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Chapter 15: "The Room"
Before October 1963
Berlin, Germany - Deutsches sol Kino - Auditorium
The eerie silence of the theater began to take hold of Dempsey's focus. The screams of agony from the undead actually seemed to calm the senses, in a strange way. Without it, he was simply in a spectral, decrepit box full of decaying flesh and ghosts of the war.
“All these swastikas are starting to freak me out. How about you Nikolai?”
In the corner of the room, Nikolai was trying to mix together a concoction of Juggernog Soda and Vodka, pouring one bottle into another before taking a sip. There was a very tiny amount of vodka left, not nearly enough to sustain Nikolai's addiction.
“They remind me of darker times. Fascist behemoths treading over the homes of my comrades. We tried to hold them back with fire...but nothing would stop them.”
“Rough. I never had the pleasure of fighting Nazi scum in Europe.”
“Make no mistake, Dempsey. The Japanese are just as evil as the Fascists.”
“Well I don't know about that Nikolai.”
“They treat prisoners of the war like animals. The Germans would at least have the decency to shoot me.”
“Except they didn't. They took us in to experiment on us. How did you end up with Richtofen anyway?”
“My comrades pushed in force against the Germans to re-take Stalingrad. My platoon failed. After that, I have no memory. But I know in my heart I did not retreat. I did not surrender.”
“About the Japanese...what did they do to their prisoners? How can you be sure?”
“I saw results with my own eyes, Dempsey. The things I have seen from Japanese experiments...they haunt me to the core. Surgery ending with death. Freezing limbs to point of amputation. Rape of Russian women and children. You ask why I drink, American...now do you ask the same question?”
At that point, Nikolai's legs began to sputter, and he lowered himself closer and closer to the floor, eyes going blank.
“Nikolai, are you...sober?”
Nikolai lied down on his back, head up against the Juggernog machine, completely silent. With a shaky hand, he raised the mixture of soda and vodka to his lips, chugging every last drop before tossing the bottle aside, belching, and falling asleep.
Something is off about Nikolai, Dempsey was sure. His ability to function normally without keeling over seems to rely entirely on vodka. This was no ordinary addiction, but a reliance, a need for alcohol. For the first time, Dempsey felt some pity for a Communist. What had Richtofen done to them? Dempsey wanted to talk to Takeo alone; Maybe he could find out more about Richtofen's experiments, and maybe he could shed some light on the truth behind Nikolai's stories.
Takeo stood at the MTD, searching his thoughts and awaiting Richtofen's command. Near him was the body of one of the gas crawlers, festering and decaying rapidly due to the harmful gas it contained.
Dempsey was about to walk down the pathway towards the stage when Richtofen came sprinting around the corner from the lobby.
“Takeo! Link it now!”
Takeo promptly hit the flashing red button of the MTD's panel, causing the machine to hiss before finally settling down into a light hum.
“Well done, Takeo! Much faster reaction time than Nikolai.”
Dempsey strode up towards the stage, weapon in hand and a daring grin on his face.
“Not really a fair competition there, Richtofen. Poor bastard's over there sleeping in some rubble.”
“Well wake him up! We must test this version of the MTD before more minions arrive.”
“Come on, Richtofen, can't you just set it to where we need to go now?”
“Patience Dempsey. I must see this device in action before we use it for longer distance travel. You don't want to end up a fine red paste splattered on the walls if this goes awry, do you?”
“Guess not, Doc.”
Dempsey returned to Nikolai, now face down in the rubble muttering to himself.
“Hey, come on Nikolai. No more politics, we're getting in the teleporter.”
“Are we going to space, papa?”
“Nikolai, quit talking nonsense, let's go!”
“More porridge, please.”
“You're really making me do this again...fine, you owe me one.”
Dempsey tapped on the side of the Juggernog machine with his closed fist, sending the red-tinted bottle out of the slot. Dempsey took a large gulp of the soda before lifting Nikolai over his shoulders with ease. Takeo and Richtofen stood ready in the teleporter awaiting Dempsey's entrance.
“If the teleporter is calibrated correctly, we should end up at the lobby's receiving pad. If not...well, we may go blind.”
Before anything else could be said, Richtofen flipped the switch shutting the door to the MTD, and creating a cacophony of lights within the device. For a moment, nothing but a bright blue light could be seen. Then, nothingness.
For a moment, all seemed lost, then Dempsey's vision became more clear. Below them was not the teleporter receiving pad, but wood paneling. He looked back up to see Richtofen pacing around the room, muttering to himself. Nikolai was now wide awake, standing before a blue machine, just like the one from Der Riese. Takeo was still on the floor, holding back his gag reflex.
“I don't understand, how did we end up up here?!”
“Look on bright side, Richtofen. We could be dead! Plus we have the punchy machine.”
Nikolai placed his light machine gun into the slot, and out came a lighter, sleeker version made of seemingly hand-etched material.
“Peculiar that the Pack-a-Punch would follow us here. I cannot ascertain a practical purpose for it being in the projector room where no one can see it.”
“Wait, projector room? We're still in the theater?”
“Come have a look Dempsey, I promise I won't push you out this open window, though I do wish I could.”
Edward motioned to the large view-port overlooking the entire stage and the auditorium. A functioning projector sat pointing out the window onto the screen outside, counting down numbers from three to one repeatedly.
“So we can watch movies now, great.”
Dempsey turned to Nikolai, drooling over his new-found tool of destruction, allowing jealousy to take control, approaching the machine himself. He placed his assault rifle into the machine, and what came out was a beautiful sight to behold. But at the back of Dempsey's mind was his curiosity, with its focus on the M1911 still holstered at his side. If it could turn anything into something badass, what about something simple like a pistol?
He placed the small weapon into the open slot, waiting a few moments before the weapon re-emerged...now with a twin. Two of the same pistol marked with a unique camouflage, much heavier than before, as well.
“One for each hand, huh? Hope these babies can kick ass.”
Against the wall were several shelves holding film reels, all marked with Group 935's insignia. For this reason, Richtofen succumbed to his curiosity, placing a random reel into the projector and watching the screen outside. The reel flashed several obscure images of numbers, close ups of human eyes, silhouettes of unknown figures, along with an audio reading of a series of numbers. He pulled another reel from the shelf, which played a short documentary featuring footage of a village in China. The relevance of this footage and voice-over was puzzling to Richtofen.
Before the film concluded, Richtofen felt a strange sensation in his body, causing his vision to cloud. He turned to the others who were experiencing a similar reaction. Then, for a moment, all he could see was a bright blue light. He had teleported somewhere new. Somewhere awful.
He was in a small room lit up with a hellish red tint. It seemed to be the bedroom of a child. The bedsheets were tossed aside the bed as if in haste, and the floor was splattered with blood. Furniture in the room was tossed here and there, and on the ground were small figurines. On closer inspection, they resembled Richtofen, Dempsey, Takeo, and Nikolai. Richtofen's figure had pins stuck throughout its body, and the head was removed. Richtofen gasped, dropping the figure from his hands, as he spotted a human-sized stuffed bear peering into his very soul, eyes redder than the room. It began to turn its head away from him, stopping at the sound of sobbing from somewhere beyond. Richtofen ran for the door, unable to turn the knob. The sobbing grew ever louder, overtaking Richtofen's every thought. He slid down to the floor covering his head, until finally the nightmare was over. Once again he teleported, this time to the receiving pad in the main lobby of the theater surrounded by his allies once again.
They each turned to one another in shock and confusion. Dempsey, finally broke the silence.
“Okay, what the fuck was that?”
Richtofen stuttered, wiping the sweat from his forehead as he did so.
“The room...the blood.”
“Blood? What blood, all I saw was some toys and bed.”
Richtofen grabbed Dempsey's shoulders, pulling himself close.
“And it looked like Hell itself?”
“What? No, just a normal room. Now get your hands off of me!”
He swatted Richtofens hands away. Richtofen removed his hat, scratching his head and pondering the meaning behind this detour from reality. Nikolai had his own story to share.
“And I saw a rocket! And this wheel!”
At this point, Richtofen noticed the large film reel, this one unmarked, but the same size as the ones he had seen previously in the projector room.
“Where did you get that?!”
“In the room with the table and big projector. And toy rocket. I blew a big hole in ceiling with rocket, I hope no one saw.”
“Fascinating, we all went somewhere different. Takeo, where were you?”
“I remember a blue chair, surrounded by tools. Then, I remember screams of pain and the sound of a drill.”
Discussion came to a close as the room filled with a thick fog, blocking all light throughout the theater, isolating them inside the cold foyer. The beckoning voice of Samantha echoed through the room, shaking the chandelier.
“FETCH ME THEIR SOULS!”
“Nikolai hold onto that reel, get back to back everyone!”
They stood in a circle, prepared for the onslaught of Samantha's hounds. The first spawned in near the quick revive machine, pouncing towards Nikolai, who blew it apart with his shotgun in one hand, the film reel in the other.
Another leaped from the balcony above on top of Richtofen. He felt the harsh warmth of the hound's breath as it attempted to bite down on his face. Richtofen continued beating it back, calling out, “Kill this Schweinhund!”
Dempsey put three shots into a charging dog, sending it to the ground with a howl and a whimper. He glanced at Richtofen's peril, commenting, “Not it!”
Takeo turned to the doctor, kicking the dog from on top of him, and slicing it at the neck. The flaming hound exploded into bits of flesh, caking Takeo in its entrails.
A hound spawned in close proximity to the group, diverting their attention from two hounds approaching from the auditorium. Dempsey fought these two dogs alone, putting down one with four shots. Without any more rounds, Dempsey held out his empty rifle towards the dog, blocking its gaping maw. The hound clamped down on the weapon hard, bending the weapon askew, and pushing with all its might towards Dempsey, who fought with all his brawn. With a burst of strength, Dempsey shoved the dog back, gripped the rifle by the barrel, and used it like a bat, beating the dog to a bloody pulp. The gun itself was in a similarly broken state to the dog, and Dempsey out of breath.
Dempsey discarded the mangled rifle with a sigh of relief as a green ammunition orb rose from the dog's corpse, restocking everyone's ammunition.
The bittersweet peace did not last, however, as a horde of zombies began their trot from the auditorium towards the receiving pad. At this moment, Dempsey remembered the upgraded pistols he had acquired in the projector room, and commenced a live fire test of his own.
He lifted the dual pistols in the air, pointing them without direction towards the horde, and pulling the trigger several times in quick succession. What ejected from the barrels of these pistols was not lead, but explosives, primed to explode on contact. The furious barrage of explosive material disappeared anything once standing in the foyer.
Takeo swiveled his sniper rifle towards the ceiling where gas crawlers began gnawing their way through the wood paneling of the roof, crawling towards them, thirsty for blood.
“Demon crawlers from the ceiling! We must move swiftly!”
Takeo let loose a bullet from his rifle, puncturing the crawler's brain, sending it lifeless to the floor, exploding harmlessly away from the others.
Richtofen pointed towards the auditorium doors, directing the others to follow.
“To the stage! We will make a stand there!”
Dempsey headed the charge, letting loose an explosive charge from his paltry weapons as any zombie bore its face. The others soon followed, Nikolai still protecting the film reel with one arm, and fueling himself with vodka using the other.
Dempsey hopped onto the stage, reloading his pistols as he did so, blasting several gas crawlers apart from the ceiling before they could even sense him. As Nikolai activated the gun turret on the stage, Dempsey retreated towards the weapons box, searching for a secondary weapon, now that his original had lost its luster.
Several weapons cycled through inside the mysterious box, settling on something truly absurd. The weapon was massive, larger than even Richtofen's Wunderwaffe. Shaped like a cannon, the weapon was held with two hands, a large portion of the weapon resting on Dempsey's shoulder, and the barrel round like a jet engine. The side of the weapon was marked with Russian characters, and the stock was painted yellow and black, as if the user should be cautious with its placement.
On the stage, Takeo and Richtofen held off clumps of zombies arriving through broken windows and emerging from debris in the seating area. As the gun turret finally came to a halt with a need for recharge, Nikolai joined them, holding off the enemy with his light machine gun, with the reel resting safely against the podium.
“Dempsey! We need help-Whoa. That is a big gun!”
Dempsey joined them, the new massive weapon in his arms.
“You know Richtofen, I think this thing is cooler than your Wunderwaffle.”
“Where did you find that? What can it do?”
More zombies began to pile in, depleting ammunition and halting casual conversation. The group backed themselves through the center of the auditorium back towards the lobby area. Two zombies hobbled towards them from the lobby, but were electrocuted by the electro-shock defenses activated by Richtofen.
“Use the new weapon anytime now American!”
Dempsey studied the way the weapon functioned with haste, lifting it up, preparing to pull the large trigger. As he slowly applied pressure to the trigger, the weapon began to vibrate, ready to release its payload.
“Now this ought to be a good time!”
The weapon let loose a massive burst of compressed air out of the barrel, knocking Dempsey to the ground, but sending the horde of impending zombies flying in every direction, silencing their attacks.
“It just...it just blew them all over the place! Wow.”
The experimental weapon left Dempsey with a satisfying impression, much like a new-found friend.
Dempsey examined the weapon in his lap, noting on the barrel where there was once two orange rectangular lights, there was now one. It appeared to have two bursts of thunder per reload. He examined the Russian writing on the side, placing the lettering towards Richtofen.
“You know what this means, Doc?”
“No, I can't read Russian.”
Nikolai's face contorted into one of annoyance.
“Why did you not ask me?”
“Well frankly, Nikolai, I wasn't sure you could read.”
“I can read when sober.”
“Which is never, last time I checked.”
“But you did not even ask! Bah!”
Nikolai crossed his arms, returning to the stage to retrieve the film reel Richtofen had asked him to keep up with.
Takeo strapped his sniper rifle to his back, questioning their next move.
“Doctor Richtofen, will we now teleport to Griffin Station?”
“Well, Takeo, there is a teensy weensy problem with that.”
Dempsey crossed his own arms. “Great.”
“The MTD needs more element 115 to be able to send us a longer distance. But other than that, it seems to be functioning normally, apart from a few kinks here and there.”
“Heh heh, kinks.”
“So our next move is finding 115 to fuel our trip away from this wretched theater.”
“Well, great. Now how do we find more of this space rock in whatever year this is?”
“We saw a small amount on display in the lobby, did we not? There must be more held in this facility, I am sure of it.”
Richtofen beckoned the others to follow, as he removed the glass holding the Element 115 in the lobby. Despite the decades sitting still in this casing, the rock remained active, emitting radiation in a small aura. Richtofen used a small clamping tool to place the 115 into a portable container meant to hold the element, and joined it with his belongings.
“There are still areas of this facility we have not found. That means we get to go exploring! Wunderbar!”
Dempsey lifted up the massive Thundergun, the weight bearing down on his shoulder.
The others followed Edward through an unexplored doorway beneath the balcony in the lobby. The room held little of interest, besides several burners beneath the floor level, pointing upwards towards the ceiling, connected to a red switch much like the electro-shock defenses. On the back wall was another map of the facility, as well as a doorway leading outside. Richtofen noted the green light lit up on the stage section of the chalk map. This lights system must be intended to show the location of the weapons box. The question of why this map was put here, and who for, puzzled Richtofen.
They pushed through the doorway, letting in the beating sunlight from the mid-day sun. Down a small set of stairs, against the brick wall of a nearby building was a Double Tap Root Beer machine, and to the left a small section of gate, the top torn off and boarded up with wooden planks. Richtofen stepped down the stairs, taking in the sights of his surroundings.
“An alley, how quaint.”
He looked past the window barrier throughout Berlin, hoping to spot any familiar locations. What he spotted instead was a large, concrete wall with watch towers overlooking the area. There was no sound of inner-city life, and the towers seemed abandoned, like they were the only ones around. He turned to spot a sign with the name of the theater “Kino sol Deutches” printed in large lettering, thrown out with the rest of the trash in the alleyway. If this sign is no longer displayed on the theater's entrance, then there must have been a change in purpose for this theater during Group 935's occupation.
The group continued marching through the alleyway, passing a chalk outline for another unfamiliar weapon, and approaching a chain-link doorway. They pushed through, climbing a flight of stairs into a room filled with props and equipment for the stage. Sure enough, a small sample of Element 115 was resting on a shelf, nearby some metal letters scattered about. Richtofen used his tools to extract the sample and added it to his collection along with the other.
“Excellent. But we need more 115!”
As Richtofen, Takeo, and Nikolai walked towards the doorway, leading down to the stage area, Dempsey stayed behind, examining the strange room. He questioned to himself the purpose of the 115 resting by itself on the shelf, without any kind of protection. Deep in thought, he paced around, stepping on one of the metal letters on the ground. His attention was soon redirected to these letters, and he realized they were arranged in a very particular manner, only noticeable from his angle. The letters read, “MANHATTAN DOWN.”