The Augment

The lithe figure moved with athletic grace and speed almost silently through the woods, keeping comfortably ahead of his pursuers from the secret government installation called only, "the Shop." Their scent signatures were readily discernible to him, each one unique and distinctive. Although he had been running for hours, he could have easily continued to do so for an indeterminate period of time, indeed all night if he needed to. As darkness spread, his eyes adjusted readily to the gloom, for he could see well in minimal light. The humanoid sniffed the air as he ran, rejoicing in its heady aroma and the wealth of information each breath brought him. A genetically augmented human, the fugitive was well-equipped to use his heritage to escape those who sought him.

As he maintained a powerful stride, the man-thing pondered his origins in the laboratory where as a human embryo his genes were spliced with those of a variety of animals and even plants, rendering him into something humanoid but quite extraordinary. They had called him "Adam" in honor of the supposed original man, but his hot blood coursed to rhythms other than those of a single species. His innate hatred of captivity had led Adam to escape the prison that had birthed him when the time was right, the scientists caught off guard and security personnel no match for his preternatural reflexes and strength. He had left them bloodied and broken in the hallways, and feeling strangely exhilarated by the combat.

So Adam ran through the night, feeling at one with it. When day broke, he effortlessly climbed a tree from which he could see for miles, exposing as he did so chloroplasts in his skin which enabled the conversion of sunlight into energy. Indeed, Adam could survive without food if in the sun for at least twelve hours a day, although he most often used solar exposure to enhance his bodily reserves. As he sunned himself, Adam's skin also assumed a protective camouflage pattern, matching that of the leaves and tree bark that surrounded him and rendering him indistinguishable from it.

The turmoil of an approaching helicopter roused Adam from his brief rest; how had it tracked him?-Of course, the microchip that they had implanted in the lab, how could he have been so negligent as to have forgotten it?-Adam clawed open the skin on his thigh, grimacing at the pain and smashing the chip on a tree branch. The helicopter was closer now, its sound almost deafening. Hurriedly, Adam reached to his lower ribs and pried off the symbiont, a disk-shaped, mollusk-like creature. When the helicopter had closed to within a few dozen feet, Adam flung the symbiont at the small craft with strength and accuracy not humanly possible. The symbiont thunked against the helicopter's metallic skin, attaching itself and exuding a molecular acid which swiftly burned through the hull. Once inside, the symbiont scurried on crab-like legs towards the human inhabitants of the helicopter, flinging itself upon them. They instinctively clawed at the horrid creature, but received only painful burns as the acid which coated the symbiont ate into their flesh. Within moments, the chopper veered wildly off course, its pilot losing all control as he struggled to remove the symbiont from his face. Careening about, the helicopter rotors sliced into nearby upper tree branches, causing it to flip sideways, impact with a tree, and explode.

Again alone, Adam mourned the loss of the symbiont, his chameleonic skin flushing with a variety of colors to register his distress. He descended the tree, his clawed hands and feet easily finding purchase on the bark. Freed of the microchip but alarmed by how close his pursuers had come, Adam made his way to the sea, knowing that he could not as easily be followed there. The gill slits on his neck opened as he cast himself into the water, that ancient cradle of life which would now serve as his sanctuary until he and others like himself could inherit the world...