A/N: A bit late for Halloween, but this Lovecraft/Draka crossover occurred to me when I was reading through the Draka thread on spacebattles which suggested a Lovecraftian Draka story.
It's been a while since I've read any Draka stuff, but I figured I'd try to put something together anyway. Complete with a bit of Lovecraft-style purple prose which may (or may not) have worked.
Background on the Draka Timeline (spoilers):
For those unfamiliar with it, the Domination of the Draka is a country run by a group of repulsive, invincible, eugenicist South-African-Confederate-Nazi-Slavers created by S.M. Stirling. They're a bit like a morality play in reverse, or a warning, since they invert most of the Lockean assumptions that undergird American democracy. Very good soldiers, but that's their only virtue.
And they always win.
In the end, they conquer the world and bioengineer humanity into two different species: a master species called Homo Drakensis, and a slave species called Homo Servus. The all-too-human "Old Draka" are allowed to run the Domination until they die from old age and are replaced by their successors, the Homo Drakensis "New Draka".
This particular fic is set during the closing days of the Final War, when the Draka are pacifying North America.
(see TVTropes and Wiki's page on the Domination of the Draka for more details. Can't link them.)
As for Lovecraft's end of the crossover, if you don't know about it yet, I won't ruin it with explanations.
Meditations of Mikkel De Vries
From the files of Krypteria
Glory, Merarch. It has been a while.
First, I must note that I should never have trusted the old man.
Fight enough brushwars and you're supposed to get a sixth sense about these things. My grandfather certainly had it, when he hunted Ferals in France. I speak, of course, of the early days, when Europe first came under the Yoke.
Yet there was something uncannily persuasive about that old Feral. I cannot credit it now, with the safety of distance and contemplation separating me from that accursed place. But we believed him back then, all of us. We believed that raw-boned, clammy old man. We saw no deception in his eyes – neither the healthy one, nor the milky-white, unseeing sphere that lay nestled in his left socket like a curled-up grub. I cannot account for the singular trust that we placed in him as he stroked that rag-doll fetisch of his and murmured that we would reach Mortonsvale presently.
The town had an old waterfront that would have looked picturesque in the hands of better conservators. As it was, the streets were narrow and winding. One could easily lose oneself in the glistening mud and cobbles. Alley melted into alley. The lights were dim, and most used whale-oil lamps, as if electrification had only come recently to that place. Only the graveyard was open to the air.
We climbed and pushed our way through dirty alleys to knock on ten-paneled doors. The gables were crumbling. Faces looked at us through broken windows and tiny panes of glass. Even the chimneys shared in the general rot. They appeared half-eaten by time.
Most houses had overhangs, and many exhibited a peaked roof-line of the gambrel type that had been old in the days when the Domination was still called Drakea. The hallways were mostly empty, with cracked wood panelling that had once been oak of exceptional quality.
There hung about the place a certain decadence. I am no great proponent of Yank architecture; like most plantation-born, I do not care overmuch for the Yanks' taste for stolid white and Puritan gray. Yet I soon realized that I yearned to see that honest simplicity again. For there is honesty in Yank architecture, you see, when one strips the hypocrisy away. An ideal.
Yes, yes. So too with ours. Of course, Merarch. Far be it from me to impugn Draka lifeways. The plantations have their own ideals – display, ornament, and color. In a word, life.
Yet the houses of Mortonsvale were not Yank, and they weren't Draka. They seemed to me an aberrant third course: too twisted and arabesque for stoicism, but too grim for joy. Their geometries followed their own whims rather than the needs of the folk that resided within. One could see the Yank models from which the designs had sprung—barely. It was like stumbling onto some corrupted future earth and seeing a deer with six eyes.
Oh, we found our quarry soon enough. The ghouloons sniffed out a squad of Yanks, and we disposed of them. Only a squad, though. No sign of their fellows.
The locals were as decayed as the town itself. Sverrisson remarked that they'd make poor serfs, and I agreed. They had a simian turn of frame. Their foreheads sloped sharply back. Teeth protruded a bit, and usually at peculiar angles. A few of the females had hair on their lips, and both sexes displayed poor posture – shades of a stooped hop-waddle that permitted them adequate but graceless mobility.
A ghouloon killed one early - a wench more deformed than the rest. The ghouloon's bite had saturated the wench's short, stiff neck-hair with blood. The body's right hand was a knobbled thing with protrubances that bespoke a severe but uncertain medical condition. We never recovered the left hand.
The ghouloon had only bitten once, though. It did not eat.
The attack had suitably cowed the locals, at any rate. We gave the hunched little bastards the usual speech about our methods. Didn't need to impale any, either. They nodded when we said that the slavers would come soon enough to pick the likeliest specimens. Maybe they just knew how defective they all were.
We crammed the Ferals into the largest building we could find: a church of some sort, though not the usual Yank-Protestant sort. It loomed over the town on a place the locals called Sage Hill. The church was a large, dark structure, standing out in silhouette against the evening sky's blaze. Moss, dirt, and slime had caked on its stones and made them slick. It was neither Gothic nor Georgian in style. Rather, it shared the same decrepitude with the other buildings, though the decay seemed to have progressed further. Birds circled it from time to time, but did not stop to rest upon it.
Pacification proceeded the usual way. We cordoned off the blocks around the Church, and ringed the thing with razor wire on top of its rusty fence. One could savor the sounds and sensations of a new occupation everywhere: the clatter and tromp of chain gangs, the occasional crack of the sjambok or bullwhip, and the smell of disinfectant. We flogged a few. Electroprods largely proved unnecessary. They submitted to serf identity tattoos with little more than a whimper.
Decurion Ogilvy took especial glee in smashing the church's stained glass windows. Whoever had fashioned those windows must have been a skilled man – skilled, and unacquainted with nineteenth century Gothic conventions. The figures tended toward a curved, looping hand rather than strict geometry. They approached human likeness to different extents. Their mouths' degree of protrusion ranged from simian to canine. The glass-tinter's art had even produced the illusion of texture; a vague sort of rubberiness. Their occupations varied: one group danced around a hanged woman, while another group crept through an open window like so many rats, and still another feasted on meat of some sort...or taught half-human children how to feast like they did.
You will note in your files that Decurion Ogilvy was Drakensis - New Race. At the time, I did not understand the twisted expression on his face when he destroyed those windows. I believed that his loathing was purely aesthetic. We replaced the windows with metal grating.
I would have described them as model serfs back then, except that I became convinced that they were meddling with our animals. True, I did not understand the mechanism. But I saw the results.
Ghouloons, as you know, Merarch, do not attack against orders unless provoked. Two more maulings followed the first incident, though neither proved fatal. Both victims displayed greater signs of deformity than their peers: one had a pronounced nose and mouth, while the other had a cleft palate severe enough that his face seemed ready to split.
The Drakensis began to complain that they were feeling watched. A few also reported that they suspected their fear-inducing pheromones had little effect on their new serfs, who looked at them with expressions of amusement when their backs were turned. I did not credit this, fully, though I resolved to keep the matter in mind.
The ghouloons often pricked up their ears near the forest's edge, sometimes standing still for several minutes. They jerked as if startled with no apparent stressors. Many developed a nervous habit of clawing at the ground. One night, we awoke to their howling. Decurion Martins discovered fresh blood near their pens, and footprints, yet he lost the trail. Trygvy – the youngest of the ghouloon pack – was missing.
I am sure that you can imagine the response. We impaled twelve of the Ferals, including the mayor and his fat, repulsive daughter. She reminded me of nothing so much as a toad, right down to the way that the growth on her neck pulsed when she breathed.
The eight Drakensis of our party enjoyed themselves rather more.
Decurion Ogilvy was particularly enthusiastic with the village's only marginally attractive female: a tan, stoat-faced wench who worked at the school. She was likely of Mediterranean extraction, if one went back far enough – like the best slaves from Stevenson & deVerre during the Ottoman conquest.
Not a bad figure when she shucked down, either. Thinner than I'd have thought, though. Lankier.
When it was over, the wench bowed in the proper manner – head down, hands by her sides – and then knelt on the ground at Decurion Ogilvy's feet. She was shuddering. I recall how the Decurion's brows furrowed above his cat's-eyes.
The wench held out her hand in supplication, and clasped the Decurion's. And then, Ogilvy hissed. He withdrew his hand rather suddenly, as if he had been bitten, and a small charm fell from it. I can only assume that the girl had pressed it upon him. It was a piece of whale-ivory whittled into a shepherd's crook, likely from the days when Mortonsvale was still a seaport.
I was about to ask what the matter was when Ogilvy snatched his pistol and buried two rounds into the girl's skull, and another in the body. She was dead before she dropped.
When I questioned him afterward, the Decurion could not give a clear account of his motives, save to allude to the whale-ivory charm in vague and unpleasant tones. You will pardon me, I believe, when I note my own perplexity: he was a steady man, Ogilvy, like most of the New Race. At his own request, I placed him under temporary custody, and fined him for destruction of state property. A formality, really. That he had insisted on being taken into custody did not yet register with the force it should have.
We buried the girl two days later. The proceedings brought further unexpected behavior from our Drakensis troops. The corpse's eyes had been closed, but the drop into her grave must have jostled them, since they opened and seemed to stare at Sverrisson. He looked away, and refused to partake further in the burial.
The next day, several of the New Race exhibited signs of fatigue – some of which, I confess, I had not encountered in their species before. Many stared into space. Sverrisson stumbled over his words during a briefing. Ogilvy's single guard – posted for purely symbolic reasons, you understand – reported that the Decurion suffered from nightmares. Not wishing to harm morale, I reassigned them to less demanding duties for a few days. I otherwise kept the matter quiet.
Ogilvy soon frustrated this intention, however. His talk became wilder as the nights passed. The ranting always came at night, you see. He babbled about dead bodies staring at him through the windows, and deformed lips laughing through the walls. He ordered his guard to shoot at what he fancied was the bloated corpse of the dead girl, beckoning him toward the riverbank. With the greatest reluctance, I confined Decurion Ogilvy to his quarters and had him secured.
The Drakensis troops were not pleased, but I believed that they acknowledged the necessity of the measure. My assurance soon cracked, however, when Einarrsson and Martins to ask me to destroy the ivory charm. Upon speaking with them, I learned that the other Drakensis were unanimous on this point. The superstition would have amused me in different circumstances. Nevertheless, I saw no harm in carrying out their request.
Three days later, Ogilvy attempted to escape his restraints. He assaulted his guard, ranting in the usual vein about things that were watching him. We managed with the greatest difficulty to get him back under control. I placed a heavier watch on him.
That evening, he was gone. His feet lay on the ground, still attached to the leg-irons. I proceeded on the assumption that he had gnawed them off, a procedure which made escape singularly unlikely. Yet he was not there.
The room was full of Ogilvy's pheromones - awe, fear, and who knows what else excreted seemingly at random. The Old Race Draka who first entered the place complained of nausea.
We kicked down doors throughout the village to no avail. It was perhaps selfish of me, but I did not regret Ogilvy's departure by that point. He had begun to unnerve the remaining Drakensis. An irresponsible sentiment; I concede it.
We are not a garrulous people. Draka can conceal our expressions better than most. Even so, I cannot recall a time when a pall of silence hung so heavily upon my unit. Many declared themselves sick—Old Draka and New Draka alike.
Martins grew agitated at the minutest sounds from his home's basement. His comrades woke up at three in the morning to the rattle of gunfire. Martins claimed that he had seen something waiting for him beneath the stairs.
Had I been wiser, I might have done things differently. The New Race's instincts lie closer to the surface than ours do. Automatic pilot takes over more easily. Our scientists used enough animal DNA to divorce them from the sapiens sapienstree, at any rate. So while I might have ignored the way that the village dogs cried out in the dark, and the cats pricked up their ears at nothing in particular, I should have realized earlier the reason for the Drakensis' peculiar susceptibility.
It was about this time that most of our ghouloons ran off. Only one remained alive: a sleek, fat female named Yasmine. We found her eating a male ghouloon's body. The other ghouloons had apparently snapped the young animal's neck before escaping. We shot Yasmine.
The radio equipment's failure came as a greater surprise, since it was both total and selective. Only two things did not work: our communications equipment, and our vehicles.
I sent out two teams to contact the main force. None of them were New Race, since the latter refused to stray into the forest.
I began to have the dream. It was always the same. I was sitting at the rim of a great Pit. The darkness was total, yet I could see bodies moving around me: hunched shapes flitting in and out of a maze of tunnels like ants. When I looked into the pit, I saw a grotto incongruously lit by moonlight, even though the rest of the cavern was dark.
A man looked back at me from the grotto, wading up to his knees in foulness. He stroked his white beard and nodded at the beasts gathered around him. The creatures elicited in me the gravest feelings of repulsion. They were bloated, flabby things, their skins covered in fungous and filth. I could not see the creatures' faces. Not yet.
The Drakensis who had been muttering before did so rather more animatedly in the days that followed. They begged the most superstitious of their Old Draka comrades for the Norse charms that they had derided before.
Most openly wore necklaces with tiny silver hammers, and slipped rune-inscribed rings onto their fingers. Only days after he'd woken up the Old Draka soldiers in his unit with his impromptu marksmanship practice in the basement, Martins imposed further insomnia on them with his incessant entreaties to half the Norse pantheon. He only shut up when they threatened to leave him there and find another house. For form's sake, though, they tried to ignore his night-long whispered prayers.
I soon declared Einarsson unfit for duty. Starvation probably played a role. Einarsson had decided to eat only Army rations, and refused to touch the local fare when the former ran out. Every night, Einarsson stared at the graveyard with increasingly sunken eyes. I ordered him placed in heavy restraints. This time, we gagged him as well to prevent a repeat of the Ogilvy fiasco.
Something was wrong. Very wrong. That I did not see it sooner, I attribute to the bewitchment of the place itself.
Perhaps, I thought, it was a flaw in the Drakensis gene code, or a leftover Yank bioweapon. Interrogations of the locals bore no fruit, however. Two died without giving us further details.
Another Drakensis soon followed. Decurion Halder slit his own throat like a butchered pig. We found him in his room. He had been complaining for days about the scurrying of rats. His Old Draka housemates seemed to share his unease, since they had gone through the trouble of crucifying two of the animals in the kitchen, "as a warning to the others". I ordered the bodies thrown out. We only averted a riot by brandishing a rifle in their faces.
I started husbanding my sleep. Van Rijn took the afternoon and evening hours. I took the rest. The nightmares had not ceased, and I began to wonder precisely where one broke off and the other began. Sleep deprivation did me no favors.
It was during one of these attempted catnaps that Janssens entered my room. She was a Drakensis - a pretty one even by their standards, in that hard, sharp-featured way that they all have. My observation is not entirely abstract. We had coupled a few times in the past. I'd found it a pleasurable enough experience, though a bit too much like wrestling a ghouloon for frequent repetition.
Yet I noticed when Janssens entered that her attractive, toned body was tensed to its limit. Her eyes roved and started at every creak. She flinched at odd intervals.
"Stay with me tonight," she said.
"Janssens, this is both irregular and-"
She squeezed my arm with enough force to nearly pull it out of socket. Her voice became shrill.
"Please. Yo' need to let me stay here!. Yo' need to let me stay here...Yo' need to let me stay here.. Yo' need ..."
I had not, until that moment, seen a Drakensis whimper. Janssen's body shook all over. It was like watching a new serf when you've just begun to break her. Her silver charm twitched at the end of its chain with each convulsion.
I let her stay.
That night, I was visited by fantastic dreams. I imagined that something dreadful waited for me outside the window, but could not resist the urge to look. With the sensation of inevitability, I drifted to the pane, or it to me. I beheld two figures silhouetted against the moonlight.
The first was very like Janssens, but scrabbled about on all fours .Do not imagine that there was anything contrived in the movement - not like a serf or even a servusplaying pony. It was an animal's lope. Like a swine, or a cow. The second figure was small, and hunched, and malformed. He lead the woman on a leash toward the graveyard.
I awoke with a gasp, and Janssens was gone.
I called for Van Rijn.
The other Drakensis were also gone. All save one - Walters. A search party discovered his carved- up body on a cairn of stones by the old church. Runes were inscribed on the ground around it.
Draka layer knives had done most of the cutting. A third of my men were missing, and it took only a perfunctory investigation to discover that the missing soldiers were responsible for Walters's death.
Mass hysteria, I concluded. I resolved to hunt down the Draka who had killed Walters.
We broke into the blackened stone church.
A cellar window provided our point of entrance. My remaining men were Old Draka, and we did not wish to go against Drakensis head-on. An odd fancy, in light of subsequent events, but we cannot always be right. Can we, Merarch?
We pushed through a forest of cobwebs, dusty barrels, and tables with missing legs. Albridge discovered remains in an old Victorian furnace - a rusty, sooty thing of great size. It held bones, but we could not identify their origin, as they were heavily mangled and displayed signs of gnawing. Every footstep on the concrete floor forced my heart into my throat.
We scrambled up to a black archway at the vaulted ceiling's edge. The troops performed like Citizens should, forbearing even to cough in that cobweb- and dust-choked space. They stepped easily over worn steps. Flashlights moved with machine-like precision to all the little nooks and corners that could conceal danger. None did.
I fumbled with the ancient latch of the door. It opened outward, toward a dim corridor. Worms in the wood paneling winked at our flashlights, and retreated.
The building was in a state of advanced decrepitude. A few stones had fallen near the altar, dulling the brass candlesticks and sigils with dust.
You should have seen them, Merarch. The glee in my men's faces when they finally had something to shoot at. The smiles, even as they trembled. The ease with which they flowed to each point of domination until they covered the room.
The Ferals waited for us near the nave. It was an enormous feature, complete with mountains of dust covering its box pews, hourglass pulpit, and the ropes of cobweb that connected Gothic column to Gothic column.
They leered at us with their broken, misshapen mouths.
We shot them. All of them.
It was a kind of madness, I think. A saner commander would have questioned them, and saner subordinates would have suggested that he do so. My soldiers cut off trophies. I let them.
We found more of their malformed children behind the apse. Some huddled behind a rotting desk. Others cowered next to ceiling-high shelves of mildewed books, their pages already rotting. These, too, we exterminated.
While my men finished the business, I inspected the shelves. Some titles I recognized - Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette, and Ludvig Prinn's De Vermis Mysteriis. We had whispered about them in reverent tones as boys in the Agoge, before we'd decided that mysticism was only good for learning better profanity. We are a race of fools, Merarch.
We headed back for the cellar. That is when we discovered the tunnels.
Imagine it, Merarch. We reached the bottom of glistening, wet steps. There, gouged into the earthen floor, was a large well, ringed with brick. A well from Puritan days, unless I missed my guess. We pushed aside the wooden cover. The walls were a foot thick. When we shined light down that fiendish chasm, it disappeared into a hundred tunnels. An entire network lay beneath that hill.
As we descended, we heard a scurrying sound. Squeals and bleats penetrated the darkness - some akin to huge rats, and others to swine. Flashlights swivelled, but found nothing. Goosebumps crawled up my arm. More than once, I found myself frozen, and could not will myself to move forward again. I say it without shame. Does that shock you, Merarch?
We paused more than once at a groping, secretive sort of clatter that sounded like wood on brick. That cursed sound became louder and louder. It was as if something was dropped from a greater and greater height.
We reached the bottom level through a nearly square opening. My soldiers scampered down a flight of stone steps that had been worn almost to a slope.
At its base lay a pile of human bones. No, I should not say that. For while most were human, they displayed signs that the eugenist would easily recognize: idiocy, cretenism; pseudo-simian features of the most archaic type. All were sprawled out with arms thrown up, their bones a mass of defensive wounds.
I have dabbled in my time as an antiquarian, both in Axum and Igodomigodo. It is with some authority, then, that I note a curious feature of those chiseled walls: that the strokes suggested hewing from below.
A current of breeze blew past. It was cold, but not as foetid as one might have expected in that vile place.
We beheld a twilit grotto akin to the place in my nightmares. It went on, and on, and on. Strewn about its field were ruins of variegated type: ancient earth mounds left by Natives, mixed with Puritan dwellings of the degraded type I had witnessed above.
But all were strewn with bones. Some remains were vaguely austrolopithecine in their general outlines, though others had a more doglike visage. Most bore tooth marks.
At last, we inspected bones near a group of stone troughs. We discovered that their anthropoid outlines concealed an essentially quadrupedal structure. One could track the transformation through generations, as the bones shortened or lengthened as the case may be in their gradual evolution to the creatures that must have fed at those troughs.
We found our own men, as well.
My eyes must have lingered too long on that pile of sawed bones and opened skulls. For in that moment the squeals I had heard earlier redoubled. They were close. The flashlights stayed on, so I saw glimpses of the things as they swept down from their honeycombed nightmare of tunnels. We opened up on them. How the place echoed! Three of us ducked into one of those desolated homes, hoping for cover and a vantage point to fire..
It was then that I saw the face, Merarch. The nauseating, leering face! I challenge any man not to scream as I screamed at that blasphemous thing - the twisted continuation of the Ferals above, but how much moreso! Its bony claws clutched a man's head as a boy might hold a lollypop. The thing's neck twisted to one side as it watched me from its little corner. It crouched. The legs tensed as if it would jump at my throat if I turned away. The nightmares of that face visit me still, Merarch - that canine face with its bloodshot eyes, flat nose, and the glint of drool on its muzzle.
I fired, and did not stop to see if I'd hit it. I ran from the screams and squeals and rattle of gunfire behind me. I ran through that twilit grotto and up the stairs with the sound of my heart hammering in my ears.
And then I looked back and saw the daemoniacal swineherd, Merarch. I saw him, and saw the swine themselves. The bloated, fungus-crusted swine. Some were like the pig-men we had seen at the troughs, but the others -
Janssen, and Sverrisson, and Ogilvy skittering about on his stumps, and Martins, and Einarsson. They were Drakensis, Merarch. How well I understood then the animal instincts we had awakened in our creations! With what bitterness did I comprehend that we had only made their servitude to Man's ancient masters more acute!
Ha! Do you not see what will happen in the end, Merarch? You must see the jest, surely! When the last Old Draka dies? Think on it! How long before these things come to claim the human cattle we have created for them? How long?!
Magna Mater! Magna Mater! . . . Atys . . . Dia ad aghaidh 's ad aodann . . . agus bas dunach ort! Dhonas 's dholas ort, agus leat-sa! . . . Ungl . . . ungl . . . rrrlh . . . chchch . . .
ATTN: Marked for deletion, along with Yank intel reports Re: Innsmouth.