Novus Ordo Seclorum
Laboratories, The Giant (“Der Riese” ), near Breslau
Dr. Baron Schuster
January 23rd, 1940
Doctor Schuster was all out of hope. In the eighteen days since Edward Richtofen’s disappearance during the matter transference testing, Doctor Schuster had failed to discover any trace of his colleague anywhere at Der Riese . As the test had commenced, the receiving pad failed to activate, causing Edward’s body to disappear completely with only smoke in his place. Upon investigation, Schuster discovered not a failure in the design of the receiving pad, but a loose connection between the receiving pad and the transference device. His initial reaction was to blame an unseen saboteur; After all, Schuster was positively sure he had set up the device as Edward had specified. However, Schuster came to feel he was shirking the responsibility of his actions, and he bore a painful guilt as he decided that he, alone, failed to take necessary safety precautions, and as such, Schuster was wholly liable for this failure.
In these passing days, Schuster has spent many agonizing, sleepless nights searching for Edward and researching into a method of reversing his grave mistake. Alas, there would be no respite as Schuster made no such breakthrough. Other scientists of Group 935 had begun to ask where Richtofen had been and, being his closest associate, Schuster had received a majority of the questioning. Schuster stayed isolated in the lab that was host to his greatest failure, toiling away with the research he and Edward had conducted in their time on the project. With no receiving area for the MTD, it was not inherently clear where a test subject would be allocated in the event of activation. Schuster’s initial theory was that without a clear pathway for Edward to be transported through, he would be held, or ‘stored’, within the device itself at some smaller, cosmic level, and upon re-connection with an ample receiving pad, Edward would be sent completely through. Unfortunately, through a series of tests, this theory was deemed to be untrue as no trace of him reappeared no matter Schuster’s method.
Before Edward’s disappearance, he had discussed the possibility of a ‘wireless’ connection between the MTD and receiving pad, as the next logical step following the ‘wired’ version. He proposed that with Element 115’s immense power, the MTD could be used in conjunction with a beacon-like signal connecting it to other MTDs around the world, forming a network of intercontinental transportation. Schuster had always admired Edward’s forward thinking and motivation to succeed, and he acted no differently in modifying the MTD to test these capabilities later.
While it was wired, the modifications Edward had made to the prototype were meant to be compatible with other MTDs once production of more had gone underway. For a time, the theory that Edward had been sent somewhere else ran through Schuster’s mind, however, this was impossible, as there were no other devices like the MTD in existence, and thus no connection could have been made.
It struck Schuster today, finally: Edward must be dead, or worse yet, vaporized and dispelled into the air following the fateful test. In the pit of his empty stomach, Schuster’s guilt and pain swelled until Schuster was but a hollow mess of crushing defeat and restlessness. Not fit to leave Edward’s legacy behind, Schuster strode to Edward’s locker inside the lab, its door still open just as he had left it weeks before. In life, Schuster would never have invaded Edward’s privacy in such a manner, but he felt a need for connection with the departed unlike any other time in his life.
He reached inside, pulling out Richtofen’s hand-written diary. For a moment, he hesitated, and in an uncharacteristic act of boldness he read over the pages, skimming through some of Richtofen’s first few weeks working for Group 935. The weathered little book held many minute quirks of Richtofen’s. There were little jottings of ideas, and sketches of said ideas with descriptions and details of their functions.
On the entry marked the 3rd of September, 1939, Schuster discovered the day Richtofen had epiphanized the idea for his next project, the Wunderwaffe DG-2, a project Edward had kept close in hand in life.
“In my time working with Maxis, I have become increasingly disillusioned with the unsightly image of corpses rising from the dead. I do not want to discredit Doctor Maxis, but I fear his interest in these foul creatures is misguided; I suppose that is what a dead wife and a little Mädchen will do to your focus. He has allowed me to establish a defense system throughout Der Riese in the event of some sort of outbreak; Lord help us if these abominations ever escaped the laboratories. I created the electro-shock defense system to fry them with over 200,000 amps of electricity, more than the electric chair. An undignified and inhumane death for Maxis’ unholy resurrections: How fitting. In the event the alarm system is sounded, which I have dubbed The Shield, these defenses can be activated in major doorways of Der Riese to block entry from the undead, while others are blocked by electronic, steel gates. The facility will be completely locked down and, if protocol is followed to the letter, all research and sensitive materials will be destroyed.
Today in the news, we discovered that Hitler had sent German forces into Poland just yesterday. I fear what this will mean for our international scientists in Group 935, however, Maxis appeared indifferent, and perhaps a little too eager. He once said that in times like these, creating weaponry may be a beneficial pursuit should this conflict escalate. I do not know what he meant by this; We are scientists, not warmongers. It did, however, lead me into thinking of a conceptual device utilizing elements of my electroshock system and the Die Glocke project thus far. I call it the Wunderwaffe DG-2, which I believe will be the first of many defensive weapons that could use the power of 115. It is the second iteration of the design, the first being rejected outright by Doctor Maxis. I will keep the DG-2 a secret from him until I have a working prototype. Frankly, I have lost a great deal of respect for the Doctor as of late, just as I have for my superiors in the Order.”
Schuster stopped reading there, puzzled by Edward’s reference to an ‘Order’. He could not think of anyone Edward might be referencing and concluded that this must be some sort of secret being kept from Schuster. He read on, continuing to find mentions of this ‘Order’ but little in the ways of context or explanation into the meaning. He searched through the most recent entries in an attempt to find some hint of where Richtofen could have ended up, but there was no hope to be found.
Schuster placed the diary back into its place, leaving the locker ajar as it was. He looked around the trashed, disorganized laboratory once more, fearing the worst as he would have to face Doctor Maxis alone, and present him with the fact that Edward was gone, forever, because of Schuster’s failure with the project Maxis had insisted they discontinue. Set in his path and ready to face the end of his career, Doctor Schuster decided to initiate one last diary entry to bookend the creation, testing, and failure of the MTD. He dusted off a recording device sitting upon the nearby table and activated it.
“Log Entry 43. Date: January 23rd, 1940. I cannot be certain what happened to Doctor Richtofen. Once the test commenced, he just disappeared from the machine into thin air. I have searched the area for days and have no evidence that he is anywhere. I am afraid I might have to scrap the-”
The door to the laboratory swung open, and out of the doorway came the full-bodied, but evidently disheveled Doctor Richtofen, his white lab coat soaked with sweat, and in his hands the audio recorder once on his person during the test, jogging towards a dumbfounded and relieved Doctor Schuster.
“Don't scrap anything! We have done something, something wondrous.” Edward cocked his head towards the wall as if a noise caught his attention. “Shhh. Do you hear them?”
Unperturbed by the strangeness but relieved all the same, Schuster approached Edward, his arms reaching to Edward’s shoulders. Surprised and jittery, Edward flinched as Schuster touched him.
“Doctor Richtofen, you're alive!”
“I'm more than alive, mister Schuster. Is the device still intact?”
Though he was satisfied in seeing Edward alive again, Schuster noticed the bemusing differences Richtofen possessed from himself on the test day. Richtofen seemed almost manic in his speech, stuttering as if being constantly interrupted, and his gait was much less professional, instead he slouched and paced as he walked, and seemed to be restless, unable to stand still as he spoke with Schuster.
“Yes, but, what happened to you?”
“Aaah, something wunderbar ! That chamber was incredible, the wonders we could learn!”
“What are you talking about? Are you alright?”
“Get in the Matter Transference Prototype, Doctor Schuster. We have work to do.”
Doctor Richtofen grabbed two pairs of earplugs and walked with Doctor Schuster towards the MTD, passing a pair of the plugs to him.
“You will need these. They don’t block out everything, but it helps.”
The MTD activated on a timer after Richtofen input several commands on the control panel, and Doctor Schuster experienced a strange, unprecedented feeling as his vision clouded with smoke and then blinding light. The stimulation came to an end and Schuster could finally see, though it was very little. Curiously, he felt light on his feet, apparently experiencing low gravity. For a moment he thought he had gone blind, as there was utter blackness, then, a light from Doctor Richtofen’s lighter flickered to life, and Schuster could see his surroundings. They had been sent to a dark, spacious, rocky cave with a solid-black void in the shape of a pyramid at the center of the room.
“Why am I... weightless? And what is that… that pyramid? Excuse my language, but where the hell are we?”
“Doctor Schuster, if my theory is correct, I believe we are on the Moon, and this device is a gateway: A gateway... to another dimension.”
“Another dimension? Is Doctor Groph here as well, feeding you this lunacy?”
“Nein , but I'm beginning to think much of what he says is truer than we’ve ever thought possible. He was right about 935 partnering with the Nazi Party, was he not?”
“What are you suggesting are the origins of this pyramid-gateway… device?”
“Doctor Groph, in his study of the Vril-Ya and similar mythologies, mentioned something about three flying pyramids, gateways to the Aether, a dimension beyond our understanding. These pyramids could fly through space und time. The ancient Vril-Ya built these devices to travel between dimensions at will. Though Doctor Groph believed in the existence of the Vril-Ya, and their space-traveling technology, he did not fully believe that they could travel between dimensions. He saw this as creative liberties taken by those who publish books on them, but this pyramid fit the description perfectly from the stories told.”
“I'm not sure what to say... it all sounds a bit mad.”
“You must believe me, Doctor Schuster, I couldn't believe it either! After so much time away, I have seen things you wouldn’t believe. Things… you couldn't even imagine.”
“What could we do with such a discovery? Should we tell the others at Group 935?”
“Certainly not everyone, especially not Maxis, that… that fool ! But I know several members of Group 935 who have lately shown a distaste for Doctor Maxis' policies. They could help us build a station here, and we can discover the power this device holds, und use it to change the world, just as we always wanted.”
“Okay, my other concern is... how did you arrive back on... well... Earth?”
“In my tampering with the device when I initially arrived und after a painful, irritating, aggravating, grievous shock… ahem , the front panel of the pyramid began to spark, und it teleported me to some god-forsaken jungle where I was chased down by its native people. From my time there, I made some more new discoveries.”
“After a brief quarrel with the natives, I took advantage of their primitive nature, and convinced them I am their God. You see, their people had met the Vril-Ya generations ago, and to keep the story short und simple, they showed me what has been causing trouble for them ever since: Something that caused terror for their ancestors and serves to still wipe them out today.”
“What? What is it?”
“A meteor made up of Element 115 crashed into their temple some time ago, leaving traces of itself in the surrounding area. They avoided these traces due to its effects on their dead.”
“My God, that’s horrible.”
“What’s horrible is the power held within those rocks going unused for so long. I do not care how our test has appeared to fail. This was truly a success, Doctor Schuster, and you are, in part, responsible. We must return to my kingdom in the jungle, where the natives will do the heavy lifting in recovering the element for our work on this base.”
“How will we acquire the resources to mine it exactly?”
“I know for a fact many of the members from the excavation team would jump at the chance to undermine Maxis… ” Richtofen chuckled to himself, before continuing, “Any-who, they will have the tools we need.”
“This plan is ingenious, Edward! So much potential for what can be done here... Think of it: We are the first men to walk on the Moon, and soon the first to enter into another dimension!”
“I'm glad we can see eye-to-eye, Doctor Schuster. Now, we must return and find others to join us. We should avoid bringing up what exactly this device can do until we are sure everyone on the team is on board with our plan und we are able to trust them. Doctor Maxis can never find out what we will do here.”
“Absolutely. Now, Edward, how were you able to return to the MTD receiving pad all the way from the jungle?”
“Near the deposit of Element 115, I was shown an ancient structure embedded within the dirt that had similar markings to this pyramid. I determined it was an ancient transference device, likely designed by the Vril-Ya to travel to this very cave. I was able to return to this pyramid, und through trial und a little error, I sent myself back to Der Riese. Mein gott, Doctor Schuster, there were many strange, cosmic happenings in the temple, und I am eager to discover just what their significance is. Destiny appears to have connected our MTD with this pyramid, und with this discovery in mind, I believe I can begin full construction of the ‘wireless’ matter transference devices we discussed to aid our travel here.”
“That is such great news, Doctor Richtofen, but, I will admit I am far happier that you're still alive after so long.”
“There is little time for sentimentality, Doctor Schuster. We should begin our work once more. I will introduce you to the village.”
“Oh, yes. Perhaps afterwards I could get some rest, if that’s alright. I have not slept since, well, I cannot really-”
“That’s quite alright, Doctor Schuster. I need you at full attention for our plan to succeed.”
“Thank you, Edward. I… actually have a question for you. Well, a confession as well.”
Richtofen began to twitch and blink repeatedly, looking irritated as he spoke.
“Yes, what, SH, I am talking to my friend!”
“Oh, uh, who?”
“No, no, you! I am talking to you, Doctor Schuster, go on, please! Speak a little louder!”
“Well, after the test, I searched for you for days, and today I came to face the possibility that you were… dead. And so, regretfully… I skimmed through your diary.”
“Simply as an attempt to reconnect with a dear friend who I thought had passed. I hope you can forgive me for my moment of weakness. But, I read through some of your entries and I saw you mentioned many times some type of ‘Order.’ I’ve never heard you mention these people you wrote of, and perhaps I am prying too much in asking, but, I am ever so curious who these people are that you are reporting to with all of your discoveries.”
“Hm… I can forgive you, Schuster. I understand my absence must have been troubling, und I thank you for continuing to have faith in the MTD for so long. To answer your question, the Order is, well, an old group of... ahem , friends. They, as well as I do, want to make the world a better place. They live their lives in secret just as we in Group 935 do, but they have greater purpose, or at least, I thought they did...”
“What do you mean?”
“Doctor Schuster, I would not worry about them anymore. Lately, the Illuminati have failed to assist me in my ventures und so I have kept things from them. I will no longer need them going forward nor the influence they possess. They have become too preoccupied with this damned war. I will change the world myself. Without them.”
“I still do not quite understand… “
“Oh, naive, innocent Doctor Schuster, I kept this from you because I was afraid you might think less of me. Also, by their mandate, I would have probably had to silence you by killing you... But, that is over now. I will wash my hands of them forever when we arrive back at Der Riese. From this point forward, it is you und I who will do the right thing in this- SH! Do you hear that too?!”
“Hear what, Edward? Are you alright?”
“No, I won’t make him do that! Stop! Sh! Ach!”
Edward cupped his ears, bobbing his head back and forth with a face of intense agony as sweat dripped from his forehead.
“Don’t worry, Doctor Schuster… I’m alright. Together we will endure!” Edward let out a nervous chuckle.
Edward adjusted the panel at the forefront of the pyramid, causing it to spark and begin to distort Schuster’s view. He felt the weightlessness of teleportation once again, as the light shone bright. Being sure Edward was still close nearby, Schuster shut his eyes and anticipated an uncertain future waiting for him in the jungle. Schuster was concerned for Richtofen’s mind, as it appeared to be permanently frazzled from his isolation from civilization. Schuster could only hope that with this newfound power, Edward would do the right thing.