Somewhere in the Arctic Circle

Bleak, unforgiving, relentless and deadly. These are just a few of the words used to describe the cruel landscape of the Arctic Circle. They have also been used to describe one of the few inhabitants of the circle. A man who had been hold-up in the frigid location for longer than even he himself knew. Hold-up, but not idle. All the while he was thinking, planning, plotting and organizing and now from the inside of his camouflaged fortress, he was ready for action.

Helmut Faust sat in his study looking over a large three dimensional relief map of the world which was laid out on a heavy oaken table in the center of the room. Faust was an impeccably dressed, gentlemen with a severe temperament. A megalomaniacal, mastermind of the first degree and he was putting the finishing touches on his latest scheme.

Fasut’s study was a large, sumptuously decorated room. There were fine leather chairs, Oriental rugs, mahogany furnishings, and rows upon rows of book shelves filled with countless volumes on every possible subject. It was one of the largest private libraries in the entire world. The centerpiece of the room was the giant fireplace which currently had four small tree trunks burning in it, creating an impressive blaze. The priceless tapestries on the walls all depicted great battles and leaders throughout history. Ghengis Khan, Alexander The Great, Hannibal, Napolean, Julias Ceaser; all great men, but Helmut Faust believed he was greater.

The room’s main entrance was a pair of large, thick wooden doors that swung inward when Faust’s assistant came in to inform him of an important arrival.

“Mr. Faust, we’ve just received word that the ship will be docking soon.”

Without looking up from his work, Faust acknowledged the message and sent his assistant away.

Helmut held a pair of calipers in one hand and a pen in the other. A sextant, compass and notebook lay nearby and periodically he would take a measurement and jot down some notes in the book. When his task was complete, he put his coat on and departed to rendezvous with the boat.

The rest of the building was very much the same as the study. Everywhere you went was wide open, such as the elaborate hallway leading from the study to the elevator with its enormous, vaulted ceilings, and everywhere you looked was art of all kinds, from suits of armor and marble statues to priceless paintings and ancient weaponry.

Helmut Faust boarded an elevator at the end of the corridor and descended to the lower levels of the compound. Upon arriving one could see a distinct difference between the two floors. Whereas the upstairs suites were devoted to beauty and comfort, the lower levels of Helmut Faust’s Arctic fortress were sparse, and industrial, containing a factory for the manufacture of whatever insidious designs fit his whims, a laboratory brimming with experiments conducted by the various scientists who scurried about, an armory which held all manner of war engines and devices, a motor pool filled with an assortment of cars, motorbikes, and all terrain vehicles and a colossal steam powered boiler chamber which supplied heat and power to the entire complex. It was this boiler chamber which Faust cut through with a determined stride in his step on his way to the lowest level in the fortress, which was in the caverns that made up the foundation of the structure. The one thing that every department had in common with the others was people. No matter where you went, there were workers, scientists, and sentries on guard, all of whom were going about their daily toils all in accordance to Helmut Faust’s orders. One of the gaurds caught up with Faust and maintained pace with him.

“Sir, the ship should be arriving any minute now. Shall I prepare quarters for the crew in the barracks?”

“Yes, yes, but have a room prepared for my “guests” down the hall from my chambers.”

He waved him away and descended the stairs and came out in to a vast cavern; a natural occurrence which played a key role in Faust’s choosing a location for his hideaway. At the center of the cavern was a lake which fed in to the ocean and served as the docking bay for his ship, The Argo, a type VIIB German U-Boat he designed for the German military and constructed at his Arctic fortress with a few added civilian comforts, such as plush sleeping quarters and a French chef.

To the left and right of the stair case, were two gargantuan copper pipes eight feet in diameter which continued out from the caverns ceiling down to the solid rock base below where it siphoned steam from a volcanic flow miles below the surface ensuring a never ending supply of heat and power to the compound.

Just as Helmut Faust reached the bottom of the staircase, the tranquil, icy surface of the waters began to churn and bubble as the Argo surfaced as a leviathan coming up for air. The cargo door gaped open like the maw of yawning beast releasing its passengers to the outside world.

Mr. Bowie and Mr. Jagger disembarked and immediately made their way to their employer.

“I trust everything has gone smoothly and without complication gentlemen.”

Mr. Jagger looked slowly to Mr. Bowie with a canary eating grin that sent shivers up the spine of even Helmut Faust’s back.

“We’ve liberated the scientist and his wife from their home without incident and wiped our tracks clean, but the boy…” said Mr. Jagger

“What about the boy?” said Helmut Faust as the vein in his forehead began to build up pressure just like the copper pipes to his rear.

“There were unforeseen circumstances which caused the boy to slip from our custody.” said Mr. Bowie who recounted all that took place at the Marmalarde estate.

“I am none too pleased with this news gentlemen and if it weren’t for your many other talents which are of use to me, I would expel you from the front door wearing nothing but your regrets and pocket watches and let mother nature have her way with you in the arctic landscape. Where is Black Francis?”

“I believe he’s seeing to your guests, sir. I’ve no doubt he’ll be emerging from the belly of that great steel beast momentarily.”

As if on cue, Black Francis strode down the exit of the ship with his oily black hair hanging in his face and an unconscious Patricia Marmalarde slung over his left shoulder just as her husband was hanging over his right. His heavy boots strode to the three men waiting at the foot of the pier with ease.

“I present, Mr. and Mrs. Albrecht Marmalarde, sir. I’m afraid the journey didn’t quite agree with them.”

Helmut Faust smiled.

“Thank you Mr. Francis. If you would, please see to it they find their way to the guest quarters. Gentlemen, I do believe that tomorrow begins the war of the future.”