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  • Uniform

    Exclusion Zone, Griffin Station, Mare Crisium, Moon

    Dr. Baron Schuster

    December 8th, 1942


    Assigned to a post he could not leave, Doctor Schuster had found himself engrossed in a text-based adventure on the computer screen before him. Doctor Hoch, a man similar in age to Schuster, designed a game in his free time that can be played on Group 935’s systems where the user must type out an action for a character to take after being presented with a prompt. The setting for the story is in a mansion filled with undead and the player must find a way out. Schuster continued to find himself stuck in the labyrinthine corridors of the mansion only to be eaten. Still, there was little else he could do outside of the game.


    Doctor Groph had most of the scientists, including the head technician of Griffin Station, Doctor Bauman, working on Project 87: A wonder weapon project using Maxis’ experimental Vril substance that Richtofen had managed to get a sample of. With Bauman being used to run diagnostics during the experiments, Schuster was the only scientist with enough knowledge about the MPD to watch over it. 


    Since they had begun sacrificing prisoners to the tank attached to the MPD, it has been emitting an enormous amount of energy, overloading any electronics directly connected. It appears that with the energy going unused inside the tank, the pyramid begins to push this energy out into the air, damaging electronics over time and creating copious amounts of static electricity. The architects and engineers were attempting to formulate a system of some sort to send this energy into space, but this may not be possible without completely exposing the lab to the vacuum. The structure encompassing the Exclusion Zone was designed to be able to open to the vacuum in the event of contamination of the Oxygen supply, however doing so periodically was not practical as the lab would need to be cleared of vital equipment or it would be sucked out into space.


    An undead ghoul approaches you from down the hall. It snarls and bounds towards you with its rotting, filthy hands poised to tear you apart.


    Schuster typed one character at a time on the keypad: Run Away’.


    You run backwards the way you came, passing a suspiciously crooked painting. You see a zombie coming directly at you, its putrid jaws preparing to take a bite.


    “No, no... ” He typed: Attack’.


    Choose your weapon. You have: Butcher’s Knife, Bolt-Action Rifle.


    ‘Bolt-Action Rifle’.


    You pull the trigger. Click. No bullets. The zombie pounces, tearing you apart.


    You failed to escape the mansion. Would you like to try again? Y/N.


    “Damn, damn, damn !” Schuster placed his hands on his head, shaking in disapproval. “How could I have no ammunition? I thought I grabbed the box of bullets in the main hall! Infernal game!”


    Schuster rubbed his eyes and checked the clock mounted on the wall. Three hours alone, with no end in sight.


    Gathering his composure again, Schuster closed the program, prepared to look over inventory sheets for the third time, when he heard the low rumbling of the cargo elevator to his right. Schuster was not aware of anyone scheduled to be arriving at the station at this time. He paced towards the entrance to the tunnel system, his knees aching from standing still at the computer system for so long.


    A few moments later, in walked a man carrying a crate which obscured his face. He wore black military pants and a tannish-gray uniform with a red armband, on it a swastika. On the mysterious head was a German military hat marked with the eagle emblem of the Wehrmacht. Schuster was prepared to call security to deal with this stranger, only for him to place down the crate with his black leather gloves and reveal the familiar face of Doctor Richtofen.




    Richtofen grinned with a friendly gesture to come closer for a hug. Confused but relieved all the same, Schuster came closer, wrapping his arms around his colleague and patting him on the back. He felt a sharpness in his chest from a set of medals and an iron cross on Richtofen's outfit. There was a patch with the name ‘Amsel’ above the breast pocket.


    “Edward... Where did you find this... uniform?”


    “Isn’t it sophisticated und stylish?” He chuckled, “Do you remember General Amsel? Wait, of course you don’t, you haven’t been to Earth in quite some time, eh-heh. Anyhow, I got to know General Amsel while I was in France, und we hit it off so to speak. This is his old officer’s uniform.”


    “That was rather kind of him to give it to you.”


    Nein , nein , it was the Reichstag who sent it to me. As it turns out he was shot by snipers in Stalingrad in September. Boom! Right through the head.” He motioned a gun going off near his temple and the jerking back of his head from impact.


    Still confused, Schuster inquired, “Why exactly did you receive the uniform rather than... his family?”


    “This is quite amusing, actually. It turns out he wanted me to have it if he ever passed... because I was one of his best friends!” Edward began to cackle and slammed his fist into the table out of mocking jest, “We knew each other for, what, four weeks before he left? Oh, that is rich… ”


    Schuster shuddered as Richtofen guffawed, his laugh echoing throughout the area.


    Schuster asked, “Do you think, perhaps, they wanted you to have it as a sort of keepsake to remind you of the departed Amsel?”


    Richtofen wiped away a tear before replying, “That is most likely the case, but why waste such a prestigious uniform by letting it gather dust on the shelf? Nein, the SS are all brainwashed, power-hungry animals, but they know a thing or two about style und presentation... Mein Gott , it fits me so perfectly!”


    Richtofen looked at his arms, inside the jacket, at his pants, and at his chest, bobbing side to side, causing the medals to clash with one another. He took notice of the patch that read ‘Amsel’ and reached for his satchel wrapped around his body, removing his Hitler Youth knife and cutting away at the patch. It came off cleanly as Edward carelessly tossed it away and cut any loose threads to ensure the uniform was in immaculate condition.


    “Ah, I’ve been meaning to remove that. What do you think of the medals, Doctor?” Richtofen pointed to a dangling iron cross, “This one here was for bravery. It might just be mein favorite. It’s a little rusted, perhaps it is older... This one- “


    Schuster interjected, nodding towards the box that Richtofen had brought along, “The uniform is impressive, Doctor. But, what is it you’ve brought with you?”


    Edward smiled and unlocked the box using the keypad at the face towards him. “You will be excited when you see this, Baron... ta daaa!


    Inside the box were four bottles with screw-on caps, filled with liquid and each a different color: Red, blue, green, and orange. On the faces of the bottles were stickers with unique designs and the names of each liquid: Juggernog Soda, Revive Soda, Speed Cola, and Double Tap Root Beer.


    Schuster hastily grabbed the bottle of Double Tap Root Beer, unscrewing the cap and wafting the scent of the liquid to his nostrils. “It even smells of root beer! Do they work?”


    “Tests prove they are nearly perfected. Double-Tap allows for quicker neural synapses und thus faster muscle movements und finger dexterity. Juggernog is shown to increase the consumer’s strength three-fold, und increase toughness of the skin at a molecular level.”


    Schuster ogled at the beverages, “Just as I envisioned… ”


    He reached for the bottle of Speed Cola, before Richtofen motioned him not to.


    “I would be careful mit the Speed Cola. I can’t say for certain, but the ingredient used to enhance the subject’s reflexes may also rot the mind. Test subjects showed memory loss over time.”


    “What about Revive? Is it able to heal tearing of the skin?”


    “Any minor lacerations, ja . They still have not quite nailed the taste, however… ”


    “These bottles... are they mass-producing Perk-a-Colas already?”


    “Not quite ‘ mass ’-production, but dispensers are being sent to Group 935 und Division 9 facilities for further testing und review. Apparently Doctor Maxis is having quite a hard time explaining the very concept to the old crones in the Reichstag.”


    Schuster stared longingly at the stickers placed on the bottles, before placing them back into the box and checking the monitor for any signs of activity from the MPD. Nothing.


    Richtofen stood before him, arms behind his back, raising an eyebrow at Schuster.


    “You’re welcome, by the way. It wasn’t exactly easy to acquire these samples.”


    “Thank you, Doctor Richtofen. I will discover the chemical composition of each one when I find the time.”


    Schuster did not even lift his head from the monitor as he spoke, before starting up the mansion game again.


    Unsatisfied, Richtofen leaned over to put himself in Schuster's view.


    “Are you being... obtuse because you are still frustrated with me regarding the MPD? Because of what we did to those prisoners?”


    “I have nothing further to say on the matter.”


    “Oh... really? Is that so? Because Doctor Groph told me you were moaning und whining about it for weeks... He has moved on... I have moved on, so why can’t you?”


    “Because the tanks are leaking energy! The... atrocity we committed was for nothing. We still have made no progress in opening this magic gateway to the Aether you believe it to be… ”


    “These things need time, Doctor Schuster. You know that. Und how can you say it was for nothing? We are inching ever closer to stepping foot into another dimension! If there was any other way, I would have never ordered their deaths! Do you think I wanted to sacrifice twenty-six men?”


    “Of course not, Edward... but we do not know that this was the only way. I cannot move past this as easily as you can. You come in here, gallivanting in your Nazi’s uniform, acting as if none of this happened, but it did!”


    “You don’t understand, Baron. We cannot waste any more time trying to find alternatives when we know something will work! There is such little time… ”

    “What do you mean there is little time?”


    “Forget about it... I thought you cared about the cause, about a better world!”


    “I still do.”


    “If you are still loyal... then you will continue to work on unlocking the pyramid, without question. The road is long und dark... but I know where we are going.”


    Schuster shook his head, “I believe in you Edward. I know you are not a bad person. But you just cannot expect me to overlook the darkness we leave in our wake.”


    “You can look wherever you choose, as long as we are moving forward.”


    Richtofen adjusted the neckline of his uniform, heading for the door.


    “I will be departing to Der Riese with Doctor Wagner soon... Doctor Groph will be taking over for me at the castle while I am away... und if I can still trust you, you will be in charge of Griffin Station.”


    Schuster returned his gaze to the computer screen, replying, “You can trust me. Whether or not you will is your decision.”


    The door slid open and Richtofen had left the room back towards the cargo elevator. As he heard it going up, Schuster paced towards the cave holding the MPD, searching his thoughts. Edward had hurt him deeply and seemed to show no remorse for his actions. He was never one to show any sign of regret, but looking into his eyes, Schuster saw nothing human about them.


    He paced around the pyramid, his legs trembling from a combination of stress and low blood sugar. He peered into the void, spotless face of the pyramid to see his own distorted reflection; Not the young man from University anymore.


    Schuster looked down towards the base marked with ancient cuneiform. Performing his own research, he had been unable to find any trace of known symbols anywhere except Der Eisendrache and in relics recovered at the mysterious Angolan dig site. Schuster was not one to believe in destiny, but it is awfully coincidental that Richtofen ended up finding a Vril artifact here on the Moon, only to take the lead at another research station with relics of a similar origin a short time later.


    Schuster often wonders how Richtofen came upon the knowledge he holds on the Ancients and their technology. He seems to know more than can be interpreted from the various artifacts discovered by Group 935. These artifacts may truly be Vril in nature, but whether or not Groph or Richtofen actually know how to interpret them is uncertain. For all Schuster knows, they could be meddling with a destructive force the likes of which are hitherto undreamt of. All he could do was have faith... and trust in his friend.


    Schuster took note of another corner of the base of the pyramid, also adorned with the circular top seen on the tank they had filled. It had been theorized this was an alternate energy tank along with the other two near the back wall. It then dawned on Schuster that perhaps all four must be filled to be able to unlock the gateway. He then shuddered at the thought of over a hundred men killed to achieve this goal. It may not be wise to clue Groph in on this theory until an alternative method is found, if there is one.


    Schuster moved himself back towards the front of the pyramid, looking into the panel where the Vril Sphere remained. He dipped his head, thinking of the many men killed and buried beneath outside the station. He grew angry, furious he allowed this to happen. He took a rock from the ground, tossing as hard as he could into the blackness of the pyramid. It reflected off with a loud clang that echoed for a few seconds, leaving no mark.


    Doctor Schuster stepped back, sitting on the ground to try and calm himself. After a moment, he removed a pen and his diary from his lab coat, preparing to write of his day. This was until he heard something he would truly never understand.


    It was a voice, somewhat quiet, but able to be heard over the hum of the machine. It was distinctly German and coming from the pyramid itself, echoing throughout the cave.


    “You will be spending a majority of your time with me, overseeing the mining operation und working with his designs.”


    Schuster was absolutely gobsmacked as he realized this voice was that of Richtofen, but much more calm and reserved than usual.


    After a pause, the voice returned.


    “They discovered the dig site in France as they pushed forward through the front. Doctor Maxis says it is the largest supply of Element 115 in recorded history.”


    Schuster was now sure it was Edward with the mention of Doctor Maxis. He was unsure, however, of what he meant about a dig site in France. He had heard no such news of an Element 115 deposit there, and if that were the case, Doctor Maxis should not be struggling to find more 115 as he currently is.


    “Doctor Maxis? Yes, yes, I am an admirer of his work as well. He is a great man. He mentored me und took me under his wing when I was at mein lowest… ”


    Baron searched his thoughts for an answer to this strange voice which must surely be a hallucination. Richtofen once said that he had not met Doctor Maxis until he was formally invited to Group 935. What Edward is saying here is impossible, if he had not been lying to Schuster. He began to think this voice was Edward speaking to someone, possibly Doctor Wagner, and he has been actually working with Doctor Maxis on a project he is keeping from the scientists at Griffin Station... or perhaps just Doctor Schuster. This theory was torn apart, however, as the voice uttered its last words.


    “I am just as excited as you are. You should come meet the others before we depart. My friend Doctor Wagner has been looking forward to meeting you... Welcome to Group 935, Doctor Schuster...”


    Schuster backed away from the pyramid into the computer room. His world was spinning as he tried to process the meaning of the sounds he was hearing. They must be auditory hallucinations, that is all. Perhaps he is going mad. Could there be another Doctor Schuster, coincidentally? What are the odds?


    The room was completely silent but racing thoughts passed through Schuster’s head. The silence seemed to fuel this mental haze, so he located a gramophone near the corner of the room, playing the recording, a piece by Bach. The music seemed to calm his nerves as he brought up the vitals of the MPD on the computer screen. Searching the log of power levels, he noticed a substantial increase over the past few minutes he had been within the room.


    Doctor Schuster stared into the pyramid several feet away, vowing to stay as far from it as possible in the future. Something is not quite right on this station.

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