The Love of Professor Alexander Voss
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Mr. Rass was seldom upset. Irritated perhaps, but it took a lot to really annoy or even anger him. And someone suicidal to provoke him.
Anger was to be collected behind a huge dam and only released in the case of an emergency, as an iron-hard beam. Anger was a weapon.
But this man had managed to at least upset him, a little.
The person was the head of the Institut für Menschliche Weiterbildung und Entwicklung1, a man by the name of Professor Voss.
Rass had studied this man, as he studied anyone he considered a potential ally or opponent.
As a person, Voss was invulnerable. He had his colleagues and subordinates, but no one of significance close to him. He had no immediate family. He was single, with a wife and children that had vanished.
The occult forces he had consulted were conspicuously silent about the fate of Voss's family, but it was clear that he had genuinely loved them. Still, there was nothing there to use on him.
So it annoyed Rass that the professor had done just that to him.
A while ago he had smuggled an acolyte into the IMBW. Acolyte Stier. A young man, with outstanding talent in dealing with the human body, as a patient or as a test subject. He'd been able to divert resources from IMBW in order to use them for the purposes of the Fourth Reich, right under the professor's nose,
Until now.
Instead of Stier's normal reports, a real affront had come to him a week ago via the same channel.
He had an appointment with the professor.
Voss's invitation sounded warm and welcoming. It claimed he wanted to get to know the genius behind the Fourth Reich.
However, Rass was not someone who could easily be buttered up by flattery. Especially when the way that the invitation reached him indicated that his acolyte was now under Voss's control.
Rass could not be called an approachable person. If he expressed affection for someone, it was a move in a game, calculated for a specific purpose.
But over time, he had developed at least a kind of camaraderie with his acolytes. Not enough to not cut them off in an emergency, but at least enough that he walked slowly to Voss's office.
The man liked to experiment on people. He had such a lack of reverence of the lives of even people of pure blood that he had repeatedly used himself as a guinea pig. It was almost impressive.
And so, Rass hoped to spare Stier from a long stay in the hands of the professor.
He knocked on the door of Voss's office.
"Come in?"
Voss's office seemed to also be some kind of test laboratory. In addition to packed filing cabinets and paper-filled display cases, there were numerous glinting tools, several prosthetic arms and legs hung neatly on the walls, and on a small dissecting table, a human brain swam in a goldfish bowl full of an indefinable yellow liquid. Needles and wires protruded from it.
A thin man wearing a bow tie sat behind the desk. He beamed and spread his arms when Mr. Rass entered.
“Right on time, to the very minute!” he exclaimed happily.
"Save that for other people," replied Mr. Rass quietly. "If you want to talk to me, do it in person and not through your puppet show."
"Well, as you wish," said the man behind the desk with a sigh. "I'm right behind you."
Rass spun around and had to crane his neck to look the man standing behind him in the face, or at least in the visor of his motorcycle helmet. Voss loomed over him menacingly.
"Hello there," he said cheerfully to Rass.
The man behind the desk stood up and left the room, while the professor leaned against it and relaxed.
"Oh please, have a seat," he asked politely, pointing to a red plastic chair in front of his table.
"Thank you, but I'd rather stand," replied the leader of the Fourth Reich curtly.
"As you wish", replied the IMBW boss. "I hope you were able to get here without difficulty."
"Your staff knew I was coming, and your directions were very helpful," Rass replied dryly.
Professor Voss exuded a strange charm, even when you couldn't see his face. He would have no problem putting the naïve under his spell, but it wouldn't work on anyone who had seen and experienced as much as Rass.
"Why did you ask me to come? And where is Stier?"
"Oh, Mr. Schultrig? He's here in the building. Brilliant fellow, but more on that later," deflected the professor. "I invited you here to talk about you."
He clasped his hands together as if in prayer.
"I wanted to get to know the man who wields immense and fantastical powers as if he were just making coffee. I want to know what makes you what you are.
"So what's this going to be? An interview?" asked Rass angrily.
"A discussion, Mr. Rass," corrected Voss. "Look, even though you and your absolutely outstanding co-workers create more and more perplexing masterpieces, I couldn't help but notice that your focus is on elevating people to a new level, but in my opinion you have the wrong approach. Sure, eugenics may be a tried and tested tool, but I consider it wasteful and, above all, a misuse of human potential. "
"I am well aware that all people are the same before you, but there are still races that are superior to others. In nature, natural selection weeds out all that is inferior. But humans are global top predators, and need different mechanisms and methods. Otherwise a creeping degeneration will set in, of which we are already seeing the early signs."
"Ah, I understand the direction you're coming from," replied Voss understandingly. "But in my opinion, these are problems that can be remedied directly with genetic modification. But I assume that you only want such methods to be reserved for certain population groups, if at all."
"Indeed."
Rass played along for the moment to placate Voss. He was sure they would soon get to the point where Acolyte Stier would be discussed.
"I see, hm. I don't know if we can come to an agreement. Look, I have a deep love and admiration for everything human. Think about it, a volcanic eruption once reduced our population to just five thousand people, and yet here we are today, the dominant species of the planet. So. Much. Potential… that is why I was honestly shocked when I heard about what Mr. Schultrig had used our inventions for. Fortunately, Alpha escaped from the Foundation, otherwise we never would have noticed. Our agent was pretty puzzled when she met your emergency response force. Especially when she found out the guys had horns. Amazingly heat-resistant, Magma-M had real trouble with that. I hope that I can transfer that to people at some point."
Rass had been aware that he'd failed to secure the evidence, but he'd hoped IMBW wouldn't notice. Apparently, he'd underestimated Voss's investigative capabilities.
"Well, where is he now? I'm honestly amazed he's still here. You should have fired him already. "
"Certainly, I can no longer let him work on my research without worry," confirmed the professor. "But I have grown very fond of the man and his way of doing things, I couldn't just let him go. And potential should be used, wherever it is found…"
"Bring me to him!" ordered Rass, with increasing unease.
"Already? But you've only just arrived…"
Rass allowed a magical spark to jump from his thumb.
"Hm, I see," remarked Voss politely. "Such a shame, I was hoping to learn more about you. Follow me."
As he told Rass this, he reached behind his desk, took out a plaid gift bag and held it in his hand.
They descended far below. Rass counted three basement floors before they came to a door at the end of a long flight of stairs.
ACCESS ONLY FOR AUTHORIZED PERSONEL was written on it.
"I'll point out that you are now entering an area forbidden even to the vast majority of IMBW employees," remarked the professor urgently. "You should feel honored."
Rass remained silent as the door swung open.
The door led into a brick and white plaster hallway with numerous doors along both walls. It led on to another corridor with another door, through which Voss led him.
"What is this place?" asked Rass.
He thought he heard a splash somewhere nearby. Perhaps a broken pipe?
"These are living quarters for our test subjects, those whose experiments were a certain success or failure. It is amazing what we can learn from our mistakes."
"So there's someone locked behind each of these doors?" asked Rass.
"What? Oh no, all the doors are unlocked, except when the resident locks them from inside. We have a recreation room in the other direction. The children especially enjoy the building blocks."
"Hm," was all Rass said.
A normal person's blood would probably have boiled at the thought of experiments on children, but it didn't hit Rass too hard. Even if it did bother him that children of pure blood were probably numbered among them…
The professor stopped in front of a certain door.
"Let's see how he's doing today. He can hardly get up from the bed."
Rass stepped in.
He didn't know what to expect. He stared in silence at the Thing that lay on the bed.
It had to have been human once, but for the most part that was only apparent if you knew something about osteology. Numerous bones protruded from the twitching mass. At this point, the author has decided to spare the reader from further details…
A single eye stared imploringly at Rass.
"Oh… Ough…"
"What have you done to him!?" exclaimed Rass at last.
Despite the sight before him, he remained calm. As previously mentioned, he felt a certain camaraderie with his acolytes, but not excessively…
"We tried to link his way of manipulating the human body with Nälkä hemomancy," explained Voss in a matter-of-fact manner. "Admittedly, cosmetic aspects still need to be worked out, but this experiment has taught us a lot. Schultrig no longer needs food. And we have not yet found a way to permanently injure him. The man recovered from a plasma torch. A real fighter, I have to tell you. I'm very impressed. "
Rass wanted to reply, but broke off.
Something was nibbling on his shoe…
When he looked down, he noticed that a kind of viscous meat mass had flowed into the room. Two eyes in the indefinable heap looked up at him, with all the intelligence of a microbe.
Rass noticed that this thing was the source of the splashing sound he had heard earlier. It gnawed at his foot with the remains of a mouth containing a few teeth.
Children's teeth.
"Rebekka!" Said Voss, laughing, and bent down to look at the horror. "Don't bother our guest like that. Look, I even brought you something."
He took his gift bag and pulled out a plush bunny.
"Waaah…" came softly from the mass.
She extended tendrils, vaguely shaped like fingers, to reach out for the stuffed animal. Voss handed it to her with a amiable chuckle.
"So, now go back to mum, okay? Daddy will check you out later- Ah, hello, sweetheart."
A second, indefinable organism had crawled (flowed?) into the room, initially unnoticed by Rass, who now stared unblinking at the bizarre spectacle. She was about twice as large as Rebekkah and, unlike her, had a hand at the end of a small arm and at least the front of a skull. However, her eyes moved throughout the entire mass. She seemed to have as just as much presence of mind as the other thing.
Rass had thought nothing would unsettle him after everything he had seen, but for the first time in a long while he felt sick with horror.
"That - that is… your family?"
The larger mass moved towards Voss, and gently rubbed against his foot. Voss lovingly caressed her skull.
"Indeed. May I introduce my daughter Rebekah and my wife Rosa. Kevin does not seem to be here, once again he's probably sticking to the ceiling somewhere…"
"You turned your own family… into that?"
"I don't understand your tone. Rosa always suffered from a weak physical constitution. Heart defects. Unfortunately, our children inherited this from her. I performed my experiments on her in the hopes of finding a cure, and it worked. They are now biologically immortal. A complete success. "
Rass struggled to comprehend what he was hearing.
"You turned her into this… soup and you call it a success!? You call what happened to Acolyte Stier a success!? You have robbed them of all humanity!"
"Humanity has always been a matter of definition, Mister Rass," explained Professor Voss calmly and stood up again. "You of all people should know this."
The two beings on the ground huddled together at his feet. The stuffed rabbit bobbed back and forth on Rebekka's surface.
It must be instinctual, Rass decided. No one could show genuine affection towards the monster that did this to them.
A dragging sound could be heard in the hallway. Another abomination dragged itself across the floor on two withered arms.
"Oh, Jamal, in top shape again today, it's clear you're making great progress!" Voss said happily to the newcomer.
"This is Jamal, by the way. He fled to Germany from Syria. He told me he always wanted to be a baker."
"Jamal" let out a disturbing groan.
This man builds relationships with his victims, thought Rass to himself. He remembers their names and personalities. He feels sincere love, but he has never understood that there are certain things that should never be done…
He was reminded of Joseph Mengele, the angel of death. He had watched the man be completely friendly and courteous to the concentration camp inmates, even if they were going to land on his autopsy table a few hours later. But Professor Voss here took his madness to another level!
"Well, Mr. Rass, as you have seen, Mr. Schultrig is alive and if not quite himself, still fine. I suspect that with further research I can perform a few cosmetic procedures to get him back to his usual appearance. Would you be willing to leave him in my care for that long?"
Voss was suddenly forced to dodge a bolt of lightning that Rass had fired at him.
"Ah, I thought that it might end like this," remarked Voss sadly.
A massive, long and tapering tail emerged out from under his coat and was covered with metal plating.
"However, I suspect that Mr. Schultrig informed you about my abilities in case of a physical confrontation. As long as you stay in these corridors, you are unfortunately at a disadvantage. I will reach before you can work your magic, even though I would be happy to see what you are capable of. "
"I'd go so far as to suspect that you've taken precautions, to prevent me from using magic at all," replied Rass, defiantly grasping his acolyte.
He whimpered when touched.
"Fortunately, that doesn't affect stored energy."
He reached into his pocket and took out a small amethyst, which he tossed on the floor.
Steam gushed out as the demon Rass had sealed within the stone rose up. It towered over them all, even Voss, and had to hunch its back to avoid colliding with the ceiling.
"Kill him," was all Rass said.
The demon confirmed the order with a growl and charged headlong into Voss. Rebekka and Rosa were tossed aside with a squeak of surprise, and the professor was pressed against the wall of the hallway.
His tail jerked out and buried its tip in the monster's neck, but didn't penetrate very deeply.
"Interesting. I wonder if I can transfer this toughness of the skin to humans?" Voss remarked, staring in fascination at the wound.
While Rass and his acolyte left the cell, not stepping on Jamal out of sheer disgust, the demon pinned Voss with its right hand and formed a ball of fire with its left.
Meanwhile, Voss placed his left palm on its chest.
Hot air washed around Rass as he left the room of horrors. Behind him he only heard hissing, explosions and the occasional demonic screech.
"It's plasma-proof too!" he heard Voss shout happily. "What a fascinating gift you've left me with, thank you Mr. Rass!"
The professor's approval filled Rass with anger.
Usually, he had no problem making business relationships with unscrupulous and insane individuals.
But even he had standards…

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