Cafeteria, Der Riese, near Breslau
Dr. Edward Richtofen
November 23rd, 1939
Leberwurst again; They called it a 'specialty', but Edward knew it was the only edible dish these chefs-for-hire could create. Budget cuts are nothing new in the field of science, but times are especially desperate for Group 935. But as long as Edward could continue his work, his passion, he could suffer this insufferable meal.
Edward plucked a handful of walnuts from a woven basket at the end of the cafeteria line before exiting entering the larger seating area. Richtofen could see Doctor Porter eating alone at one table, with Doctor Maxis nowhere in sight. Doctor Maxis had been skipping lunch for the past several weeks to seclude himself in his office. Edward believed Ludvig’s melancholic demeanor since Hilda's death to be the reason behind his isolation. Following the contentious Test 163, Maxis deferred his own place in Matter Transference research to Doctor Schuster. Edward did not mind this change, however; Toiling away in the labs by Schuster’s side reminded Richtofen of much simpler days at Heidelberg, sneaking into the campus laboratories after-hours and performing unorthodox dissections. Schuster never quite approved of their actions, yet he always followed Edward.
From across the cafeteria, Richtofen met eyes with an apprehensive Schuster, who was waving his hands in the air and trying to grab his attention. When the scientist across the table from Schuster turned to face Richtofen, he came to understand why.
Doctor Groph grinned as Richtofen approached; He had another victim to subject to his theories on underwater cities and ancient astronauts.
“Doctor Richtofen! Come, join us. I was just discussing my Vril research with Doctor Schuster.”
Doctor Schuster looked to his brother in science, muttering, “A discussion usually has at least two participants. This is more of a lecture.”
“You’re free to chime in anytime, Doctor.” Groph scooted aside to allow Richtofen to sit down.
Doctor Schuster mumbled as he pressed his fork into the leberwurst, “ If I could get a word in- ”
Groph spoke with an unfounded confidence, “Anyhow, so nice of you to join us, Richtofen. Schuster und I thought you would not be coming at all.”
Edward took a seat across from Schuster, also ensuring there was nearly a foot in distance between himself and Groph on the bench. “I was adding a few minor touches to the Wunderwaffe prototype before I begin tests tomorrow morning.”
“Still working on that infernal contraption? I thought you began work in September, and you have not even created a prototype? When do you suppose the second iteration will be complete then, 1954?”
Cross with Groph's rude line of questioning, Schuster interjected, “Doctor Richtofen does not have the luxury of time that you have Doctor Groph. Between our work on the MTD and Maxis' budget cuts there is little time nor resources for pet projects without personal investment. How about your research on Vril, Doctor Groph? What has that produced?”
“Vril has not been utilized by any human before. Only the ancient Vril-Ya knew of its true healing properties. Recreating its power could elevate the human race to a higher plane! Think of the power we would hold if we wielded the power of the Ancients! Vril is infinitely more complex than Doctor Richtofen’s weapon.”
Doctor Richtofen placed his fork back onto the plate, daring not to make eye contact with Groph. “ Die Glocke is not simply for weapons like the Wunderwaffe. It is so much more than that… With its power I have produced a defense infrastructure, or, well, it will be one. Once it is perfected. After the incident with MTD Test 163 und the other... creatures created as a by-product of 115 testing, I have taken it upon myself to design a defense system should these beings ever outnumber us. The Shield will protect Der Riese in the event of an outbreak. I do not understand Maxis' fascination with controlling these monsters; What purpose do they serve? They are only a liability.”
The table sat silent for but a few moments, Groph's expression turning from vexation to a smug grin. “I know exactly what he intends.”
Schuster did not look from his tray, taking a bite of the cold fleisch . “I am sure this will be enlightening.”
Ignoring the snide remarks, Groph continued, “Doctor Maxis has a deal in the works which could increase Group 935's budget exponentially, und he has been keeping it under wraps for longer than we may ever know. He is seeking to create a partership between Group 935 und the Nazi Party . The writing has been on the wall for quite some time.”
Schuster displayed a disgusted grimace. Richtofen put his fork down to try and comprehend what he had just been told.
“Do you know how ridiculous you sound sometimes, Doctor Groph? We have some of the greatest scientists in the world at our disposal, und have you forgotten our maxim? 'To improve the human condition.' Not to assist some political idealists und their war-mongering Führer . In my time working with Doctor Maxis these past years, he has never seemed to be a man to stoop so low! There is no way Group 935 will ever associate with the Nazi Party. End of discussion.”
“I sound ridiculous? Believe it or not, Doctor Richtofen, I have evidence. Do either of you have any idea where Doctor Maxis is right now?”
Doctor Groph looked to Schuster and Richtofen, who both had nothing to say. He continued, “Neither does Doctor Porter, one of his closest friends. But I know where he is. He is en route to Berlin to discuss this deal as we speak.”
Doctor Schuster questioned Doctor Groph, “And how did you come to that conclusion?”
“I found Doctor Maxis in his office before he left Der Riese . I wanted to discuss today's findings as I do every day before lunch, but he seemed rather dismissive today, stressed even. He was reading a peculiar letter before he sent me away. After he left, I entered his office und-”
Schuster cut him off, “You raided his office and looked through his belongings... Is that what I am hearing?”
Richtofen added, “Und how did you enter his office? Maxis keeps all administrative offices und laboratories behind an electronic lock, does he not?”
“All of the pass-codes are the same: His daughter's birthday. 0-5-1-1-3-4. It was simple guess-work.”
Schuster was shocked at Groph's actions, while Richtofen remained interested, “Very clever... Continue, Doctor Groph.”
“On his desk I found the opened letter and accompanying envelope. It bears a symbol you two may recognize.”
Doctor Groph removed the envelope and letter from his coat pocket, placing it on the table. The envelope was indeed addressed to Doctor Ludvig Maxis, and came directly from the Reichstag building. Doctor Schuster unfolded the letter, marked at the top with a symbol of an eagle carrying a swastika: The Parteiadler.
Shocked, Schuster muttered, “No… no it-, it can’t be... Edward, this is an official seal!”
Edward examined the envelope, reading the German text through.
Dr. Ludvig Maxis,
We have observed Group 935's scientific achievements at The Giant since its inception, and there is no doubt that its successes are primarily due to your outstanding leadership and personal investment. Your actions have caught the attention of the Führer and members of the Party, and we humbly present an opportunity for your organization that may benefit your scientists as well as our Homeland.
We will fund all of Group 935's future endeavors to ensure it stands as the crown jewel of scientific advancement in Germany, under the condition that Group 935 defers authority over projects to the National Socialist German Workers' Party during this time of world unrest. When military research is no longer required, Group 935 may return to independent research under the supervision and funding of the Party. We hold and will soon acquire many more valuable pieces of land which Group 935 may utilize to create research stations across the world.
The Party has a particular vested interest in wonder weapons and other equipment that utilize Element 115 to be used by our troops. We have also examined the results of your testing with Element 115's ability to reanimate the dead. If these reanimated beings could be controlled, they could prove to be a great asset to our army in some capacity.
On the 23rd of November, a meeting will be held at the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to discuss Germany's goals and the protection of our people. We would be honored if you could join the meeting as a revered scientist and member of the German community. When you arrive, General Lehmkuhl will inform you of what Group 935 can do to assist Germany's efforts.
Martin Bormann, Secretary to the Deputy Führer
The letter was indeed official. This collaboration could change everything the entire organization stood for, and worse yet, it may interfere with the motives of the Illuminati. Edward could not have predicted this sudden change in Group 935's leadership; With the eyes of the Partei scrutinizing Richtofen's every move, he may never be able to satisfy the Order and their desire for Group 935's research. A single world power in possession of this research may slow the Illuminati's efforts in creating a new, peaceful world order of their own design. Unless of course, this was all part of their plan...
Groph spoke, smug with righteousness, “You see, I was correct in my suspicions. You will come to find that I am right about a great many things. Perhaps you see now Maxis is not the great leader Group 935 deserves.”
Schuster began to panic, “This organization was founded by a coalition of scientists from all over the world! What will become of our work once the news is made public?! The Nazis will twist our research for their own agenda. Can you believe Maxis would do such a thing, Edward?”
“I... cannot. Our research should not be controlled by any world government. It appears Doctor Maxis has become desperate, und desperate men make foolish decisions… This changes everything.” Richtofen pondered what action to take next to ensure the preservation of the progress he had made, “Doctor Schuster, we must perfect our research on the Matter Transference Device as soon as possible, before Maxis diverts what little funding we have left into weapons for the Wehrmacht.”
“Agreed, Doctor Richtofen, we should finish our lunch in the lab and begin testing again.”
Doctor Richtofen and Doctor Schuster rose from their seats and headed towards the labs, leaving Doctor Groph to finish his meal alone.
As the two exited into the courtyard towards the laboratories, Richtofen turned to Schuster, asking, “Doctor Schuster, do you remember where your research on... oh, what were they called... Perky-Per-”
“Yes, eh-heh, those. Do you remember where you kept that research?”
“I believe I stored it in laboratory A6. Why do you ask?”
“We should know where your hard work was last seen in the event Maxis decides to pawn it off to the Reichstag , should we not?”
“Surely Maxis would not do something so cutthroat?”
“These are uncertain times, my friend. I'm afraid Maxis has changed over the past year. We should be expecting the unexpected. About those Perk-a-what's-its, did that young scientist you were working with come up with the ridiculous name?”
“Oh, well, actually it was my idea... I believe the concoctions could be mass-produced for the general public to drink some day, once the 115's adverse side effects are stifled of course.”
“Hm, how quaint. Anyhow, I must send a quick telegram out before we continue work on the MTD. Set up the test chamber und work station, would you kindly?”
“Yes, Doctor. Who is the telegram for?”
“Just a little... book club I'm in. I have to let them know I won't be attending the meeting this week. They must know.”