Hey guys, Zach again. It’s been awhile since I intervened in these entries, but I had a few quick things to mention.

As the title eludes to, this part is the final entry of my grandfather’s testimony. It’s been a long process some ten years in the making for me, and I’m glad to finally have it all completed. It has not been any easy process, and many times I am left with more questions than answers. My family and mother, Colleen especially were quite skeptical about this idea to share it, but now I think they’ve come to realize what I have. The world deserves to know.

I have been researching the claims my grandfather has made for many years. As you can imagine, concrete information on AVION, the bald men and this entire escapade is not easily obtained. I’ve followed up on a few leads, and I feel as though I may soon have something to report in relation to this. It may be just fanciful thinking on my end, but I suppose only time will tell.

I have little to report in terms of interesting finds as of right now, but keep an eye on my profile. If and when I discover new information, I will be sure to update.

For those of you who have followed along the entire way, I thank you. I hope this document has at the very least given you some entertainment, and perhaps something to ponder. There are a great many things which we have been left in the dark on, and it is to my great relief and pleasure that I may illuminate a few of them. So, without further ado, let’s pick up where we left off and finish the story of my grandfather, Klaus Herrmann Günther.

 

 

“Klaus… Klaus wake up…” A rummaging hand shook me ferociously, stirring me from a dreamless sleep.

“Klaus… can you hear me? What happened?” The voice of Volker Klein standing above me sounded off as my vision slowly adjusted to the light.

“What…” I muttered as Klein helped me up to a seated position.

“You okay? What happened?” He asked, inspecting my bloodied uniform. I tasted blood still lingering in my throat, and felt it crack on my lips as I spoke. Suddenly, an epiphany struck me as I remembered.

“Jesus Klaus… what did you…”

“Where is she?” I asked, interrupting him as I hastily and lethargically rose to my feet. I was in my office, having apparently slept upon the floor. No memory of how I got there. Klein wrapped an arm around mine as I stumbled, and looked at me with a confused expression.

“Who?”

“Reisend… Johanna Lustiger. She was here.” Klein gave a disbelieving shake of his head.

“That’s impossible. Her probe is still millions of kilometers…”

“Dammit Volker I saw her. She attacked me, she was here.” I shouted back, head pulsating from stress coupled with an uncomfortable sleep.

“Klaus look I… I don’t know about any of that. But come on, something happened.” Klein beckoned me onward, basically dragging me towards the lab. My head felt as though it had been slammed with a bat once or twice, and my vision blurred from the ensuing migraine. I refused to enter the lab without retrieving a cup of coffee first.

Klein protested, but soon we found ourselves in the cantina. I chugged down about three bottles of water, and began to sip the scalding black coffee. It brought only a modicum of relief, but at least it was something.

Klein then hastily guided me into the lab and approached the monitor of Peverley’s video feed. It was nothing but static.

“Where are they?” I asked, heart beginning to thunder in my chest as I noticed Rusakov’s feed was also static. Klein shook his head.

“We don’t know, they were attacked.” Klein approached the terminal and pulled up a separate video. On the screen I watched as several large ill-defined figures ambushed Omega team while they slept. Rusakov was dragged away screaming and cursing, while Peverley was seized soon after. Their video feeds showed the commotion for only a few seconds before turning to static.

There were multiple attackers this time, but they looked different then the pythonic thing seen earlier. Hideous abominations of life, with flailing appendages and vaguely humanoid in shape mostly obscured by the shadows. There had to be at least half a dozen of the wretched things.

One of them flashed on screen for a moment, appearing different than the others. It was only for a brief second, but I recognized the uniform it was wearing. It was one of the crew, who exactly I do not know, but there was no denying it.

“God damnit.” I shouted, slamming a fist upon the terminal. Klein said nothing, as my headache seemed to grow in intensity. I pressed a hand to my face, as the headache seemed to bolster in strength. Behind me I heard the lab door open and the pitter-patter of feet walk up behind me.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now. I need you at the probe.” The cold, uncaring voice of von Braun spoke behind me. I felt a fury grip my veins, as my eyes turned to flame and I turned to meet him. His contemptuous gaze fell upon me, eyes empty of remorse or anything resembling human emotion.

“What’s the point? There’s nothing to save now…” I replied, turning away.

“There is everything to save.” He replied stepping closer.

“It was never meant for them. It’s a payload rocket, designed for only one purpose. You knew that.” I did, but somehow, I had naively assumed it would work out somehow. Like we would get a grip on the situation and rescue the brave astronauts marooned upon the planet. We were to be the eagles, whisking Frodo and Sam away from the slopes of Mt. Doom. I should’ve known better than to give in to a fool’s hope.

I didn’t have a challenge for von Braun. No witty counter or alternate plan of attack. Despair gripped me, digging it’s claws deeper than ever before. I didn’t bother responding. I had my objective, and no fight left to give. I had to think of my children, and every child upon the earth. They were all in danger, we were all in danger. Johanna Lustiger had to be stopped.

I began walking towards the door, averting my eyes from von Braun when something stirred behind me. It was a faint crackling sound of audio equipment buzzing. I turned, and watched in disbelief as the feed from Peverley’s helmet sprung back to life. It cut in and out as some commotion clearly was interfering with the reception and broadcast strength.

Finally, after a minute or two it began to stabilize. The first thing I saw was a pair of legs lying motionless as the ground passed beneath them. Slowly, the camera panned around in ever so slight movements. Peverley was heard breathing heavily, as something unseen dragged her onward against her will. Her feet lay in the dust, facing backwards to whatever it was that held her captive.

Our group approached the terminal, and readied ourselves to reestablish contact. Albert Wolf grabbed the mic, but von Braun stopped him. For several minutes we watched in silence, as Peverley was drug further down the dark tunnel.

Eventually, they rounded a corner, and a sudden light began to illuminate the vicinity. It was dull, apricot in color and flickering constantly, but was enough to see the walls on either side extend outward, giving way to an unbelievably vast chamber. The walls appeared coated in some obsidian, tar-like substance, and it even seemed to glisten and move in the dull light.

The dragging then stopped, and Peverley suddenly fell back to the ground with a whimper. A bizarre gurgling, clicking noise was then heard, coupled with the feared breaths of Peverley. Slowly she rolled onto her stomach, and attempted to readjust her bearings.

Two large legs then came into view. They were blackened, and swollen, with size almost comparable to that of an elephant. Flailing digits extended randomly from the vestiges, but one of them stood out. It looked like a human hand, anchored to the leg and it reached out towards Peverley. She ducked away, and the action caused the beast to turn it’s entire attention towards her.

Peverley shuddered, and slowly her vision panned upwards to meet the leviathan beast. The thing was absolutely massive. Probably four meters at least, with massive trunk like arms and wiggling digits lining it’s grotesque frame. The thing had no head, at least not where it should’ve been. But on it’s torso, something truly horrifying came into focus. Several heads, human in appearance, but twisted, elongated and charred black with some even partially fused together all quivered about. They gnawed and muttered unintelligible things, and all of them seemed to be suffering a great deal.

Peverley began to whimper as she beheld the diabolic creature. The thing just stared down at her, with dozens of beady black eyes upon it’s chest. What terrible fate had led to so wretched a thing being able to exist?

“Command… can you hear me?” She asked, her tone one was one of utter desolation. Wolf quickly scrambled to the mic.

“We hear you Lieutenant. Where the hell are you?” The thing suddenly screeched as Wolf’s message was sent hurdling towards Peverley. She winced, as the thing turned it’s attention away from her and back down the corridor it had travelled from.

Peverley began to pan around as her captor’s gaze was distracted. She realized then, that she was on the edge of some sort of chasm. Down below the ground gave out, plummeting hundreds of meters downward. At the bottom appeared to be some kind of subterranean lake. It took only a moment to realize that it was not water however, that occupied the space. It was the same strange black goo, writhing about like an ocean of boiling crude oil.

It was enormous, extending for hundreds of meters in diameter. The black tide appeared to shift about and extend upwards at certain points, like black maggots festering in a pit. Some of the extremities extended upwards for dozens of meters, giving the appearance of tentacle-like pillars reaching from below. Gaping mouths would open on occasion, and within them erupted dozens of flailing hands and other less definable things.

Upon the walls of the cavern there were various scarlet eyes and mouths lined with razor-sharp teeth, birth canals and other grotesque phallic imagery. The eyes moved independently, gawking at the torturous scene around them. The mouths would move, chew and spit with some even appearing to speak in some forsaken ancient language. From the pudenda orifices, forms of terrible things would come spewing forth. They writhed and snarled viciously, as if cursing all of existence for being born before tumbling into the viscous black seas below.

“What the hell is this place?” Peverley asked in a teary voice as Wolf’s message echoed through her ear. None of us had an answer to give. Even von Braun, who always seemed to have a plan could do nothing but marvel with a slacked, open-mouthed stare. Never had I imagined finding something like that.

Peverley then panned away from the writhing sea, and looked forward upon her path. Before her, perhaps a hundred meters or so stood the source of the light which illuminated the cavern. There are truly no words I can say to properly describe the sight I witnessed.

A massive rotating iron device spun slowly about, causing the light to flicker as it’s rings gyrated. It looked almost like an armillary sphere in appearance, but exponentially larger in size. Several pillars formed the foundation, standing as a sort of frame for the monolithic engine and a platform for which it was functioning.

I counted at least seven separate circular rings, rotating independently around one another at various sizes, speeds and directions. Around that, stood a vast complex of towering cage-like obelisks which held the imposing thing together. The air around the device seemed to vibrate and twist, like heat waves on a hot summer’s day.

The towering metallic arms were lined with a series of bright red, orange and yellow lights which all held distinctive estranged shapes. They looked like runes, hieroglyphs from a lost civilization, similar to the ones Omega team found on the door earlier. Around the mechanical atrocity stretched a plethora of winding blackened appendages, like the roots of a tree grown through concrete. Some of them pierced the hide of the construct, but despite that it’s function did not appear inhibited. If anything, it appeared as though the flesh tendrils were fueling or controlling the thing.

Then in the very center of it, encased by the vanguard of spiraling rings was yet another ghastly sight. Some sort of form floated within the heart container. Whether fuel source or mastermind, I could not say. It appeared as little more than a shadow, contrasted by the bright flickering light that surrounded it. It’s shape would shift from one almost identical to a human shadow, to other more indescribable forms. The light in the chamber seemed to radiate outwards from the entity, despite the entity itself not being illuminated by it.

Our audio equipment suddenly went crazy, as every feed we had became saturated by a horrendous flurry of intermingled sounds. There were simply too many to comprehend, as if the tortured voices of a trillion coalesced entities all clamored in a cacophonous forlorn melody. There was no pattern, no meaning, just damned, gibbering souls begging for release.

There was also laughter, cries of ecstasy and beastly growls of demented, miserable atrocities. The sermon of a mad god spoke through the countless voices of those it consumed, and echoed in a booming unintelligible voice that dwarfed them all. The great corruption, the anti-life, the thing that defies all explanation. Those sounds, I can never forget the terrible things I heard. Things human beings should never be able to hear, and an image they should never be allowed to see.

“Get your fucking grubby hands off of me.” A voice suddenly pierced the ill-fated sonority. Peverley turned to see several figures emerge from within the tunnel. They struggled, slightly as the sight of Rusakov held captive by two of the abhorrent things approached. The two looked different then the one who loomed over Peverley. The one on the left was quadrupedal, with dozens of arms sprouting from the top of it like a spider from the depths of hell. The other was scrawny, immensely tall with an elongated tentacle-like head and arms. Four more accompanied them from behind, all appearing slightly different in appearance. One of those who marched with them appeared familiar. It was Gaskins, corrupted like the others.

Rusakov continued to resist but his efforts were ultimately futile. They held him firm, before tossing him in a heap to the ground. Rusakov hit with a grunt of pain, and continued cursing them out. Then he saw where he was.

“Dear God almighty…” Rusakov glanced around the gargantuan chamber, his face turning to a look of utter disbelief. He clutched something tight to his chest, and then he noticed Peverley.

“Lieutenant.” He yelled. He tried to stand but was quickly struck by a large whip like appendage by the tall, scrawny creature. He fell back with a pained shriek, and looked upward to face his oppressor.

“You’re one ugly son of bitch…” He said with a wheezing laugh.

“Rusakov, are you okay?” Peverley asked. The one who accompanied her then turned back to face her, sneering down with it’s multiple unblinking eyes.

“Never better…” He said, again accompanying his statement with a laugh.

“This must be the generator. How kind of them to bring us here.” Rusakov stated. In the background our crew attempted to formulate a plan to take the machine down. As if it hadn’t been abandoned before, it became clear there was no escape. The best we could hope was to send them out in a blaze of glory.

“Peverley look at the machine. Do you see any sort of power source?” Wolf asked. Peverley did as instructed when she received the message a few minutes later, and once again the goliath machine came into view. The repetition of it’s rotation stayed consistent to it’s established course, and later analysis did indeed reveal it to be synchronized with the frequency of the Zeta radiation. That was it. The heart of the mountain, and the source of the energy. The Zeta generator.

Peverley glanced around at the machine, but everything about it’s design was so far beyond anything we had ever before witnessed. It was like taking someone from the dark ages and plopping them down in front of a supercomputer. We had no idea what we were looking at, let alone how to sabotage it. It didn’t even seem to resemble the technology of the craft from Deisenhofer Forst.

“Those rings… maybe we can knock them off their axis…” Peverley whispered, while her watchdog loomed overhead. From the center of the machine the strange entity appeared to stare in her direction. I looked around at the others in the lab, contemplating the prospect of such a maneuver. The rings were immense in size, and disrupting them would undoubtedly be a monumental task. It seemed plausible, but with their limited equipment, dwindling oxygen supply, and hostile kidnappers, our options were severely limited.

From the middle of the machine, the composer being within had begun to stir. It’s movements were slight, but slowly it appeared to lift an arm. A large amalgamation of the black sludge then began to grow outward from the base of the machine. It slithered upon the platform which Peverley and Rusakov occupied, and began slowly crawling towards her.

The guardian that stood beside her seemed to stare towards the machine, as if in a trance. She glanced back to Rusakov, and found those around him seemed in a lull as well. She turned back and faced the machine, focusing upon the occupant inside.

“That thing in the middle. I think it’s controlling this…” Peverley commented. She continued glancing around before Rusakov called from behind.

“Charlotte…” She turned back to see him finicking with his breathing apparatus.

“There is only one option…” Rusakov began to undo his tubes from the tank on his back.

“Ivan… what are you doing?” She asked with a quivering voice.

“The oxygen tanks. Maybe if they rupture it will be enough to disrupt the machine.” Rusakov removed his tank and set in on the ground with his breathing tube still attached.

“No… command what is our RM?” She replied, now sounding evermore desperate.

“There is no time Charlotte. You must do this. For McCauley, for Gaskins and Novak, and everyone back home… We have to kill it.” His voice broke into a grumbling cough as the creatures around him began to stir. Rusakov turned as the beasts scornfully gazed upon him. Rusakov picked up a rock from the dirt, and admired it a moment in his hand.

“Never thought it would end like this…” Rusakov chuckled and looked up. He stared longingly towards his commanding officer, hand quivering on his stone.

“It’s been an honor Lieutenant…” He said. Peverley stared back, before breathing deep and replying with a proud voice and an affirming nod.

“Likewise, Ivan… Godspeed.” Rusakov then chuckled, and hurled the rock at the creature which stood beside Peverley. The bloated monstrosity turned back as the stone struck it’s back and fell to the ground. It stared contemptuously towards him, gurgling and clicking away. Rusakov then unveiled the object he cradled in his left arm: the improvised IPSA device.

“Hey ugly, is time to meet god.” The hideous thing began to gurgle and snarl as it broke into a mad awkward dash. Booming footsteps then echoed out as the beast charged with ravenous intent, arms dangling at it’s side. Rusakov then detached his breathing tube and hurled the small oxygen tank over the creature and towards Peverley. Peverley began to move towards it as the creatures moved in on Rusakov.

“Come on you devils! Make me a legend.” Rusakov shouted as the creatures dove for him. Rusakov activated the device, and it began to grow brightly from his hands. They swarmed him, like piranhas on a wounded calf, and the IPSA ignited.

A deafening concussion blasted through the room, eviscerating Rusakov and sending fragments of limbs, goo and blood upwards in a large cloud. The beasts were sent hurdling end over end outwards and off of the platform. Peverley watched as two of the things fell downwards, only to be devoured by the ravenous black tide below.

Peverley broke into a sprint, grabbing the oxygen tank before turning back towards the machine. As soon as she turned, one of the serpentine tendrils lunged for her. She ducked, and the wiggling digit overshot it’s target and flew over her. Quickly she scrambled to the side, and broke into a charge towards the machine. Other tendrils reached for her. One dove from the left which Peverley ducked away from. Two more consecutively from the right that she evaded as well.

The composer within the machine stared back motionless as other tendrils mounted around the machine. Peverley rushed onward as other forms began to claw their way up from the pit. Her breaths grew labored, and a warning equipped to her suit began to blare, indicating her oxygen was low. All we could hope for was that Rusakov’s tank was full enough for a suitable detonation.

Dozens of the tendrils lurched towards her, but none so much as grazed her. On the ground they writhed about wildly as Peverley drew ever nearer to the machine.

Suddenly she fell as something struck her from behind. She groaned and rolled back to her side, only to see a familiar sight looming above her. It was dressed in her same uniform, and stared downward with empty eyes devoid of humanity. Novak. Peverley kicked at her, but Novak did not even react. Her scalp had burst forth with multiple wiggling black digits, like some sort of twisted fern specimen of alien biomass.

Novak leaned down and lifted Peverley high off the dirt. Peverley struggled, clawing and scraping at the thing in a desperate scramble to escape. The entity once known as Novak gurgled as the sprawling tendrils reached for Peverley. Peverley then turned grabbing a small oxyacetylene torch from her utility built.

“I’m sorry Barbie…”

Peverley ignited the torch, and thrust the flame into Novak’s face. Novak screeched as the bushel of blackened tendrils began wiggling franticly. She released her grip on Peverley and fell back, appearing to have been driven mad from the pain. She hunched over flailing about wildly as smoke poured from her sizzling face.

Peverley regained her footing and began charging forward yet again towards the machine with all in the lab cheering her on. A flurry of tentacles burst towards her. She managed to dodge several, but there were simply too many. She was struck and subsequently ensnared by the arms. She struggled, but was quickly overwhelmed by the barrage.

Peverley struck several of them with the torch, but others took their place. They slithered around her, lifting her high into the air. Her arms were pinned against her side.

“No.” She suddenly cried looking downwards as the sight of her torch fell to the platform below. They began to draw her towards the machine, as the sole occupant inside stared motionless.

“I can’t move…” Peverley said as the tendrils constricted, while her oxygen levels dwindled to dangerously low levels. Unfortunately, there was not a single thing we could do aside from watch and hope. Any message we sent would’ve been received too late.

Around her, other figures began to populate the bridge. Reviled blasphemous things that had crawled upwards from the pit below. From behind, a truly enormous mass crawled out from the tunnel which had led them there. A monstrous mound of flesh and random segments dragged itself along on two enormous arms. A single gaping mouth opened upon it’s chest, spewing a flurry of bile and blackened mucus.

Peverley looked upward, seeing the vast extended ceiling above her head lined by a spackling array of eyes, mouths and appendages.

“The peak, the machine is at the peak…” She managed to wheeze out as the arms constricted around her tighter and tighter. Her voice turned to raspy panicked breaths as the last of her oxygen drained from her suit. I felt the stinging of cold tears in my eyes.

“I’m sorry command… Hit the peak, nuke them.” She cried painfully.

“Please god, no…” I begged. All her hard work, all her sacrifice. All for naught. Peverley wheezed and was drawn inward to the base of the machine as her breath drew scarce and high-pitched. A part of the machine’s base then began to open, beaming forth with a glowing red light.

Inside appeared to be a set of teeth and fleshy growths that salivated at the approaching offering. Peverley was nearly listless, and as the tendrils drew her inside. We watched, an eldritch horror permeating our crew as Peverley was devoured whole by the ravenous machine. Her feed showed a flurry of disgusting corporeal images and faces within, before it turned to static a second later. The warning screen blared on her vitals, and flatlined soon after. She was gone, and along with her went the last remains of the Aphrodite mission.

We all just stood there, a thick deafening silence falling like an ashen hail upon us. All our work, our years of planning, scouting and researching. Our friends and fellow coworkers embarking upon the journey of a lifetime. Of every lifetime. It was all gone.

“Status?” von Braun asked to the other techs. Wolf just shook his head. All the comms had gone dark, and all vitals showed nothing. The five members of Aphrodite were all gone, but their heroic actions would never be forgotten, at least not by us. With nothing left to do in the lab- and our apocalypse still soaring through space towards us, we turned to the only option we had left.

I excused myself from the group for a while, to allow myself time to process the events and grieve for my fallen compatriots. Peter McCauley, Walter Gaskins, Barbara Novak, Ivan Rusakov and Charlotte Peverley were some of the finest men and women I ever knew. It’s truly a tragedy to see them lost in such a manner, but more so, to know the world will never be told of their sacrifice. At least not from the mouths of those who ordered it.

Knowledge was always our prime motivator. Knowledge is power, and revealing knowledge is only done so long as it benefits the one who possesses it. At least that’s the way my employers have always seen it.

The knowledge of that thing below Olympus Mons has haunted me ever since. More so the knowledge of my friends being lost to a monstrosity eons old. Whatever that thing is, it must be destroyed. There is no coexisting with it, no peace and no other option.

My employers have never been in the business of revealing the things we have learned. They believe the insight gained, is only for those at the highest rungs of society. As evidenced by my apparent manifesto however, I believe differently. I believe humanity has a right to know of the things that have gone on away from the spotlight, despite how unpleasant they are.

I’ve thought at great length about what Peverley told me, the night before she was taken. Bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather the courage to meet fear. Peverley, and the entire Aphrodite team showed courage up to the wicked end that was far beyond what I thought myself capable of. Now it’s my turn.

My entire life has been spent in secrecy and fear. Hiding from the truth and covering it for others. Fear of what I have done, and what I know. Now, I have nothing left to lose, but still the world to gain. It is why I have made this decision. A last futile attempt to atone for my sins, and make things right with my family. It is all I ever wanted.

We completed the last probe soon after the loss of Peverley. It’s form had been realized, and it’s capabilities ensured. The ram, the god of war, the Aries probe. A package in the form of a 1500 kiloton nuclear bomb designed to decimate the machine, and annihilate the wretched thing which fuels it. Peverley and Rusakov may have failed to inhibit the Zeta generator, but in her dying moments, Peverley had confirmed it’s location. We were right as it turned out, the machine is just beneath the peak of Olympus Mons.

Our mission is a simple one; use the probe to carry the bomb and ram it straight down the throat of the mountain. That in turn will hopefully destroy the generator and sabotage Fünfter Forscher‘s thrusters by nullifying the Zeta radiation field. It will render all technology which utilizes the Zeta radiation inert, including our own creations. That is the hope anyways. It is the only option we have left. A last ditch effort to avoid our extinction for a second time.

For two weeks we worked night and day to finalize the preparations, as anything and everything we needed was provided post haste. Finally, the craft was finished, and the Aries mission was ready for launch. One final launch to end the Mars program once and for all.

Along the way we spent our time discussing the finer details, and soon discovered one glaring problem. There was a hole in our logic which could not be avoided no matter how hard we tried.

As evidenced by Dritter Forscher and later her daughter probe Fünfter Forscher, our control of the machines could be overridden at any time by the composer of the generator. We were working on borrowed time, with a stolen energy supply that was never intended for our usage. We could navigate the probe to Mars, but once there we ran the risk of having it corrupted and directed elsewhere. Perhaps even right back at us as Fünfter was.

Unfortunately, we had no other choice aside from utilizing the Zeta technology for propulsion. Our probe would never make it in time without it. To combat the possible loss of control, a seperate thrust system was installed to allow for manual overide of Aries should the need arise. This entailed a troubling resolution though. Someone had to be onboard to pilot the craft, and ensure it would not come back.

Three people volunteered for the journey. Three brave men who were willing to give their lives for the people they loved, but I overruled them. I could not let another person die for our mistakes, and so I did what I had to do. One final mission, one moment of bravery.

“Hello?”

“Hello Teresa.”

“Hi, um… who is this?”

“It’s Klaus.”

“Oh… hello Klaus…”

“How are you?”

“I’m good, the heats been getting to me lately but… good. How are you?”

“Good, I’m good. How are the kids? And the baby?”

“They’re good, Jackie’s top of her class, Andrew’s in football and Evie’s been well… Evie. We’ve been staying with my mother for a little while so they love that, lots of cookies and bedtime stories from grandma. Babies good too, she’s happy and healthy…”

“That’s so good to hear…”

“Colleen, that’s her name. She’s a happy little thing, she’s got your smile…” I felt the tears begin to drip from my eyes, and my voice grow hoarse.

“Colleen… that’s a beautiful name…”

“Well… she’s a beautiful little girl…” I paused, and composed myself as best I could.

“Well I’m so glad Teresa… Listen, I don’t have a lot of time, but… I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for everything. I know that no words can possibly justify the lies I’ve told and the pain I’ve caused, but just know I always loved you and the kids. I still do love you…” Teresa gave a long pause to process the words. For a moment I thought the line went dead before she finally spoke, tears audible in her voice.

“I know you do, we love you too. I am sorry for the way I reacted. I was just so overwhelmed by everything you told me. I’m sorry too.” I went to respond but she continued.

“I know that things are different now, but… maybe we could get together again at some point? The kids always ask about you, they love when you call for them. Maybe in time you and I could figure this out too.”

“I would love nothing more Teresa.” I heard her chuckle and begin to sniffle on the other end, and I spoke again.

“Unfortunately, I can’t do that.”

“What? Why?”

“I’ve made arrangements for my bank account to be transferred into your name, as well as my pension and the house. I want you all to be well taken care of.”

“Klaus… what are you talking about? You’re scaring me.” Her voice broke on the other end, and I felt sorrow wrap it’s icy fingers around my heart.

“I wish I could explain it to you Teresa, you of all people deserve that much. I wish I could give you everything, to be the father I once was, and the husband who loved you so dearly, but I can’t. Not anymore.”

“Yes, you can Klaus. Please, whatever it is we can get past it. I don’t care about your past, I care about your future. Our future. Please come home.”

“I’m sorry my love, there’s no time.”

“Klaus… please…” I wanted nothing more than to comply with her wishes. To abandon AVION once and for all and swoop her back into my arms. To watch Jacqueline, Andrew, Evelyn and Colleen grow and bloom into the wonderful people I know they will be. Anything else besides the destiny set before me. Fate is a prison, but honor is a choice. I choose redemption, and could only bring myself to utter one last fleeting sentiment.

“Goodbye Teresa.”

It’s been 17 days now. Our calculations have put me at arriving at my destination in approximately three more days. A mere two days before Fünfter Forscher was intially projected to reach the earth. Soon, I will enter the rocky road zone, and I need to be on high alert in order to sabotage the Zeta thrusters on Aries if need be. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that thing on Mars hijack yet another of our crafts.

Before I left, Volker Klein and I spent some time developing a personal messaging system which he and I can use to privately chat. He was furious at me when he learned what I intended to do. He outright refused to help me at first, but I think he knew there was nothing he, or anyone could say to talk me out of it. He’s always been such a good friend.

I have spent my time thus far, reflecting upon my life. All the mistakes I’ve made, things I’ve seen. I’ve also spent this time writing this message. I suppose it will act as a last will, brief autobiography and testament to all that I have been through. This is my confession, my legacy and my shame.

Aries has done well, so far devoid of any roadblocks or hiccups upon my path. Around me sprawls an endless sea of eternal black. Stars dot the galactic canopy as numerous as the sands of the ocean, and beautiful as a field of tulips.

I’ve never really been one for poetry, but here as I sit in my lone pilot’s chair staring into the endless cosmos and a million miles from home, I feel peace. Maybe a calm before the storm, or maybe a true lasting serenity. I’ve felt the presence of death for all my life, and yet here, as I stand upon the brink overlooking the precipice of oblivion, I am content.

For any who have bothered to read this far, and entertain the words of an aging fool, I thank you. It is my hope that this document may shed light upon that which has forever dwelled in shadow, although I’m not holding my breath. If nothing else, I hope this document has given you some food for thought. A bit of insight into my life and why I have made the decisions that I have. I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and become better than I ever was.

And so, as my end draws near, and I farther away from the only world I have ever known, I have just one last message to give.

To my wife Teresa, I am sorry my dear for my treachery. I had so many wonderful dreams of growing old and watching our wonderful children with you. Words cannot describe the immensity of my passion for you. I love you so much, and I hope this document will allow you to better understand why it is that I had to be the one to go. I am sorry my love, I hope you can understand.

To my children, I hope you all can forgive me for this. For all the birthdays I will miss, and events I cannot be a part of. I owed you so much more than I was able to give, and for that I am truly sorry. I love you all more than you can possibly imagine.

Jacqueline with your love of the arts and talent with wielding them, I wish you all the best in your projects. Keep doing what you love, and never let the fire in your heart die out.

Andrew, my dear boy, with your willingness to help others and strong determination I have no doubt you will go far in all you do. Take care of your sisters for me, and your mother too.

Evelyn, my little Evie, what a wonderfully unique person you are. Never restrained by the norm and always with a yearning for new adventures. Stay strong my darling, and never be afraid to be yourself.

To my little Colleen, I wanted to save this very last message for you. It is you to whom I owe the biggest of apologies. I never got to know you. Never got to see my beautiful baby girl in all her wonder. I have no doubt of your splendor, and wish you the very best in all that you do. I know that my absence cannot be forgotten, but I hope in some small way these words will bring you comfort. For if ever you feel alone, you need not worry. Papa’s watching over you, and he is so very proud.

She is here with me now. Whether in mind, body or soul I cannot say. Perhaps it is just an old fool’s eroding mind which has conjured forth her image. Her curly auburn hair, slim, sharp nose and rich hazel eyes. The malevolent black ooze no longer stains her, her prisoner’s garb no longer restricts her. That diabolic puppet master that held her captive is not here. Instead she is dressed in a white gown, flowing like a calming river.

I know not, whether I can trust my eyes anymore. I see her as clearly as I have ever seen anyone else. I must be mad by now. The vacuum of space does not make good company. A mind in solitude eventually succumbs to it’s own hysteria. Whatever the case, my mission remains the same.

She sings her song once more. The song which has haunted me throughout my entire life. That very same song which for forty years was the source of all my dread, and a testament to all my sins. But it’s different now, not forced by the hand of some twisted thing. Natural and tranquil, even with it’s new stanza.

Schön ist die Nacht, die lauschige Nacht.
Es leuchten die Sterne.
Jetzt gehe ich in die Nacht
.”

The night is beautiful, the comfortable night.

The stars are shining.

Now I go into the night.

This is Captain Robert Hughes. Director of Aerospace Technology at AVION, and former assistant researcher of the Aggregat 4 program in alliance with the Nazi party of Munich, Germany. Proud father of four, and husband to a loving wife. Klaus Herrmann Günther, signing off.

Godspeed everyone.