Prologue: Dark Utopia
SS-Standartenführer Dieter Krombach worked for Amt VII B 9 of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), or 'Reich Main Security Office'. As an employee of Amt VII and a computer technician with degrees in Information Technology, Krombach was responsible for Internet censorship and surveillance in the Großdeutsches Reich, as well as helping to create National Socialist 'cyberganda'. The work day had long since ended, but Krombach had remained in the office to add the final touches to his pet project: a Flash animation about the latest advances of the Nationalsozialistische Weltraum-Erforschungsvereinigung (NSWEV), or 'National Socialist Space Exploration Association'.
Germany had been the first nation to launch an orbital satellite, the first to send a man into space, the first to land a Raumfahrer (astronaut) on the moon and bring him safely home (this great honour belonged to Sigmund Jähn), the first to construct a space station, and now they would also be the first to build a habitable colony on the moon. In fact, the USA had only managed to land a single man on the moon, and that almost twenty years later than the Germans. The Soviets had accomplished even less, only having sent satellites and cosmonauts into space. It was a matter of singular pride for the German people that their genius so greatly eclipsed that of their military-industrial rivals both East and West.
Eager to make his own contribution to Germany's space programme, Krombach had created a virtual tour of the 'Máni' moon base (named after the Norse lunar deity) that he was preparing to upload onto the Internet for public viewing. The clip traversed through all the major sites on base while Orff's Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi played in the background. Krombach was especially pleased with how the colony's colossal monuments glowed against the obsidian void of space. His final artistic flourish on the clip was to slowly pan the camera over the dark horizon of the moon so that the image became one of star-speckled space, with the red glint of Mars in centre view – a clear sign of Germany's next goal.
Finally the Standartenführer saved his work and uploaded it onto a Party-approved website. With a glance at his Rolex and a satisfied sigh, Krombach snapped shut his briefcase, donned his black SS coat, switched off the lights and strode toward the elevator. A security camera rotated to take in Krombach's appearance as he stood waiting in the foyer. What it recorded was a Westphalian man of thirty-seven years, athletic and tall with ash blonde hair and a fashionable haircut. He cut a striking figure in his black uniform, designed by Hugo Boss to resemble the tunics of Teutonic Knights. Underneath the visor of his Death's Head cap was a pair of calculating, ice blue eyes. Krombach took extra care to maintain his lean and powerful physique, chiseled into him by the Hitler-Jugendand Waffen-SS early in life. His present employment was anything but physical, which meant Krombach spent every second evening in the gym or training at home. He refused to become soft like some of his coworkers, let alone obese like the stereotypical American he was paid to satirise on the Internet.
With a bing the elevator doors slid open and Krombach entered the lift, and then pressed a button labeled 'Parkplatz'. A short trip later and the doors slid open once more. Krombach strode out into a large basement in which several dozen cars had been left to sit for the night. Most of the automobiles in the parking lot were painted a shiny black, glinting beneath fluorescent lights. Here assembled were the latest models from Veritas, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and of course Volkswagen – the largest automotive company in the world. Officers of the RSHA were some of the best paid in the entire Schutzstaffel, and they loved to display that fact with sinister uniforms and designer cars.
Krombach approached his own vehicle, a black Neuer Käfer (New Beetle) with an all-leather interior. The Neuer Käfer was a modern interpretation of the original VW Käfer and now, as then, everyone wanted one. It had been an expensive purchase, though not nearly as expensive as the luxurious Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse or the futuristic Veritas RS III sports car. The RS III had sold even more successfully than Lamborghini's popular Gallardo, much to the chagrin of the bombastic corporatists in the Italian Social Republic. Krombach desired one for himself, but was determined to wait for his next promotion before splurging so extravagantly. Besides, the Neuer Käfer befitted his rank and income neatly.
The Standartenführer got into his car and started the ignition. Before driving away, he put on a pair of white driving gloves and inserted the new album from Prätorius into his CD player. Prätorius was a martial-classical act from Nuremberg whose forceful, Roman-Imperial percussion was some of the best that Krombach had ever heard. Their use of electronic instrumentation was tasteful and not overdone. The album that Krombach had chosen to play was entitled, Die heilige Essenz des Blutes, or 'The Sacred Essence of Blood'. The Standartenführer had first learned of Prätorius while developing software with which the RSHA could better monitor illegal downloads of music. This album had been his first choice for driving music ever since.
As Krombach emerged from the car park and veered onto the Germania roadways, his thoughts turned to his home life and family. His wife, Ulrika, was a Swedish woman from Jönköping. She was the daughter of a retired SS-Panzer-Division Wiking officer and a devout National Socialist. Since their marriage she had given birth to three healthy Aryan children, the eldest of which had just joined the Hitler-Jugend. Krombach's pride in his family was only matched by his optimism for their future in the Großdeutsches Reich.
Earlier in the day he had gone online and booked tickets for his whole family for a vacation in Gotenland on the Black Sea coast. Gotenland, previously known as Crimea and populated by Ukrainians, had been cleared for German settlement at the victorious conclusion of the Second World War. Mostly colonised by South Tyroleans and regionally governed by a Gauleiter based in Gotenhafen, the temperate peninsula rapidly became the most popular holiday location of the German nation. Krombach went once or twice every year, and he intended that this year would be no different.
As Krombach drove out of the inner city he gazed with a sense of mixed pride and awe at the titanic Volkshalle, which dominated the city skyline. Germania, the capital of the Reich, indeed the capital of Europe – once known as Berlin, the city had been overhauled and re-baptised as Germania after the end of the Second World War. The monumental architecture of Albert Speer was now evident everywhere. 'Stripped neo-classical', that was the technical term for the style of Speer's imperial edifices, each one exuding Teutonic power. Truly, Speer's Olympian designs captured something of the divine in stone.
After he entered the suburbs and the skyline ceased to be so impressive, the Standartenführer turned off his music and began listening to the radio, hoping to hear an update on the German national football team's qualification campaign for the upcoming World Cup, which was to be held in Spain. Oddly, however, he could only catch snippets of someone talking as constant bursts of static bombarded the speakers.
"Someone is going to lose his job," muttered Krombach while fiddling with the tuner to try and make some sense of the noise. When things did not function as they should in National Socialist Germany, those responsible soon found themselves unemployed, or worse.
Finally the static resolved itself and a voice with a thick Russian accent could be heard speaking softly, dangerously.
"Nazi scum of Germania, this is the voice of Leonid Abramovich. I am a Jew, and mine is the last voice that many of you will ever hear. We are the Brotherhood of Zion, and tonight your city will burn as did ours at the hands of your Mohammedan puppets!"
Krombach could hear his heart thunderously beating, the blood pulsing through his veins and throbbing in his ears. This couldn't be happening. They had to be bluffing. How could some degenerate band of terrorist Untermenschen get by the all-seeing gaze of the most sophisticated domestic security organisation on the planet?
Suddenly a pair of Messerschmitt Me 5109 Sternschrei strike fighters, recognisable by their sleek, forward-swept wings, rocketed over the Autobahn, leaving a trail of blinding fire in their wake. Krombach felt his heart sink into his stomach as this 'Abramovich' continued to speak.
"A thermonuclear explosive has been smuggled into your precious city. Soon twelve million Nazi swine will be banging on the gates of Sheol! Alas, my time on air is limited. Auf wiedersehen, you worthless Goyim—"
The static returned violently.
Krombach swore colourfully.
The night turned to day.
The two Messerschmitt fighters, caught in the shockwave of the blast, plummeted to the suburban streets below, exploding in gargantuan fireballs. But the flash from their destruction was as nothing compared to the impossible white light radiating from the heart of Germania – from the Volkshalle itself. A roar ushered forth from the abyss and a seismic shudder were all that Krombach noticed inside his car, so far away from the epicentre of the explosion. But the massive devastation he could see on the horizon was a far heavier blow to take.
The greatest glory of the Reich had been reduced to irradiated cinders in an instant. Probably the Führer was incinerated along with the Reichstag and Reichskanzlei.
We have been beheaded, thought Krombach with distant, cold logic, unable to emotionally process what he was seeing. We are vulnerable now. The vultures will be on their way already.
Abruptly, despite the huge catastrophe outside his window, Krombach's thoughts snapped to his family. Fortunately for them all, they lived outside of Germania, though probably not far enough away to escape any radioactive fallout. With urgency the Standartenführer accelerated to top speed, overtaking several parked cars and stunned onlookers of the annihilation and rising mushroom cloud.
All that mattered now was escaping with his family intact and making contact with whoever was going to take over government. The Wehrmacht, probably, or the shadowy SS leadership at Wewelsburg. Time would tell, but Krombach was certain of one thing: blood would be spilled for this injustice. Germany would now follow the Italian example and invoke an ancient rite: vendetta.
Total war was now inevitable.