Project Myrmidon was buzzing with activity when Admiral Dale Bridges strode in. There was a palpable feeling of excitement in the air, almost electric in its nature. And why shouldn’t there be? We are finally going live. The Admiral allowed himself a rare smile as he thought about it.
Doctor Parvathi approached him once he had cleared security. The younger woman – a term Admiral Bridges was finding increasingly useless with every passing year, since the Doctor was in her forties and still young enough for him to mentally assign the moniker – had a tablet in one hand. She seemed to be the main source of the excitement. Usually the doctor was an exceedingly restrained woman, but today her eyes were practically gleaming. “Admiral. Here to see the first live tests?”
“Of course. I understand you had a breakthrough?” Her excitement was infectious, even penetrating the Admiral’s stiff exterior.
She nodded, handing him the tablet. On it were the designs for a mechanical device that reminded him of a flattened backpack with straps across the chest. He studied it for a moment, not wanting to admit he couldn’t make heads or tails of the thing. Fortunately, the doctor knew his limitations and started speaking after allowing him a good look at it. “We finished fabrication this morning. We finally figured out why our initial injections were unsuccessful.”
The Admiral raised an eyebrow. “Oh?” He handed back the tablet as he asked the single question.
“The ichor did take. It did change the genetic structure. We’ve actually seen some of those subjects display some low-grade abilities – able to run in excess of 70 kilometers per hour, lift 500 kilograms. Impressive results, but nowhere near in the range we needed.” She was talking so fast it took the Admiral a moment or two after she finished talking to register what she was saying.
“Wait. Why was I not notified of this?”
“You specifically told me you did not want your time wasted, Admiral. You wanted me to reach out when I have real results. And we do.”
The Admiral considered if he should let the oversight slide. The doctor could be so literal sometimes that he worried about giving her instructions he hadn’t parsed carefully. The fact that he hadn’t been notified that they had apparently found a way to create super soldiers should have been brought to his attention- but the doctor was already moving on.
“You see, the key was the Black Stone. The one you brought in with the subject. It’s been growing steadily and we finally identified the radiation it was giving off.” She paused for effect, the shine in her eyes only growing bright. “It has the same signature as cosmic background radiation, but at a much greater intensity.”
If she had hoped that would impress the Admiral, she was destined to disappointment. “And that means?”
Doctor Parvathi’s exuberance was unabated. “It means that this stone is somehow emitting the same energy as the rest of the universe, but in greater quantities. From a physics standpoint, it’s…” She saw his face, and the Admiral could see her resist the urge to roll her eyes. “The important part, Admiral, is this harness draws that energy off the Black Stone and imparts it to our soldier. We’re calling it a Prometheus Pack, after-”
“-after the man who stole fire from the gods. I do know my mythology, doctor.” She gave him a shrug that spoke volumes. I never know what you’re thinking, you idiot, it screamed at the Admiral. He considered the insubordination to be the arrogance that comes from genius, and did let that slide, instead continuing, “What effect will that have on our soldiers?”
“We’ve already exposed one of them to it in controlled doses. They get powers, Admiral. The way he described it, he could see the fundamental mathematics that govern reality – and manipulate them.”
The Admiral nodded, the excitement returned. He might not understand how it worked fully, but he could certainly see the implications of this. “Are they ready?”
“Yes sir. This way please.”
They went into a bunker where they could observe the process. The four soldiers who had successfully taken to the ichor – Roger Evans, Diane Munoz, Arnold Sanders, and Hector Ross – were being fitted with the Prometheus Packs. In the center was the Black Stone, which was in a device that was attached to the packs. When he’d first held it, it was the size of a marble. Now it was nearly the size of a beach ball. I wonder how large it will get?
The doctor pushed a button on an intercom. “Final diagnostic results?”
One of the techs, separated from them by ten inches of reinforced glass, responded. “All nominal, doctor. We’re clearing out.”
The techs couldn’t move too quickly due to the hazmat suits they had wrapped themselves in. Admiral Bridges found himself drumming his fingers on his legs in anticipation, a tick he thought he had finally gotten over.
The moment they were clear and the blast doors sealed, he nodded. Doctor Parvathi didn’t waste any time, walking over to a control and pushing a button.
As far as Admiral Bridges could see, it was an anticlimax. The button was pushed, some electric devices hummed, and nothing visible happened. He felt like there should be something…dramatic. A flash of light, a crack of lightning. Something.
Then he noticed the Black Stone had shrunk to the size of a basketball. The four soldiers inside were looking at their hands and flexing them in amazement. He went to the intercom.
“How do you feel?”
Evans answered him, looking up at the sound of his voice. “Like a god, sir.”
The Admiral smiled, ignoring the blasphemous implications. “Good. You four are directly under my command from here on out. Welcome to the Myrmidon Corps, Major.”
“Thank you, sir.” Evan’s voice was distracted. The Admiral supposed that was understandable, given that he was seeing the world in a whole new light.
“I wish we had more time for you all to acclimate to your new abilities, but we have a mission.” He suddenly had the undivided attention of all four Myrmidons, as well as the angry glare of Doctor Parvathi. “The Antichrist has been spotted in Ghana, collaborating with insurgent who goes by Anansi. We don’t know how long this lead will last, so we have to move. We’re wheels up at 800.” They nodded and he closed the intercom.
“Admiral, you can’t be serious. We know almost nothing about what they’re capable of!” the doctor’s objection was hardly surprising.
“Doctor, the President gave me specific orders. If you had functional Myrmidons, we were to take this opportunity. Given how these ‘gods’ seem able to flit around the globe, we can’t afford to wait for another chance.”
“If you would like, you can take it up with him directly. Doing so won’t stop this from going forward. Now have your techs unhook them from the Black Stone and get them ready.”
She opened her mouth, saw the absolute lack of yield on his face, and sighed. “Yes sir.”
The Admiral nodded, knowing it would be done, and headed out to give orders to get the plane ready.
8 hours to Ghana. And then, God willing, we can wipe out two abominations. Once again, the Admiral allowed himself a rare smile.