Delusions of Grandeur
Living Quarters, Griffin Station, Mare Crisium, Moon
Dr. Baron Schuster
October 10th, 1945
Today was not a typical one for Griffin Station personnel; This morning, orders were given by Doctor Groph, passed down by Doctor Richtofen, to apprehend all Die Spinne honor guards bribed into protecting the station in the event of an outbreak. They, along with all Division 9 scientists present at Der Eisendrache and Griffin Station that the soldiers themselves apprehended, are now the first in line for execution in order to fill the Pyramid Device’s energy tanks. Groph also announced that Doctor Richtofen would be arriving on the Station tonight for a momentous announcement. These two events happening concurrently cannot be a result of coincidence.
Schuster feared what this all could mean. Aside from his misgivings in the execution of former allies, this sudden demand to fuel the pyramid led Schuster to postulate that Richtofen plans to open the gateway very soon. Though he kept the specifics of his plan a secret from Schuster, he knew this was not meant to take place for quite some time. Something has changed.
Schuster was also anxious about seeing Richtofen again; They had not spoken directly in years, not since he arrived on the Station wearing the uniform of a dead Nazi General. Schuster still believed in Richtofen’s cause, one of prosperity and progress for all, but he feared that Richtofen may no longer be the man he once knew. Schuster himself had certainly changed in his time at the lunar base. He caught himself becoming more pessimistic and paranoid about those he once trusted. A similar behavior pattern was present in the other scientists at the facility, though this was brushed off as homesickness by senior staff. Schuster knows, however, that it is because of that infernal pyramid. Within a few more years, they may all go mad.
Richtofen had recently passed a message onto Doctor Schuster via Doctor Groph. He said that they would be going home soon. Schuster could barely ascertain what “home” meant anymore. He hoped that Richtofen was honest in this promise, but worried if the Earth he left behind was as he left it. Newspapers about the war scarcely arrived on Griffin Station, and when they did they were read only by senior staff and members of Die Spinne. The world could be burning, for all Schuster knew.
Schuster adjusted his tie in the mirror, then departed from the living quarters into the laboratories. He passed the food bowl of the Station’s pet dog, Sir Davy, bowing his head in solidarity. Apparently, while being walked by Doctor Bauman, the space-suited dog somehow broke free from his leash and ran away. Schuster theorized this was a deliberate act, as senior staff such as Bauman seemed to dislike Sir Davy, the single source of enjoyment on this station for the rest of the staff. Perhaps this was the paranoia talking; Schuster hoped that the Beagle would find a happier place on this desolate rock.
All of the workstations had been abandoned, the scientists now waiting in the MPD’s chamber for Richtofen’s arrival. Remnants of the Die Spinne soldiers still remained throughout the labs, such as military caps, packs of cigarettes, and German banners. Schuster found them to be repugnant, despicable men, but perhaps harvesting their souls is a step too far. Schuster passed through an airlock, coming out into the pyramid’s chamber, the Exclusion Zone, which was closed off from the vacuum and filled with oxygen for this occasion.
A podium was set up with Group 935’s insignia painted on the front, and the open area around had tables covered in refreshments. This is the very same room where droves of men were slaughtered to fuel the MPD, and for that reason Schuster refused to partake.
Schuster kept to himself, resting on a storage crate against the wall while the others mingled. Intrusive, negative thoughts pervaded his mind, making him look upon his colleagues with disdain and distrust. Schuster rubbed his temples, trying to pull himself back to a more healthy state of mind. His best friend was returning, with good news no less. Everything will be okay.
One-by-one, the scientists excitedly left the chamber towards the MPD’s central controls, awaiting Doctor Richtofen’s arrival via the cargo elevator. They grew deathly silent, before erupting into applause as the doors came open, revealing Doctor Richtofen being escorted by Groph.
The crowd gathered tightly around the Doctor, being motioned aside by Groph while Richtofen stood taller than the rest in his army boots, waving to each of his devout followers. The pair finally pushed through the crowd, and Schuster locked eyes with Richtofen. His grin faded, but soon returned, more earnest than before, and he offered a nod to his old friend.
Doctor Richtofen ascended the podium, Doctor Groph at his side, trying to hush the crowd.
“Quiet down! Silence!”
The crowd only obeyed once Richtofen raised his hand, their volume now at a level before his arrival.
Richtofen tapped the microphone a few times, blowing into it to ensure it was on.
“Gentlemen! … Colleagues! … Friends. In just five years, we have gone where no man has gone before! Discovered what was once thought impossible to exist! Achieved what no one else has dared to attempt! All in spite of our enemies! Soon, all of your efforts will be rewarded. The sacrifices we have made will be immortalized in the history books! On this day, in this moment, I look over all that we have done, und I am humbled by your diligence, your intelligence, und most importantly, your loyalty.”
The crowd was pleased, applauding the gracious Doctor. Schuster followed in suit, still afraid of what he had to say about their future.
“For several years, I have toiled away, planning the next phase of our operation. This war und the funding it has brought us via Group 935 would not last forever; This, I knew. Doctor Maxis’ failures have compounded so greatly, that the Allies stand to destroy all that we have achieved! This, I cannot allow to happen. For that reason, we must soon commence with Operation Shield. The details of what you must do will be dispensed in the coming days by senior staff. What I will tell you is that we will not be working under the banner of Group 935 any longer. Our relationship with Die Spinne und the German government is finished.”
“What?! ” A hushed voice from the crowd asked, the source drowned out by murmurs from other scientists, now uncertain of their futures.
“I have ensured that each und every one of you, und your families, will be safe und sound! We will continue our work in peace! Before that, however, Group 935’s senior leadership must be dealt with. Maxis und his cronies would stop at nothing to jeopardize our safety in order to protect a dying Reich!”
“Where are we going?” “What of our projects?”
“Our work will continue, stronger than ever before! Now, more than ever, I will require your cooperation in order to keep our dream alive!”
The crowd was restless, some excited, some afraid. Richtofen said something to Groph, before returning to the microphone.
“All further questions should go to Doctor Groph! He has all the answers you will need. Danke, gute Nacht!”
Richtofen stepped down from the podium, hurrying away up the stairs towards the laboratories. As the crowd clamored around Doctor Groph, Schuster stepped away, completely dumbfounded by the announcement. He could not imagine their work continuing as it does without the assistance of the remaining German factions. And how could Richtofen possibly guarantee their safety in this transition? The Allies must surely be looking to put Group 935’s staff to trial.
Schuster ascended the stairs, passing through the airlock and into the laboratories. At one of the workstations where a hovering gravity lift was being held to the table by chains, Richtofen sat in a chair and fiddled with a radio and microphone.
Schuster approached Richtofen from behind, startling him, “Edward, there is much we need to discuss.”
Richtofen nearly dropped the microphone in his hand, “Mein Gott, Schuster, you cannot sneak up on me like that! I will speak with you in a moment.” He twisted some of the knobs on the radio.
“Edward, what is going on?”
“Ask Doctor Groph, he will answer all of your questions.”
“I’d like to hear an answer from you, Richtofen. I need to know what is going to happen to our work! To our lives!”
“Fine, Schuster. Our work will continue with the help of the Americans und the Russians. I have made a deal with them to ensure our operation continues.” Edward pressed the record button and moved the microphone to his face. “October 10th, 19-”
“You’ve done what, Doctor Richtofen?!” Schuster couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Oh, I’m sorry, do you not see the microphone in mein hand?! Recording for posterity is important.” Richtofen cleared his throat, “October 10th, 1945.”
“You’ve made a deal with the Americans?!”
“Und the Russians. You can’t forget them.”
“But, our work! This war!”
Richtofen scoffed, “The war is over, Doctor Schuster. It is my responsibility to ensure the work of Group 935 continues.”
“But these deals… i- it would mean the end of Group 935! The Americans and the Russians would tear us apart! Everything we stood for!” Schuster’s head was in his hands, he had followed Richtofen in his dreams because he believed in Group 935 as an organization, independent of government agendas. Soon they would all be working directly for the governments they once opposed.
“Everything this organization stood for died the day Doctor Maxis made that infernal deal with the Reichstag! You und I both know this to be true!”
Schuster could not believe that Richtofen would make such a life-changing decision for everyone in the organization, without consulting anyone involved.
Richtofen leaned closer, leaving the microphone on the table. “Listen to me und understand: Our technological developments with 115 are the envy of the entire world. These agreements guarantee our work will continue in America und Russia. And that they will continue with our scientists at the helm.” He paused as Schuster thought the situation through, continuing, “I am sorry, but for our work to live on, Group 935 must come to an end.”
Schuster was speechless, pacing around the room, trying to make sense of this predicament. The home he was promised he would return to was in neither America nor Russia.
Richtofen stood up, approaching him and speaking with a friendly tone, “Oh cheer up, Doctor Schuster. I have asked that you go to the Americans. It will be good for your… softer side.”
“You will not go to America?”
“Nor to Russia. Once Doctor Groph confirms that the MPD is ready, we will proceed with Operation Shield as planned. And then… I have a date with destiny.”
The lack of details troubled Schuster, “What are you getting out of this deal, Doctor Richtofen?”
Richtofen grinned, taking Schuster by the shoulder, “A feeling of fulfillment that I’ve saved my fellow scientists from the unemployment line, und possibly prison!”
Tired of the lies, Schuster muttered, “Edward… please… ”
Edward chuckled, removing his hand. “Don’t you worry about me, Doctor Schuster. I will be... well-taken care of. ”
Richtofen deactivated the radio. “Well... that recording is useless. I really must get some privacy, Baron, there is still much planning to do. So many paths, so many futures… ”
“I have one more question, Edward: Why have your plans advanced so quickly? We still have the funds and support to run this station with the Chancellor’s support for some time. Your Polarization Devices have not even been constructed yet.”
Richtofen’s frustration was now visible plainly on his face, though it did not seem directed at Schuster in particular, “I will admit... Doctor Maxis has forced my hand. He has impeded my work, our work, and comes closer every day to discovering our operation. He would rather watch Group 935 go up in flames than surrender. He seems to have completely lost his mind. He is the one responsible for the downfall of Group 935, not I!”
“But Doctor Maxis is not the sole leader of Group 935. What of the others?”
“If only you knew the things Maxis was capable of... What he will do... ”
“What are you talking about?”
“It is none of your concern, Doctor Schuster.”
Schuster shook his head, “Damn it, Edward! After all our years together, you still don’t trust me. You have never seen me as an equal, have you? Just a lowly assistant...”
“What are you... I have always believed in your abilities, Baron.”
“Oh really? It was only after knowing you for over a decade that I discovered your connection to the Illuminati!”
Richtofen lurched forward, hushing Schuster and searching the room, “Quiet, Schuster! They could be listening!”
“I have been by your side since day one of our operation, yet you display such little respect for me as a colleague. As a friend.”
Richtofen winced, shutting his eyes and placing his hands over his head, “No! NO! You can’t make me!”
“What the hell are you talking about Edward?”
Edward turned away, gripping his head and swaying side to side. Schuster’s anger died down as he felt genuine concern. “Edward?”
Richtofen grabbed the radio off of the table, hurling it towards the wall, destroying the device.
Schuster backed away, leaning back onto the nearby table, “What’s gotten into you, Richtofen?!”
Richtofen snickered, a smile on his face as he leaned in inches away from Schuster’s face, “What’s the matter, Doctor? Afraid of a little violence?”
“You’re frightening me, Edward… I don’t want to call-”
“Call security?!” Edward burst into laughter, stepping away, “On me? HA! What security? Oh, the ones in handcuffs und blindfolds? This is why I do not trust you with what I know. You are weak. A spineless kleiner Junge…” Edward’s grin faded as quickly as it arrived, his eyes darting around and mouth left agape, as if he were in a moment of clarity.
Edward shook his head, stepping away from Schuster and adjusting his uniform. Deadpan, “You could not possibly understand the power my knowledge holds. It-... If I told you, if you even believed it… Your entire world would crumble beneath you.”
The tension eased, Schuster stepped away from the table, “It’s very like you to be so vague, Edward… ”
Doctor Richtofen turned away, leaning over the scattered parts of the radio and picking them up one-by-one. “I walk a path no other can take. I, alone, can lead us to our salvation.”
“If you are in any danger… ”
Richtofen paused for a moment after picking up the last piece of the radio. He let out a short chuckle. “As I said before, Doctor. I will be well-taken care of. ”
The Doctor ascended the stairs towards the upper laboratories, leaving Schuster alone with his anxieties.
His legs felt as weak as his spirit, and so he sat in the nearby chair, glancing up at the Group 935 banner on the wall. Perhaps a fresh start should not be unwelcome.