Siberian Facility, near the Tunguska River
Dr. Edward Richtofen
July 18th, 1945
Oh, what Doctor Richtofen would give to leave the cold, desolate Siberian Facility in favor of the similarly cold, desolate Moon Base. Griffin Station would at least be child-free, a status Richtofen now yearned for. While Doctor Yena attended to much of the moving-in processes, Edward mostly stayed indoors, juggling his responsibilities as a scientist and as a caretaker for young Samantha Maxis.
She swung her legs back and forth, resting on a metallic table, “I miss Daddy. Do you think we could try calling him again?”
Richtofen cringed at the repeated request as he marked several vials with labels in the laboratory, “For the last time, Sam, you get one call per day. Screening your calls through security is already taxing enough on MY time; I am sure your father does not appreciate them eating up his own hours.”
“But, Uncle Eddie-”
Edward continued, “You’re acting as if you don’t even want me around. Is that true? After all I’ve done for you?”
She looked down in defeat, “I’m sorry, Uncle Eddie, I just miss him so much.”
Richtofen pulled a small bottle from an upper cabinet marked ‘Ex. 4 NEEDS WORK.’ He turned the vial on its side to watch the clear liquid flow from one end to the other.
Samantha shared her true feelings, “I just want things to return to the way they were… Before Daddy left… Before I had to live in such cold places… ”
Richtofen searched for a clean syringe from a drawer, nodding in agreement with Samantha, “I do too, Sam… It was a much simpler time then. There was no war… und we weren’t creating monsters… ” Richtofen placed the syringe into the cap of the bottle, pulling in some of the liquid inside to fill the syringe. He then placed it on the nearby table.
Richtofen turned to Samantha, “I know something that may cheer you up. How would you like to be my assistant for today?”
Samantha perked up, a glint of hope in her eyes, “Really? What about Doctor Yena?”
Edward leaned in, whispering, “Between you und me, Sam, I think you may be better qualified. I’m sure you’ve noticed he’s quite clumsy.”
Samantha giggled, nodding her head, “I’ll help you.”
Richtofen put his hands together, offering exaggerated joy, “Wunderbar!” He motioned her to come sit on a nearby stool, “Sit, please. I will explain everything.”
Doing as he instructed, Samantha eagerly sat on the stool, awaiting instruction.
Richtofen leaned over to ask, “Do you know what red blood cells are?”
Samantha thought, “Hmm… No, I don’t think so.”
“Not a problem! To put it simply, they transfer oxygen through our blood to vital organs. I will need to collect a baseline sample of cells to compare to the test subj-, er, I mean, friends that will be arriving soon. Their blood is… special.”
Samantha squirmed, her smile deteriorating, “You mean… you need my blood?”
Richtofen placed his index finger and thumb of his right hand together, replying, “Just a teensy little bit. Science isn’t all fun and games, you know!”
Sam nodded, “I know… but… Usually my Dad is here to hold my hand when I get shots… ”
Edward sighed, thinking, “What if I brought you your Teddy? Hm? Would that help?”
Sam looked to her feet, muttering, “Maybe… ”
Edward opened the doors leading to the boiler room, where he had instructed Sam to leave her Teddy Bear while in the laboratories. He picked the toy up off the ground by its arm, returning it to her.
She hastily accepted the bear, holding it tightly, “I think I can be brave.”
Richtofen grinned with great satisfaction, “Excellent, let’s begin.”
As Sam watched, Richtofen reached into a drawer, removing a clean, empty syringe along with a bandage. Samantha tried to mask the fear she felt as Richtofen brandished the needle, looking towards the doorway.
Richtofen instructed her, “Look at the clock on the wall.” She turned her gaze to Richtofen’s Kit-Kat Klock, watching as its tail swung back and forth each second. Richtofen continued, “Count each second that passes, und focus on the clock. It will be over before you know it.”
She began to count, “1… 2… ”
Richtofen pulled her gaze away from the clock to himself, saying, “In your head, please,” before smiling. She turned once again to the clock, mouthing the numbers as Richtofen searched for a vein in her right arm.
Richtofen ensured Samantha’s mind was elsewhere, slowly trading the empty syringe for the syringe filled with the experimental liquid he had prepared earlier. He located a vein, injecting the needle. Samantha seemed to wince, but continued her counting as instructed. Richtofen pushed the plunger, injecting the liquid into her veins. He then removed the needle from her skin, placing it and the unused syringe into a cabinet. Finally, he applied a skin-colored adhesive bandage to her arm.
Edward congratulated Samantha, “Well done, Sam. I believe you have earned yourself ein cup of hot chocolate after dinner.”
Samantha was elated, “Yay! What do we do next?”
Richtofen hesitated, “Well, that is all for today, however- ”
Samantha asked, “Shouldn’t we look at my blood under the microscope to make sure it has what you need?”
Richtofen struggled to find an excuse why not, “I… suppose we can do that. Why don’t you go set your toy down outside while I prepare the microscope, ja?”
“Okay, Uncle Eddie!”
As Samantha skipped over to the boiler room door, Richtofen quickly searched an upper cabinet for a particular bottle. He picked up the empty syringe and the desired bottle labelled ‘Frog’s Blood.’ He siphoned a small helping of the blood into the syringe, depositing a droplet onto a plastic slide and placing the slide under a nearby microscope.
Samantha returned, eager to take a look at her own blood. Richtofen had turned on the light on the microscope and adjusted the viewing angle, and he motioned her to get onto the stool and have a look.
While she was occupied, Richtofen paced to the other side of the room, searching through a box he had set aside for today. He removed a stack of eye examination charts with a variety of random letters lined up by row, descending in size the lower they appeared. He approached Samantha, who was ogling at what she believed to be her blood.
“Did you notice anything wrong?” Richtofen asked.
Samantha simply shook her head, peering back into the lens.
Richtofen pulled the plug on the microscope, setting it aside to Samantha’s chagrin. “Before lunch today, we have one more thing to attend to.”
She perked up, “An experiment?”
“Yes! Wait, no. No it’s not. Forget I said yes. I will be performing a simple eye examination to determine if you are in need of glasses.”
She appeared confused, “But I’m only ten! Only old people wear glasses.”
Richtofen smiled, “It can never hurt to check! This will be quick und easy.”
Her excitement faded, “Okay… ”
Richtofen continued, “Simply sit down on that stool, und I will stand over… ” Richtofen paced around a long table in the center of the room, “... here! I will hold up a card with letters. When I point to a row of letters, simply read out what you see."
He pulled the first one from the stack, pointing to the largest letter at the top, “What do you see?”
He moved down another row. She said aloud, “S and C!”
Richtofen could now confirm she had not gone blind. “Let’s speed up the process, shall we?” Edward pointed to the third row from the bottom, a series of eight small letters which should barely be seen from Samantha’s position.
“K, V, S, K, B, K, X, N!”
“K, L, K, C, D, K, B, N!” With great ease, she quickly spouted off the final row, “R, O, C, O, B, F, O, C!”
Richtofen squinted to look at the card’s bottom row, discovering she was correct.
Samantha smiled, “This is fun!”
Richtofen was pleased with the results, but wanted to test the limits of the experiment. “Let’s try something a little harder, shall we?”
Richtofen swapped the current card out for another, pacing towards the back wall opposite of Samantha.
“Now, cover your right eye. Let’s start at the third row from the bottom! Focus!”
Doing as instructed, she began, “D, R, O, Y, B, N, O, B.”
Richtofen then began to move the card side to side at increasing speeds, attempting to disorient the subject.
“K, X, N, Y, C, C, N, U!”
Richtofen then tilted the card. By this point the letters would be nigh invisible.
“S… C… R… S… C… K-”
Richtofen chuckled, tossing the card aside pre-emptively, “I am positive you do not need glasses, Sam. Well done, you may take ein piece of candy und leave.”
She leapt from her stool, running to the candy jar near the doorway and removing a piece, “Thank you, Uncle Eddie!” She picked up her Teddy Bear and left the laboratory.
Richtofen was ecstatic about the results of the experiment. The substance provided near-instantaneous effects on the subject’s eyesight, just as the primate tests had before. After it wears off, Richtofen will need to ascertain any lingering side-effects. Richtofen would forward the results to the rest of the base and perhaps a new Perk-a-Cola would come from them.
Edward paced over to the jar of candy, removing a red, strawberry-flavored candy and placing the cap back on top. He stopped, removing the cap once again and taking two more candies. He deserved it.
Satisfied with his work, Edward sat in a wooden chair, leaning back and kicking up his feet. As the acting chief of the Siberian Facility, there was no one around to tell him he could not put his feet on the workstation, nor was there anyone to tell him he could not have two extra pieces of candy. He exhaled all of his worries, shutting his eyes to relax his mind for a moment, letting the sweet, sugary taste of the candy coat his thoughts. This reprieve was short as the voices in his head began to creep in slowly. Richtofen added a second candy into his mouth, hoping the additional sweetness could blunt the growing tension.
Edward reached for a drawer, removing a hand-held recording device, hoping a diary entry for today would maintain this positive mood.
He activated the device, speaking directly into the microphone, “Log Entry 1438. Date: July 18th, 1945. Dear diary, I have been at Group 935’s Siberian Facility now for merely days, but mein cup already runneth over with exciting news! First, yesterday, I learned that I would receive not one, not two, but three test subjects!” He let out a sigh of joy at the prospects. “Hopefully with proper 115 injections we will be able to use these specimens to access the human mind. The Chancellor’s Undead Army is on standby until we crack this crucial step. Und secondly-!”
From a door leading outside of the base came one of the Siberian Facility’s security personnel, a massive, brawny gentleman Richtofen simply referred to as Frederick. He was dragging across the concrete floor a peculiar man dressed in a heavy snow-covered jacket and wearing a fedora. This same man had been spotted yesterday snooping around the base in search of something, before being chased away from the facility. Richtofen had rightfully assumed the man could not stray too far from the base under the harsh icy conditions.
Frederick bellowed out, holding the man at Richtofen’s seated eye-level, “Here he is, Richtofen.”
The strange man struggled with Frederick, attempting to wriggle free from his grasp. He screamed, “Get your damn hands off me!” He sounded like a stereotypical American crime film actor.
Richtofen leaned over, smiling as he peered into the man’s eyes, “Now what do we have here? A spy?”
“If you know what’s good for ya, you’d let me go!”
Richtofen was amused by the American, “Oh yes, ja, ja, I’m sure you work for someone incredibly important.”
The man shook his head, “Honestly? You have no idea.”
Richtofen asked, “How did you find mein secret facility? Who are you?”
The man stopped struggling, answering Richtofen’s questions, “I’m a reporter. I was hired by a man, Mr. Rapt . I never met him. He asked me to find some goods for him. Things he wanted badly.”
Richtofen replied, sarcastic, “Sounds thrilling. And what were these ‘goods’ he wanted so badly?”
The reporter sighed, “Look, I don’t know the specifics. He just told me to travel to Russia.” He pulled a small note from the brim of his hat, showing it to Richtofen, “He gave me these coordinates, which led me here. How was I supposed to know it was a freakin’ German base?! Gave some vague description of a strange metal object.”
The strange man had been caught looking through crates brought to the base from Der Eisendrache, including the one at Richtofen’s feet now. Richtofen had a feeling the man had been searching for the Vril Vessel, an artifact recovered from the Angolan Dig Site several years ago. Richtofen pulled the urn-shaped, gold-colored Vril Vessel from the box, holding it by the pointed top portion of the ornate artifact. “This, I assume?”
The reporter nodded, “Yeah, that’ll be it. Called it the ‘Seal of Duality,’ whatever the hell that means.”
Richtofen placed the Vessel back into the box. “Well, the Vril Vessel is not for sale,” Edward pinched the reporter’s cheeks like a child, “And is certainly not for stealing. But, it is curious: I have only just arrived at this facility, bringing the Vril Vessel with me. Yet, you somehow knew it would be here. How is this possible?”
The reporter shook his head, “How the hell am I supposed to know? I just go where the Shadowman says to go. I don’t know how he does it. Listen, if Mr. Rapt wants to find you, he’s got his ways.”
Richtofen’s interest piqued at the mention of the Shadowman, the entity that has been guiding Richtofen’s quest to reach Agartha for the past five years. How could this spy possibly know of his existence? Was the Shadowman hiding something from Richtofen?
The reporter continued, “Look, you want to go ahead and get this over with? If you’re gonna kill me, kill me. Not like it’ll matter...”
Richtofen said nothing, still pondering the connection between the Shadowman and this Mr. Rapt character. An alias, perhaps? He was also curious what else the man had to say.
The reporter chuckled, shaking his head, “It’s kind of funny, you know. Something Mr. Rapt said, about if I failed him and died, it’d be okay. He said he’d reach out to me all over the multiverse, whatever that means. I didn’t pay it no mind then, but maybe some other me is out there having a lot better luck than I am.”
Could these be the ramblings of a madman? Had he truly been reached out to by the Shadowman, just as Edward was, or is he simply delusional? What does he mean by multiverse? Edward had studied the theories many times, but if this supposed reporter was not insane, this could perhaps be confirmation that there are indeed alternate universes. Could there be other Richtofens out there, on the same journey as himself?
Frederick broke the silence left in the wake of the reporter’s ramblings, “Sir, what should we do?”
Richtofen gave a toothy grin to the reporter, now eager to pursue this new lead in his studies, “Take the strange, sad little man away!” Bluntly, “Find a hole.” He deactivated the recorder.
Frederick took hold of the reporter with both hands, dragging him towards the door as he desperately tried to break free.
“You’re gonna regret this, do you hear me?! I’ve seen what the Shadowman can do! You’ll be sorry! You’ll be so-” Frederick shut the door behind him.
The voices began to creep into Richtofen’s thoughts, sensing his growing stress as the implications of a multiverse frazzled his mind. He heard the distinguished voice of the Shadowman say, “ You understand now the significance of your work, don’t you? We seek to share the power of the Aether with all worlds like yours. ”
Richtofen stammered, “I- I- I am humbled. He spoke of many versions of himself across a multiverse… Does this mean there are more of… me?”
The Shadowman chuckled heartily, “Indeed, Edward Richtofen can be found across many dimensions, serving under our guidance. They are each similar, but unique in their own purpose. This revelation will not alter your path, but it will propel you forward upon it.”
“Who was this Mr. Rapt he spoke of? I have never seen the Vril Vessel being referred to as the ‘Seal of Duality’ in Jebediah Brown’s writings.”
The Shadowman spoke candidly, “Pay him no mind, Edward. He is a pawn in a larger game, serving our needs as well as yours. It will all begin to make sense with time, Doctor. Continue your work for the Apothicons, and one day, we promise, you will meet one of your reflections.”
Richtofen nodded, as he gazed up at the ceiling, “I will. I have no doubt in my own purpose; Our purpose.”
“If one lesson is to be learned today, it is to keep what belongs to you close at hand. You never know who may wish to take it from you.
The voices began to dissipate, and Richtofen’s attention returned to the world around him, which now seemed so much smaller. He pushed the chair under the desk, coming to his feet and pacing around the room to think over the current situation.
The intruder’s, and by extension, the Shadowman’s interest in the Vril Vessel intrigued Richtofen. While he had partially dismissed the American blacksmith’s writings found three years prior, he was now beginning to believe they, and the artifacts recovered from his estate, held much greater significance. The Vessel was meant to be a component, one of three, for the ‘Agarthan Device.’ It supposedly could bend reality to the creator’s will, but the remaining two components eluded the blacksmith. Perhaps there is more that can be done with Group 935’s technology to create these components.
Richtofen looked to the icy shoreline outside the hill-side laboratory, and the currently active lighthouse guiding disguised German cargo ships into the port of the facility. Richtofen lamented that even after Hitler’s death, Group 935 must continue to bow to the needs of the Nazi Party, now hiding out around the world through Die Spinne and this damned “Group 601”. When Maxis shared the news that Group 935 would continue to be funded by the Party, he also shared another interesting tidbit that pleased Richtofen.
Maxis informed Richtofen discreetly that he and his cohorts at the Kino Facility had been harassed by none other than the Illuminati, hoping to halt progress on the Undead Army. Leave it to The Order to find the facility before Richtofen could. This whole business with Die Spinne was apparently conducted under the nose of the Illuminati. The only reason Doctor Maxis had entrusted Richtofen with the task at hand was because he believed it was impossible for Richtofen to be working for the Illuminati, as they had threatened to harm both Edward and Samantha if Maxis did not cooperate. It was a common tactic they used to get what they wanted, and Richtofen doubted that they were in any real danger with his own notorious status.
It amused Richtofen that he now held damning information related to the supposed Fourth Reich now forming somewhere in South America, ready to restart the war. With but a few words, Richtofen could have all of these ‘men’ hanged for their crimes by informing the Illuminati, and Maxis’ dreams would come crashing down around him. He abstained, however, as he knew this sort of leverage may better serve him at a later time. The Illuminati had planned this war for years, and they would be gracious to anyone who exposes a threat to their post-war plans.
He began to think over those plans; The conflicting ideologies of Capitalism and Communism will be forced to work together in order to halt the influence of Fascism, and they will butt heads as they attempt to divide up war-torn Europe. The effects of these plans are already coming to a head, with tensions rising between the United States and Soviet Union after Germany’s formal surrender. Over time, the two superpowers will continue to distrust one another, sparking more powerful alliances as the two sides gather allies across the Earth. They will be so preoccupied with being more powerful than the enemy that they will play right into the Order’s hand, which will be pulling the strings on both sides to create the desired New World Order. It seemed to almost be a perfect plan, though Edward had found many of their methods distasteful in the past.
What if, however, Edward Richtofen was to take advantage of this tension as well? Both sides were desperate to infiltrate and steal from Group 935, blocked from a hostile takeover by the claim that the organization is independent. One way or another, however, they would be coming for 935’s work.
Richtofen had an idea, an ingenious one at that. The Soviet Union and the United States needed Group 935’s technology desperately… So why not hand it over to them, for a price?
Doctor Richtofen returned to his desk, taking a piece of stationery from a stack in the corner, and locating a pen from the drawer. He found himself a comfortable position, and put pen to paper, marking a historical moment in human history.
“Dear Mr. Harry Truman, my new best friend… ”