Most of the peoples that have ever lived have been small and factious. In this state, it is quite easy for one tribe to destroy the other, without any notice by a wider world. Think of the Massacre of the Innocents: Even if Christian scripture be taken at face value, likely claimed but a score of babes, a minor barbarity of interest to wider "civilization" only long after the fact. Now think how much more easily far fouler deeds could go unnoticed, were civilization non-existent. One tribe destroys another, swiftly and quickly, scattering or assimilating those they do not kill, then the victors are destroyed by a larger tribe, and their conquest destroyed doubly. These are the small genocides...
In the course of exploring His Majesty's holding of Hercegovina, I was reminded almost daily of the state of isolation which can prevail even today, on the doorstep of the empires of Europe. In the valleys of the Balkans, the practical limit of the known world may go no further than the next valley. Travel is doubly discouraged by the formidable terrain, and feuds among the local peoples. Peculiarities and archaisms of dress and speech abound. More than once, I entered villages where the populace did not know that His Majesty had almost a score of years since succeeded the Ottoman Sultan as ruler of their lands. It seemed a most opportune place to seek for memories and even living remnants of the lost tribes...
Danilo Princip would tell his sons that it was all but accidental that the Bosniaks were pitted against their Serb neighbors in the early 1990s. The Bosniaks rebelled against Slobodan Milosevic, not Serbia, still less the Serbs who lived alongside them in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Slobo was mad, and he thought his madness could hold Yugoslavia together. He had no opposite among the Bosniaks. It was Petar's half-articulated feeling that the madness of Milosevic was against the nature of the Bosniaks. They were cosmopolitans, not theocrats or nationalists. If they had been otherwise, their ancestors would not have embraced the faith of the land's Ottoman conquerors.
It was between Serbia and Croatia that hatred ran deep. The Hrvatskis were led by one Tudeman, a nationalist as mad as Milosevic, and they were only the latest protrusions of a rivalry that may have begun before their ancestors reached the Balkans. While Bosniaks were reckoned to be Serbs who followed Islam (at least by the Serbs), the Croatians were thought to be a related but separate tribe among the Slavic invaders who settled the land in the last days of the Roman empire. Their division was sustained by a religious divide, as the Hrvats followed Catholicism and Serbs followed Orthodoxy. It took the spectre of terrorists on the far side of the sea for Slobo's propagandists to stir up fear of the Bosniaks among the Serbs. For the Croatians, one word was enough: Ustasha.
"Ustasha!" was the cry that rang through the village of Stikkabuor as frightened men prepared for escape. The town had been touched but lightly by the war. The people of the town were a mix of Serbs and Bosniaks, many intermarried, like Dani's mother and father, and when it became expedient, one could hide the other. The ruse had served within living memory when the first Ustasha came, hunting Serbs but mostly leaving the Bosniaks alone. It had not even been necessary in the current war: The dregs of Beograd that did Slobo's foulest work were mad dogs, but they were not so many, and their master was not so mad as to send them to a tiny place that made no difference one way or the other. But Tudeman's followers were no less rabid, and they were whipped and starving too. They had suffered atrocities and adversities, as well as inflicting them, and they sought vengeance and total victory. The few score inhabitants of Stikkabor were just enough to leave an Hrvatski majority in the surrounding area in doubt, and so now "Ustasha" came again, this time not caring whether they removed Serbs or Bosniaks from their path
"Dress your sister," Dani's father ordered as he gathered what they could carry. "Then get her to Uncle Rad's."
"Are we going with him?"
"No. Just your sisters and your mother. I do not know when we will see them again, so do not ask."
"What about Anna?" His father scowled, more than he usually did at the mention of Anna's name. Anna was a girl he saw sometimes in the market, and often when he played at Kamena Gora, the hill outside of town. No one seemed to know where she lived, or at least the grownups never answered when he asked.
His father shooed him out with his seven-year-old sister. (He was almost twelve himself.) He never got to Rad's. He was scarcely out the door before his uncle drove up in a Koral, and picked Sasha from the curb. He glimpsed his other sister in a car seat in the back, but not his mother. Rad drove away before he could say any goodbyes. In tears, he ran for the edge of town.
Kamena Gora, Hill of the Stone, was avoided by adults. It was a small hill with a steep slope, and a series of outcroppings that looked like steps. He ran up the steps, calling, "Anna! Anna!" He ascended up to the Stone itself, a bright white column of rock that looked like a broken fang. It was said that the Stone was made by the Old Folk, whom it was said died out for some reason before any of the families now in the village arrived. It was children who spoke of it, as adults would say nothing except to warn that children who looked upon it by the light of the full moon would have bad dreams. He had done so once, only briefly, and he did indeed have dreams, but only of the Stone itself, seeming to glow brighter than the moon. Cousin Nathan said that he had looked upon it, and seen- not dreamed- the Stone intact, more than twice its current height, and hundreds of people, red-haired and clothed in animal skins, ascending the hill to dance around it.
As he panted beside the Stone, a shape suddenly moved in the thick brush around it. For a moment, it looked like a crouching beast, but then the figure stood up. "Hi, Dani," said Anna. "What's happening?"
"Everyone's leaving," he said. "They say Ustasha are coming."
"That's silly," Anna said. She emerged gracefully from the trees. Her face was almost elfin, her eyes wide and bright, her chin small but oddly pointed, her cheeks round and rosy. She wore a shawl over her head, like the Bosniak women and girls did, which did not wholly obscure a high, almost bulging forehead and a few wisps of red hair. He thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever met, and would till his dying day. "The Ustasha are all gone."
"I do not know," he said, "but bad people are coming. My father and mother say that they will kill anyone who stays. I think you should come with us."
She frowned. "Oh, I will be fine. I wish you would stay here with me."
He shook his head. "No one will be safe. These bad men, they do not even care who goes to the church and who goes to the mosque. They will not stop until everyone is gone."
"But I and my family, we know places we will be safe," Anna said. "Come stay with us."
Danilo looked into her eyes, tears welling up again. Then a voice curtly yelled, "Anna! Come!" In the trees stood two more people. There was Anna's aunt, Iza, a huge woman whose shawl covered her entire face except for her piercing green eyes. Behind her was Anna's older brother, Andros, who had never spoken in Danilo's presence but often gave him cold glares.
"Iza!" Anna said, and began to speak words which Dani did not understand. Her aunt silenced her with a single word of rebuke and pulled her away by the wrist. Dani gave an inarticulate cry and started to follow, but Andros stepped into his path. For a moment, as Andros stepped through a patch of deeper shade, the older boy's eyes seemed to flash golden-green.
"Go," Andros said. "My sister should not have talked to you as much as she did. We already punished her once. We would have to hurt you, too, but we are already leaving. Do not follow."
Danilo returned late, and in anger his father beat him, yet then embraced him and wept. As they drove away in the family's little Fico, night was falling, and a mist was descending. As he nodded in and out of sleep, he heard his father stifle a curse, and felt the car speed up. Turning his head, he saw an almost eerie site: A cart, drawn by two donkeys (at least, they looked more like donkeys than horses) traveling the other way, swaying and bouncing like a ship on some half-forgotten old trail. Before the strange transport vanished in the thickening mist, his gaze was met by two perfect, shining, golden-green eyes.