We haven't talked a lot about HONEYCOMB. I think I mentioned that I knocked their !@#$ down after they tried to bust into the Heptagon, back in May, and that they were at Outland hawking their weird science wares. And you know that, after the little run-behind-the-referee maneuver GORGON just pulled in West Papua, they're going to be #1 on my Doomlist, now.
But HONEYCOMB, itself? That's one of those complicated !@#$pile stories where you turn over one piece of !@#$ and find another, and another.
So, from the beginning.
I know I've talked about Dr. Yesterday and his ethical lapses in the pursuit of science for America. But I haven't really mentioned his fabulous family, other than those creepy sex dwarfs he generates for cheap, non-union labor.
There's him, obviously. Dr. Bob Yesterday. There's also his wife, Dr. Geri Yesterday, and his brothers Frank and Hector, both Doctors. And that's a lot of Piled Higher and Deeper for one family, let me tell you.
Not that he came by it honestly.
Tune the pages of your history books back to World War II, or what happened immediately afterward. You might have heard of a little thing called Project Paperclip. That was us getting a lot of the Third Reich's brains out of Germany and over to the United States to help us in various fields where the Nazis were actually ahead. Rocketry, genetic engineering, xeno-retro-engineering, all kinds of super-duper-secret high-tech things.
We did it to keep the Soviets from getting them, as our wartime allies were quickly becoming our next big rivals, and we didn't feel like sharing anymore. And it turned out to have been a !@#$ good decision, regardless of how tainted or stained some of the people we brought over here were. We did win the Cold War, after all.
At least that's what we keep telling ourselves.
Anyway, so after the war they're grabbing any German brainbox they can find who's willing to say "!@#$ Hitler" and come work for us. The ones that say "Nein" wind up in an ashpile, somewhere. The ones who say "Ja!" get a sneaky removal from Deutschland, a new job, a new name, a new face in some cases, and some semblance of a cover story.
Gertrude Hoffstatler got a husband.
It turned out that Bob Yesterday, all-around-tinkerer amongst the Strategic Talents set, had a wife all along he just failed to mention. He also failed to mention anything about his brothers Fritz and Helmut... er, excuse me, Frank and Hector, even though they'd been living in Baltimore the whole time.
Now Bob's a stand-up kind of scientist, even though he spends most of his time in the back of the crowd, well behind the people who actually did something for the war effort. While the folks at Camp Rogers were busy giving men and women superpowers, he was trying to create strategic talents through the admittedly limited genetic science of the day.
How far did he get? Those creepy sex dwarfs he keeps around "for nostalgic purposes" were the best he could do. And admittedly, for the time, that was pretty !@#$ good. But could you imagine them at Omaha Beach, biting the kneecaps off the Wehrmacht?
No, I didn't think you could. I know the top brass in charge of Camp Rogers didn't. That's why I got what I got, and he got accorded also-ran status, which meant he got to be one of the people who did important things on behalf of the people who got the credit for those things.
At least until after Germany surrendered, when his knack for retro-engineering Nazi occult technology was accidentally discovered. After that, he could finally write his own !@#$ meal ticket, and took the dwarfs along for the ride.
Now, Dr. Bob Yesterday is a very smart man. He possesses .78 of an Einstein Unit, an Einstein being how they measure genius in this day and age.
(Personally, I think they need to upgrade the scale to Hawking. But apparently they don't name things after you until you're dead, and Stephen is going nowhere, mother!@#$. So, so much for that idea.)
And his brothers? They are also smart, as you might expect, but not nearly so much. I think Frank's got .65 and Hector is around .56, depending on what day it is and if he's had enough coffee. Or if they're having another tiff like an old married couple.
(Yes, there's some "brotherly love" going on in that family. Makes things a nightmare for their handlers, I'm told. Tough !@#$, says I.)
But Gertrude? Sweet, diminutive, soft-spoken little Gertrude? The one who smiles and lets her husband do all the talking when the big men come around with their big problems?
She's got 3.5 !@#$ Einsteins rattling around that pretty, seemingly unageing blond head of hers.
She understands theoretical physics theories that make Stephen's chicken neck spin around like a record, baby. Back during the War, she took a UFO apart and put it back together again, with improvements. She sees patterns in seconds, calculates electron valences in her head for fun, and picks up languages in minutes just by hearing them spoken.
In short, she makes everything Bob, Frank, and Hector do, combined, look like a snot-nosed kid showing off his latest finger painting at an art museum.
So yes, it must be galling her to no end to see her husband looking Mr. USA in the face and telling him that, no, he can't open the door to The Chamber, when all she'd have to do is look at it funny and it'd probably not only open up, but make her a cup of that weird, stinky tea she drinks to stay young, too. (I think that's her secret.)
But she's learned the value of discretion over the years, our Gertrude has. And it's not only because of what she did during the War, and has done after the war. It's because of what was done to her before the War.
And what yet remains.
(SPYGOD is listening to Lost Souls Forever (Kasabian) and having a Warsteiner, for his many sins)