Ext. night. EILA JUUTILAINEN-LITVYAK and WITOLDA URBANOWICZ are sitting at the top of a castle tower under a clear, starry sky, illuminated only by the nightglow of RIBEAUVILLÉ in the valley below.
May I ask you personal question, Suomi girl?
EILA glances sidelong at her.
I... guess so?
Ola... she is love you very much.
EILA smiles, a little goofily.
I suppose I am wonder why. Or rather how. Suomi witch, Orussian witch... how does this happen? If you are not wanting to tell me, is fine. I am just being curious.
I'm just... thinking of where to start. Or, no... of how to start. Because there's no question as to where.
She looks at WITOLDA, uncharacteristically solemn.
"Where" was Petrograd.
"Wizards in Winter"
The Lost Christmas Eve (2004)
Title card:FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1941
59° 54' 45" N, 26° 15' 44" E
Ext. day. A younger EILA, equipped with an old-model Brewster B-239 Striker Unit in Suomus Air Force livery and a Browning .30-caliber machine gun, flies in a howling, whiteout winter storm. She's struggling to make any headway at all and can see nothing.
She emerges from the heaviest clouds to discover a pitched battle underway, pitting a great array of aerial and ground Neuroi against a combined force of flying witches and conventional armor, all evidently Orussian. After pausing for a moment in consternation, she takes on a look of determination, unslings her weapon, and gets involved.
The camera loses track of her in the melee, which is shot in a style that accentuates the violence and chaos of it. We get only a few near-bullet-time flashes of clarity:
- A blonde Orussian witch in a brown-painted heavy Striker and sheepskin jacket, carrying an autocannon in one hand and a large bomb under the other arm; she dives on one of the "spider-tank" ground Neuroi and plants the bomb right on top of it, blowing it to smithereens, then goes after its neighbor with her cannon.
- A younger witch with long silver hair, who appears to be wearing a naval peacoat; her grey and red Striker Unit, unusually, has a backpack, and she's dual-wielding heavy machine guns. We catch a few seconds of her dueling with an aerial Neuroi before moving on to
- An EXTREMELY young witch in black and red, with short grey hair and an expression that is grim even by Orussian standards. She's fighting with a PPSh-40 submachine gun and an array of explosives, the latter of which she seems quite adept at placing.
EILA ends up fighting alongside this last--it's SANYA, of course, much younger than she is in the regular series--and in the brief glimpses of their action we get, they seem to be working well together.
Ext. day. Establishing shots of a ruined, but still inhabited, city. A SUBTITLE informs us that it is PETROGRAD (ORUSSIAN CAPITAL).
Ext. day. A makeshift airfield operating out of what used to be a sports field on the outskirts of the city. The improvised "hangar" was once a gymnasium. The Orussian witches conduct EILA to an equally makeshift barracks that looks like it was built from scrap lumber by someone who didn't know much about carpentry. A few of the witches are there, squaring their gear away from the fight; they all look battered and weary, many of them sporting bandages that don't seem any too fresh.
This is what remains of 586th Air Regiment, Orussian Imperial Air Service. I am Yegorova. I am in command...
She pauses to light a cigarette.
... as much as anyone is in command these days.
She pulls herself together and salutes.
Warrant Officer Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen, Suomus Air Force 24th Unit.
YEGOROVA takes a long draw on her cigarette, consuming nearly half of it, then slowly lets out a great cloud of smoke, all the while gazing thoughtfully at EILA.
You are a long way from home, Suomi.
She finishes her cigarette in a second long drag, then flicks the butt carelessly into the corner.
Welcome to the end of the world.
Int. night. The 586th's makeshift messhall. It's snowing outside the visible window; everyone is bundled up and breathing visible clouds even though they're inside. The only lighting comes from candles scattered here and there. The SILVER-HAIRED WITCH dishes up a plate of some lumpy stew-looking concoction from a pot, adds a wedge of black bread, and puts the plate down in front of Eila. This close, we can see she's wearing a cap with an Orussian Imperial Navy badge on it. When she speaks, her voice is quiet but steely.
Navy stew. It's not very good, but it will fill you up. I learned to make it in Port Arthur.
She puts a bottle of a clear liquid down on the table as well, then give Eila a very faint smile and wink.
And everything goes with vodka.
JUMP TO later in the meal. EILA has eaten about half of her stew when she turns to the person next to her--SANYA--and addresses her.
Uh... I didn't really have a chance to introduce myself before. I'm Eila.
SANYA hesitates, glances at her and then away, blushing a bit shyly (which causes EILA to do the same).
Int. day. The 586th's alert shack, which is just as improvised as everything else in their base, and so lives up to the term more literally than most. EILA stands looking at a ragged map pinned to the wall; it shows Petrograd and its environs, and virtually all of it has been colored in with red crayon, in several successive waves.
A DARK-HAIRED WITCH with an eyepatch walks--or rather limps--up beside her.
Noticed the north corridor, have you? Don't get too excited. The map only shows their ground forces. If you tried to fly home to Suomus that way, their air patrols would get you.
She walks off, shaking her head.
You're trapped here just like the rest of us.
EILA looks after her, seeming unsure whether to be offended or just baffled. SANYA appears at her side.
Don't take it personally. Captain Bjelik is very tired.
CUT TO Ext. day. EILA and the 586th fly in formation above what looks like another heavy overcast. Up front, YEGOROVA has another bomb.
(calling over her shoulder to the formation)
The witches ready their weapons. EILA and SANYA glance at each other, then nod.
The formation dives into the clouds.
CUT TO Int. night. The barracks. EILA, SANYA, and the NAVY WITCH are discussing something over vodka, though the NAVY WITCH seems to be the only one who is drinking.
It's worth trying. There's no more than a 60 or 70 percent chance we will all be killed.
EILA looks unconvinced.
CUT TO Int. day. The 586th alert shack. A number of witches are there, including the three above, when BJELIK and YEGOROVA enter, looking even grimmer than usual.
The enemy's final push is upon us. Gatchina is already overrun. Come.
The witches jump up and start grabbing their equipment. As she does so, EILA pulls a Tarot card from one of her belt pouches, then turns it over: Death. Wincing, she puts it away and carries on.
A second combat montage, even more chaotic than the first and involving much larger forces--partly in daylight, mostly at night. Scenes of Orussian tank forces being wiped out, although--unusually for conventional forces in this setting--they are seen to destroy a number of ground Neuroi in the process. By the end, Petrograd can be seen burning from one end to the other, and then the city is engulfed by a horrendous storm, far worse than the one EILA was caught in at the beginning. Snow, sleet, and icicles like javelins tear through the swirling air, as does lightning powerful enough to kill at least one large-type Neuroi.
Amid the maelstrom, EILA and SANYA--their weapons blown from their hands--struggle to reach one another, barely managing it before the tempest can sweep them apart and away. Clinging together, they try to escape, but the winds buffet them furiously, knocking them this way and that.
(shouting hoarsely over the storm)
I can't tell where we're going! Sanya—
—I can't see!
SANYA bows her head, eyes closed against the driving sleet.
Neither can I.
For just an instant, we can see glowing green Hirschgeweih antennae beginning to manifest around SANYA's head, and then the whiteout sweeps over them and we see no more.
Flying Yak Studios and Bacon Comics Group
The Fall of Petrograd
Coming soon on Avalon 17