Exclusion Zone, Griffin Station, Mare Crisium, Moon
Dr. Baron Schuster and Dr. Edward Richtofen
October 13th, 1945
After attempts to coax Samantha Maxis from the Moon Pyramid Device failed, Doctor Richtofen arrived at Griffin Station to try and speak to her personally. This did little to sway her opinion that all of Griffin Station’s staff are liars. She continued to call out for her father and weep, her cries permeating the air within the Exclusion Zone. Schuster could only imagine what she was now seeing inside the Aether.
If she is alive, then it must be assumed that Doctor Maxis is alive as well. Doctor Richtofen has ordered Groph and Schuster to find a way to bring Doctor Maxis to Griffin Station and convince Samantha to leave the pyramid willingly; A task that once seemed impossible, however, a new discovery about the MPD may prove to be the solution. Through interfacing tests with the Vril Sphere, it was discovered that the MPD is able to locate and teleport individuals between any two points in space using only a sample of their DNA. Perhaps, somehow, this process played a role in Richtofen’s first arrival to the Moon.
The Vril Sphere, referred to by Richtofen as the Black Egg, is a supposed Vril artifact discovered near the pyramid during excavation with the uncanny ability to levitate. Stranger even, the Sphere seemed to hold some form of intelligence, choosing to gravitate close to the pyramid whenever possible, and emitting odd electronic sounds that appear to be a part of an alien language. After further study, it was found that the Sphere is indeed intelligent, and is designed to interface with the pyramid device after being given commands. Over time, its language was analyzed and is now understood by Griffin Station’s computer, giving the scientists complete control of the device.
With the Vril Sphere’s cooperation, all that was needed was a piece of Doctor Maxis’ DNA. Disturbingly, Doctor Richtofen had already created an analysis of a strand of Maxis’ hair using the computer system. Schuster shuddered at the thought of what Richtofen may have been planning with such data.
Richtofen departed shortly after giving his orders, though he did not say where he was going. He only told Schuster, “I know what must be done,” a very typically vague statement for Edward.
“Doctor Schuster, contact Doctor Richtofen. The device is ready.” Doctor Groph paced over towards Schuster, who was keeping watch of the MPD’s systems.
“Yes, Doctor.” Schuster began a radio transmission.
Groph leaned over into the microphone, “This is Griffin Station, we have an update, over.”
Suddenly a drawn out, ear-piercing screech came through the radio, steadily rising for a few moments while Groph and Schuster muffed their ears.
The screeching stopped abruptly, followed by the sound of boots hitting dirt as if they were running towards the radio. Doctor Richtofen, apparently out of breath, had picked up the transmission.
“Go… ahead… Griffin Station… Over.”
“We may have a solution to locate Doctor Maxis using your DNA analysis. It appears the Black Egg -”
Richtofen cut him off, “Ja, ja, ja, wunderbar. Just make sure when that brat is free that you finish what I started. I will return shortly.”
Groph looked just as curious as Schuster felt about where Richtofen might be, “Should we… await your return, Doctor?”
“Nein! There is no more time, just get her out of there, Doctor Groph.”
Groph and Schuster looked at each other with uncertainty. Schuster spoke up, “We were also unable to locate the… evil-looking dog you spoke of.”
Richtofen exclaimed in frustration, muttering to himself, “Ach! Figures… Oh well. Just proceed with the plan. Good luck, Griffin Station.”
The transmission cut out, leaving Groph and Schuster to acquiesce to Doctor Richtofen’s orders.
Groph turned away, pacing over to the Vril Sphere, which was now interfacing with the computer system, sending bolts of electricity into the machine. He began typing away at the keyboard dispassionately.
Schuster approached him, asking, “Are you sure this will work, Doctor Groph?”
“Of course it will!” Groph snapped at him, “Are you doubting the designs of the Ancients?”
“Not just the artifact… What if we make an error and Doctor Maxis arrives in an irrecoverable state? What if he does not want to cooperate with us? What if he has a scheme of his own?”
Groph let out a sarcastic laugh, “Ha! You give Doctor Maxis too much credit. I know you have not communicated with him in some time, but he’s still the fool he was at the beginning of the war.”
Groph continued, his anxieties starting to show on his face, “If Doctor Richtofen believes it will work, it will work. He is not always straightforward in his orders, nor is he the most informative of leaders… But he knows more than any of us could ever comprehend. He bears such a heavy burden of responsibility… I would pity him, if he were not so successful in his endeavors.”
Schuster shook his head, “All this talk of responsibility and burdens… Do we even know what future we are working towards here? Is all this uncertainty even necessary?”
“You’re far too preoccupied with details, Doctor Schuster.” Doctor Groph gazed into the levitating, black orb above the computer, “Sometimes the best path is the one… straight… ahead… ”
Groph had become mesmerized by the Sphere, trailing off in his little speech. The computer system interpreted a command from the Sphere, and a female voice emitted from the station’s speakers, “Vril device ready for retrieval process.”
Groph snapped back to attention, “Excellent.” He walked over to the other side of the room, retrieving a recording device and placing it on his belt. “It’s time to make history, Doctor Schuster.”
He fiddled with the computer controls, causing the Vril Sphere to start spinning while Groph was wringing his hands together nervously.
“I hope this works… Schuster, power it up.”
Schuster pulled a switch on a wall near the pyramid, allowing the central panel to be interfaced with the Vril Sphere. The pyramid is usually locked down, as the Vril Sphere seems to have a preference for staying close to the pyramid while powered up. As expected, the Sphere slotted right in, causing a spark on the panel as the symbols across its face began to glow a bright, fluorescent blue.
The female synthesized voice echoed throughout the station as other scientists approached to observe the experiment, “Systems nominal. Accessing Vril device.” The Sphere began to buzz and vibrate while the computer system made an artificial scanning sound. “Interface via M.P.D. active. Accessing M.P.D. M.P.D. integrity check nominal. Awaiting input.”
Groph motioned to Schuster at the controls, “Excellent. Bring the sample.”
Schuster opened a panel beneath the system and inserted a data card containing a DNA analysis of Doctor Maxis. He then shut the panel and the artificial voice continued, “Analyzing M.P.D. Creating profile.” The screen displayed the individual strands, processing all that made up Ludvig Maxis. “Profile created.”
Groph issued the next order, “Excellent. Now scan for target.”
“Yes, Doctor.” Schuster input the command into the terminal, causing the power systems to fluctuate. Eventually, the lights on the MPD began to flicker, as power returned, and a set of coordinates appeared on the screen, translated exactly from the Vril Sphere’s basic spoken language.
Groph smiled, pleased with himself, “Bring him here, immediately… ”
Schuster input a set of receiving coordinates leading to the open space to his right in the lab. The MPD powered up, spewing smoke into the air not unlike the Matter Transference Device. After a moment, a man suddenly materialized from thin air, landing on his back on the metal walkway.
Groph and Schuster approached him, looking down on him as he opened his eyes and regained his bearings. He was hardly the stoic, strict leader of Group 935 that Schuster knew years ago. He was sad, old, and tiny from this point of view.
Schuster spoke first, “Greetings, Doctor Maxis.”
Maxis seemed almost too weak to stand, flipping his body over as he glared back at Schuster, speaking with an incensed demeanor, “Schuster! I should have known… Where is that rat, Edward?!” He glanced at the ceiling made of grey rock and the various computer systems far more advanced than anything present at Der Riese. “Where are we? And how did you get me out of that wretched tunnel-”
Doctor Groph brandished a Luger taken from one of the Die Spinne officers, pointing it directly at Maxis. “None of that is important right now. Allow me to fill you in… ”
Groph tapped the device at his belt, then ordered two nearby scientists to pick Maxis up off of the floor.
“Shortly before your deal with the Reichstag was finalized, Doctor Richtofen discovered a way to teleport to Earth’s moon, und here he discovered the Moon Pyramid Device: A gateway to the Aether. A dimension of great power, once used by the Ancients. We have studied the pyramid for years, learning its secrets und using Group 935 resources to accomplish our goals.”
“Do you mean to tell me we’re… on the Moon?”
Groph used his free arm to punch Maxis in the ribs, sending him reeling as the two other scientists attempted to pull him back up.
“Your questions are of no use to us… Richtofen planned on getting rid of both you und your loathsome daughter, but… it seems something has gone wrong. Samantha has hidden herself away inside the Device. As we speak she is being subjected to the raw intensity of the Aether’s power. Her little head may barely be able to handle any more if it… ”
Maxis lurched forward, still being held in place by the scientists, “Damn it, Groph! Get her out of there! She’s just a little girl, she has no idea what she is doing!”
Groph waved the gun in Maxis’ face, “You can either convince her to leave the Device willingly und she can leave this place alive, or… we dispose of you and remove her forcefully.”
Maxis appeared defeated, shaken by today’s revelations and whatever he had seen just before arriving at the station. This was fortunate, as Schuster knew that Groph had no idea how he would force Samantha from the pyramid if his gambit failed.
“Very well… I will talk to her.”
“Excellent… Doctor Richtofen will be most pleased. If only he were here to witness it…”
Groph directed the pair to drag Maxis to the MPD. They tossed him to the ground before the front panel and stepped back, while Groph stepped forward, weapon to the back of Maxis’ head.
Maxis stared at the floor in silence, speaking to the void, black pyramid device after the gun was pressed against his cranium.
“Samantha, honey? Daddy is here... Come dear, please. Open the machine. Daddy will not let them hurt you anymore.” The air was silent. “Honey? Daddy knows he’s made some mistakes. I am truly sorry that you were put through so much... When your mother died, I could not bear the thought of losing you too... That’s why I kept you so close... I did not mean to neglect you.” Tears began to well up in Maxis’ eyes. “I just wanted to know you were safe from harm-”
The pyramid device began to hiss, releasing smoke into the air as the four faces of the pyramid began to separate at the edges, sinking into the device, revealing a massive orb of blue energy, and hovering above it, Samantha in her blue dress, her teddy bear in her arms. She descended to the ground before Maxis, her eyes glowing a bright yellow as she was pulled closer by her father.
She wept into his arms, “Daddy!”
“I love you, Samantha… ”
Through the sobbing, she muttered, “I love… you too, Daddy… ”
Hesitating for a moment, Maxis held her at arm's length and said solemnly, “Can you do something for me? Something very important… ”
She sniffled, “Yes… ”
Maxis stood up, looking back into Schuster’s eyes as he said, “Kill them.... all.”
Maxis pushed her back towards the pyramid, reaching deep into his lab coat and removing a handgun. He placed the barrel to his chin and pulled the trigger, filling the air with pink mist.
Groph screamed, “NO!”
The pyramid closed around Samantha, completely enveloping her body. From Maxis’ body, an orb of light shot into the air towards the MPD’s capacitors. Through the air, Samantha began to giggle, the laugh becoming distorted as the entire base began to rumble.
Schuster’s eyes widened as he watched several human arms burst forth from the floor below, “We’re doomed… ”
An arm shot up from the floor below Doctor Groph, gripping his leg as the entire body began to surface. Groph fired a shot from his Luger into the arm, having little effect. He tried to pull himself away, only to fall on his back. Before Schuster could attempt to save him, two more bodies shot up from the ground, their uniforms denoting they were prisoners executed and buried at the base by the scientists. They each gripped his arms, pulling them away from each other while Groph struggled and screamed in terror. The undead creature at his feet, eyes glowing a piercing orange, began to chew away at his leg, while the other began biting at his neck and head. Schuster had never witnessed such agony before, feeling sick to his stomach, but he was determined not to die on this Station.
He ran back towards the lab, pushing past panicking scientists who were desperately trying to reach the station’s MTDs. Schuster prepared to join them, before suddenly feeling a lightness at his feet as they were swept out from under him. He and a dozen other scientists flew through the air back towards the pyramid. Something had released all of the oxygen in the Exclusion Zone into space.
Schuster found himself unable to breath as he held on dearly to a generator separating the Exclusion Zone from the control system. He could not hear their screams in the vacuum, but several scientists were sucked through the gap above the pyramid into the void of space. With them went the bodies of Groph and Maxis, as well as several zombies. Schuster used what little strength he had left to pull himself towards the generator’s power switch. Deactivating the power, the female PA system bellowed throughout the Station, “Emergency power failure. Returning oxygen to all indoor spaces and initializing backup generators.”
Breathable air soon returned to the room, and a light-headed Schuster along with the others headed for Tunnel 6 to find the teleporters.
Schuster ran through the airlock and into Tunnel 6, hardly any safer than he was in the Exclusion Zone. Several undead Die Spinne soldiers were tearing apart a group of scientists in the lower tunnel, while others roamed about. They seemed insurmountable to Schuster.
Suddenly, machine gun fire echoed throughout the tunnel. Schuster leaned back against the wall, fearing what must be coming for him. Had the Russians discovered how to use the teleporters at Der Riese ? Were the Americans here to claim their prisoners?
An undead Division 9 scientist bounded towards Schuster, before being cut down by an MP-40 wielded by none other than Doctor Richtofen.
“Danke for saving some of the fun for me, Doctor Schuster!”
Schuster could barely speak, the shock from everything that had just transpired overwhelming him. “Groph… he’s… he’s… dead! They’re everywhere!”
Richtofen pulled Schuster back to his feet, reassuring him, “Calm down, Baron! I’m getting you out of here!”
Richtofen guided Schuster through Tunnel 6, gunning down several undead standing in his way and cackling with each and every kill.
“What about the others?!” Schuster looked back at one of his former colleagues, now being dragged away by the undead beasts.
“I have everyone I need already! Their sacrifices will be remembered!” Richtofen seemed to shout down the hallway at the screaming men.
He frantically input a number sequence into the door, allowing himself into the teleporter room. Several other scientists were waiting, terrified, inside an MTD.
Richtofen approached a nearby locker, pulling out a revolver and handing it to Schuster, “You wanted responsibility, Doctor Schuster. Return to Eagle’s Nest with these men und keep them alive while you await the Americans. Then, it is imperative that you destroy any MTDs capable of reaching Griffin Station.”
Schuster held the weapon like a child, “What about you?! Where are you going?”
“As I said, I will be well taken care of.”
“This isn’t a game, Edward! Samantha has taken control of the Station! Of the Untoten! We need help if we are going to survive! He told her… he told her to kill us all… ”
“I promise you, Doctor Schuster… this is the last time I will ask you to trust me und follow my orders. I will have help, but I need you to get to safety. It is the only way… Now, get in the device. Please, Baron… ”
Schuster hesitated, looking his old friend in the eyes, searching for some humanity, some glimmer of his past self shining through. For once, Richtofen seemed to be telling the truth.
Doctor Schuster stepped into the MTD, staring back at Richtofen through the port. Richtofen breathed a sigh of relief as his last remaining friend was teleported away safely. As the smoke dispelled into the room, Richtofen jumped at a loud bang at the door. A scientist from the station was slamming his fist into the door, begging for help and leaving a bloody handprint on the glass.
Edward simply looked away, inputting coordinates to Der Riese, and stepping into the MTD.
Over the loudspeakers, the Station’s security system began blaring rapidly as the automated PA system bellowed out, “Excavator Pi will cause decompression of MTD Facility.”
The door closed around him, sending his body through the Aether to his destination.
Arriving at one of the MTD testing labs at Der Riese, Richtofen moved swiftly towards the facility’s security station, passing several scientists talking amongst themselves outside a set of living quarters. Richtofen could hear them murmuring, “They’ve lost control in there.” “It broke free of the restraints and killed him.” “I hear it’s going on across the whole facility.”
Richtofen was approached by Doctor Porter, still in his nighttime attire like the others, who were preparing to go to sleep, “Doctor Richtofen, do you know what’s going on?! Where is Doctor Maxis?”
Edward shoved him aside, tossing a non-answer back at him, “No idea, haven’t seen him, Auf Wiedersehen!”
He reached the security station, entering the passcode he had memorized, and walking right through the door with no opposition. Every man inside had been pulled away by incidents across the facility. On the security feeds, Richtofen saw undead attempting to break free from containment all across Der Riese . He prepared to give them a final nudge by deactivating the security power grid, stopping with his hand over the button. Something inside beckoned him to stop, to end the madness and help these terrified men. Something else, on the other hand, pushed him to continue. Edward grinned ear-to-ear, his mind having been made up months ago.
One feed showed a set of security doors coming wide open as a dozen undead locked away in storage containers lumbered out. All across the facility, there were men screaming and fighting for their lives. Pompous, arrogant scientists. Cruel, repugnant Nazis.
Edward approached a radio in the corner of the room, starting a transmission on a predetermined frequency, “Comrade Gorki, you may begin your advance… I’ll be seeing you!”
Richtofen returned to the monitors, watching on as the body count rose. Eventually, over the facility-wide PA system, the automated voice blared repeatedly, “Warning, The Shield is now active. Find and destroy the designated materials and report to the barracks, this is not a drill.”
Right on time.
Edward stepped out from the security station, MP-40 in hands, pleased with the chaos he had wrought as the gunshots and screams echoed in the distance.
The little girl taking control of the MPD was… unexpected. But Edward had prepared for such an outcome. He had prepared for everything.
The Shadowman whispered, “Remember the promise you made to us so long ago. Resolve the paradox and your soul will be freed. You must awaken the test subjects.”