When Franz Hoffman had first been selected to join the Ahnenerbe Obskurakorps, his father made sure to contact him. Herr Hoffman, a longstanding member of the Thule society, told his son that "he would soon see wonders beyond his wildest dreams." While this had proven true, Franz had also seen horrors he could not fathom. In the end, it was the latter phenomena that tended to stick with him more.
Franz snapped into position at his commanding officer's order. His unit currently stood in the warehouse of a small Nuremberg train station, where they were supposedly to be assigned their next mission. A skeletal man in a high ranking uniform then stepped before them, and gestured for them to be at ease.
"I am Hauptmann Zimmerman." The officer introduced himself with a deep, croaking voice. "Your unit's successes in Obskurakorps' operations in Egypt and Prague has lead you to be placed under my command for a very important mission, both for the Fuhrer and his Reich."
Franz did his best to hide his unease as he watched the Hauptmann speak. His arms seemed to move with an unnatural jerkiness as he spoke, while his long fingers swept about with the grace of spider's legs. The Hauptmann then put on a pair of leather gloves and gestured to one of his aides, who proceeded to place a large metal box before him. Another brought forward a large dog that whimpered upon seeing the Hauptmann. Zimmerman then opened the box and pulled out an ornate spearhead.
"For those of you who do not know," Zimmerman explained, "this is the Holy Lance. The very spearhead that pierced the side of Christ while upon the cross. It was moved here following our unification with Austria, and now must be moved Berlin. A demonstration…"
Franz flinched as the Hauptmann stabbed the dog with the spearhead in a fluid jab, the canine going limp immediately. As Zimmerman retracted the relic, a fine white mist clung to the tip for several seconds then burst into flames, the sound of a dog howling in pain filled the room briefly, then all was quiet.
"Quite potent, don't you think?" Zimmerman asked the unit with a chuckle. "Now imagined if it was replicated on a mass scale, and pointed at an army…"
Zimmerman then gently placed the spearhead back in its box.
"Some of you will go alongside decoys, while the rest will accompany me. Our enemy knows we possess this relic, and that we are likely to transport it. They will certainly be planning a strike…"
London, United Kingdom
A tall, slender woman stood on a street corner, her black umbrella being pelted by heavy drops of rain as she idly watched passing foot traffic go by. Before long, a stout man dressed in a heavy coat stood next to her, his hair slick with water as he slightly turned his head and spoke.
"From what wood does the Fletcher make his arrows?" he asked in a thick New York accent.
"His family tree," the woman replied. Her accent was French.
The two then looked to each other with relief.
"So you're the skipper?" he asked with a chuckle. "Agent Martin?"
"Is that what the Allied Occult Initiative calls us these days, Agent Smith?" she returned. "Cute."
"I always considered it a term of endearment," Agent Smith said with a small chuckle.
"Indeed…" Agent Martin sighed. "Your thaumaturgists. They are sure that this train will have the object aboard?"
"Positive. The Obskura guys did a bang up job with the counterscrying, but covering up a powerful artifact leaves little details behind that can be detected if you know where to look. Your crew have the insertion and extraction set?"
"If there is a problem during this operation, getting there and getting out again will not be it."
"I suppose not," Agent Smith chuckled again. "These guys aren't going to know what hit them…"
Hauptmann Zimmerman had four decoy Holy Lances constructed. The first two were sent out via military convoys, while the third was to travel by plane. The final decoy was to remain in Nuremberg. Each decoy was sent out with enough escort to make convincing targets, should the AOI or the SCP Foundation decide to take the bait. Meanwhile, the actual Lance was quietly loaded on to a train that had begun to make its way toward Berlin.
Along the way, this train passed beneath a stone bridge upon which eight figures had recently apperated. As the locomotive passed beneath them, they then faded out, and appeared upon the roof of the final carriage. Agents Smith and Martin gave a confident nod to one another, and prepared their weapons as they crept into the train's interior.
Franz Hoffman had not only been lucky enough, or unlucky enough as some might see it, to have been selected to escort the real Holy Lance, but assigned as part of the guard detail within the same carriage as the object itself. As he stood by his post, occasionally taking the time to check and recheck his firearm out of boredom, he'd glance over at the crate containing the relic and look at it with unease.
"Waste of resources…"
Franz looked over at one of his fellow guards who was mumbling under his breath, an eyebrow raised.
"How's that?" Franz asked.
"This is a waste of resources," his colleague repeated. "Fatherland engaged on two fronts and they have us committing the highest degree of blasphemy."
"If they are capable of weaponzing such a thing, I'd say it's resources well spent. Could turn the tide of the war. And when the war ends, we can go home."
"You don't think there will be repercussions? The spear that pierced the side of Christ used for mass slaughter, and God almighty will turn a blind eye?"
"He's turned a blind eye to the Americans when they slaughtered the Indians. He turned a blind eye to the men who gassed one another in the trenches. Something tells me he'll turn a blind eye here."
Franz paused and sighed.
"The world is a cruel, wicked place, after all."
A chill ran down Franz's spine as he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning his head, he saw Hauptmann Zimmerman standing beside him, an approving smile on his lips.
"You are wise to the ways of the world," Zimmerman replied. "You'll go far."
The Hauptmann then turned his attention to Franz's colleague, and slowly walked over. He placed a hand on his shoulder, then walked away. Zimmerman's arms slid out from his sleeves and remained floating in place, the stumps covered with smooth skin above the elbow. He then turned to look out the carriage window. As he spoke, the Hauptmann's disembodied hands continued to gesture.
"You think our task is a fool's errand, and yet you have not yet begun to see the true horrors of this universe. I have. Our enemy is developing its own weaponzied relics they they will in turn unleash upon our soldiers, and our citizens. It is our job and our duty to ensure that we are the first to the punch. For the Fuhrer and for Germany."
Zimmerman then turned to the soldier. The man whimpered in fear as the disembodied arms on his shoulders then shifted and patted him on the cheek.
"Do I make myself clear?"
The soldier nodded furiously. Zimmerman smiled, walking back to his arms and allowing them to slide back into his sleeves before removing them from the terrified man's person.
"Excellent," the Hauptmann replied. He then turned back to Franz and gave another nod. "Keep up the good work."
In one of the rear carriages, six Obskurakorps soldiers sat around playing dice games, amidst idle conversation. The trip had been uneventful so far, and likely would continue to be for the remainder of the duration. None noticed Agent Smith, Agent Martin, and the rest of their joint task force enter the carriage until Agent Smith had already approached their group, his right hand held out and glowing with a faint blue light.
The soldiers shouted and reached for their weapons, only for Smith to clench his fist. Four of their necks snapped in an instant. The remaining two attempted to flee, only to be shot in the back by Martin, and her suppressed pistol. She reloaded without a word and gave Smith a nod for them to continue.
"Its going to get a little hairy from here. Remember, the strike team is going to derail the train if we are not at the checkpoint in half an hour," he warned the task force members. "Be careful, and for Christ's sake take out any Type Blues you see first."
As Franz Hoffman stood at his post two enemy agents forced open the carriage door, then opened fire. The resulting spray of bullets tore through two of his colleagues. Fumbling with his weapon, he returned fire in kind, killing the intruders. However, Franz soon found himself being shot at from the other direction. Taking cover behind a crate, he turned to see yet more enemy agents entering from the other side of the carriage. He swore as he reloaded, and joined his fellow guards in exchanging fire with the intruders, only to turn to see a man enter from behind him, his hand glowing blue. Several crates then flew across the carriage interior, striking Franz and his fellow guards with deafening cracks.
From his spot beneath the shattered crate, Franz watched as the enemy agents entered, and pushed forward from both directions, shouting to one another in a language he did not understand. They approached the crate containing the Holy Lance, wasting no time in throwing off the lid and grabbing the relic’s case before replacing it with one of their own. As the enemy agents began to retreat, a series of shots rang out, killing one of the intruders. Franz turned his head to see Hauptmann Zimmerman enter, a pistol in his left hand and a sickening purple electricity crackling from his right. He was accompanied by two other Obskurakorps soldiers.
“You Initiative rats!” Zimmerman shouted.
Purple lighting shot forward from the Hauptmann’s hand as he slowly pressed forward. An enemy agent countered by holding out his own hand, which glowed a faint blue light. The arcs of lightning hit a bubble of force and vanishing harmlessly. A woman stepped out from behind the man, a suppressed pistol in her hand, and opened fire, killing the Hauptmann’s escorts with well-placed shots between their eyes. As the Hauptmann continued to press forward, she shouted something to her comrades in the carriage behind her. The agent producing the force field then clenched his fists, sending a wave of force forward and knocking Zimmerman into the far carriage wall with a dull thud. The enemy agents immediately began to flee.
Franz let out a war cry as he leapt from his hiding spot and leveled his rifle, letting loose a spray of shots and killing the enemy agent carrying the Holy Lance’s case. Franz quickly recovered the artifact, holding it in one hand and his rifle in the other. He held the weapon steady as the man who produced the force field and the woman with the suppressed pistol watched him with cold eyes.
“You have no idea what powers your Fuhrer is toying with,” the woman spoke to him in German. Her accent was thick, French maybe?
“I could say the same to you,” Franz replied. “Now, kindly get off our train.”
The man who produced the force field looked at his watch, and then said something to the woman in English. The woman nodded, then turned back to Franz.
She, the force field man, and the rest of the surviving intruders then winked out. Franz lowered his weapon, then looked down at the case in his hand and sighed.
“Excellent work,” Hauptmann Zimmerman said, hobbling over and gesturing for the case. Franz handed it over immediately. The Hauptmann quickly flipped it open, smiled upon seeing that the Holy Lance was still there, then snapped it shut. “Excellent work, indeed.”
The sound of an explosion then ripped through the air. Franz could see the smoke coming from the front of the train as the engine flew off the tracks, the carriages following suit like dominos. Franz had only enough time to brace himself for impact before he was tossed aside like a ragdoll.
Franz let out a weak cough, and looked around. The carriage had rolled off the tracks and now lay upside down, its contents shattered and strewn about. Outside, the sound of gunfire filled the air, combined with bursts of shouting in German and English. Hauptmann Zimmerman was nowhere to be seen. As was the Holy Lance.
“Oh no…” Franz whispered to himself. “No, no, no, no, no…”
As he got to his feet he let out a sharp cry of pain. A splinter from one of the crates had pierced his left calf, effectively hobbling him. He picked up the nearest rifle he could find, and exited the carriage into the night.
The remains of the train lay scattered about the tracks and countryside like a broken toy. Only the occasional small fire gave illumination as to the scale of the destruction. Franz limped along, heading towards the sound of the gunfire. As he approached, the shots became more and more infrequent, until they finally died off. By the time, he arrived at the scene of combat, the only thing remaining was several of his fellow soldiers standing around the body of Hauptmann Zimmerman.
“What happened?” Franz asked as he hobbled up.
“After the train derailed a force of about 30 enemy soldiers appeared out of thin air,” Zimmerman's aide replied from within the crowd. “Launched an attack. By the time we got rallied they had already killed the Hauptmann and were in retreat. We gunned down a good chunk of them before they vanished again. Guess they were just after the Hauptmann’s life….”
Franz nodded and looked down at the corpse of the skeletal officer in front of him. A single gunshot had hit him between the eyes. His left hand tightly gripped the Holy Lance’s case, while his right arm was detached and futilely crawling around by its finger tips. Franz knelt down and pulled the case out of the Hauptmann’s grip. He popped the case open and looked inside.
The Holy Lance was still there.
Franz looked off into the distance toward where the enemy troops had vanished.
“I guess so…” he agreed. “Just the Hauptmann’s life.”
“Think they’ll buy the switch?” Agent Smith asked as he, Agent Martin, and the rest of their joint task force approached an abandoned farm house not too far from the train wreck they had just caused.
“They will for as long as we need them to, after that the object will be long out of their reach,” Agent Martin replied.
She knocked on the farmhouse door in a unique beat. The door then opened on its power, revealing a bright, warm interior. Inside, waiting for them to arrive, were several SCP Foundation and Allied Occult Initiative agents. Agent Martin gingerly placed the case she carried down on the table at the center of the room and flipped it open, showing both parties the Holy Lance that resided inside.
The commanding officer of the SCP Foundation agents nodded and placed a large box on the table, sliding it over to the AOI’s side. The AOI commander proceeded to check its contents, and gave a satisfied nod in return.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” the AOI commander stated.
“Likewise,” the Foundation commander replied, and snapped the Holy Lance’s case shut. He then gestured to his agents, and then to the fireplace. One by one, each lit a candle from a nearby box and vanished into the flue. Agent Martin turned and gave Agent Smith a polite nod before she vanished.
“So, like that, we just let them keep the Holy Lance?” Agent Smith asked his commander.
“Do you have any idea how much infighting a relic like that could cause between member organizations?” The AOI commander replied, drumming on the box the Foundation commander had given her. “Some would call for its destruction, others for its weaponization, yet more for its historic preservation. At least this way it's locked away for all time, and we get several valuable objects in return.”
“Think we’ll ever see it again?”
The commander shook her head.
“Knowing the Foundation, they’ll note its abilities in a file somewhere, throw it in a box, lock it in a vault, and there it will remain until the Earth itself stops spinning.”
“Seems a waste.”
“Maybe, but what can you do.”
Agent Smith chuckled and nodded. The commander then gave the order for them to vacate. Like the Foundation agents before them, they each lit a candle and vanished into the flue. Upon the last agent leaving, the farmhouse slowly faded out of reality, just in time for an Obskurakorps search party to pass by none the wiser.