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Table of Contents
"For those defilers who dare to desecrate the temples and tombs of the gods, a cruel and unusual destiny shall be theirs!"
Clockwork ticking sounded like the throb of a mechanical heart beating in the near-darkness of this astronomical observatory outside Berlin.
Berlin, city of defilers - and never more so than now, when the little corporal from Austria, Adolf Hitler, had recently taken supreme power.
Most nights, graduate assistant Dieter Manheim, a mild, unprepossessing young man in his early twenties, maintained his lonely vigil by himself.
But not this night.
This night, the telescopic platform towering high in the lofty heights of the observatory dome was crowded with guests.
Dieter, who normally held this watch all to himself, was now crowded out of the way, toward the rear of the platform, far from the telescope.
Why, not counting himself, there were half a dozen others on the platform, and a baker's dozen more below, on the metal stairs and landings of the platform.
And a strange crew they were, too!
Peering into the eyepiece of the great-lensed telescope was one of Germany's most distinguished astronomers, Dr. V. T.
Kaltenbrunner was a gnomish fellow in his late sixties, with a wild thatch of white hair, and a straggly beard. His appearance belied his accomplishments.
Clustered around the astronomer were the others, a queer collection of very important men in Nazified Berlin.
There was a military man, two Party theoreticians, a government minister, an Oriental, and an Egyptologist, of all people!
Dieter was disgusted, but he kept his opinions to himself. He counted himself lucky that he had not been evicted tonight from his own post.
Strange! That the Nazi bigwigs should take such an interest in the night sky, that they venture forth in the dead of night to crowd and cluster on the platform in this chilly, darkened observatory., The building was massive, drum-shaped, with a high domed roof - a roof, whose base was wheeled and motorized and mounted on tracks so that it could revolve 360 degrees, bringing into view any part of the celestial hemisphere.
It was dim, almost dark, for what few lights there were, were kept low, so as not to spoil the night vision of the viewers.
But what on earth, Dieter wondered for the umpteenth time, what on earth were these viewers looking for?
No, not on earth, but in the heavens, for the great light-collecting lenses of one of the world's most powerful telescopes was trained on an obscure quadrant of sky, one which, to Dieter's extensive knowledge, was utterly devoid of astronomical interest.
But wait - a sudden stir of excitement, of intentness at the scope, seemed to indicate that something was afoot.
The guests crowded dose, murmuring and chattering, clustering so close that Kaltenbrunner, his white-coated body hunched into the shape of a question mark over the viewpiece of the scope, had to wave them back irritatedly. This he did without once looking up.
Kaltenbrunner's body seemed to vibrate with expectant tension. Despite his own skepticism, Dieter could not help but be caught up in the excitement.
He found himself moving forward, craning his neck to peer over the shoulders of the guests assembled around Kaltenbrunner.
Tension hung heavy in the air, an atmosphere of hushed expectancy.
At last, Kaltenbrunner lifted his eye from the viewer. His old weary bones audibly creaked as he stood up straight, turned, faced the assembled.
Pale green light from the instrument panel filtered over his face, giving it an eerie tinge, a spectral look.
The old savant took a deep breath. He seemed to labor under a particular excitement.
"I have seen it," he announced.
Noise exploded, as each of the visitors burst out speaking at the same time, with exclamations of excitement, triumph, questions, and the like.
Frowning, Kaltenbrunner irritatedly waved them to silence - and knowing the notoriously short temper of the astronomer, even the Nazi Party bigwigs ceased their questioning.
With grave seriousness, Kaltenbrunner announced: "There can be no doubt about it - no doubt at all! The comet has appeared in exactly the quadrant where it was predicted to be!"
More waves of excited clamorous sound erupted from the assembled.
Dieter was now more puzzled than ever. He held himself to be as well informed about the heavens as any young astronomer now working, and he knew nothing of any comet scheduled to appear in the section of sky now under study.
And yet, it was so, as he saw for himself with mounting amazement when finally he, last of all, was permitted to peer into the telescope.
Sure enough, in a patch of blackness where nothing but void had previously existed, there now shone a fuzzy patch of milky-white light - the comet!
Dieter's attention was diverted from this astounding, unlooked for discovery, by an exchange between Kaltenbrunner and the Egyptologist.
The Egyptologist, Uhmlaut, was a small wizened bespectacled individual with a head too big for his diminutive body - a specialist in the study and decipherment of hieroglyphics from the old kingdoms of the Nile.
Now, Kaltenbrunner, one of the most distinguished men of science, not just in Germany but in the world, singled out Uhmlaut.
Facing him, Kaltenbrunner bowed stiffly from the waist.
"I congratulate you, Herr Uhmlaut!" he said. "I confess that I was more than skeptical at first, but events have proved you to be in the right!
"You have accurately predicted where the comet would appear!"
"Not I," Uhmlaut demurred. "The credit belongs to the royal astrologers of a Pharoahnic court who prophesied the return of the comet - a prophesy made some four thousand years ago!"
Astrologers? Pharaohs? Predictions and prophecies?
Dieter was more puzzled than ever.
Paramount in his puzzlement was the extreme interest which these important rulers of the New Germany, the Thousand Year Reich, took in the discovery of a new heavenly body.
Why were they so interested?
This, Dieter knew not... but he did know that the comet was a fact.
* * *
... Now, the only bodies which interested Greta Duberstadt were not the planets and constellations and comets, but the beautiful bodies of her worshippers.
Of course, beautiful though they were, those males and females who were under her thumb and heels, they were not nearly so beautiful as the body of Greta herself.
More than a little of that body was now on display, wrapped in a chic, lowcut black velvet gown which hugged her form with skin-tight perfection.
Greta Duberstadt was a beautiful bitch -- seductress, spy, assassin.
And fanatical Nazi.
She was in her middle twenties, a superb specimen of Aryan excellence, as she liked to describe herself.
In her flowed undiluted the blood of the blood-mad Teutonic tribes, whose genes had combined to create a walking dream of a vision.
She was tall, was Greta - lofty, more so now than ever, thanks to the high spiked heels of her black patent leather pumps.
Her hair was platinum blonde, fine and straight, simply and elegantly cut. Parted in the middle of her scalp, the hair covered her ears, but reached no lower than her jawline, framing her exquisite face in a helmet of hair.
Her face was wide, heart-shaped, with the chiseled fine-featured icy perfection of a marble statue, whose stony whiteness was the color of her own flesh.
There was something chilling in her beauty, to be sure. Her true nature, her twisted passions, perversities, and pitilessness had not yet stamped and lined her face, which was beautiful, but something of her true nature showed in her eyes.
She moved with the loose-limbed grace of an athlete, or of some great jungle cat, her hips swaying, body lithely flowing as she moved.
She was formally dressed, dressed to kill, as it were. Strands of preciously matched priceless pearls looped her swanlike neck and spilled their milky radiance on the tops of her breasts as well.
The gown she wore left her broad shoulders bare, and displayed a good deal of the roundnesses of her breasts.
The gown was tight in the bodice, and its skirt formed a narrow sheath whose hem reached down to her shapely, stockinged ankles.
In her right hand, she carried a small beaded purse, a purse weighted down with a small, square, utterly lethal little automatic pistol.
Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack - so sounded the tapping of her high heels, echoing in the damp dreary concrete corridor.
Tromp-tramp, tromp-tramp, tromp-tramp - that was the heavier, jack-booted tread of Greta's "escort", Gestapo Captain Ernst Vommer.
Vommer was no bullet-headed thug, as he was fond of remarking. He was in his early forties, a broad-shouldered burly man who cut a dashing figure in his ominous black-and-silver uniform.
He had short wren-brown hair and a wide, thick-featured, florid, avuncular face, whose eyes brimmed with what seemed like merry humor.
It was no surprise to see an SS officer in this place, this underground labyrinth of twisty concrete corridors, cells, and secret chambers.
There were many such subterranean fortress-prisons like this in Germany... and before too long, there would be many more.
No, to any student of the New Germany, it came as no surprise to find such as Vommer down here, in the dungeon depths.
But there was something almost surrealistically inappropriate about the presence of the sleekly elegant, aristocratically beautiful blonde here, in this place of fear and pain and forgotten victims and shadows.
- Inappropriate, that is, to those who were unaware of Greta's true nature.
Vommer, however, was quite aware of the intricate convolutions of her depraved libido... which was why he had summoned her this night.
He walked beside her, his arm linked with hers, as they made, their way past the sentry checkpoints, descending ever-deeper into the dungeons.
Vommer's all-seeing eyes, never missing a trick, appreciated the sight of her full breasts jiggling from that little frisson.
"Nerves?" he teased.
"No - cold," Greta said. There was something harshly metallic, mechanical in her voice. "I should have brought my wrap, it's a bit chilly down here!"
"Well, we'll have to see what we can do to warm you up, Greta."
"This had better be good, Ernst," she warned.
"Oh, it will be, it will be! Of that, I am sure!"
"I hope so,"' she said. "I was just on my way to the ballet when your men arrived to ferry me to headquarters!"
"I promise you, you'll see a show here that you won't see on any stage in the Reich," Vommer chuckled.
Her yellow eyes glinted like agates.
"That sounds interesting," Greta murmured. She knew well the nature of some of the "entertainments" which the SS captain had staged here in the past.
"Interesting, and more," Vommer said.
The corridor sloped downward, its low ceiling only a foot or so above their heads. Lights down here were distantly spaced, creating long dim passages.
Up ahead was a zone of light, where the corridor terminated in a door, a metal door flanked by a pair of armed guards.
Like clockwork men, the guards snapped to rigid attention, arms shooting out like pistons to flash the Nazi salute.
"Heil Hitler!" the two guards shouted in unison.
"Heil Hitler!" rang out Greta's steely voice, as she returned the salute.
"Heil." Vommer said, flashing a casual salute.
The guards passed the SS captain and his guests through the checkpoint, beyond the metal door, and into the next section of the dungeon.
"Your men didn't so much as take a second look at me," Greta said. "You have them very well trained, Captain!'"
"Almost as well trained as you have your men, eh, Greta?"
"What place is this, Ernst?"
"This? This is where we keep the, er, difficult cases... you shall see."
SS captain and blonde bitch proceeded down a narrow hall now, one so narrow that they could just barely walk abreast.
On either side were the locked metal doors of cells.
Greta's nerves tingled. Her agate eyes sparkled. Rosy color came into her pale white cheeks, and her lips parted with excitement.
She could sense the aura of fear, pain, and torture hanging over this place... it was exhilarating, intoxicating as Alpine air.
"And here we are," Vommer said, drawing to a halt in front of a metal door, one no different from all the others.
The door was tall and narrow, made of boiler plate, with rivets showing. Orange and red rust tinged the stark steely metal.
Set at head-height in the door was a small square panel, which could be opened only from the outside, to provide a view into the cell.
Vommer slid back the small panel.
From within the cell came a piercing shriek.
The scream of a woman agonizing in fearful pain... it rose higher and shriller, ascending the register, bubbling at the top., for an instant, then abruptly falling off, dropping down to a whimpering sobbing gurgle...
"My dear Ernst, how thoughtful of you!"
"Wait, wait!" Vommer said. "The fun is only beginning! I promised you a very special treat, and that is what you shall have!" From within the cell came the low, booming tones of masculine voices, a pair of them. One of them chuckled...
Greta crowded closer, the tips of her breasts pressing the black-sleeved arm of the SS man, as she tried to peer into the cell.
Vommer slid the panel shut, closing off both sight and sound into the room.
"Oh, Ernst, don t be such a tease!" Greta pouted.
Grinning, Vommer fitted his master key into the lock and opened it. The heavy door creaked on rusty hinges as Vommer swung it open.
"After you," he courteously invited.
Smiling, Greta stepped through the open doorway, into the stone chamber.
The low-ceilinged rectangular room was lit by a bright naked bulb which cast a harsh glaring light that banished all shadows.
A clinical light, not unlike that of a surgical operating room.
Which was rather fitting, in its way...
The naked female victim sat on a stool, her back to the open doorway through which Vommer and Greta had entered.
The two men, the torturers, who stood hunched over their victim, looked up from their beloved labors of pain.
The SS thugs were ready to explode in outrage at the entrance into the torture chamber of uninvited guests.
Until they saw the ominous black and silver uniform and insignia of a captain in the Gestapo, that of Ernst Vommer.
They had seen Greta first, but before they could react to the astounding sight of a black-clad blonde beauty who looked as if she had just stepped from one of the most fashionable nightspots in Berlin, stepping into the torture chamber, they saw Vommer - and that sight galvanized them.
Just as the guards at the checkpoint had earlier done, this pair of torturers sprang to stiff, straight-backed attention.
The sound of their heels clicking together reported like pistol shots, and their voices sang out the "Sieg heil!"
Vommer good-humoredly returned the salute, while Greta made a small nod of her head in acknowledgement.
In their hamlike hands, the torturers still clutched the instruments of their vocation - pliers for one, a long wicked jabbing needle for the other.
As for their victim, she slumped limply on the three-legged wooden stool, gasping for breath, whimpering, too dazed to turn around.
Greta took in the scene with the rapt enjoyment of a child viewing a host of gaily-wrapped presents under the Yuletide tree.
The torturers were an odd pair -- one of them young, neat as a pin, muscular; the other middle-aged, sloppy, beefy.
The young man was correctly uniformed, while the older man had removed his tunic, stripping down to his undershirt above the waist, a beer belly slopping over the tops of his gray trousers.
As for the victim, she was a young woman (not liable to get much older, now that she had been delivered into the dungeons of the Gestapo), a young woman of Greta's age, with reddish-brown hair, with a fine thoroughbred physique.
Her body shook with shivering. It was glossy with cold sweat and white, pale deathly white, with fear and pain.