Sorry for the lack of posts, things have been busy. We didn’t win a seat in the Comiket lottery, but our sister circle did, so we’ll be there! I’ll post more details in the next few days. Until that time, I’ve uploaded Chapter 7 to the novel, so please enjoy!
Archive for July, 2012
Projekt MUSE Chapter 7: On the March
Einzelganger Squadron Ready Room
Berlin, German Union
24 Februry 1940
Wilhelmina glanced over at Ada and Hildy, who were sound asleep on the large bed. She knew they were exhausted. She tried to hide it, but she could feel the strain herself. Once high command had decided to use the Einzelganger squadron in combat, the tedium of waiting was replaced with a near constant string of sorties, sometimes as many as 3 a day. It was so bad that Wilhelmina had the crew prepare this bedroom in the hangar, right next to the airfield.
There was nothing she could do about it, so she shrugged it off. This is what she had wanted from the start. Now that the military was taking them seriously,she was getting access to far more detailed intelligence. Looking at the stack of papers on the desk, she realized that it also meant a lot more paperwork. So much so, she knew she would have to expand the squadron soon. If anything, just so that they could get some rest and enough time to get caught up with paperwork.
Wilhelmina picked up one of the reports. It had been two weeks since that fateful mission with the radar evading fighter, and about 5 days since they had entered full operational status. In those 5 days they had flown 12 sorties, and between the three of them had scored nine victories. Most of the enemy they engaged had been Strike craft, but among the victories were 3 more of those mysterious Fighter aircraft that were invisible to radar.
She pulled out another report from the stack of papers on her desk. Based on a combination of their observations and what debris that could be recovered, League intelligence had surmised that the Tower fighters always had the ability to avoid radar, but they had never used it before. How it worked wasn’t fully understood, but it seemed to be a very simplified version of the same type of devices that allowed Tuners to interact with the MUSE system. Parts of the Tower fighter aircraft were made up of very small machines that could rearrange themselves very quickly. It was difficult to imagine how small these machines were. They were impossible to see, even with the best microscopes. Dr. Brandt had called them “molecular machines.” These molecular machines got their name because Dr. Brant speculated that they were in fact manufactured at the molecular level. As fantastic as it sounded, it was the only explanation that could be made to explain how parts of the aircraft seem to change color and shape as it flew through the air.
Wilhelmina sat back for a moment and took a sip of tea. Far off in the distance, she could see the glint of moonlight reflecting off of the Tower. The Tower, the MUSE system, even their Luftritter were really just like something out of US Science Fiction pulp novels, and she had trouble believing in them herself. Her engineering background always made her uncomfortable because nobody, not even Dr. Brandt, quite understood the machines that even made her own Luftritter possible. It also troubled her that there was any kind of similarity between the Tower craft and her own MUSE systems. She shook her head. There were just too many unknowns. But right now without MUSE technology, the Tower would have simply marched right into Berlin, so like it or not, she would have to rely on her Luftritter and Projekt MUSE.
There was one more report to review. Apparently the Luftwaffe had come up with a new weapon to give the Me-109Es a fighting chance against the Tower aircraft. As she poured over the details of the new weapon system and the tactics required to use it, Wilhelmina felt her eyelids grow heavier and heavier. Unable to focus, she turned off the light on her desk and crawled onto the giant bed next to Ada and Hildy. In an instant, she was sound asleep.
Berlin, Prussia, German Union
Bundsluftfahrtministerium (Union Air Ministry Building)
25 February 1940
Catherine Sculley was not pleased. She nodded to the guard and flashed her Hollywood passport and her press credentials. After a quick glance, the guard simply nodded and resumed his stoic glare. Catherine stepped into the German Air ministry building. Once again, she felt she was being slighted. It was always difficult as a female reporter, but as a female war correspondent, it was nearly impossible to get good assignments. Her editor, who was quite sympathetic suggested she pack her bags and head to Europe, after all, war between humanity and an alien force meant lots of opportunities for a big scoop. Instead she found herself relegated to doing articles about “war on the homefront” and “housewives dealing with rising food prices.” It was enough to make her blood boil.
Suddenly, it had appeared as if her luck had changed. A film crew from Hollywood was being sent to do a newsreel on a unit on the frontlines. She happened to know someone on the crew, and she yelled, screamed, threatened and even cried her way to be the lead reporter for the segment. Everything seemed to be working out, until she found out the unit would be a unit composed entirely of women.
Frustrated, she could do nothing but go along after making such a fuss. “An all female unit? It must be some kind of propaganda stunt.” Burning with rage she walked into the German War ministry’s Airfleet headquarters. A General Weaver would be giving her an advanced briefing on the unit.
“Ms. Sculley, what you are about to see is one of the League’s most tightly guarded secrets. However, it appears that there has been a decision to go public with this information in order to launch a worldwide recruiting effort.”
“Here we go with the propaganda,” Catherine bit her lip and nodded to the General.
General Weaver nodded to his aide and the room darkened. A projector in the back of the room sprung to life.
When the film ended, the lights in the room came back on.
“You will have full access to them of course, but we must ask that you do not interfere with their operations. We have our own film crews but we thought we’d bring in the experts from Hollywood to work on this project, since we’d like to distribute these films worldwide. So, Ms. Sculley, do you think you can do a good report on the Einzelganger Squadron?”
This looked like it was way more than just a scoop. It was probably the single biggest story about the war since it started. Dumbfounded, Catherine could only nod.
Einzelganger Squadron Ready Room
Berlin, German Union
1 March 1940
“Hollywood?” Brunhilde, who had just taken a rather large bite of roast almost choked. Her eyes were wide with excitement.
Wilhelmina simply sighed. She had wanted to expand the unit, but this wasn’t really what she had in mind. However it seems that the League had turned around completely, and now Projekt MUSE was the centerpoint of their strategy against the tower. She also suspected that the horredous losses that the League was incurring meant that they needed to show victories against the Tower, and right now it seemed that they were the only unit producing tangible results. But Hollywood would be quite a distraction.
“When do they arrive?” asked Adalwolfa in her usual dry voice.
“Tomorrow. I don’t have many details myself. Supposedly they are sending a female reporter.”
“Ooh, really? Sounds interesting!” Brunhilde smiled as she finished her lunch.
Schwarzenberg Musical Conservatory
Berlin, German Union
2 March 1940
Catherine road in the front of the truck with the driver. As the truck pulled off the road, she wondered if the driver had the right address. There was a brick and wrought-iron fence with an ornate arch composed of musical bars and notes. A sign prominently displayed “Bertha Schwarzenberg Musical Conservatory.” As the truck turned onto the private road, she noted the rose bushes which lined either side of the road, still covered in a light snow. Students dressed in a rather conservative uniform strolled about gracefully. Driving further down the road the truck reached a large roundabout with a prominent fountain in front of an almost palatial building. The sound of musical instruments could be heard from rooms all over, creating a beautiful cacophony of music. Catherine, who had studied a little music herself, could pick out violin, piano, flute and singing mixed together with other sounds. “Is this really the right place?” she thought to herself.
The truck then made a right turn, onto another road, this one lined with trees. After a short distance, they reached another gate. No less ornate than the main entrance, this gate featured a far more menacing checkpoint manned by a pair of soldiers in a German Union Wermacht uniform. A sign read “Grunewald Platz.” The driver immediately stopped, and pulled out a sheaf of documentation. One of the guards approached, while the other guard eyed them suspiciously. The driver handed the documentation to the guard, speaking in rapid German which Catherine had trouble following. Catherine had been through military checkpoints before, but this felt different. She could sense the seriousness that these guards took their job. Obviously there were not here just for show. This was the first time she had ever run across such tight security, and it made her a bit nervous. The driver turned to her and explained that everyone needed to get out of the truck.
After she and her film crew stepped out of the truck, they were escorted to a small guard station where they were all asked to sign in. Looking back at the truck, another team had emerged and was searching the truck. The guards at the gate continued to eye them and the truck. Her heart began to race a little. For the first time in her career she was getting access to a real story. Not some busywork to occupy a female reporter, but a genuine story. She took out a leatherbound notebook and began furiously scribbling down notes, not wanting to forget a single detail.
Once the guards were satisfied, and she had obtained a special armband and additional documentation, the truck was allowed to proceed down the road. They passed a mansion that was even more impressive than the school building. A short distance later they arrived at a small clearing near a rather unassuming hangar. Despite the rather small building, there were a large number of technicians walking about, and a rather menacing guard tower and machine gun nest surrounded by sandbags close by. Catherine was already warned not to take photographs or movies of the surrounding area to avoid giving the enemy too much information about the location of the base, but nothing prevented her from meticulously recording everything she saw in her notebook. She sat in silence next to the driver, the hum of the engine punctuated by the sound of her pencil on paper. They reached a small parking area outside the hangar, and the truck stopped.
Adalwolfa, who was working with one of the technicians tuning the engine on her Luftritter noticed the truck and turned to Wilhelmina who was concentrating on a stack of papers at her desk. “Wil, it looks like the reporter is here.” Wilhelmina put down her pen and began walking towards the truck. Brunhilde, who was reading a novel in the ready room came out as well.
“Hello Ms. Sculley, my name is Captain Wilhelmina von Schwarzenberg. However, we are fairly informal around here, so please call me Wilhelmina.” Wilhelmina spoke in flawless English, extending her hand forward engaging Catherine with an aggressive handshake.
“Thank you Baroness Schwarzenberg, your hospitality is much appreciated,” responded Catherine in excellent German. “Unfortunately most of my crew does not speak German, so I hope you forgive me if I resort to English.”
Wilhelmina nodded. Secretly she was pleased. When she had heard the reporter was going to be a woman, she was concerned that once again the unit was being dismissed. Instead, Catherine Sculley had been selected based on her being a logical fit. She was fairly unknown, but it looked like she was also a good choice for the job. Easing up, Wilhelmina let out a broad smile. “Let me introduce you to my crew.”
Before Wilhelmina could continue, the alarm sounded. Without a word the three pilots ran to their Luftritter.
“Nate, get me that portable film camera! John, give me that mask!”
Cathrine’s crew, who had been unloading the truck dropped everything and quickly handed her the gear. Without so much as a word Catherine grabbed the equipment and ran into the hangar. She ran up to the machine closest to her, being straddled by a woman with beautiful long blonde hair. She sat behind the blonde who was warming up her engine. The blonde looked back and smiled, giving Catherine the thumbs up.
Cathrine fumbled to wear her air mask, plugging it into the side of the Luftritter exactly the way the manual showed her. The blonde reached over and motioned for her to grab ahold of her, as if riding pillion on a motorcycle. Catherine grabbed on to the blonde, camera still in hand.
Adalwolfa shot a glance to Wilhelmina, who simply smiled and shrugged.
Within seconds the quartet was soaring into the crisp winter sky.