Approaching Outpost Zeta (“Doragon No Shinden”), Former Empire of Japan
Cpt. Takeo Masaki
October 25th, 1945
Four days of travelling through treacherous swamps later, The Doctor had promised Takeo and the others that they would soon be arriving at a secluded Japanese research outpost known as Doragon No Shinden, or Temple of the Dragon. Though he claims to have never been to this place, he knows an “acquaintance” here who could help them reach their next destination.
“There it is… Just as overrated as I imagined.” Richtofen’s dispassionate opinion of the temple did not sway Takeo’s judgement of the place.
The stone front of the temple was nestled between trees reaching up to the heavens, with their tallest branches obscuring the sides of the structure. Beneath the overgrowing vines and shade from the treetops, it looked like a shadowy portal to another realm. The dirt below them faded as they came upon a stone walkway leading up to the temple, guided by stone dragon statues pointed toward its facade. This place was ancient; A forgotten relic from a civilization long past, now reclaimed by nature.
As the quartet neared the temple, a loud crack rang out after a bullet impacted the dirt before them, throwing up dust. Takeo, Dempsey, and Nikolai instinctively dove to the ground, crawling towards the statues for cover.
Another bullet grazed one of the dragons, flinging stone across the walkway. Doctor Richtofen did not flinch, maintaining his calm demeanor and raising both arms above his head after placing the Wunderwaffe on his back via a strap.
Takeo quickly grabbed Richtofen, yanking him to cover as another bullet whizzed by.
“Get down, Doctor!”
Richtofen moved away, raising himself back up into the sniper’s view. He dusted off his uniform before raising his arms again, nodding to Takeo as he said, “Trust me, Takeo… ”
Takeo hesitated, before following Richtofen’s lead and lowering his gun. He placed it over his shoulder, before raising his arms into the air.
Dempsey and Nikolai begrudgingly followed suit, joining the formation as they reached the temple’s doors.
They waited there for a moment, before Nikolai spoke up, “Should we knock?”
The stone door split in half at the center, sliding inwards to pour the minimal light from outside into the temple’s walls. Three figures emerged from the darkness, the one in the center striking fear and anger into Takeo’s soul. He was tall, black-haired, and wore bandages around his head and over one of his eyes. He was missing a portion of his hairline due to what appeared to be surgery done to his head.
Richtofen lowered his hands, smiling as he stretched them outwards, as if greeting an old friend. “It’s good to see you in such, er… good health, Doctor Okitsu.”
Okitsu grimaced at the sight of them, especially Richtofen. He did not say a word as he motioned for the two Japanese Army soldiers at his rear to move forward. They confiscated the group’s weapons, meeting resistance from Nikolai who nearly knocked one of them out cold. The soldier retaliated with the butt of his rifle, sending Nikolai to the ground. As Dempsey and Takeo prepared to take action, Richtofen motioned for them all to remain calm.
“Doctor, I know our last encounter ended rather abruptly, but we simply need to use your teleporter, und we will be out of whatever is left of your hair, forever! Promise!”
Okitsu spoke for the first time since their arrival, “I admit, Doctor, I am rather surprised to see you here. After your betrayal, I expected you to be safely in the care of the Americans.”
Richtofen let out an exasperated, forced scoff, “Betrayal?! Nonsense! I would never work with Americans!” Richtofen glanced at Dempsey, who was staring daggers back at him, saying, “This one doesn’t count!”
Okitsu placed his palm out, “Save your breath, Richtofen. I heard about your deal; With little help from your little ‘spy’ friend. No, he only gave me this.” Okitsu lifted the bandage from his scarred face, revealing the inner flesh of his eye socket. “We intercepted a message from his handler, not long before the Die Spinne officers began massacring my men.” Okitsu paused, looking at Takeo and the others with a grin, “The Emperor was a fool to have us working alongside Germans. He may have given up on the Empire, but we will not.”
Despite Richtofen’s orders, Takeo stepped forward, rebuking this “Okitsu’s” insolence, “It was the Emperor who dispatched the Doctor on his mission. Whatever Richtofen has done, it was most certainly righteous.”
The two soldiers in Okitsu’s wake stepped forward, prepared to defend him. Okitsu simply laughed, motioning for his men to escort them into the temple. Takeo looked to Richtofen for assurance, who simply nodded. For now, they must acquiesce to this traitor’s demands.
Okitsu turned towards the temple as the others followed.
Along the inner walls were markings and statues of the Hindu god Shiva. From Takeo’s own clouded memories, he surmised this temple and the other structures within the surrounding area must have been built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.
As they neared the center of the temple, scattered around were piles of rubble from statues and platforms recently destroyed, replaced with laboratory equipment.
Richtofen tried to keep the conversation light, “I see you’ve been quite busy, Doctor. I’ve not seen anything like this at any of your other stations.”
“That is because this site is like no other in either Division 9 nor Group 935. What it lacks in Element 115, it makes up for in its history. What was once lost, we have found. With this bygone power, we can shape the world in our image.”
Richtofen nodded, perturbed, “How very vague....”
Dempsey interjected, “Guess it’s a part of the job description.”
“Whether or not you understand, I do not care. All that matters now is I have three new test subjects… and the one who can help me understand this.” Okitsu motioned the group into a secluded room that looked to be a library. The shelves dug into the walls were as ancient as the structure itself, with the books and knick-knacks occupying them being from Okitsu’s men. In the center of the room, however, inside a clear, glass container was a blue, glowing crystal not too dissimilar from the rock of Element 115 from the Rising Sun Facility. When Takeo stared into the deep, blue abyss, he felt an unwavering, penetrating sense of fear, and an emptiness in his soul.
Richtofen approached it slowly, mesmerized, “The Elemental Shard… I thought I would never see it again…” He reached out to it waving his hand along the outside, not touching it directly. “If I could just find the last component… ”
Okitsu motioned to his men, who restrained Richtofen, binding his wrists together.
Richtofen struggled, confused and agonized as he was pulled away from the crystal, “What are you doing?! I need to continue my experiments!”
Okitsu approached him, stating, “You can give us all we need from your cell. It would be unwise to trust you around something so powerful.” He looked at his men, “Take them away.”
“You don’t understand the power in your possession! You need me here, Doctor! YOU NEED ME!” Richtofen eventually gave in, unable to break free of his restraints. He hung his head low, following the others as they were escorted away towards their prison.
Takeo had not seen the Doctor so vulnerable before. Clearly, he knew more of this “Elemental Shard” than the rest of them. Perhaps the fear that Takeo felt in its wake was not unwarranted. If it is as powerful as they make it seem, in Okitsu’s hands it could spell certain doom.
They passed through a corridor full of cells barred with metal, electronic doors. Through the viewports of each, there were scores of undead test subjects, wandering the darkness aimlessly. One subject, however, spotted the group outside of its cage. Its once dim orange eyes grew brighter as it howled loud enough for every subject in the chamber to hear. Dozens now stood at the ports, attention drawn to Takeo and the others, as they ravenously gnawed and pounced at the doors to no avail.
Surprised by the outburst, one of their escorts departed in search of others to calm the subjects. The remaining escorts hurried them along their path, throwing the four of them into a cell at the end of the hallway. As one prepared to lock the doors, he stopped, entering the cell and yanking Nikolai’s vodka bag away from him.
Nikolai leapt to his feet, slamming his fists into the door as it came closed, “Hey, asshole! Give me back my vodka!” With no response, Nikolai slammed his fist into the wall, reeling back in pain, “Ach! Fucking Imperialists…” His raging energy fizzled out, and he slinked down to the ground, closing his eyes, “I miss Jugger-nog…”
Richtofen sat, legs crossed, a hand on his forehead as he whispered to himself, “The plan… yes… follow the plan… everything will be okay…”
Dempsey, clearly frustrated, interrupted the Doctor’s train of thought, “So what is the ‘plan’, huh? That friend of yours isn’t gonna just let us waltz right out of here in one of your ‘M.D.T.’s.”
Richtofen corrected him, “That’s M.T.D.: Matter Transference Device. Und worry not, my bestial American friend, our moment to ‘waltz’ will come. It’s just a battalion of Imperial Japanese Soldiers, after all. What happened to the Marine I know?”
“Soldiers are one thing. But those freakbags could be a problem… they did not look happy to see us… What’s up with that anyway? I mean… do they know what we’re trying to do?”
In a dark corner of the room, a slim, shaky body rose from the floor. He wore a torn green uniform, much like the one worn by Dempsey. However, his hair was unkempt and dirty, and his face was badly beaten. One of his arms simply dangled at his side. He spoke with a gravelly, tired voice, “They recognize you. The Ones who have come to cleanse their sickness. To save us all… ”
Richtofen rose to his feet, letting out a yelp of fear when the man first spoke. “I honestly thought you were just a dead body… ”
Dempsey asked the broken man, “What’s your name? Is that… are you a Marine?”
“My name? My name… I am Remus Gentiles. Don’t you remember me? We fought together… in the Great War. The dead-eaters must have escaped… We- you have to save us! Like you did before! Yes! I must inform the King… but I’m trapped here!”
“King? What the hell are you talking about?”
Richtofen examined him closer, “115-induced delusions. I’ve seen it before.”
Takeo felt great empathy for the man, and great rage towards Okitsu for subjecting a living being to such cruelty. This Division 9 is a great evil that must be stopped.
Takeo approached the man, taking a knee to meet him eye-to-eye, “We will do what we can to free you and bring your captors to justice.”
Gentiles continued to babble, relaxing as he laid back onto the floor, “Yes, thank you, thank you, my brave heroes… You’re just as noble as Sir Marinus said you would be. After the great battle, when you disappeared… we thought… we thought…” Gentiles drifted off into unconsciousness, shutting his eyes.
Takeo stood back up, returning to the door and looking out at the soldiers.
Nikolai let out a belch, sitting down, saying, “I hope we don’t have to bring him along. We’ve got a little too much crazy already. No offense, Richtofen.”
Richtofen’s expression turned sour, “I was not offended… until you said my name. Miststück…”
The room went silent as they all delved into their own thoughts on the situation. Nikolai fell asleep and Dempsey began examining the door, looking for potential weaknesses.
Takeo searched his clouded memories, trying to place his disdain for Okitsu. Even before the madness and cruelty he was now sure Okitsu was capable of, Takeo saw great evil in him upon their arrival. It was as if they had met before.
Takeo approached Richtofen, who was now flipping through pages in his diary. “Doctor, this Okitsu… I feel as if I once knew him. When I look into his eyes, all I see is pain. Pain, and betrayal. There is someone in my past, someone who may be the reason for my missing memories. I suspect Doctor Okitsu may be this person. You were once his colleague. Did he betray me?”
Richtofen seemed reluctant to answer, pausing to think, “I don’t know much of your past, Takeo. But I do know this: You served the Emperor diligently. Doctor Okitsu… well, let’s just say he does not view himself as being below anyone. Based on this knowledge, I can safely say ‘Yes.’ He is the one who betrayed you.”