Drekavac, the; noun (pl. Drekavci). Also known as Zrikavac (pl. Zrikavci) and Drekalo (pl. Drekala). Derived from the verb drečati (south panslavic for "screeching") and translates roughly into Screecher, Screamer or Yowler. A mythological creature of various descriptions share a common trait of being described as undead or recently arisen. Most common depictions resemble either a horribly disfigured, pale human with a gaping maw, or a humanoid canine that walks on twisted hind legs and is covered in pitch black fur. It is said that the drekavac' screech is so loud, it shatters glass, warps iron and makes the blood roil within one's veins. Also a common name for various panslavic tribes that engage in ritual mutilation and augmentation based upon ancient schematics detailing the art of cybernetic ressurection.
The Unification Wars; an Encyclopedia
Uiehnna, our city-state, had been shattered by the gold and brass armoured legions of thunder and lightning. Four thousand years of history and power cut down in a single week. Escape had been barely possible, duke Amadée's men punished deserters the same way anyone on Earth did; with a bullet between the shoulder blades. And yet.
And yet we had escaped; me and a few lads. Hektor, a youngling who barely knew how to operate a las-lock, Maraika, our demolition expert, Bjäri, a fellow who could teach you fifty ways of skewering someone with a bayonett. And then there was me, Ivo, a rank and file soldier. Diasporit, they called me, for my parents were panslavs that had fled the long wars and given birth to me in Uiehnna. It had been easy enough for us to cross the northern and central spans of Rvatsk, for they were little more than irradiated deserts, and soon we could see the S'rban and Harzagovian tomb-cities loom on the horizon.
Ancient, megalithic cities that had been abandoned and rendered to little more than tombstones for a greater age. My neck-hair bristled as we passed beneath the shattered gates.
Narrow paths wound up and down for miles with old and faulty lumen globes providing a bare minimum of light in a world of dusty darkness. The metal was torn, jagged and rusted; a death-trap for any army that would try and pass. Mother had told me much of places such as these. She had said that robed, skull-faced beasts clad in man-skin stalked here.
I didn't believe her then, and neither did I as we entered the mega-city.
I should have.
There had been a constant skittering noise, like tiny claws scratching across metal panels or sheet floors. At first, it had unnerved us, but once we saw the corvids high above us and the rats at our feet, we discounted the noises as mere products of vermin life. They had already been watching us by then, I am sure.
After twenty standard hours we began hearing the drums.
A sing-song thrum joined in after three repetitions; a throat-chant accompanied by small bells or metal tassels. Then the voices came. The others did not understand their beautiful song, but I did. They sang of long-dead gods in the southern tongues of the panslavs.
Dundar, Veles, Mara
Come back to us
See this gift we bring
Come back to us
It was a terrifying crescendo of haunting chants and melodic roars; so primeval that it made the blood pump harder. We listened to the song for hours as we moved deeper into the city, our guns readied and blades drawn. Eventually, silence fell over the rusty cairn again.
Not long and the screeching began.
Hektor fell first. He was the only one without a helmet. There was little more for us to do than watch in mute terror as the boy screamed and clawed at his own ears, the noise rupturing his eardrums and making blood squirt out of them. It was infernal. The noise of buzz-saws joined in with the high-pitched wailing and the crows scattered. Even the rats had vanished.
A whistling sound cut the air apart next to my ear and Hektor fell to the ground, blood foaming from his mouth as a dagger's hilt protruded from his throat. We all fired blindly, but hit nothing. The rusted shards of our surrounding were moving and scuttling themselves. The whole world had seemingly awoked to hateful life.
The song began again, the wailing tuning itself into a sort of melody, but this time it clearly came from above us. We had been surrounded.
Then I saw it peel itself from the shadows before us.
Pale skin, a tall frame, with iron fingers and blades for hands, and a flayed skull leering at me from beneath a dark, feather ringed cowl.
It piroueted between us, shots and blades glancing off its armour and weaponry, rolling off the ground and snatching Hektor away into the darkness. We followed it, but the thing vanished as soon as it entered the shadows. Minutes later, the by-now all female choir that sang above us had adopted a calmer melody. Had you asked me at any other point in time, I would have told you of the grace and serenity of these voices, but now I could only shiver as Hektor's screams cut through the song and blood rained upon us.
A wet noise and suddenly it hailed meat. The monsters were peeling Hektor alive. All came down; skin, meat, sinews, blood vessels, guts. All, except the bones.
Maraika lobbed a grenade into the gantries and derelict buildings above us as we ran. The explosion showered everything in rusty dust and shrapnell. We could still hear them, but this time the song had not turned into screeching or shouting. It was a deep, rumbling chant, one that burned like ice.
They were angry.
It broke through the wall to my right. Another drekavac, one that had chain-blades for arms and immediately threw itself at Maraika. Within seconds it had shredded her to bits; carapace armour and all. The absolute intensity of violence made us all recoil, as though we had seen combat before, we had never seen such butchery. It did not stop until the woman I had once known had been turned into a greasy smear in the dust.
Bjäri threw one of his own grenades into the rusted ruins, then turned around and grabbed me by the shoulder. We ran. The ruin collapsed, not on top of the beast, but it did put a substantial barrier between us and it; just the two of us now.
They were calling for blood.
The ruin was slowly getting less cramped; we had found some sort of plaza. Before us was a dilapidated building, surrounded by many others that formed a sea of indistinguishable rust, dirt and grime, yet it alone stood out, for it was made of marble. The stone, once certainly as white as teeth, was now stained and dirty, yet still like a pearl amidst the filth. Its columns and wide gates gave it the appearence of some sort of temple.
I knew little of religion, yet now I sorely wish that I had a god to pray to.
A drekavac sprang from behind us, soaring above us and rolling off to bar our path. It was a tall thing, easily two heads taller than me and corded with bulging, pale muscles that made it wield a roaring chainsword with little effort. Bjäri ran towards it, bayonett mounted and grinning as the blade sank deep into the beasts stomach.
His glee turned to worry as the dark blood ran down the pallid skin in thick rivulets. The drekavac had not taken a step back, had not even flinched. With its metallic claw-hand it grabbed the make-shift spear and wrenched it from its guts; the other wrist made one flicking motion and Bjäri's head flew off with one clean cut.
I was running. Towards that marble building, though I would have run anywhere that wasn't here; even into the lines of the thunder regiments. I looked over my shoulder and saw a female drekavac lift Bjäri's head and inspect it. A hungry crow gorged itself on his eyes.
Her compatriot gestured towards me, but she shook her head. I did not hear them speak as I passed beneath one of the big, shadowy gates and into a hall filled with pots that held the calcified remains of flowers and walls hung with moldy paintings and tapestries. The drekavci were not pursuing me into this building. Maybe they did not consider me suitable prey? That'd suit me just fine.
No, I froze dead in my tracks as a voice caressed my mind, A predator only ceases in its pursuit in two cases.
Either, it is not hungry anymore, It whispered, which cannot be, as Terra always hungers.
I turned around and found something even less human than the drekavci looming over me with spread wings.
It has found a beast that strikes fear into its heart.
The last thing I saw, was its belt-buckle. A polished piece of brass with a simple symbol engraved upon it. One that would come to signify both progress and suffering in equal measures throughout the centuries to come.
The raptor surrounded by lightning.
Edited by The Observer, 08 September 2019 - 10:46 PM.