Destroyer of Worlds, Part 1
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Last time on Nexus:
The Worst Gift, Part 3

Kassel, Großdeutsches Reich, 1946

"And you expect me to believe that?"

SS Brigadeführer Riesling glared at his subordinate, Bunkerkommandant Steuer. Both were in Riesling's office, a room decorated with paintings, flags and all sorts of valuable tacky stuff, along with what should have been essential filing cabinets and a desk.

The already graying member of the General Staff of the Waffen-SS and leading part of the SKP had so far heard only the reports from the scouts who had been stationed far to the west of the Werewolf Bunker, then followed by Steuer's report, the contents of which had made his hair stand on end. The White Death, that damned superweapon of the Soviets, an angel? And they had been saved by a blonde from the future? One in which the German Empire no longer existed1?

The Brigadeführer had rarely heard greater nonsense. Admittedly, whatever had happened there had made the invasion of the Soviet Union extremely easy for them, but this unbelievable nonsense…

He blown the report in the face of the bunker commander, but he remained surprisingly calm.

"Steuer, what do you have to say for yourself?"

Steuer considered for a moment.

"There's nothing in that report but the truth, Brigadeführer," he then said. "If you don't believe me, ask any of my men who survived that massacre. They will all tell you the same story. We owe our lives to this woman. The soldiers have come to call her the 'Winter Lorelei.' She has become a legend around the werewolf bunker."

"Steuer, you know better than I what paranormal spawns walk the face of this world. Don't they think the Soviets fooled you with some paranormaly from their stock? You should have seen what we found in the GRU Division "P." You have no idea."

"I kept something of her," Steuer explained.

"The NIVEA jar?" asked Riesling. "Granted, our scientists aren't sure what it is specifically, but this could just be a feint by the Soviets."

"Feint for what?" asked Steuer. "They sacrificed their own superweapon just to lead us around by the nose? Doesn't that sound as hair-raising as what I wrote you?"

"Quite, but we must remain vigilant. We won the war thanks to the SKP wunderwaffen, but as long as we're rebuilding our cities, we can't let our guard down."

"But what about our pictures?" asked Steuer. "We were able to take three pictures. Don't you think it was providence that sent us this woman? Don't you think that would inspire our citizens? A mysterious heroine who stood by us in our times of greatest need."

"Steuer, it's a woman. Men fight and win wars, not women."

"She didn't fight," Steuer objected. "She didn't even pick up a gun. She defeated this white terror with her mind alone. Supported the men so they could have the final victory."

Riesling was speechless for a moment. That didn't sound so bad… Of course, one had to think of the women as well. They didn't play such a big role in world affairs, but they were still the pillar. A person like this was certainly suitable to inspire the right behavior in them. To support the man while he was doing great things.

"Steuer, this propaganda myth is an excellent idea. Right now, the Hall of Heroes is still being built in Nuremberg. Let's see if we can find a place for this 'Elli' there."

Ingolstadt, Großdeutsches Reich, 1946

SS-Junker Gans wiped the sweat from his forehead, which had fought its way out of his blond concrete hairdo. Together with two guards, he was on his way to meet an amazing prisoner of the SKP.

Amazing because he had apparently materialized with considerable speed in the break room of Sondereinrichtung-04, and his momentum had sent him crashing into the food counter. He had surrendered immediately, although no one had pointed a gun at him. And he had been taken away without resistance. Now the first interview would take place… The Junker's first time with a paranormaly, it should be noted. He could not suppress a certain excitement.

The newcomer was being held in an interrogation room. He had received medical attention, but his right side, probably the one that had come in contact with the counter, was turning blue by now.

Bandages partially covered his frizzy, dirty-blond mop of hair, but the unsightly ponytail peeked out from underneath.

"Greetings," Gans greeted him as he entered and sat down across from him. "I am SS-Junker Friedrich Gans, I am going to question you. And who are you?"

"Lawrence," was the short reply.

Gans waited for him to follow up with something, but nothing came.

"Uh, well, Lawrence, and what's your last name?"

"It's a fifty-digit symbol sequence that won't mean anything to you. I come from far away, you must know.2."

"Oh, really?" asked Gans in astonishment.

Such a thing was new to him.

"And where are you from?"

"I've been here and there, all stopovers on a journey with no real destination," Lawrence explained resignedly. "But if you want to hear something concrete, I'm from another dimension. Millions of years in the future. There are so many people there that we had to invent new numbers, hence the thing with my last name."

That piqued Junker's interest, but he had to follow protocol.

"You've been amazingly cooperative so far, why?"

"I woke up in a world that is completely foreign to me. Why would I try to escape when I'm surrounded?"

"And what are you doing here? Will you return?"

The question caused a grim expression on this Lawrence's face.

"I can't. My home has been taken from me. Destroyed. Now I search for a place to call home…"

"You're from the future, you said?" the SS Juncker made sure.

Lawrence nodded with a questioning face.

"Could you share your knowledge and technology with us? Then we can give you a home. After all, it would be inhumane of us not to return a favor."

Lawrence began to grin.

"Oh, I have so much to teach, in fact, far too much…. But I've got time. Get me some chicken to eat and then I'll show your researchers something really neat…"

Caribean Sea, United States, 1948

The cruiser with the strange, box-like guns, flanked by several smaller Kriegsmarine destroyers, sailed without a sign of fear toward a fleet of much larger United States Navy warships.

One problem the Germans had had so far was the amount of ships the U.S. possessed and their greater range.

At least until this new weapon arrived.

The Augustus, the world's first ship equipped with electromagnetic rail guns, code name "Mammoth," fired. And again, and again, and again. And that was before the enemy ships were even in range to fire themselves.

You couldn't even look that fast as the projectiles whizzed across the lake, tearing trenches in the water with their blast wave alone.

Three ships were hit head-on and burst in huge explosions as the projectile penetrated walls like a knife through warm butter to reach the ammunition stores. The remaining ships tried to take evasive action, but by doing so they only offered a bigger target to the Augustus, which mercilessly sank anything foolish enough to have an American flag on its mast.

Captain Grießlich, watching all the action through binoculars, shook his head in amazement.

"Golly! If only we'd already had these things in forty-two. What was the name of the inventor?"

An aide next to him looked up the name in a manual that had come with the cruiser.

"Well, inventors this thing has a lot of, but if they want the one who did the most, I guess that would be Lawrence Stern…"

"Remind me to send the man a bottle of wine."

Nuremberg, Großdeutsches Reich, 2006

The Hall of Heroes is a huge, church-like structure built on the ruins of buildings destroyed in the war. It loomed over the surrounding houses like a fortress.

Lawrence, now known by his commoner name, Lawrence Stern, strolled through the towering halls of the monument. On monoliths were recorded the names of all those who had rendered outstanding services to the Großdeutsche Reich. Some had even received statues. On the walls were emblazoned wall reliefs of battles and key moments in the scientific history of the state.

What a hypocritical system… Lawrence had come largely to get an idea of how far the Nazi delusion extended. He had them so far by now that he was one of their most highly respected scientists, in no small part due to his successful synthesization of Panacea. But if he wanted to steer them in his direction, he still had to learn to understand them, to think like them….

Lawrence suddenly noticed something out of the corner of his eye that made him stumped.

It was the statue of a woman. It was striking in that she was the only one far and wide, and what's more, she was standing right in the south corner.

The statue wore a fur cap and a coat with a fur collar, her arms on her body and her head raised gracefully.

He got really mad when he read on a plaque who it was supposed to represent.


Subjugator of the villainous Grigori, the trump card of the Soviets.

May her acumen and unconditional devotion to supporting our men in war be an inspiration to us all

> The statue was sponsored by the survivors of the Battle of Ice.

"What the heck?"

Lawrence noticed another plaque that said exactly how I773 had earned this spot. The SKP had apparently been on site. Interesting…

Two weeks later, the aged SKP archivist Möckel was rummaging through some lockable boxes in a dusty archive.

"Well, we have very few real facts about 'Elli,'" he croaked to Lawrence, who was standing in the doorway, eyeing the room with its black shelves full of files and antique junk. "A lot of stuff was made up and added to what happened during the war. Pop culture then corrupted that legend even further. There was a pretty good motion picture of the Battle of Ice in 2011 I think, starring Gretchen Mark, but most of the stuff about the person was made up because there's just too little information. Ah, there… "

He pulled out an entire box filled with files.

"Most of the stuff in here you can look up on the intranet, the files were digitized, in 1995, I think. Paperless office was the name of the game back then. Ha, my ass…"

Lawrence flipped through the files. Most of it was historical records of incidents that mentioned I773. But then he found a small blue object. NIVEA was written on it…

"What's this?"

The archivist eyed the cylinder-shaped thing briefly, then shrugged.

"This was brought back by the troops who fought the Battle of Ice at the time. According to their testimony, it was left behind by Elli when she disappeared. However, we never found out what it even was. There should be a report on it somewhere in the box….

Lawrence curiously opened the box it apparently was. All he found was a button. But he recognized the design…

"Could they lend it to me? The whole box? Purely for research purposes, of course."

Kassel, Großdeutsches Reich, 2017

The video conference was complete. Lawrence looked across thirteen screens at the entire K5 Council.

"Stern, you are one of our most respected scientists," K5-1 began. "We have all agreed to listen to your project proposal, but only because it's you. We get proposals to solve this problem almost weekly, some more inane than others, and all the ones we've tried so far have come to naught. So what do you have for us?"

Lawrence took a deep breath. Now, after six years of research that had taken up his free time, things got serious.

"Dear K5 Council, I know you all can't hear it by now when someone says they have a solution to R-3378, but please lend me your ear here. If not for the liberation of another world, maybe what I'm suggesting to you is good for other things as well. Now, to whom of you is the name 'Elli' familiar. Perhaps also 'Winter Lorelei'?"

"A legend, the heroine of the Werewolf Bunker," replied K5-4. "Heard stories of the returning soldiers back in the day. Fascinating, but what about it?"

"As you all should be aware, I'm not exactly 'from here', if you know what I mean," Lawrence readily elaborated. "This Elli has taken advantage of knowledge that was available in my time, as well as technology from there. She left a piece of it here."

"Really?" asked K5-7. "Then why don't we know about it? Given what wonders you've done for our country, surely such a piece of technology from her time must be the goal of all dreams for most engineers."

That went better than expected…

"That's because no one knew what it was in the first place," Lawrence replied. "Put a car in front of a caveman, and he'll just try to eat it. Here, the principle was the same. Until today. With this device, I will be able to bring Elli into our time, our reality. An entity that can travel between universes and eras, for which no boundaries exist."

"I understand what you're getting at," K5-1 interrupted him, "but I have two questions. First, what exactly do you have in mind and more importantly second, why are you sure she will help us and not sabotage us?"

Now put your tongue in check…

"She had companions," Lawrence said with a smile. "Family, if you will. And we all know how far people will go for their family. And just think of the press…"

He formed lettering with his arms.

"'The legend returns!' I've worked out a precise plan that will force her to obey."

"And how exactly are you going to bring her here?" asked K5-4.

Now I've got you!

"Well, here's what I had in mind. Look, there's reasonable cause to believe that one of the escorts, Chloe Winter, is actually from R-3378. Assuming that…"

Germania, Großdeutsches Reich, 2021

Chloe was quite uncomfortable. She remembered clearly how a tall man dressed in black had knocked on her door and demanded to speak to her. Her mother had been afraid of him.

The man had said that the SKP needed Chloe's help with a project, and that helping would make her a hero.

She knew her mother had been against it, but she had agreed. She had cried and hugged Chloe as she was picked up in a car and taken from Dresden to Germania.

The big man was now leading her through the corridors of what looked like a research facility. She was scared.

In school she had learned that the Germanic people were above all other peoples on the planet. Anyone who faked an affiliation with the Germans had to expect severe punishment.

Of course, she had Germanic parents through and through. At least according to her identity card. Her father, however, was dead. He had met her mother by chance in France and, according to official statements, had gotten down to business rather quickly. However, a Frenchman killed him while trying to protect her mother from him. She had always been worried about her daughter.

Chloe was slowly reaching an age where she was learning to combine…

Hopefully she didn't have to commit suicide…

Contrary to expectations, instead of an interrogation room, she was led into a large hall. In its center stood some kind of futuristic laser cannon, into which a… was that a NIVEA jar? Yes, clamped into the monstrosity of a machine was a cream jar.

A man in a lab coat and a ponytail approached her. Next to him were several soldiers in the room, some of them in power armor. She had only ever seen them at military parades and never so up close….

Chloe felt an urgent need to make herself as small as possible and hide somewhere.

"Is that her?" asked the researcher, whom she now identified as Lawrence Stern. She had had to do a history paper on him.

The tall man nodded.

"The DNA match was conclusive."

DNA? Oh no, oh no, oh no…

"Well then, we're about to see if it works," Mr. Stern gloated. "Chloe, right? You don't have to be afraid. All you have to do for us is push a button. One that only responds to you."

The researcher spoke of reassurance, but Chloe, on the contrary, became even more nervous.

"Why? Is that a weapon?" she asked.

Chloe abhorred violence…

"What?" asked Stern, confused. "No, this is a device that will help us summon a great heroine. But we can only do that with your help. So, watch out!"

He led her overly cautiously to the box and flipped it open. A button appeared underneath.

"Just press it there. Then you'll be all set. I've negotiated a big reward, too. You won't regret it."

Chloe gulped. Everyone in the room measured her with expectant looks….

No, she wasn't getting out of here any other way.

She squeezed her eyes shut and pressed the button.

Nothing happened.

When she opened her eyes again, some parts of the cannon started to rotate humming. Nothing emanated from the top, but a black spot formed on the wall behind it in an attached doorway, twitching and vibrating before suddenly filling the entire doorway abruptly.

Surprised shouts were heard.

"SEIZE THEM!" roared Stern.

Chloe was startled by the volume.

Two power armored men stepped halfway through the black thing that let them pass as if it were air, seemed to grab something, and finally dragged through it a blonde woman, a tall, black-haired man, and a girl who, to Chloe's intemperate surprise and also horror, looked like a doppelgänger her. Except for the fact that she was extremely emaciated and bloodied, and had white hair….

"Hello, Elli," Stern said smugly.

Lawrence was alive!

That was one of the first thoughts that flashed through Elli's mind. Everything in her screamed to immediately throw him out of the nearest window or otherwise make sure that he could no longer harm her. But none of that did her any good.

Elli tried to break free from the exoskeleton wearer's grip, but the guy was like a vice. She couldn't count on Dean here; he was hopelessly outgunned by these things.

She saw two soldiers escorting a very confused looking girl out of the room. One that looked a lot like Chloe.

She called herself to her senses and tried to make sense of it. Why had she opened a portal here instead of into the Nexus? Apart from the fact that she couldn't do that at all, it should have mangled the soldiers through the temporal gradient when they had put their hands through the portal.

Then she recognized the NIVEA that was enclosed in this strange device. But wait, wasn't that one…

"Oh!" she made in shock as the realization hit her. "OH! Oh. Oh… Ouha…"

She sucked in a sharp breath and tried diplomacy.

"Gentlemen, if we promise not to make a fuss, could you please let us go?"

Lawrence chuckled.

"Elli, as if we-"

"All right, let her go."

The surprising words came from a man with a weather-beaten face and the build of a closet. He was in an SKP uniform that identified him as an Oberst. With his hands clasped behind his back, he approached the three as their captors finally released them.

"If I may introduce myself, I am Oberst Mathias Wolf, I am in command here. I am extremely pleased to make your acquaintance."

He extended his hand to Elli with a friendly face. She did not respond.

"I'm not. Mostly because we were dragged into your universe without our consent. What's going on here?"

"You've been transported here by a, uh, what did you call it, Mr. Stern? Oh yes, interdimensional override. The device intercepted one of your portal openings and linked them directly to this one. Mr. Stern over there designed and built this device himself."

Lawrence waved with a grin.

"I see," Elli said.

She had to control herself to stay calm. One wrong word and it wouldn't be her but Chloe and Dean's necks…

"Because of that, there was no temporal gradient, because the Nexus was not in between," she concluded. "And why exactly did you do that? I didn't do anything to you, on the contrary."

"I am familiar with your story," the Oberst replied authoritatively. "My grandfather was one of those who saved you. He never tired of telling his grandchildren the story. You have been given a place in the Hall of Heroes for your actions."

Elli raised an eyebrow in annoyance.

"So, if you want an autograph-"

"Uh, no," Wolf interrupted her. "We, that is, the SKP, wishes to avail itself of your skills."

Of course…

"And if I refuse?"

Oberst Wolf's expression took on a look of regret as he signaled an order with a wave of his hand. Dean was grabbed again by his captor and put in a headlock.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. "I have great respect for you, but my orders are absolute. I'm going to move you to a cell first so you can acclimate. To demonstrate my good will to you, I will give you your little friend. Do you need anything from the Nexus? We'll go get it for you."

"It's a disposable generator," Elli explained. "It worked once, and only because you were able to round up the version of Chloe from this reality. After that, it's nothing but a piece of junk."

"I'm afraid that's true," Lawrence confirmed.

Something started beeping in his jacket. He stared frowning at the meter he had pocketed. Elli knew he was acting.

"If you'll excuse me, I need to check something…"

"Of course," Wolf replied. "Incarcerate the rest."

Chloe had seen a gigantic city through some windows; something like a massive cathedral had loomed in the distance. What worried her, however, was the symbol that could be seen on the red flags that hung everywhere. Now they were housed in a cell furnished like a hotel room. There were no windows.

"Where are we, Elli?" she pressed out. "And what have you done here?"

She was beginning to feel terrible pains from her transformation and could barely stand on her feet… She felt blood beginning to pool in her mouth again.

"A mistake," Elli countered. "Do you remember the encounter with the Nazis in 1943? If it was even 1943, something must have been wrong with the calendar. Not only did I get the wrong time then, I got the wrong universe. This one."

"The thing with the ice people?", Chloe verified torrid and swallowed. "Why would we have been in another universe. The Nazis were about to be wiped out."

"That's what it looked like, Chloe. But you saw the city outside, we're in Germania, formerly Berlin. In 1944, the SKP of this universe succeeded in developing a powerful propulsion system that made vehicles independent of oil-based fuels. This allowed them to mobilize much more artillery than in our universe, and what's more, the SKP here and its research into supernatural phenomena received much more support. In 1945 Europe and the Soviet Union buckled, in 1951 America. Today, the Großdeutsche Reich, along with a few vassal states, rules the Earth."

Chloe had grown paler during this history crash course, and not just because of her anemia.

"Are you saying you helped the Nazis conquer the world?"

"Would have happened either way," Elli defended herself sullenly. "Time is relentless on that. And I stand by what I did. I can't avert history, Chloe, but I can make sure a few hundred men get home alive. Too bad they had a way to open a portal into the Nexus…"

"But we can get out of here, right?" asked Chloe. "Let's collect Dean and get going."

"That won't be possible," Lawrence said obligingly as he opened the door.

He reached into his gown and it made a quick "Zzzzt!" sound.

"There, now we're undisturbed," he said after closing the door again. "The reality anchors are active, a recording I edited is rewinding on the camera, the bugs are joining in too, no one will know what's going on in here."

Elli eyed him with disgust.

"I'm surprised, I actually would have thought that Null Space would have torn you apart."

Lawrence, grinning, pulled a small white device out of his pocket. It looked like an egg timer with some dials on it.

"Interreal teleporter. Unfortunately, since your stunt with Ultra, this thing has a crack in it that only lets me go to random destinations, but it still helps me escape to another universe when reality breaks down. Even if it's you who destroys it."

"What do you mean, destroy?" asked Chloe, frowning.

Lawrence made a face that was euphoric as well as mocking.

"Oooh. I guess you never told her. How you got the Nexus. How you betrayed your own people. Your masters. Your… let's call it 'repeated omnicide'."

Elli gave him nothing but an angry look.

"I did what had to be done. Someone like you could never understand how much meaning is inherent in even the smallest reality."

"What are you talking about?" asked Chloe, confused.

"Yeah, what are we talking about, I773?" asked Lawrence mockingly.

"DON'T CALL ME THAT!" thundered Elli.

Lawrence put on an annoyed expression and, without warning, pulled some sort of measuring probe out of his gown and abruptly jabbed it into Chloe's arm. Elli couldn't react fast enough.

"Ouch!" was all Chloe could produce before the probe was also removed.

Lawrence studied the readings and made an exaggeratedly astonished face.

"Oh, divine power all the way. Well, K5 will be pleased. So my spies had the right hunch back then after all3…"

"Put your fingers on Chloe again, and I'll make sure you never use them again," Elli rumbled. "And if I have to bite them off."

Lawrence, satisfied, pocketed the probe again and took out a pistol and a flask in its place. The former he pointed at Chloe.

"I know we're on irreconcilable positions, I773, but look, we have a judge. Even with a handicap for me. But maybe I can make her understand what a monster you are after all."

Chloe could feel Elli starting to really get into a rage.
"If you fire at Chloe…"

"But not at all," Lawrence laughed. "That wouldn't be nearly enough to repay what you've done. We'll do it your masters' way. With simple facts. Do you know Link4?"

Elli narrowed her eyes.

"The drug?"

Lawrence had an appreciative finger point at Elli.

"That's the one. The Großdeutsche Reich has a pretty definite attitude about drugs, unfortunately, which is why the stuff was never approved for home use, but they do use it in interrogations. Albeit under a different name. And we all will drink the stuff now."

He shook the bottle meaningfully.

"What's it going to be?" asked Chloe anxiously.

"You know Link creates a psychic link between everyone in the area who is also under Link's influence," Elli explained. "It links all the minds into one. This allows them to communicate telepathically."

"And then we show her your memories," Lawrence concluded. "After all, this stuff works differently on you. Don't even try to take over my mind, this is my home recipe, it keeps everything where it is. Now get it down, I don't have all day, chop, chop!"

As if to clarify his words, he took the first puff. Then he handed the bottle to Chloe. Hesitantly, she took a sip as well. Oddly enough, she felt better afterwards…

She handed the bottle to Elli, who stared into it for a moment and then powered through.

She then handed the bottle back.

"So, now what?" she then growled. "Do we do it like in court or- HUGGH!"

Elli's eyes snapped open abruptly and she fell to the floor.

"Elli!" escaped Chloe as she crouched down beside her and grabbed her hand.

Elli clawed at it and pulled herself up against it with her eyes still wide open. Chloe had to use all her might to keep from toppling over. Elli twitched uncontrollably and her breathing was erratic.

"Chloe, help me- What? No, I- This-" she stammered. She didn't seem to be completely aware of Chloe.

"Oh, I forgot to mention that," Lawrence said, his voice dripping with sadism. "I dissolved a Panacea in it, modified of course so it doesn't immediately neutralize the Link, but it works wonders on alcoholic influence. Must have been a long time since you were really sober, huh?"

"Chloe-," Elli whimpered.

Tears streamed down her face as she seemed to still be chasing mirages with her eyes.

"I'm so sorry… so sorry…"

Chloe suddenly felt the Link kick in. But instead of some sort of immersion like last time, her mind suddenly filled with anger, sadness, fear, and pain.

"Oh, I figured as much," Lawrence chuckled. "When emotions are particularly strong, one Linker can completely override the others. So what we see and feel is solely what I773 sees and feels, we don't even have to get into her mind, it all comes out of her. Obviously has a lot of stuff to work through."

The images became more congruent and crystallized into crystal clear memories as Elli began to scream in pain.

Next time on Nexus:
Destroyer of Worlds, Part 2

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