Laboratories, The Giant (“Der Riese” ), near Breslau
Dr. Edward Richtofen
December 4th, 1939
“You know what to do, Doctor Schuster!”
“Initiate Test 149. Subject is a pig weighing approximately forty-four kilograms. We have one microgram of Element 115, which, as always, will be used up entirely during the test.”
“Commence the test, Schuster.”
“Yes, Doctor. Please insert your earplugs.”
“Earplugs, yes. Go.”
Lights around the spacious laboratory began to flicker as the MTD prototype pulled in power. The sliding door of the device shut, enclosing the miniature pig within the chamber. It began to panic, running the circumference of the MTD's interior in a vain attempt to escape. The bulbs around the head of the bell-shaped device lit up and the view inside the device became a pure, blinding white. After a few moments, a similar blinding light erupted from the uncovered receiving pad just three feet away. As both ends of the device came to rest, and smoke dispelled from the interior of the teleporter chamber, Doctor Richtofen noted the subject did indeed teleport, or at least a portion of it did.
What remained of the pig inside the MTD's chamber was a small lump of flesh lying on the blood-soaked floor, and an assortment of organs and flesh coating the walls and ceiling. The end of the pig which was successfully teleported was not in significantly better condition; The flesh and bones which passed through the device were charred and partially turned to ash.
Doctor Schuster hung his head and reached for the mop and a hose, anticipating Richtofen's reaction. Richtofen stood idle, running his hands through his hair and worn down by his failures. For days the two of them had focused their efforts entirely on the MTD with no fruit to bear, and today seemed to be no different. Every day spent toiling away in the lab without progress is another day closer to Doctor Maxis potentially announcing Group 935's alignment with the Nazi Party, and another day closer to their funds being diverted to other projects. The Order demanded that Richtofen perfect teleportation and deliver its power to them rather than the Nazi Party. The project has such incredible potential to change the world in the right hands.
Richtofen turned to Schuster, who was pulling away the chunks of flesh hanging from the bulb at the center of the MTD. For the sake of time, Edward remained composed, slipping on disposable gloves and bagging the singed mess on the receiving pad. Edward could not help but smile to himself as the clumps of ash slipped between his fingers and he was forced to sweep them into the bag.
“Doctor Schuster, doesn’t this remind you of our little... incident in the school's laboratory?”
“Indeed, it does. If I remember correctly, we burned the Biology department's entire supply of animal bodies.”
“Well, that's not entirely true. I don't believe the fire spread to the larger mammals. By then the entire school was there to find the two guilty parties responsible.”
“I may also be remembering this incorrectly, but, I believe you were the one with the idea to sneak in and make the compound you were devising.”
“It was meant to be an explosive gel. All in good fun, of course. Things got really out of hand.” Richtofen chuckled at the nostalgic memory.
“Quite the understatement. We were nearly killed, Edward. But, I admit, the experience was fun... up until the clean up.”
“Und paying for the damages...”
“Not to mention the servitude to the University for a year after.”
Edward tossed the bag into a large trash bin along with his gloves before raising his goggles up to his forehead to look at Schuster.
“Do you remember what they said to us? After the flames were put out? They said they should expel us, and that we were no scientists. They said that if not for your father's influence in the administration, we would have been imprisoned.”
“I remember, Edward.”
“They said we were a disgrace. Failures.”
“What is it you are getting at, Doctor?”
“The key point in this story is that none of them believed in our ability to succeed. We proved them wrong when we graduated, ja ?”
Schuster smiled, “I suppose we did. We’ve already made great strides in science.”
“But we have done nothing to cement our legacy, Doctor Schuster, until now. The MTD is our chance to rub it in their fat, pompous faces. The world will remember our names in one hundred years, Doctor Schuster, not theirs.”
Doctor Schuster seemed to take to the idea for a moment with positivity, yet he did not seem to display the same confidence Richtofen had. He insisted on returning to the task at hand.
“Shall we look over the previous test?”
“Yes, of course. We will succeed, no matter the time or the cost.”
The MTD's control panel printed a detailed analysis of the subject's weight before and after teleportation, the amount of power used during the test, the amount of Element 115 used up, as well as other minor statistics such as temperature and humidity. Doctor Schuster laid the document out on the table before Richtofen and leaned in closely.
“Like the last dozen or so tests, the subject has been split into two sections. There does not seem to be a correlation for what parts of the body will and will not go through; It is seemingly random. As with every test, the subject's chemical composition is changed, presumably by Element 115's radiation, especially the sections which do successfully teleport. Living subjects of all shapes and sizes seem to suffer the same fate. We have avoided tests with living things now dead and preserved due to the potential side effect of 115 reanimating dead cells. Perhaps we could try again with something dead, Doctor Richtofen? Our stock of living subjects is finite after all.”
“ Nein , that is Maxis' department, reanimating the dead. You were not there, Doctor Schuster, when one of those things attacked. Doctor Maxis should be more concerned with halting the creation of those beasts rather than controlling them. Perhaps I will propose the Wunderwaffe prototype to Maxis. Anyway, as it stands, Doctor Schuster, we must continue using living, breathing test subjects or inanimate objects.”
The two pondered for a moment, looking over the printed statistics carefully. Doctor Schuster looked at his tray from the cafeteria, the meal not much colder than it was six hours ago. Peckish, he took a walnut, cracking it open and eating the insides.
“Have we met the MTD's maximum power capacity, Doctor Richtofen?”
“With maximum power, we have the potential to blackout Der Riese in its entirety. Doctor Maxis cannot know what we are doing here just yet. We are meant to be working on his projects.”
“If not maximum, can we raise the device's power capacity?”
Richtofen stroked his chin for a moment, “It is possible. We should reduce the subject's mass as well to reduce strain on the capacitors. We will try it, Doctor, though we must be cautious not to drain too much power and alert everyone of our experiment. Fetch the smallest living subject we have in inventory.”
Doctor Richtofen prepared the testing area, allowing the MTD to cool down and reset to the ready position. He set up a recording device in the center of the room with microphones for he and Schuster to speak into. As he awaited Schuster's arrival, he cracked open another walnut from Schuster's lunch tray, snacking on the insides.
After a minute passed, Doctor Schuster returned with a small cage and inside was a rat with dark brown fur. Schuster had placed a pill within the rat's small helping of food and fed the rat. Mere moments after feeding, the rat became docile and could hardly move on its own. Being sure the rat would not retaliate, Schuster opened the cage, carefully lifting the rodent and placing it within the test chamber before joining Richtofen at the table, looking at the recorder then to Richtofen.
“We are recording the tests? What if Maxis finds these recordings?”
“Not to worry, Doctor Schuster, I feel we are close to a breakthrough. We must record this historical moment, whenever it does come. It will be a fine addition to my log of achievements.”
“I understand. Are we ready to begin?”
“Jawohl . Let us begin Test 150.”
Doctor Richtofen pressed down on the button, initiating the recording, and he began his log entry.
“Log entry 38. Date: December 4, 1939. The Matter Transference Prototype is prepared for test run number 150. We have adjusted the power levels und decreased the mass of the test subject to prove teleportation is indeed possible. Doctor Schuster, would you kindly give an overview?"
“Yes, Doctor Richtofen. We have the new test subject, a rodent, weighing approximately 0.21 kilograms. The target platform is now approximately one meter away without any obstructions. We have one microgram of Element 115 which should be entirely used up during the test.”
“Wunderbar . Doctor Schuster, commence test number 150.”
“Yes, Doctor. Please insert your earplugs.”
As the rat on the platform began to open its weak eyes, the two doctors had inserted their ear protection and commenced the test, shutting the sliding door to the test chamber and powering up the device. Doctor Schuster increased the power levels significantly, causing the lights hanging from the ceiling to flicker while the machine whirred and buzzed. Strangely, the blinding light did not last nearly as long; The device's door came open automatically, dispelling the smoke and revealing a third of the rat's body still lying on the floor. Even more out of the ordinary, it was completely intact, apart from the two-thirds which had disappeared. Dumbfounded, Doctor Richtofen approached the receiving pad, where the front two-thirds of the rat lay.
Doctor Richtofen raised his arms into the air in celebration before bringing them back down and returning to the table to end the recording.
“Doctor Schuster, the rat was perfectly intact! Well, almost. Without enough power, the subjects must have become exposed to the concentrated Element 115 for too long. If we can reduce the subject's mass even further, und use the same power levels, the subject should go through in its entirety, unharmed. Clear the test area, I will make the calculations.”
Doctor Richtofen initiated the cool-down for the MTD prototype before taking to paper with his pencil and calculating the approximate weight of a potential test subject to prove teleportation's potential. Accounting for the portion of the rat that teleported, the power levels of the previous test, and the possibility for human error in measurement, Doctor Richtofen formed a threshold which the potential test subject should weigh.
Doctor Schuster returned, looking over Richtofen's shoulder as he wrote. “Doctor, I don't believe we have a living subject that weighs so little. That rat was the smallest we have. Now I do believe we have a pygmy frog on ice-”
“Doctor Schuster, bring me the scale.”
Doctor Schuster hurried to the adjacent table, lifting the scale and placing it before Richtofen. “What is your idea, Edward?”
Richtofen reached for the lunch tray, picking out a couple of walnuts and examining them closely, finding one in particular he wished to represent his grand achievement. He placed the walnut on the scale, allowing it to weigh in for a moment. The walnut weighed ten grams, fitting into the weight threshold with plenty of room for error.
“An inanimate subject will be a viable alternative, Doctor Schuster, as a proof of concept. Shall we begin?”
“That… may just work. I’m ready, Doctor.”
“I will erase the previous log entry und we will try it again. I am sure this test will succeed.”
Doctor Richtofen cleared the previous recording, preparing for a new one as Doctor Schuster placed the walnut in the center of the pad. He searched the stash of equipment and recovered a metal tin, then placed it onto the receiving pad where the walnut will appear should the test succeed.
Doctor Richtofen adjusted the microphone and looked to his brother in science, “Are you ready to triumph, Doctor Schuster?”
“Yes, Doctor. I am confident in your calculations.”
Doctor Richtofen initiated the recording. “Log entry 38. Date: December 4, 1939. The Matter Transference Prototype is prepared for test run number 151. We have now reduced our test subject's mass to prove that this is possible. Doctor Schuster, please give an overview.”
“Yes, Doctor Richtofen. We have the new test subject, a walnut, weighing in at ten grams. The target platform is now at three feet with no obstructions. We have one microgram of the element which, according to our calculations, will be entirely used up during tests.”
“Excellent, Dr. Schuster. Commence test number 151.”
“Yes, Doctor. Please, insert your earplugs.”
Doctor Schuster initiated the test, shutting the sliding door around the walnut and powering up the machine. It buzzed and whirred, filling the interior chamber with smoke. Doctor Richtofen wrung his hands together, his excitement palpable. After a few moments, the buzzing and clanging came to a stop, and next came a light clink as the walnut, the exact same walnut, dropped into the metal tray placed on the receiving pad. The walnut was unaltered, appearing just as it had before the experiment.
Doctor Richtofen marveled at the sight, “Good God, we've done it!”
Doctor Schuster appeared just as stunned. “We have powered up the prototype, and it moved a walnut directly from the prototype device into the receiving device. It moved instantly. It... it-”
“Teleported... Get me Doctor Maxis immediately!”
Doctor Richtofen shut off the recording, his chest flurried from the achievement, as Doctor Schuster hurried out of the room. Richtofen approached the receiving pad, lifting the walnut from the metal tray and examining it closer. To Richtofen, the walnut symbolized determination, and his own drive for success. Nothing could have broken Richtofen's resolve to achieve.
Richtofen placed the walnut with his belongings, planning to treasure it forever, before picking another walnut and setting up the test area for Maxis upon his arrival. With his financial backing, the MTD could be perfected and would be of great use to the Order while keeping Group 935 independent.
The door to the laboratory came flying open, the middle-aged Doctor Schuster panting from a lack of breath.
“Doctor Maxis... he's not here!”
“What?! Where could he be at a time like this?”
“He's spending the day with his daughter.”