From the Journal of Patrick Scottman
I have no idea what to start with. How do you tell a story you don't really want anyone to hear? Do I steal from Dickens and say that it was a dark and stormy night? It wasn't at first, but it sure ended up that way. The only thing still dark and stormy associated with the whole affair is my own soul. I'm no saint. I think I had delusions once that I was. Saints don't kill people, even ones that want to kill them. I think that's a rule.
So why am I putting pen to paper now? When…if…I ever have a son he has a right to know, and I'm not sure I'll be able to tell him. Take what you want from that statement, it has two meanings. Despite the fact I don't want to tell this story, it has to be told, and I'm not sure I'll be here long enough to use my own recollections.
Some men are pretty lucky to find one woman to love in their lifetime. Just one out five billion that you can look at and she immediately knows what you're thinking. I've had two women do that to me, and I think it could have been three, but sometimes things happen. I do truly love both of them too, as much as someone like me can love.
Maybe by now you're wondering if I'm some misshapen monster, lightly tapping on a computer keyboard with cloven hoof hands, or slimy otherworldly tentacles with hooked suckers. Sometimes I wish I were the modern elephant man, cloaked in black cloth to hide me from the world outside. I'm neither of those things. I'm ordinary. You couldn't pick me out of a police lineup twice in a row if you tried. I blend into the woodwork, I fade nicely against the backdrop of this planet. Brown hair, brown eyes, fair skin, average height, average build, and augmented abilities no one can see but haunt me every day.
That's the crux of all this. I can run faster, lift more, jump higher, all of that stuff the word "augmented" means when you're talking about genetic engineering. I can't cop out and say I didn't ask for these abilities, I did. I stood up, raised my hand and said count me in. I should have listened to PT Barnum; he knew a lot about suckers.
I know a lot more about it now than I did then. Things that would have made me quickly put my hand back down and slink away like some wounded dog. I don't know all of the details, but I know it started in Germany, not apple strudel, Oktoberfest, leiderhosen Germany…Nazi Germany.
Berlin, Germany 1945
The walls shook slightly as a far off artillery shell hit something flammable. The shaking woke Klaus VonWold out of his fitful sleep. He slipped out of the cold bed. There had been no heat in the barracks for a week now. VonWold cursed slightly as he pulled on a bathrobe and walked into the single bathroom off his tiny barracks room.
Even as a doctor for the Third Reich, VonWold gained no extra perks. The Russians were closing in from the East and the Americans from the West. Berlin had been in anarchy for three days now as the war machine of the Nazis crumbled before the double frontal attacks. VonWold turned on the water, only to find that the tap no longer worked. He spat angrily into the washbasin. He looked at the haggard face staring back at him in the slightly dirty mirror. A couple days growth of stubble sat on his face and his eyes were sunken and tired looking. He finally smiled a bit. It was a weak pitiful smile, but if all went well today his grin would grow that much wider.
As a genetic pioneer, VonWold had been sought out by Hitler himself to devise a way to make the soldiers stronger, faster, and more deadly. That had been early in 1939. Now, six years later, he finally felt as if a breakthrough was at hand, but fortune was not on the Nazis side as the war was all but over for them. Now he just had to get everything ready for transport. He and a few other select scientists were going to rendezvous later that day and be ferried to a secret transport.
He spat again trying to get the terrible taste from his mouth, and walked back into his room. A small suitcase lay packed at the foot of his bed, and the cleanest clothes he had left were laid on the single hard-backed chair in the corner of the room. He listlessly pulled on the clothes. He took one last look at the shoebox of a barracks room and spit again, this time on the floor. He then picked up the suitcase, and walked out, closing the door behind him.
Berlin was a city in chaos. Troops ran everywhere, and civilian foot traffic was almost non-existent, except for the few that seemed to be fleeing somewhere. Explosions sounded in the distance, and they seemed to inch closer with every step VonWold took. The German lines wouldn't last more than a day or two…if that.
VonWold walked past the massive Brandenburg gate, looking up at the half dozen Nazi flags flapping in the wind. Some brave German separatist had shot a half dozen holes in the center flag overnight. VonWold sighed. The whole country was falling apart. He'd never been a very "devout" Nazi, but he'd seen a country rise up from utter depression, and even with the atrocities committed by him and his peers, he'd felt some measure of national pride when the Third Reich had reunited all of Europe under one flag. Now that defeat was at hand the weak minded were revolting, using the advancing armies as an excuse to loot and vandalize Berlin. VonWold, tired of spitting in disgust, just sighed again, and entered the small two-story laboratory. He was surprised to see that the guard that usually sat in the front foyer was no longer there. He walked past the empty desk and down the stairs to the basement. He dug a large key from his pocket and opened the heavy steel door. He stepped inside his lab. Most of his medical equipment was already gone. All that remained was one centrifuge, some test tubes, and a storage cabinet. He pulled off his coat and walked over to the cabinet.
He slung the coat on a single hook on the wall beside the cabinet. He dug yet another key out of his pants pocket and struggled to open the large lock that held the cabinet closed. Finally he got the overly massive lock off, and laid it down on top of the cabinet. He ran his hand absently over the metal as he pulled out the vial and notes of the project. Six years of research and now his tests neared fruition. His initial tests on mice and rats had gone very well, with each of the animals become faster, stronger, and more agile then the animals that had not received the drug. Human tests had already been scheduled, but were scrapped now that the Reich was dying. He looked across the room at the mice cages. Inside half a dozen of the animals were busily feeding from the automatic dispenser, Von Wold mentally reminded himself to destroy the animals before he left as well.
Placing the vial and notes on the large table that used to hold his lab equipment, he crossed over to the large fireplace that dominated the wall opposite the cabinet. A fire was already going, but it was just coals, left over from the previous day. VonWold pulled some kindling from a bin beside the hearth and in no time had the fire roaring again.
VonWold cursed loudly then looked at his watch. In twenty minutes he would board the air transport that would take him and the others to a secret U-boat facility near the Polish border. There a small fleet of the submarines would shuttle many of the Reich's finest scientists to Argentina where they would be able to finish their work and precipitate the rise of a Fourth Reich.
Checking the mixture again VonWold smiled slightly. The anabolic steroid, PCP, and synthetic adrenaline had been fused into what he felt would be the breakthrough he had sought. Picking up the vial, he closed up the large three ring spiral notebook and walked over to the wide fireplace. He'd already placed all the mice into one single cage so he could incinerate the entire batch at the same time and all his notes were consolidated as well. The large fire blazed intensely, the flame eagerly dancing almost in anticipation of their "meal". VonWold sighed yet again as he tossed the overflowing notebook into the flames. Everything contained in the notes was also locked in his mind by his photographic memory. Without the notes, or his own mind, anyone trying to repeat the process would be doomed to repeat his many mistakes. The flames quickly started to consume the notes and VonWold turned to get the mice for their funeral pyre.
Suddenly the fireplace exploded outward as a large artillery shell burst right through the masonry and brick. The flames that had been robustly crackling moments before now barely flickered, the explosions' energy canceling out the flame's fury. VonWold fell back with a short scream, a large piece of brick had removed most of the left side of his face, and another had broken both his legs. VonWold couldn't believe what he saw as a group of Russian soldiers poured into what was left of the laboratory. He couldn't even crush the small vial in his left hand, the vial which could've have turned the tide of the war, and perhaps changed the world.
Struggling to even stay conscious he suddenly realized he heard screaming. Puzzled, he looked over to see that the mice in the cage were eagerly tearing each other apart. As the life faded out of him, he felt a gloved hand pull the vial from his palm, and he smiled. The serum hadn't been as foolproof as he had thought, as the mice behavior had demonstrated. He wondered absently where he had gone wrong, and hoped the Russians would now repeat the same mistakes when a bullet put him out of his misery.
Vladivostok, USSR 1968
Dr. Marko Vlanivac stared at the man who stood in front of him. It had been twenty-two years since the military had thrown the half-burned notebook and vial of chemical unto his desk at the University of Leningrad. Twenty-two years of utter failure and abject defeat. As an early genetic pioneer Vlanivac had been chosen to continue the work that the Nazis had so foolishly left unguarded. His analysis of the vials' contents had proven to be almost useless due to the volatile nature and quick breakdown rate of the ingredients, and the notebook was half destroyed and therefore the knowledge it contained only half useful. Yet Vlanivac had been persistent, mixing and testing hundreds of chemicals, DNA strands, and RNA messengers. He followed the Nazis notes at first before adding new, more modern techniques to the program, but his efforts went unsuccessful. Twenty men had gone raving mad during the tests, their minds unable to cope with the massive electrical and protein energy surges their bodies produced after the change.
Now a man stood before him that had lasted almost two years under the program. Sergei Malakov, codename "Centurion", was the single most successful, if not brutal, operative the KGB had ever known. A man whose persistence, arrogance, and sheer willpower had seemingly gotten him through the endless changes produced by the drug in his body. His success had made the KGB elite hungry for more just like him. They decided to rush forward, much to Vlanivac's dismay. Even he didn't truly understand the process yet. Vlanivac now had orders to administer the serum he had created to a half dozen other people. Those five men and one woman now lay behind him on special medical tables with tight restraints and reinforced robotic injector arms. The tables had been made especially for the program...several nurses had died at the hands of early recipients.
"It is time." Vlanivac said sitting down at the controls to the robotics. With a long sigh he pushed the actuator button and the arms slowly pushed forward, their injector wells filling with the amber fluid. It would take a full five minutes before they were ready for the injection process. Vlanivac glanced over at the vital signs of all six patients. All were steady; if not slightly elevated by the tension they all must have felt.
The man named Centurion stood silently behind Vlanivac his fists tightly clenched. Inside the huge man the same chemicals that were about to be injected into his comrades now reached a fever pitch. He had been experiencing mild discomfort for weeks, a slight buzzing that started at the base of his spine, then shooting into the back of his head. Twice he had collapsed under the pressure, mewling pitifully in the corner of his home; yet he was a good soldier, eager to succeed, and he had told no one. Now as the reaction built, electrical energy flooded into his brain and his cells mined proteins and other fuels from deep within him. It was true that Vlanivac had pushed his work much further than the Nazi VonWold, but the advance in the technology had only delayed the inevitable. Fate was against the geneticist, as Malakov's mind finally snapped at that exact moment.
Vlanivac turned to Malakov, a question on his lips, but the question went unasked as he saw the fiery glow boiling inside Malakov's eyes. Fear suddenly exploded into Vlanivac's gut as he saw that his work was still far from perfect. It was at that same moment that the Centurion reached critical mass, his mind and body exploding with energy.
Vlanivac tried to rise from his chair to grab one of the sedative laden hypodermic needles prepared for the new recipients, but he knew that he would never make it. Malakov, his mind totally ravaged by the two years of torture perpetrated by the drug, snapped Vlanivac's neck with a twist of his powerful arms.
"No more pain!", Malakov screamed, turning his attention to the rack of controls in front of him. Pulling his service revolver from a shoulder holster he fired all six rounds into the machinery. Sparks flew and suddenly flames erupted from the apparatus. Inside the test chamber all six of the patients tore futility at their bonds as suddenly the robotic arms turned into deadly projectiles killing each of them in rather grisly fashion.
In the observation booth Malakov stared into space, his mouth shouting incomprehensible words at nothing save the burning machines. And even as the first violent explosions began to dismantle the facility the man called Centurion didn't move from where he stood, looking in on a world of madness that had once again buried another power hungry government's search for the ultimate man.
Moscow, USSR 1983
Stan Killian looked at the watch on his wrist again. He had been in the archive room of the KGB for almost five minutes now, and he was no closer to finding the plans to the Centurion project than he had been when he started. Killian had been a CIA deep cover operative since the age of about ten, when his father, an Estonian diplomat, had decided that he really did hate communism. From that moment on Killian had been groomed by both his father and the CIA to infiltrate the KGB and help bring about the downfall of the Soviet Union. Starting in the military, Killian, under his Estonian name - Stanis Kilev - had been a fast burner rising through the ranks fast enough to catch the attention of the KGB. He was quickly recruited and sent around the world. Through the help of the CIA every one of his operations were a success, although the information he brought back was always doctored to protect American interests, while still being of use to the Soviet regime.
Tiring of playing the role of a satisfied KGB man Killian had soon decided he wanted to defect to the West. His father, still in high level government, realized that he wouldn't be able to dissuade his son. After contact with the CIA, a plan was hatched to spirit the two men away, but the CIA wanted one last favor from Killian: the plans to a super-secret project under the name "Centurion". Killian reluctantly agreed, knowing that without the CIA's help he and his father would never reach the US alive...and together.
Ten minutes. He'd searched for ten minutes and nothing. Any minute now his fellow workers would realize that he was not where he was supposed to be and all would be lost. Starting to feel panic creep up the back of his neck Killian finally tried one last drawer. Pawing through the microfiche he finally found a notation about "Centurion". Not even bothering to check to see if it was the correct information Killian slid the fake sheet of fiche he had carried into the room into the slot that he had just pulled the original out of. Then he cut the small magnetic strip from the corner of the fiche he held in his hands. Now the document could leave the room without setting off the alarm.
Turning, Killian shut the drawer and walked back from out of the stacks of microfiche shelves. The guard at the door barely looked up from his newspaper. Killian hurried forward, eager to leave the room. His access card had been lifted from an associate, and if he realized it was gone before Killian could put it back all would be lost. Swiping the card through the door slot Killian waited for the beep that indicated the latch had disengaged. Suddenly the guard looked up from his paper a bit more intently.
"You're not leaving with anything are you?" he questioned, "If you are I'll have to note it and deactivate the alarm." Sweat popped out on Killian's forehead as he shook his head silently. He could hear the alarm bells ringing in his head, knowing that any second they would be ringing for real and the gulag would be his home for the rest of his life. The door beeped almost making Killian jump out of his shoes. Trying not to look like he was in a hurry Killian opened the door and walked out. The guard merely picked his paper back up from the desk and resumed his reading. It would be almost three years before anyone even realized that the Centurion project specs had been taken to yet another government whose intentions were the same as the last two.