Chapter 16: "Space Race"
Before October 1963
Berlin, Germany - Deutsches sol Kino - Dressing Room
“No, this cannot be all! Why would Group 935 have such little amounts of 115 in this facility?”
Perplexed by the lack of supply on Group 935's part, Edward theorized that with dwindling funds at the end of the war, Group 935 diverted most of its supplies to Der Riese, leaving this negligible amount of 115 in the theater. If Richtofen knew nothing of this facility prior, it must not be of much importance to Group 935's primary goals. But the idea of Maxis keeping this place a secret from him vexed Edward.
“Will this be enough of the element to leave this place, Doctor Richtofen?”
Takeo stood nearby, while the doctor placed the small rock of 115 carefully with his belongings.
“Well, I suppose it is enough to get us somewhere else. But not Griffin Station. Let's just say I don't have to make any calculations to know that, heh heh.”
Dempsey stood in the some nearby rubble, examining one of his upgraded weapons, while the massive air cannon he had acquired sat against the nearby wall.
“You know, Richtofen, why don't you just...send us home right now. I'm getting a little tired of just taking your orders without anything in return. I wanna know a little more about how we met. I want to know about this...gap in my memory.”
“A gap? What are you talking about Dempsey, you're completely normal! Well, and a little ugly. No worries, you will be home in due time. I will find a solution we can all agree on, willingly or not.”
“Well start working on it fast. My memory's a bit shot right now, but every minute I spend on these little games of yours I start to hate you just a little bit more, and I don't know why.”
“Well then, why don't you go over there with Nikolai while I find the best way out of here, and don't bother me anymore, okay? Ja? Toodles!”
On several racks were hanging dresses and costumes tailor-made for stage actors in this theater, and Nikolai was playfully sifting through the clothes one by one, taking drinks in between.
Dempsey glanced towards Nikolai, rolling his eyes as he did so, then turned back to Richtofen. “Fine.”
Richtofen puzzled over his next move. With such little amounts of Element 115, going to the Moon is not an option at this time. They must go somewhere closer, somewhere on earth. Richtofen searched his belongings for the folded newspaper he had recovered upon their arrival. Perhaps the current news of this era may hold insight of this time period's abilities to travel into space. Germany was so far ahead in 1945, there must be a simple form of transportation through space in 1963, or so Richtofen thought. Richtofen then came to the realization that if people of this time can travel freely into space, they must have discovered Griffin Station. There is no telling what damage may have been done to the MPD since his absence. They must arrive at the station as soon as possible, before someone else, someone less deserving, discovers the MPD's unlimited power.
He unwrapped the black and white paper, written wholly in German. The front page article spoke of some sort of wall, most likely the one they had seen just minutes ago outside the facility. This wall was built with the intention of dividing up Germany between the Soviets and the other allies of World War II. There appears to be a global tension in this period, as depicted by the Soviet-controlled news company which printed this paper.
Flipping through the pages, Richtofen came across another article regarding a flight mission into space set to take place quite soon as of the paper's publication. The pilot is a woman by the name of Valentina Tereshkova. Richtofen now knew that space travel is possible in this time, albeit quite unexpectedly archaic compared to teleportation. The problem, however, lies in the location of the Soviet launch site.
Richtofen thought back to the end of the war, and his collaboration with American and Russian scientists outside of Group 935's affairs and Maxis' wandering eye. A member of the Russian Ascension Group once spoke to Richtofen of a facility being built in the Kazakh region of the Soviet Union as their main testing grounds. Perhaps this would be a good location to start. Richtofen searched his notebook, finding the coordinates he had scribbled down to siphon Element 115 to the Ascension Group right under Maxis' nose in the past. Knowing the brilliant scientists in the Ascension Group, they are no doubt heading the Soviet space program in this time. They had the proper leadership as an organization and were on the right side of the war in the end. Flipping through pages and pages of ramblings and locations, Richtofen found the coordinates he was looking for, leading right outside the facility's construction site of 1945. With the right amount of luck, this location will be the primary testing ground for the Soviet space program, or at least, it will be a lead to find such a location. From there, Edward could send himself to Griffin Station to hopefully discover a solution for removing Samantha from the MPD.
Edward took this rare moment of down-time to look over the notes that he had acquired from Maxis' safe further, to perhaps answer a few burning questions. He wandered towards the silent stage flipping through the manila folder and motioning Takeo to stay behind. He sorted through several personal writings by Maxis within the folder, many detailing ideas Maxis planned to implement into Group 935's holdings, such as future testing locations, projects, and collaborations.
At a point before the war, Maxis had planned for a collusion of great minds between Group 935 and the United States Government, speaking with many top scientists from their base in Nevada. There were, unfortunately, many disagreements in these talks. The American government wanted Group 935 to be headquartered in the United States, with bases in only allied, democratic countries. This was simply too high a demand as Group 935 had already dipped its toes into Japan, Siberia, China, and Austria, not to mention the crown jewel of the organization, Der Riese, being in German territory. This led to a long-standing feud between American scientists and Group 935's scientists, a feud which Richtofen exploited to assist in the creation of Griffin Station. By Maxis' diary entries, it is apparent that he had no idea why the Americans had such a large supply of Element 115 at the Nevada base. In truth, Richtofen had been supplying the demand of 115 in exchange for supplies and machinery, right under the nose of Group 935.
Richtofen sifted through more diary entries, hoping to enlighten himself on the purpose of this theater facility. In searching, he discovered a small note written by Maxis along with blueprints of the theater.
Group 935 has been given access to a failing theater right in Berlin: Kino sol Deutsches. Upon questioning why a theater was chosen, the Nazi official I spoke with noted that a facility in such a locale would be inconspicuous, and allow for simple tests to take place right in the city, rather than in secret facilities far from civilization. I have outlined the plans for this small theater project and had S.O.P.H.I.A. send them to the proper officials. This location will be kept secret from most members of Group 935, particularly Richtofen. Lately he has grown erratic, and I fear I can no longer fully trust him. Here at the theater, we will continue experiments to unlock the human mind. With this research, I hope to create the army that Germany needs to win this war; The army that I need to keep Group 935 active.
Just as he suspected: This facility was Maxis' attempt to break through the will of these horrific, undead creatures. When that inevitably failed, he attempted to use it to present his inferior teleporter to the highest ranking Nazi officials, and win them over for funding. Like all that Maxis attempted to succeed in, this failed spectacularly when the Allies pushed into Berlin before the presentation took place. A pity, really.
Also of note, many experiments in collaboration with scientist Friedrich Steiner took place in the Kino facility, involving an experimental gas intended to kill any who come into contact with it without proper skin protection. These tests were considered failures however, as while the gas created by Steiner worked as intended, Maxis attempted to create sleeper agents containing the gas that would release the deadly toxin on command. Unfortunately for Maxis, the gas transformed test subjects into vile monsters that could not be controlled, much like the zombies. The subjects were deformed, losing all facial features, and their skin turning a ghastly, pale white. Steiner dropped all future plans on working with Group 935 following the incident.
Edward searched the notes further, discovering secrets such as the Datenbediensteter, a computer server managed wholly by S.O.P.H.I.A. and used exclusively by Maxis to store information at Der Riese. This may explain the lack of notes chronologically after its creation.
Richtofen searched for the Vril research section, hoping to discover the next step in removing Samantha from her pedestal in the Aether.
One page noted experiments attempting to combine the power of Element 115 and the experimental Group 935 recreation of Vril, the energy believed to have been used by the ancient Vril-Ya. The two appeared to have inverse effects, and when combined they created many strange happenings within the test environment.
Initial tests on pigs showed little promise, as a large sum of Element 115 was used in combination with a Vril generator, causing more often than not a fiery, bloody death in the swine. However, when the levels of 115 were lowered proportionally, and combined with the power emitted from the Vril generator, the pigs did not combust, however a strange aura, more like a link, appeared between the two pigs, and both began to behave erratically. They were both fine mentally, as brain scans showed, and they both seemed to calm after a short time.
For weeks, their behavior following the experiment was recorded. Subject A425 was mostly docile, often choosing sleep over eating on many occasions. Subject B312 was, conversely, more active and aggressive, sleeping very little. This behavior was not exceptional in pigs, however. But, their handler at one point questioned if the subjects' ID's had been switched, as he had noted the opposite behavior patterns in each subject before the experiment took place. With this in mind, the experiment was recreated three times, each time producing similar findings. It was at this point that Doctor Maxis became involved, initiating tests on human subjects from Wittenau Sanatorium.
Richtofen's reading came to an end at the sound of a sudden shotgun blast, followed by the howling of the damned and more gunfire. From the dressing room came Dempsey, sending a zombie to the ground, kicking its skull to pieces.
“We've got a problem Richtofen! It's now or never, we need to get the hell out of here!”
“I can see that, Dempsey!”
Following Dempsey came Takeo and Nikolai, fighting zombies all the same. Richtofen pointed back towards the dressing room, then towards Nikolai.
“Go back and get that film reel, Nikolai! Dempsey, you must link the receiving pad in the lobby before we may leave!”
“How the hell do I do that, Richtofen?”
“Ach! It is so simple, Dempsey, go! Now!”
Dempsey sprinted in the direction of the lobby, leaping off the stage, and rapidly dispersing explosives from his dual pistols, all while the massive Thunder Gun was still attached to his back by a latex strap.
Back at the stage, Richtofen pointed to Takeo.
“Kill the schwine while I input the MTD's coordinates! We are leaving as soon as possible!”
Takeo's rifle would not be enough to slay the scourge coming his way from every possible direction. He strapped the rifle to his back, activating the automated gun turret, and discovering a chalk outline of a weapon on the wall, just beside the power switch. The gun was lightweight and sleek in design, with an incription on the side desribing the model and make of the weapon. The weapon is American, named the M16. The weapon fired automatically, slaying the beasts that leaped at Takeo. The weapon under-performed at long range, however, missing many times as Takeo attempted to slay gas crawlers coming from the ceiling. At the flip of a switch on the side of the weapon, however, the weapon changed firing modes, delivering three rounds at each pull of the trigger, greatly increasing the accuracy at range. Surgically precise and focused, Takeo kept every demon at bay while Richtofen went to work on the teleporter.
Nikolai soon joined in the bloodshed, leaning the film reel against the wall and grabbing something quite different from another chalk drawing on the stage. The flat, rectangular device he held emitted two red beams when placed firmly into the ground nearby. A gas crawler had evaded Takeo's vision, and came too close to the red beams, causing the rectangular device to explode. This sudden explosion caught Takeo by surprise, distracting him from another crawler which leaped through the air, toppling Takeo to the ground.
The beast held enourmous strength, pinning Takeo and preventing him from fighting back. The vile creature opened its maw, attempting to gnaw Takeo's face, releasing a small, non-lethal cloud of the deadly gas it contained, sending Takeo into a coughing fit as his body rejected the toxin. The encounter came to an end as Nikolai grabbed the crawler by its gangly arms, ripping it from Takeo's body, and tossing it several feet away, before he blasted it to bits with his machine gun.
“Thank you, Nikolai. I may have misjudged you.”
“Don't expect that again in future, Takeo.”
Nikolai continued defending the doctor, slaying beasts as Takeo came back to his feet.
Much of the commotion came to an end at the loud boom from Dempsey's Thunder Gun, and the thuds of many zombie bodies meeting the ground after being tossed through the air. Back from the lobby, Dempsey ran through the center auditorium, calling out to Richtofen.
“I linked it! And it was not. Fucking. Simple. Richtofen!”
Richtofen entered a final input into the keypad motioning everyone to enter the MTD.
“Grab the reel and let's go! Schnell!”
All entered the MPD, firing at the hordes as they did so. As Takeo's M16 depleted in all ammunition, he tossed it out of the teleporter as the blinding light began to take over his senses. Like before, they all appeared in the projector room. Dizzy from the light, Nikolai stood up leaning against Richtofen on his unsteady legs.
“Please tell me this is part of plan, Richtofen. I cannot take much more of this.”
Edward patted Nikolai on the shoulder, before lightly pushing him against the wall to rest, instead.
“No problems here, Nikolai. This teleporter seems to be designed to send us here before wherever it is we actually want to end up. We should arrive at our intended location very soon.”
Beside Nikolai was the film reel, begging Richtofen to be played. He departed to the projector, removing the current film and inserting the one he had brought, and gazing out through the viewport overlooking the stage. As the film began, Richtofen noted the zombies still moaning and groaning as they wandered the stage, unsure of where their juicy morsels had departed to. Edward did his best not to grab their attention from the projector room as he viewed the film.
On the white screen first came a slideshow of images depicting a Group 935 scientist working with chemicals in one of Der Riese's labs. Narrating the movie was the maddening voice of Doctor Maxis.
“The test subjects have been undergoing treatment for five days with very little progress. I have been assured that, given time, the programming will take hold.”
The movie clicked and static filled the void between the previous scene and the one depicted now. On screen was images of an eye being dilated, a landscape, as well as photos of Group 935's emblem.
“In the past weeks, we have made great strides in breaking through to their subconscious. I have had the projectionists make edits to the film. These changes have been very effective.”
The projection changed once more to a new slideshow of images: a group of zombie test subjects, silhouetted in the light, their eyes hollow. They were rising over a hill, arms raised, several photos zooming in to their blank faces.
“Subject two-six has had a breakthrough, he is responding to the treatment and following basic instructions, the violent outbursts have been greatly reduced, and given time, we feel this method of treatment will be one-hundred percent effective in most cases.”
Two-six is the same subject which went rampant at Der Riese during a demonstration, killing Sophia in the process. Richtofen could not help but feel amused at the confidence in Dr. Maxis' voice, and the pain he suffered following the incident. He continued looking to the stage, ready for the next scene to take place, but instead his ears were filled with the shrill voice of Dempsey at his side.
“Oh-hoh shit! There's still freakbags down there!”
The shouting caught their attention, and the zombies began to howl and shout back, waving their arms in the air.
“Dempsey! What do you think you're doing?!”
“Oh come on, Doc, they can't get us up here. I just want to leave them a little parting gift.”
Dempsey lifted a frag grenade from his belt, pulling the pin, and tossing it out the window into the auditorium below, blowing apart a large horde. He then tossed three more down below, now finding himself out of explosives.
Dempsey searched the room, noting a single chalk drawing on the wall, shaped like a bag. On reaching for it, a satchel of fragmentation grenades manifested in his arms.
“Hell yeah! Everybody grab one!”
Nikolai jumped at the opportunity, sending several to the auditorium down below, exploding several ravenous zombies, causing more to appear and take their place. Richtofen inevitably joined in, amused by the helplessness of the minions.
Twenty seconds and a dozen frag grenades later, Richtofen began to cackle with joy.
“Ha ha ha ha! They are so helpless down there! They cannot reach us even if they tried! Ha ha!”
As Richtofen pulled the pin on another grenade to toss it from the projector room, an eldtrich crawler peered its head into the window, frightening Richtofen. He dropped the live grenade, causing Takeo to dive for it, sending it out the window just before detonating in mid-air. The explosion destroyed a large portion of the wall, as well as the crawler. The projector sputtered and died from the blast, sending sparks flying. Several more crawlers scaled the walls, climbing into the cramped projector room.
The four survivors backed themselves to the pack-a-punch machine, slaying the gas crawlers before they came too close. If even one slipped by, the gas would be a slow, agonizing death.
One crawler climbed in through the floor, tearing a hole in the wooden paneling. It creeped its way towards Dempsey, who attempted to kick it back to a safer distance. The monster bit down on Dempsey's boot, digging its teeth into Dempsey's ankles, unshaken. Takeo drew his sword, approaching from the side.
“Wait. TAK, NOT THE LEG!”
Takeo lifted his katana, slicing the beast at the neck, and kicking the corpse from the ledge. The severed head still clung on, releasing a small cloud of the toxin from the neck, before being flung from his boot into the auditorium below.
More and more crawlers creeped their way into the room, cornering them. As all hope appeared lost, the teleporter finally activated once more, blinding the group with an intense light, and sending them across the world.
The air was cool and dry, and the sky cloudy and gray. They were now outdoors, well within the walls of a concrete facility. Takeo began to vomit into the dirt, before rising up and cleaning his sword. Nikolai looked to the walls at the large, red lettering, squinting his eyes as he did so. The lettering is Russian. Richtofen searched the area. Strangely, there were no signs of any life. All was quiet, and the facility seemed to lack any security whatsoever. Richtofen peered through the chain-link fence out onto the foggy, dirt-covered wasteland. He turned back, looking to the skyline above the facility, and he spotted a tall, thin rocket resting in the distance.
Nikolai took a vodka bottle from his backpack, removing the cap.
“Да, is perfect. We are in Soviet base, which means more vodka! We must celebrate with drink!”
Richtofen looked to his allies, now realizing they will soon outlive their usefulness. If he can get the rocket operational, and send himself to Griffin Station, he may have to leave them in this facility.
Dempsey questioned their arrival in such a place.
“So why here, Richtofen? Is this near Griffin Station?”
“Nein. But here we will have a means of transportation to Griffin Station.”
“What, like another teleporter?”
“Well, since you've got that all figured out, why are we still here?”
“Given the unexpected arrival of zombies at the theater, I would not be surprised if they follow us here.”
“So you need us to do more of your dirty work while you fuck around in this new place?”
“You've summarized it quite accurately, Dempsey.”
“Now where have I heard this plan before?”
Richtofen entered a small room off beside the small courtyard; Inside was a row of lockers marked with the names of many Russians. The largest locker of them all was opened slightly, and inside it contained a white, foil-lined suit, built for the sole purpose of protecting a cosmonaut being sent into space. Richtofen entered the suit; It fit quite snugly, but it was certainly bearable. Of note, there was also a powered down Double Tap Root Beer machine sitting next to the lockers. Richtofen chose to ignore it, zipping up his suit and picking his gear back up. Exiting the room back into the courtyard, he was met by the stares of his comrades, and the boisterous laughing of Dempsey.
“And I thought you looked ridiculous before, Richtofen!”
Richtofen ignored the laughter, motioning the others to follow him towards the inner facility. They passed through a large, metal door. Again, there was no one around to stop them from entering this top-secret facility. The group approached a circular, metal-grated platform, surrounded by warning signs, and in the center of the platform was a raised panel with several buttons and knobs. Also on the panel was an opened book, written in Russian and detailing the device.
“Nikolai, can you read this? Tell me how it works.”
Nikolai lifted the opened book, squinting to read the lettering, and holding the book so close it was practically touching his face.
“It says something about, uh...transportation? Only for...authorized Ascension Group...personnel.”
Richtofen pointed to a list of assorted letters and numbers in the next page.
“Und what is this list?”
Richtofen further studied the list, using the keypad to enter in a desired location in the center of the facility.
“Danke, Nikolai. We are so close to completing my, er...our mission! Now, step onto the platform, everyone!”
Dempsey and Takeo hesitantly stepped onto the metal grating surrounding the panel.
Dempsey questioned Richtofen's change of attire, “So what's with the get-up, anyway, Richtofen?”
“I simply desired a new outfit after so long in that Nazi uniform. I know you hated it so, Dempsey. Besides, I think this one suits me and my future quite well.”
Richtofen fiddled with the knobs and switches of the pad, before finally pressing the large launch button, propelling the platform into the air, and towards the center of the Ascension Group facility.