The success of Operation Icarus for the Allies, and arguably at this point the most successful of the three blocs in Zverograd lead to the decision to withdraw most of the 4th Marines Division from Zverograd. They were responsible for some of the most dangerous missions against some of the best troops of the enemy. Some claim this decision was driven by rivalry within Allies command structure, others claim the opposite and 9th army HQ were adamant they remained. But Zverograd was no longer high on the list of priorities and the Marines began pulling out in April and by May, only a few token USMC companies remained.
Little did ASOCOM suspect that the Middle-East was about to blow up with Operation Babylon on 27th April 1947. That conflict will soon overshadow the already poorly perceived state of affairs in Zverograd and change Allies' fortunes in the Doomed City for the worse.
Early Summer 1947
Coinciding with the withdrawal of 4th Marines Division was the introduction of mercenary forces, here by invitation of the Allies. There has always been mercenaries but until recent years, never has the world seen them so organised and comprising such a large force of their own.
Ninth Army HQ allowed the various mercenary companies to setup base of operations west of Zverograd Airfield, before long a whole town has sprout out of seeming nothingness, and troops started hearing about the superior R&R that goes on here less than a half a day away from the gloom and doom of Zverograd.
While the Allies continued to be the biggest employer of the mercenary companies, they did not remain their sole employer in the area for long.
The Axis were the next to contract them which saw previously ‘friendly’ mercenary companies conduct raids on Allies positions. Despite the threat of retaliation from the Allies, the mercenaries as a whole were too valuable and united on the issue of neutrality beyond their contracts, that the Allies never acted on it, and came to grudgingly accept it.
The SSU railed against the evils of capitalists and their hired guns who fight for money. Eventually and quietly they too began using mercenaries, if in much smaller numbers. The SSU were poor paymasters and mercenary captains have been known to take payment in full upfront before accepting any mission.
The Day the World Changed
On the 5th of June, 1947, the world changed forever.
In Moscow, the Kremlin and Stavka (SSU Military High Command) are attacked from the sewers by Deep Ones. All members of the Politburo and the Stavka, including Kuznetsov, Molotov, Timoshenko, Voroshilov and Stalin himself are killed in the attack. Shortly after, Marshal Georgy Zhukov takes control of all armed forces of the Sino-Soviet Union, making him de-facto leader of the Sino-Soviet Union. Colonel Ivan “Winter Child” Vasiliev is promoted to General, leaving SMERSH and becoming head of the SSU Army. Captain Koshka Rudinova is promoted to Colonel and is now head of SMERSH.
In Berlin, a similar attack is carried against the Protector of the Axis Palace and the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, Armed Forces High Command). Mythos operatives infiltrate both buildings and inflict maximum casualties: Dönitz is killed, Rommel severely wounded, and the High Command Senior staff is crippled. Sigrid Von Thaler assumes the absolute leadership of the BlutKreuz Korps and is de-facto leader of the Axis.
Outside Wichita, Kansas, the Octagon is home to the Allied Special Operations Command and the General Headquarters for all Allied Armed Forces, and it comes under severe attack. The Council of Eight is eradicated and overall damage to the building and HQ staff is substantial. Joe Brown is now the most senior ASOCOM officer left on the planet and he is promoted to General and assumes the overall command of all Allied Special Operations around the World.
In the Old Town district of Zverograd, a devastating earthquake shatters the few ancient buildings left standing. The Monastery of Saint Petrov cracks open and a massive creature emerges from the depths. The ancient Vrill containment unit has finally gave up and the numerous arcane weapons, facing inward, have not been able to stop the nightmare that has emerged. Hundreds of Mi-Go, entombed with the creature eons ago, are released upon the city and attack anything in sight.
The immediate aftermath was chaos, aircrafts were clawed at and forced to the ground by the Mi-Go swarm. Attempts by the various air forces to deal with the aerial threat proved far too costly and all but the most urgent air operations were halted. For the next few months, the air above Zverograd belonged to the Mi-Go.
On the ground, the already highly dangerous Metro became exits where hellish creatures pour forth from below. With demonic looking creatures flying above and running through the battered streets, the Doomed City had a new name, the City of the Damned.
But almost as quickly as it started, the attacks subsided. The Mi-Go became sluggish and returned to where they spawned in the Old Town district. Sporadically they take to the air, circling like gigantic bats hunting for prey or sport.
The initial burst of creatures from underground was not followed by more, but all blocs consider the Metro and underground off-limits.
But the Doomed City changed in other unexpected and eerie ways too.
late-summer 1947, Zverograd Today
As if the horrors of the past weeks were not enough, there are areas of Zverograd where weirdness permeates. Soldiers who went on patrol for an hour, came back and claimed they have been wandering for days and couldn’t find their way back, or they tell stories of another Zverograd that was different, not war-ravaged… but not mundane either. Phantom voices are heard of semi-intelligible conversations from long ago, or perhaps from the far future, keeping men awake at night. One day the sun is bright and sunny, the next day snow starts falling… in summer.
The Ninth Army had to abandon many of their strategic locations, anywhere too open was an immediate threat from the Mi-Go. The Airfield was the first location to be evacuated, quickly followed by most of the western part of Zverograd as they prepared to evacuate all their forces. Then new orders came down, the existing troops were to stay put and prevent the other blocs from getting their hands on alien technologies. But the Allies are de-moralised and most agree it would not be long before they threw in the towel.
After the initial chaos, Axis forces took advantage of the situation to regain lost territories in the west including the Airfield. They correctly guessed or somehow knew the flying Mi-Gos attack would not last forever, and they had hidden valuable caches of weapons and other resources underneath the Airfield. They strategically gave up the centre of the city, reasoning the closer to the Mythos threat the more dangerous it was for them. The operation changed to focus on defending existing positions and allowing the Blutkreuz Special Forces to go on their reconnaissance mission to recover alien artifacts. They have specialised equipment that allowed them to identify what might be an just ornament or a terrifying weapon.
The SSU knew but one thing, Zverograd is their city, and they will take it back or die trying. They steadily shored up their positions while testing the defences of the opposition. They are veterans of urban warfare and they have a plan.
Mythos forces ran amok in Zverograd, small groups of ragtag cultists charged straight at fortifications blowing themselves up or getting gunned down, Sometimes physics defying actions are witnessed, naked levitating persons speaking in an alien tongue, or a woman who walked through flames that burned off all her clothes but left her completely untouched. Then there are the monsters… creatures from nightmares loped beside men sometimes seeming to take their orders, other times they are just as likely to pick up a nearby cultist and bite the head off.
The various cults fight among themselves, each proclaiming their version of reality or gods as the true one.
Into this strange unholy mix came stories of ghosts that walked through walls to quietly kill and glide through the dark ruins. The Imperial Japanese Navy and their feared ninjas are here but how and perhaps more importantly… why?
And throughout all this there is still the entity under the old monastery. It attacks everything that come within reach but it seems unable to leave the area. Weird electromagnetic waves and other form of energies are being transmitted from its location. What is it doing? Is it communicating? It is trying to leave… or inviting others to join it?