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  • Serve in Heaven

    Laboratories, The Giant (“Der Riese” ), near Breslau

    Dr. Ludvig Maxis and Dr. Edward Richtofen

    August 8th, 1939

    “Begin Matter Transference Device test… one-”


    An impatient voice interrupted, “One-six-two!”


    Doctor Maxis sighed, continuing, “Yes, 162. Doctor Richtofen, note the weight of the test subject at the center of the pad, and the approximate amount of Element 115 being used up.”


    “Yes, Doctor. The test subject is a rat weighing approximately 0.2 grams, and the amount of 115 being used for Test 162 will be one microgram. Please, insert your earplugs... again.”


    Doctor Maxis and Doctor Richtofen each held pairs of red-orange earplugs, worn from a multitude of previous tests from the past month. Placing the plugs into his ears, Doctor Maxis pressed a button on the control panel, powering up the Matter Transference Device. A sliding door brandishing Group 935's insignia closed around the large central pad inside. The sedated rat at the center of the pad sat still as the device powered up. After a few moments, the coils surrounding the head of the device began to spark and chain electricity, and the interior of the device created a light growing ever more and more blinding as seconds passed. Even with protective goggles, the two scientists were forced to look away from the blinding whiteness shining through the MTD's view-port. The hanging light at the center of the room began to flicker as power was routed into the device.


    After roughly a minute, the test came to an end and the device was opened once more, dispelling smoke throughout the laboratory from inside. Doctor Richtofen eagerly approached the pad, waving away the smoke from his vision. Doctor Maxis stayed behind, his mind being held hostage elsewhere. As the clouds dissipated, Richtofen crouched close to the pad. There lay the rat, which appeared dead, its eyes hollow and its body inert. Yet, like the many other living subjects before it, this subject was merely in a catatonic state, one that it would never leave. Its body had changed composition as well, becoming bloated and burned.


    Doctor Richtofen kicked over a wooden chair near the pad before returning to the lab table. He approached the recording device, leaning in closely and uttering a final statement.


    “Test 162 is a failure.”


    Richtofen dramatically pressed the button to end the recording, removed his goggles, and turned his gaze towards Doctor Maxis, whose eyes were still blank and the plugs still in his ears. Upon finally noticing Richtofen's disappointed demeanor, Doctor Maxis removed them.


    Edward began to pace around the room, dabbing his forehead with a towel. “Must the temperature be so high during the tests?”


    “Edward, it is more cost effective to work under these conditions during the Summer heat. I apologize, once again.”


    “Ah yes, I almost forgot we were doing all of this for the riches .” Edward tossed the towel aside, leaning onto the lab table and thinking to himself for a moment. “I'm sorry, Doctor Maxis. I've lost my composure. Both of us have, really.”


    “Have I?” Maxis grew irritated at the suggestion.


    “With all due respect, Doctor Maxis, I've noticed you are not as attentive to your duties as you once were when you invited me to join Group 935.”


    My duties ? Edward, you should know your place. You are a revered scientist, but I invited you into Group 935, and I hold authority here.”


    “Of course, of course, Doctor. I'm just concerned... with our work, that is.”


    “Again, I apologize for the lack of resources, Edward. If you were in my position, you would understand the stress I have been forced to endure to make ends meet.”


    “Is Hilda the reason you are so forlorn, Doctor?”


    Doctor Maxis looked into Richtofen's cold, distant eyes, first vexed by Edward's question, before seeing its profound truth.


    “Her loss... has added to my anxiety, yes.”


    “Und Samantha?”


    “She's almost five years old now. Soon, I will have to tell her what really happened to her mother when she was born… She still thinks she is in Dresden. I don't know... if I am strong enough.”


    Doctor Maxis looked to Richtofen, whose attention had been turned towards his lunch: Canned bratwurst. Edward pried the can open with his teeth before reaching in and taking a bite from one of the sausages and mumbling through the chewing, “So, is that all that has you depressed, then?”


    “For someone so concerned with my mental health, it seems you could not care less about my family.”


    “Forgive my ignorance, Doctor, I lack the experience as a family man, myself. What did you bring for lunch, by the way?”


    Unfazed, Doctor Maxis continued to stare down Doctor Richtofen as he shoveled the bratwurst into his maw, barely exerting any effort to chew.


    “I admire your perseverance, Edward. Even after all of our failures over the years you are not pulled down by the weight of the world.”


    “The 'world' has no bearing on my decision-making, Doctor Maxis. The only thing that drives me is success, und the road to success is paved with failure, as they say, ja ? Besides, I know that in the end, I will meet my destiny. I will achieve great things, und save the world. With that knowledge, I can endure just about anything.”


    Though his work ethic seemed commendable, Edward Richtofen's tendency for outbursts caused Doctor Maxis to question his reliability as a scientist, or even as a friend. Despite Richtofen’s lack of caring, airing woes must have felt almost therapeutic for Doctor Maxis.


    “Family is not the only factor in my distress. I was foolish to once think Group 935 would lead the world of science unopposed. With Japan discovering Element 115, I fear we will be competing in technological progress against the army’s new ‘Division 9’. The Americans have found a deposit as well, and I have no earthly idea what they are capable of.”


    “Doctor, isn’t science meant to be collaborative , rather than competitive ?”


    “While that is true, Edward, the issue of funding arises again and again in my administrative position, and for funding we must set ourselves apart from our rivals.”


    “A pity. This world we live in, it is so driven by conquest und fear. With any luck, things may change in the near future. Surely you've heard the stirrings of war approaching?”


    “I have heard talk. But I am not concerned. Hitler only desires Poland. I don't see him sparking another global war, no matter what empty threats he makes.”


    “I must disagree with you for once, Doctor, there will be severe consequences for his actions. Everything that he says und that the Party does is driven by fear, und fear motivates people to do the unthinkable, the illogical.”


    “I suppose we will see in the coming months.”


    “Yes, I suppose we will.”


    Edward finished his meal before tossing the empty can into the trash bin, and he returned to the table alongside Maxis.


    “Edward, shall we begin testing again?”


    Ja , but I have a few alterations to our methods I would like to suggest.”


    “What kind of alterations?”


    “I believe we must begin testing on human-”


    “That is out of the question, Richtofen, and you should know better.”


    “Of course it is, Doctor, you didn't let me finish. We should begin human testing, starting with cadavers, obviously. If the MTD is meant to revolutionize human transportation, then we should be accounting for a human-sized occupant, ja ?”


    “I suppose you are correct.”


    “Und since you insist on being so frugal, Doctor Maxis, we can still use approximately the same amount of the element und power in teleporting the subject. I’ve made all the necessary calculations… and I believe it is possible under the right conditions. It may even be more efficient than with our rodent subjects.”


    “Excellent, then fetch a cadaver from storage.”


    “Yes, Doctor.”


    As Edward left the room, Maxis stared directly into a coil atop the MTD, captivated by the electricity that passed between the other coils around the bell-shaped device. Time seemed to slow as he gazed into the coil; His mind drifted to the thought of his daughter in the care of an Au Pair while her father toiled away in the lab, test after test after test...



    Irritated, Richtofen exited the room out into the hallways of the laboratories building, passing several others on his journey to the storage area. In one such room was his old friend, Doctor Schuster, along with another scientist. They were mixing a fluorescent blue vial of liquefied Element 115 with various other chemicals in the lab. Though Maxis had bestowed upon Edward the duty of a lowly errand-boy, the job gave Richtofen a chance to see Group 935's current projects; Something his overseers in The Order would deem valuable.


    Inside the room the other scientist was looking over a data sheet plastered on the nearby wall, running his finger along the calculations as he spoke to Doctor Schuster. Schuster and Richtofen had a great personal relationship, though Schuster knew not of Richtofen's involvement with the Illuminati. Though both Schuster and Richtofen desired to make the world better through science, the methods of the Order would frighten the timid Doctor Schuster, Edward felt, and for that reason he kept them a secret. Edward had joined them because he saw an opportunity to make real, lasting change, though the motivations of their members had changed since he joined. Despite the time and dedication he had placed in The Order, he knew there were secrets being held from him.


    Schuster was measuring out a brownish liquid within a beaker, and by the label it must have been amphetamine. Nearby were several other measured compounds as well as the previously observed Element 115. Doctor Richtofen would have to inquire to Schuster what exactly their purpose was. Edward knew Schuster was an expert in Chemistry, and had been dying to utilize Element 115 in his favorite branch of science, now finally receiving approval from the administration to begin testing. Edward could tell Schuster was visibly excited as he instructed his assistant in his methodology. Then, Richtofen remembered his purpose being there and he hurried to the freezer to avoid suspicions from Doctor Maxis who was surely waiting in the test area.


    Richtofen retrieved a male cadaver from the shelves, before placing it onto a cart and wheeling it through the halls towards the testing area. Upon entering the room with Maxis, Doctor Richtofen noticed he had not moved from his position at the table, his gaze again drawn away towards the wall. The testing area had not been cleaned and the MTD had not been re-calibrated. Doctor Maxis had done nothing of worth while Richtofen was away.


    Edward approached the MTD, placing the chemically displaced rodent into a bag with gloved hands before loading the device with a microgram of Element 115 and placing the dead human subject onto the MTD's pad. He returned to the table, donning his goggles and waiting for a moment before looking at Maxis, who was still staring at the wall with the recorder deactivated below him.


    Frustrated, Doctor Richtofen reached across the table, activating the recording device and snapping Doctor Maxis' attention back to the test at hand.


    “Begin Matter Transference Device test 1-6-3. The subject is a human cadaver of approximately 72.8 kilograms, und a micro-gram of Element 115 has been placed into the device. Doctor Maxis, please insert your earplugs.”



    Maxis turned to face Richtofen, awakened from his comatose state, then looked back to the cadaver, now aware of his situation.


    “Yes... we will begin the test... now.”


    Both men inserted their ear plugs, and Doctor Maxis pulled the lever to activate the MTD once again. The door of the device sealed and it lit up, filling the room with a blinding light and sending waves of tingling electricity into the air. Strangely, the light lasted longer than before, and the power surge was so strong the lights in the room went completely out for a few moments before returning to normal. Through the deafening sound of the device, Maxis called out to Richtofen.


    “You said there would not be an increase in power usage, Edward!”


    “I believe my word choice was, ‘approximately,’ Doctor!”


    Finally, the noise and the light faded as quickly as they had appeared, and the sliding door on the device re-opened, releasing smoke into the room.


    Within the smoke was the silhouette of the cadaver just as Edward had left it. Defeated, Richtofen tossed his goggles aside and came closer to the body.


    “Und so we've failed once again... ”


    However, the body did something very peculiar for a corpse: Its fingers began to twitch. Despite its preservation by the scientists, its skin was horribly burned and lacerated by the experiment, yet it seemed to be... alive. It pulled itself upon two legs, wobbling as it did so. For a moment its blank, rotten eyes were completely black, but soon they lit up with a bright, yellow glow. As it seemed to come to life, the monster vomited a pint of blood onto the pad before looking at each of the scientists.


    Richtofen stood still, frightened by the sight of the ghastly creature. “Mein gott.


    “Edward... it's... alive.”




    The creature's vocal folds still functioned as it began to lightly groan. Then, it placed its right leg forward, and next its left. It began a small shamble towards Edward, barely able to stand on its stiff muscles.


    As it came too close, Richtofen cried out, “Stop!”


    And so the beast stopped. The mindless cadaver seemed almost obedient to Richtofen's command, as if it had heard such a command before.


    Doctor Maxis walked forward to Richtofen's side. “Look at me.”


    The body cocked its head towards Maxis, letting its mouth gape and drool ooze out from the corners of its dried lips.


    Maxis shook his head, muttering, “We've... brought a dead man back to life.”


    Richtofen was still in shock from the ordeal. While a discovery of incredible proportions, what they had created was unnatural.


    Dr. Maxis attempted to give the walking husk another task.


    “Walk... forward.”


    The zombie paced towards Doctor Maxis slowly to start, but began to pick up its pace and drool onto the floor more excessively. One arm dangled at its side, while the other was lifted and held out in the direction of the scientists.


    “Now stop!”


    The beast continued to walk forward, its bright, other-worldly eyes locked with those of Maxis, picking its pace up even further and groaning louder. It extended its other limp arm outwards towards Doctor Maxis, prepared to grab him with both of its grimy hands.


    Doctor Richtofen pulled Maxis aside by the coat collar, away from the cadaver. “Maxis!”


    “Why won't you stop?! Stop! Halt!”


    The beast did not waver as it began to lumber towards Maxis directly, clamping its jaws together repeatedly as it lurched forward.


    Doctor Richtofen acted swiftly, looking at the mounted emergency fire axe on the wall and taking it in his hands. The beast leapt through the air towards the distressed Doctor Maxis cowering in the corner of the room. Richtofen cut it down with an axe swing to the abdomen.


    The creature fell to the ground, turning its attention towards Richtofen as it waved its arms at him and wailed in anger. Richtofen lifted the axe into the air again, bringing it down on its chest and severing the top half of its body. Blood and intestines spilled out onto the floor between the two halves, yet the upper half continued to hunger. It crawled with its weak arms towards Richtofen, howling and groaning like before.


    Again, Richtofen brought the axe down, this time severing the head from its putrid neck. The body spurted blood at the jugular and the arms trembled before finally laying to rest, while the head continued to gnaw at the air until the light drained from its eyes.


    For a moment, there was only silence as Maxis recollected himself and Richtofen questioned his very sanity. The two met eyes as Richtofen dropped the bloody axe and headed for the door.


    “I... will inform the cleaning crew.”


    Fearful, Doctor Maxis approached the corpse carefully on his hands and knees, afraid one of the three sections may return to life at any passing moment. Doctor Maxis questioned how a creature of such horrific design could have come into being. For a moment in the previous encounter, Maxis felt hope. The body responded to his requests... as if it were alive again. He had become God; He had the power to bring the dead back to life. The possibilities flowed through Maxis' mind; Thoughts of those that could be saved from death: World leaders, soldiers, pets, loved ones... Hilda.

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