The Nazi Trooper
Corporal Steinholt did not wish for his subordinates to see that he was feeling anxious. Yes, he had faith in his commandant and in his fuehrer to quash this rebellion. Yes, he was a member of the master race (even if his dark hair and dark eyes would prevent him from gaining the highest echelons of the regime). But even so, he could see that this group of foreign saboteurs had done serious damage to their expedition. Troopers had been killed in an insurrection at the arena, and now the zeppelin crew was abandoning ship.
His subordinates, a pair of low-ranking troopers, stood gawking with their heads turned to look up through the longhouse’s open roof so that they could watch the orange flames dancing against the blue sky.
“Troopers!” Steinholt shouted as gruffly as he could manage, as much to reassure himself as to scold them. “You know the procedure. Follow the drill.”
One of them had the gall to talk back. “But, our zeppelin…”
“Never mind that. We can meet up with Expedition Number Two and they will ferry us out. We are not cut off from the Fatherland—or from the military courts that shoot soldiers who do not perform their duty during emergencies.”
The insolent trooper’s eyes went wide as he realized the implied threat. He turned and made ready to shove give his line of slaves into place, but he paused as he saw something bizarre wafting through the longhouse’s crumbling doorway.
The three Nazi guards stood motionless as they watched what appeared to be a white, inflated balloon—a child’s toy—moving towards them on a gust of wind. It was oddly textured, not quite round, and dragging a stiff copper wire from its base. The slaves quieted and regarded the thing’s approach with superstitious awe. Was it a ghost? A sign from the gods?
As it drifted closer, the troopers could see the nubs of short legs, the lumps of undeveloped eyes, and the ridges of bloated body segments. It was a swollen, albino grub-worm that floated towards them, mysteriously made to hover like a miniature zeppelin.
“What is…” Steinholt didn’t have time to finish his question before a small man with wild, white hair and a stained lab coat stepped into the doorway where the balloon had first appeared.
“For science!” The man hollered. Before the Nazis could raise their weapon, a crackling blue beam arced from the wild-haired stranger’s rifle to the grub-balloon. It sparked off the hydrogen inside, causing an explosion that knocked the three Nazi guards to the ground.
Professor Scrumtumbler had arrived.