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Chapter 6: "House Divided"
Laboratories, Der Riese, near Breslau
Dr. Ludvig Maxis and Dr. Edward Richtofen
December 5th, 1939
Doctor Maxis wondered if the excursion to find Richtofen was even worth the trouble, though he seemed to enjoy the walk away from the cramped laboratory. For a brief time, the edging sense of dread for Group 935's future had ceased, leaving Doctor Maxis almost cathartic as he wandered through the crowded halls of Der Riese's many buildings. Scientists once under Maxis' own tutelage shuffled about, nodding their heads in respect to the Doctor in hopes of a returned acknowledgment. Maxis smiled, nodding his head back to his peers; With such respectable young scientists under his wing, Maxis wondered just what there was to worry about.
The dread permeated his mind once more as he arrived at his destination, where Doctor Richtofen and Doctor Schuster have been holed up the past twenty-four hours in the hopes that he, Doctor Ludvig Maxis, would approve. While he respected Doctor Richtofen, as a man he could not find it in himself to see Edward as a scientist of equal measure. Much like many men of science before his time, Doctor Richtofen was fueled by his own ego and a desire to be above his peers. Such an attitude could never meld with Group 935's goals and Maxis' leadership. Maxis begrudged any interactions with Richtofen, preferring to keep them to a minimum ever since the initial test which brought a dead subject back to life. It was a wonder how Schuster could keep sane working under Richtofen, though he always struck Doctor Maxis as the submissive type.
The metal door to the laboratory was locked electronically from the inside. Despite his mistrust of Doctor Richtofen as of late, Doctor Maxis had given him authority to create lock pass-codes and access to the facility's administrative systems, due to his tenure in Group 935.
Doctor Maxis knocked on the door with his left hand with enough force to be heard through the thick metal the door was comprised of. A moment passed, as Doctor Maxis stared at the Group 935 insignia painted out on the door. It was as if the symbol mocked him for being locked out of his own lab; By his own staff.
Eventually, a rectangular view-port on the door slid open, revealing the weary eyes of Doctor Richtofen who yelled out through the port, "Go away, dummkopf, for the last time we are not opening this door... Oh, Doctor Maxis!”
"Enough games, Richtofen. Open the door.”
"Of cooooouuurse, Doctor Maxis. Finally, you've arrived to witness this modern marvel of science!”
The sliding port slid closed once again as the sound of the electronic keypad beeping could be heard. The door opened on its hinges with haste as Doctor Maxis entered the laboratory, stone-faced.
"If you ever lock me out of the lab without telling me the pass code again, Doctor Richtofen, you will lose all the privileges you have earned these past few years.”
"It was my mistake, Doctor Maxis. It will never happen again! But this project is for your eyes to see first! Doctor Schuster und I have been working tirelessly-”
"The point. Get to it, Doctor Richtofen. By the setup, I am assuming this has something to do with the matter transference prototype.”
"An astute observation, Doctor. Indeed, we have achieved something extraordinary with the MTD prototype.”
"And I would assume this was all in the place of the research I instructed you undergo?”
"You would be correct, Doctor, but this is on a whole new level! If you approve our funding, this could change the world for the better. We will show you. Doctor Schuster, prepare the test area!”
"Yes, Doctor Richtofen. Please, Doctor Maxis, insert these earplugs. There is a pair of protective goggles on the table there.”
Doctor Schuster handed Doctor Maxis a pair of bright orange ear plugs, and pointed to the table at the center of the room. Against the far wall was the tall and spacious MTD prototype, the gears turning as it sucked in power from the main generator. To its right connected through a thick cord was the receiving pad, and at its center a metal tin sat alone, visibly out of place on the pulsating, circular void as it appeared within the pad. The room was in disarray, with papers scrawled out on the floors and dust on every utensil the defiant duo did not employ in their time working on the MTD without Maxis' knowing. The center table held more unsorted papers, a bulbous and awkward recording device along with stacks of tapes, stained and food-encrusted trays, as well as an assortment of walnuts lined up in order of smallest to largest.
As Maxis scolded Doctor Richtofen, he smiled and cleared the table before him, setting the trays into one large stack at the corner of the table.
"We were planning on returning those to the cafeteria, today actually.”
Richtofen looked to the line of walnuts, running his index finger along the line from smallest to largest, stopping and grabbing a modestly large walnut and raising it in the air.
"Here I have the test subject: A walnut.”
Doctor Maxis rolled his eyes as Richtofen rolled the walnut in the palm of his hand for a moment before waving the other hand horizontally as if he were unsure of his estimations.
"Weighing in at, mmmm, roughly 10 to 11 grams. Give or take a little.”
He handed the walnut to Doctor Schuster, who placed it at the center of the MTD. The rather large nut was dwarfed by the device which reached up to the ceiling with a chamber able to hold nearly a dozen men.
Doctor Richtofen and Doctor Schuster donned their protective eye and ear wear as Doctor Maxis followed. After a moment, Doctor Richtofen gave the ready signal to Doctor Schuster, making a fist, placing his arm vertically, and pulling downwards.
Like the multitude of tests before, Doctor Schuster activated the MTD via the control panel at the face of the device. The lights dimmed as power fluctuated and funneled into the MTD. The chamber doors slid closed with a loud thud and the interior lit up like a firework. The coils at the head of the device spewing a discharge of electricity into the air which tickled Doctor Maxis's nerves from across the room. After the air became calm again, an orb of light shone through the cord connecting the MTD to the receiving pad, zooming through until it reached the other end. The receiving pad shone a blinding light and emitted a turbulent sound before diluting then dissipating. A light clang could be heard as the walnut landed into the tin at the center of the receiving pad, and then all was silent for a moment.
Through the fog released from the MTD's chamber, a silhouetted Doctor Schuster approached Doctor Richtofen, offering a hug to his close friend and colleague. The two embraced and rejoiced for their triumph, audibly laughing and exclaiming.
"We've done it Doctor Schuster!”
"I knew we could. I knew you were right, all along!”
Meanwhile, Doctor Maxis' attitude had not changed despite recent events. He tossed his goggles onto the table without care, exposing the rings around his cold eyes due to the small amount of radiation from the tests. He removed his earplugs as well, tossing them into the trash.
Puzzled, Doctor Richtofen turned to his superior, "Dr. Maxis, is there something wrong? What do you think of the device? We intend to make further adjustments to increase the size of test subjects that can be sent through. Surely you see the benefits to a device that can give humanity the ability to teleport!”
"But this is not the crucial experiments that you were supposed to be working on!”
"With all due respect, Doctor Maxis, this is a breakthrough of unimaginable proportions."
"What? That you moved a walnut a few feet? Yes, Edward, we will improve the human condition by revolutionizing the walnut industry. I can see it now: 'Edward's Walnut Delivery!'"
Further vexed, Doctor Maxis pointed his index finger to Richtofen, edging closer to him and shouting in his face.
"How dare you call me that! We are at war, Edward! I will admit that there is promise here, but until this war is won-”
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Doctor Maxis, but Group 935 is a research organization. What was the motto? 'To improve the human condition.' What business of ours is this war?"
"Fine, Doctor Richtofen, I will let you in on a little administrative secret. We are finalizing a deal with the Nazi party. We need funding, we need equipment, they need new weapons. Chances are this war will end soon with a treaty or two and we will be in a much better position to help the world."
"Think of the tactical advantage we would have!”
"Think of the cost, think of the time! We can provide the Nazis tactical expertise in various areas without putting all our eggs in your walnut basket. Good day, Edward, and get back to your real work." Leaving Richtofen and Schuster to their thoughts, Maxis stormed into the outside hallway, slamming the door tight as he left the vicinity.
Shaken but unfettered, Doctor Richtofen formulated his own ideas for the future. "I think Doctor Maxis has lost his perspective. No matter... we will do this on our own and publish the findings before he has a chance to-"
Without Maxis' financial support, they would be on their own in perfecting teleportation technology. Doctor Schuster would prove useful as a loyal underling and a source of funding with his family's wealth, but such support would not hold forever. For now, they should worry about perfecting the teleportation of a living, breathing human being. Then, Richtofen could plot his intentions with the Illuminati and take control of Group 935 away from Maxis, the old fool.