The Nazis led them at gunpoint up a broad flight of stairs to a huge room with a vaulting ceiling. It may have originally been designed as a ballroom that had boasted elegant chandeliers and bright banners but now served as a warehouse of twisted mechanical experiments. Hundreds of eviscerated machines and mutilated engines lined metal tables throughout the room, and the distinct scents of grease and smoke pervaded the area. The far end of the room was an elevated platform that probably was once an orchestral stage but now housed two great, grimy pillars that looked as if they had been pulled out of some pharaoh’s tomb.
“So glad you could join me in my laboratory,” from behind one of the pillars stepped the owner of the voice, a shriveled man in a white lab coat. His liver-spotted skin was so pale that it bordered on translucent, but his hair, greased back to reveal a dagger-like widow’s peak, seemed impossibly black, as if he had been dying it with engine oil. Reggie realized with a sickening lurch that this had been the man who had peered down at them from a window while they were attempting to bluff their way inside.
The guards forced them to their knees before the old doctor approached.
Dr. Scott looked up at him and said “Dr. Wurmhausen.”
“So you recognize me,” the older man seemed pleased. “I recognized you, too, Dr. Mortimer Scott, from the moment you attempted your ridiculous ruse to enter our compound. You didn’t really think it would work, did you?”
“Only some of us thought so,” Dr. Scott shot an angry glance at Reggie.
“And you two,” Wurmhausen pointed a bony finger at Reggie and Clem. “Should I thank you for bringing Dr. Scott to me? After all the trouble of sending in my panzer-kampftruppen, I should have simply hired his so-called friends.”
“We only came to find out why you’re trying to kidnap all those scientists,” Reggie said.
Wurmhausen snapped his fingers and one of the guards seized Reggie roughly by the arms. As soon as he was secure, another guard slammed the butt of his submachine gun into his nose. There was a crunching sound, and then a line of blood spilled down over his mouth and dripped from his chin.
“Do you take me for a fool?” Wormhausen drew a luger and pointed it at his head. “Your next sentence will be your last unless you tell me why you have come here.”