Chapter 1: "Induction"
Der Riese - Auditorium
Dr. Ludvig Maxis
May 10th, 1931
Ludvig Maxis stood behind the stage, surrounded by complete silence, as he drank one last sip of tea before making his way towards the stage before his benefactors: the soon-to-be first wave of Group 935 scientists. He approached the podium and adjusted his microphone to his own greater-than-average height. The recruits grew silent, ready to hear whatever he had to say. Doctor Maxis motioned to the audio technician to begin recording the induction ceremony, and he initiated his speech towards the dazzled, child-like admirers.
“Gentlemen, allow me to take this opportunity to welcome you to Group 935.”
Younger members of the crowd perked up, chatting lightly with each other, eagerly anticipating their careers in scientific research with Group 935. The older, more established scientists sat silent, awaiting Maxis' official instruction.
“This is a prestigious moment in the history of our race. You represent the future of technological advancement. You are the pioneers of human discovery. In your hands lies the destiny of mankind. In our hands is a great power and with that power comes a price. You have volunteered to be part of this great experiment and with that decision comes the responsibility of absolute secrecy.”
Younger scientists ended their chatter as the esteemed Doctor Maxis spoke of secrecy. Like before, the older, more senile scientists sat quietly. Maxis paused and his tone changed to a more strict form.
“No one is to know what you do, where you work, what our research has uncovered, or what our purpose will be. You will have no further contact with your governments or with your families. Your decision to fully dedicate your lives to Group 935 is absolute. In your lockers you will find your field ops manual which will direct you should our manifesto get compromised. We cannot afford to let this power fall into the wrong hands and therefore the field ops manual should be considered your bible. Make your preparations now. A new dawn is beginning for mankind."
Ludvig Maxis stepped down from the podium, and off the stage to meet with the new recruits. For the next ten minutes he shook the many eager hands of humanity's greatest scientists from every corner of the globe. These great men all held a fiery passion for science in their eyes. Many naive, youthful scientists nervously approached Doctor Maxis, asking for signatures on distributed copies of his work. One young man hailed from Russia; he left the Soviet Union to pursue his dream of becoming a great scientist in Physics and working under the esteemed Ludvig Maxis. Another had arrived just last week from rural Mississippi in the United States. He was the first of his family to receive a full education and had never left his home country before arriving in Breslau.
Most interesting were the words of older scientists invited directly by Doctor Maxis. Maxis was greatly honored to be in their presence, and conversation regarding science felt more in-line with his expectations for Group 935. A long time partner in science, Doctor Porter, greeted Maxis from the crowd.
“Doctor Maxis! I am ecstatic this day has finally come. I know you have been dreaming of this collaboration for so long, my friend, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
“Thank you, Doctor Porter. It will be a long journey, but I see light at the end of this tunnel! Der Riese is more than a money pit, as you can see around you, Doctor!”
“Oh, Doctor, you know I only meant such comments in jest. This place, und this organization are something to be proud of.”
Nearby sat a table covered with refreshments, fresh fruit, and sandwiches for the crowd of scientists. Doctor Maxis poured two glasses of wine, handing one to his colleague, Doctor Porter.
“To 'Improving the human condition'.”
Maxis and Porter both raised their glasses, tapping them together and downing a portion of the wine.
Doctor Porter took another sip of his wine, finishing the glass before handing it to an attendant at the table. “I should begin getting acquainted with my new lab. Again I must thank you for this opportunity. I will begin studying this new element you mentioned in the articles. You said you discovered the element near Breslau?”
“Indeed, on the grounds of this very site. My team has begun harnessing element 115's power. It has unprecedented potential.”
“This is excellent news. I foresee Group 935 making great strides in the field of science. Future generations will be inspired by what we accomplish here. Anyhow, I will see you throughout the week, Doctor Maxis. Say hello to Hilda for me.”
Doctor Porter returned to the crowd, leaving Maxis to his own thoughts at the concessions table. His one reservation regarding Group 935 was Hilda. When Ludvig met her, they both desired a family built to last forever. Ludvig dreamed of owning a house on the countryside with a family he loved more than any other earthly desire. His wife, Hilda, at his side to love until they reach their deathbeds, and two children, a girl and a boy to pass their love onto. But Maxis feared this love may soon be overshadowed by his passion for science. Group 935 presented an incredible opportunity to make change for the better in the world, but with Maxis at the helm, his own future family may be neglected in the process. His life must be fully dedicated to Group 935's ambitious goals if they are to achieve greatness. For now, Doctor Maxis pushed these growing fears to the back of his mind. Hilda must understand the great importance of his work at Der Riese.
Maxis extended his glass to the event attendant, hoping the wine could drown his woes. At the other end of the table was a middle-aged man, his head balding; the man was leaned in closely to the sandwich tray, examining its contents before he noticed Doctor Maxis staring at his peculiar mannerisms. The man raised up, a smile coming to his face, as he extended his hand for a handshake.
“Doctor Maxis, I am an admirer of your work. I must say, I am beyond pleased you have invited me to join Group 935. Trust me in saying that I am fully dedicated to the organization's goals. I expect many wondrous things to surface from our collaboration, Doctor.”
Doctor Maxis shook the German scientist's shaky hands, visibly anxious due to the man's tight grip.
“Yes, it is... marvelous that a scientist such as yourself should accept my humble invitation, Doctor...”
“Oh! Mein Gott, I have been foolish! I am Doctor Groph!”
“Ah, Doctor Groph. I am pleased to have your expertise here at Der Riese. Now... I believe I also sent an invitation to your partner as well. Has he given any thought-”
“Albert und I had many, many, many disagreements regarding our studies in physics. I would hardly consider us partners, hardly even acquaintances! The last I heard he was looking into leaving for the United States. I say, if not for their women, the Americans would be hopeless! Trust in me, Doctor Maxis, his work was not worth your time. But I possess the intellect you desire to achieve a better human condition.”
“Excellent, Doctor Groph.”
“Are you familiar with the Vril-Ya, Doctor Maxis?”
“I have read The Coming Race if that is what you are asking.”
“No, no, there is much more to be learned from the Vril-Ya than Lytton's work, though it is a fine start.”
“You will have to tell me more once Der Riese has become more settled. Right now I have other business to attend to.”
Doctor Maxis promptly handed his glass to the table attendant and made his way towards the exit of the auditorium, away from the babbling nutcase.
“Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity, Doctor! I look forward to the numerous discoveries we will make together!”
Doctor Maxis nodded back to the distant Doctor Groph, and exited through the doors of the auditorium outside. The night air warmed Maxis' skin as he passed through the construction area that would one day be the courtyard of the facility. Doctor Maxis passed several scientists wandering towards the central building housing Group 935's administrative offices, before entering the brand new building himself. Maxis entered the room at the end of the hallway, his own personal office space, before settling into his leather desk chair.
This first wave of recruits would prove a strong basis for the organization, but Group 935 must always be searching for more minds to assist in its goals. One scientist in particular had been making a name for himself in the scientific community: Doctor Edward Richtofen. Richtofen had published several books with his findings in physics and biology along with his partner in science, Doctor Schuster. The two may prove valuable assets in the future, and Doctor Maxis sought to watch their careers closely. With such great minds at its disposal and the power of element 115, Group 935 could be an unstoppable force of change for humanity.
For weeks prior, Doctor Maxis had been keeping correspondence with Doctor Richtofen, exchanging ideas for potential projects if the two were to collaborate. Though he respected his work, Doctor Maxis did not see Richtofen as the head of any sustainable project. For what he held in intuition he lacked in humility and professionalism. Letters from the doctor read like a child's frantic attempts to impress an indifferent father; For a man in his thirties, Doctor Richtofen lacked the attention to detail and formality in his communications one would expect. Nevertheless, Doctor Richtofen's proposal for projects utilizing element 115 fascinated Maxis. Doctor Richtofen had acquired an article published by Maxis on the discovery of the new element and privately mailed him an idea relating to the element's potential properties. The bizarre concepts jotted out on the paper read like those of a madman, yet they intrigued Maxis nonetheless, and upon looking further into their current knowledge of element 115, Maxis determined that Richtofen's ideas may hold merit. Just a tiny sample of the element has shown to have an excess of radiation and massive potential energy output to fuel Richtofen's unique concept.
Doctor Richtofen had done prior research with a process dubbed “teleportation”, the transfer of an object or living being from one location to another through the conversion of their atoms into a steady stream to be sent via a massive wire to the intended location before reassembly. The idea was preposterous and inspired by an American novelist by the name Charles Fort, most definitely not a man of science nor credibility in the field of science.
Though he audibly scoffed at the suggestion, the intrigued Doctor Maxis continued to read the letter further and examine the readout with Richtofen's proposal for tests and even blueprints for a potential prototype he lovingly christened the Matter Transference Device, or MTD as it was referred to. As insane as it may be, Doctor Richtofen held much clout and credibility as a scientist in the field of physics and had clearly put in the effort and research for this passion project. It was for this reason that Doctor Maxis read on and latched to the idea of a “teleporter”. Such a technology could be a massive success for Group 935.