Von Wartenburg’s Response (Hollow Earth Expedition Ssn1 ep19b)

This is an ongoing story about a lost world of hungry dinosaurs, sinister villains, and non-stop action. If you’re new to Hollow Earth Expedition, I suggest starting at the beginning.

 

“Our operation is systematic and thorough,” the Nazi lieutenant said, just a bit defensively. “It is only a matter of time before we find what we seek. We have no need for you.”

Maia leaned back in her chair, the picture of nonchalance. “I’ve excavated more tombs than the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, and I’m only half as corrupt. So here’s the deal: you give me free access—are you writing this down?—you give me free access to the under-city and I find the trinket you want. Oh, but I get to keep everything else I can carry out of there.”

The lieutenant rubbed his big chin while studying her expression. Perhaps he was searching for signs of doubt or deceit, or maybe he was just wondering how to get out of this interrogation with his pride intact.

“Commandant von Wartenburg,” he said in a low, serious tone. “He will not like this offer.”

“Not your problem,” Maia tapped the report form with her finger. “Your job is to pass along my offer. Here, let me see the report to make sure you’ve spelled everything correctly.”

The lieutenant snatched the paper away and finished it where she couldn’t see it. Rather petulant, she thought, but at least he finished the paperwork.

Evidently, some ambient effect of this region interfered with radio communication, so the Nazis had assembled a small pool of message-runner slaves who had been deemed too infirm for heavy labor. The lieutenant waved over one of them, a white-bearded man, who accepted the report timidly and limped to a platform connected to the zeppelin by long ropes. The wobbling platform was then winched up into the zeppelin’s belly fifty feet overhead. It was a painfully slow process, and the whole while the frightened old man clung like a frightened gecko to the shaking ropes.

The minutes dragged on while Maia waited for Commandant von Wartenburg to come to a decision. From the hushed tones with which the soldiers spoke of him, Maia was beginning to realize that the Commandant struck as much fear into his own soldiers as he did in his slaves. That was bad news: it meant he would drive a hard bargain.  The truth was, finding whatever specific trinket the Nazis were after would be like finding a needle in a dank, dark underground labyrinth. All she wanted was a free pass to snoop around under the city and pocket some long-buried gold, but maybe it wasn’t worth it. She had asked for a hundred percent of her findings, but if the commandant offered her anything less than forty, she would have to walk away.

A scream broke the still air and Maia turned in time to witness a man fall from the zeppelin. With a sickening thud, the figure smashed into the ground and lay still, and only then did Maia recognize the white-bearded slave.

Maia was the first person at the old man’s side, but his broken body was beyond saving. A moment later, the lantern-jawed lieutenant shoved her to the side, then fished a piece of paper out of the dead man’s satchel.

“What is it?” she asked breathlessly. “What happened?”

“It appears the commandant has given you his answer,” the lieutenant said, handing her the paper.

Maia saw that it was the same official report they had sent up to the zeppelin. A box at the bottom of the page bore the commandant’s orders, written in pristine handwriting:

SHE WILL FIND THE ITEM OR SHE WILL BE SHOT.

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Hollow Earth Expedition was created by Jeff Combos and is property of Exile Game Studio. For more Hollow Earth Expedition action, check out ExileGames.com

About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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