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Last chapter is found here:


- - -

Life in the Squad was harsh, but it had some benefits. Now, I had time to spend at the gym, and I liked it. Some sort of friendship developed between those of us, whom had arrived at about the same time -- with the exception of Bill. When I looked at myself in the mirror, and saw my reflection in high tech army boots, leather cargo trousers and a black army sweater was a surreal experience: That was no longer myself -- not my old self -- but another Joe. I felt slightly ashamed of, that I liked the way I looked in uniform. I was not going to become one of them.

It was after an extra-curricular workout, and rather late. I was changing clothes in the locker room close to the gym, and was dressed only in my pants. The door opened. Closed.

"I told you, I was going to make your life a hell, Joe."

It was Bill. His bulldog face was drenched in sweat and shiny. The black t-shirt with the Squad crest ended an inch or two over the lining of Bill's training shorts, but it seemed like life in the Squad actually was improving his health. 

"I know how wishy-washy your parents are, Joe. There is no chance in hell, that they voted for The Leader, and I doubt, that you did it either. So what are you doing here? Taking up the training assignment, that could be filled by a real patriot?"

Although I was faster than Bill, he was heavier, and he used his weight against me. He grabbed my neck, and pulled me in the direction of the loos.

"So I suggest, that you ask for resigning from this, and leave your place for someone who can fill it better."

He opened the door to one of the bathroom stalls. Somewhere in the locker room a door opened and closed.

"And what do you think you are doing, Private?" It was Brad's voice. Bill let his grip go.

"Nothing, Sergeant. Just playing with Private Wilson."

"There is no place for that sort of play at this facility, Private. If I ever see you repeating this, you will will be discharged dishonourably. Is that understood?"

"Sir! Yes, Sir!"

- - - 

The reprimand from Brad did actually have an effect. Bill would often look sullen, and he obviously didn't like me, but, for the rest of the time, he avoided me, which was an improvement.

I hadn't forgotten Karen's suggestion, that I would use my involuntary recruitment to the Security Squad by spying on it. I supposed she was a part of the Rebel Alliance -- as some of my friends jokingly referred to the movement -- but I couldn't for my life understand how she could know about my Top Secret draft. The opportunity came sooner than I had expected.

After the the initial months of basic training, there came a time of easier work. I was ordered to clean some areas of the base regularly, and one of these areas seemed to be a sort of medical treatment facility. When I was cleaning the hallway in that facility, the door was open to one of the rooms. I couldn't avoid peeking inside. What I saw was confusing. Neither Sergeant Williams or Brad looked ill. Actually, they looked quite healthy, but they laid reclining on medical bunks, and they had IV connected to the blood vessels in their crooks of their arms. The plastic bags hanging over their bunks contained a green translucent liquid. They were not alone in the room. Two other of the Squad members -- two corporals, I believe -- were connected to similar plastic bags. There were also two men in their 30s or 40s dressed in white lab coats, and I assumed they were civilians. One of them was taking the blood pressure of Sergeant Williams.

"The readings are normal. Nothing to worry about this time." The other man took notes.

"I look forward to meet the old experts tonight. It will be an honour to meet the persons, the research of whom had made this project possible."

"I feel warm. Is that normal?", Brad asked.

"It might happen in some subjects. We have not found any correlation between that sensation and the measurable effect. There is no reason for concern, Sergeant Smith."

I continued cleaning the hallway further down, and hoped that no-one would notice that I had overheard the conversation.

Something appalling happened the following night. Since we knew, that Sergeant Williams nurtured a habit of waking us up at unexpected times of the night, most of us had the habit of going to bed early. I noticed, that I had left my army cap at the medical facility while cleaning, and returned in order to pick it up. Sergeant Williams was very insistent on keeping all our equipment in our lockers, and I would avoid a long rant of his, usually followed by lots of push-ups.

When I crossed the yard, I noticed several cars -- civilian as well as military -- which not usually were parked like that. When I walked through the empty hallways as silently as possible, I noticed the open door of an empty office, shedding it's yellow and gloomy light into the hallway. I also noticed a strange light streaming from the outline of a closed door to something designated Laboratory III. At first, I guessed, that a sunbed was used inside Laboratory III, since the light reminded me of tanning salons, but then, the light shifted in other colours: From blue into golden, and from golden into purple, and back to blue in several cycles. I could hear sounds and noises: People discussing, the hum of machines, and then -- the increasing screams of agony from a man in pain. A man with a deep voice and in pain. Screaming. Louder. And with the screams the increasing stench of burning flesh. I catched my army cap, and left the building, hoping that no-one would have noticed me. Suspicious and curious, I hid in the darkness outside, waiting for someone leaving the building. It took a while.

Two dark silhouettes carried a bier. A vague outline of a huge man under a blanket could be guessed, rather than seen, in the dark, and, when the wind blew from their direction, the ugly reek of burned flesh could be sensed. The bier was placed in a car, which drove away. On the steps to the medical facility the glow of a cigarette lit up the dark, and then the scent of pipe smoke. Two white lab coats stood close to the two smokers. Seven voices. Two young. 

"We are very honoured by your presence here tonight, Herr Doktor Professor. It is an honour to meet you. And also you, Doctor. And all of you three."

"Schtop zat Plappermaul. Ve are not here to exchange pleasantries, but to bring science forvard. And zis experiment hasn't brought science forvard. Ve just repeated a mistake identified and countered already in 1944", an elderly voice with a central European, probably German, accent answered.

"That stench is familiar to you, Helmut, isn't it?", another elderly voice with a Brooklyn dialect commented sarcastically.

"Hafen't ve discussed zat matter enough, by now, Dr. Goldstein?"

An American voice with a distinct Texan drawl interrupted them:

"Goddamit. You have been sounding like an old married couple for seventy years, by now. If I and Vlad are willing to work together, despite our long careers trying to defeat each other, why don't you? It's not like I would have dreamed of researching in the same Lab as a former Commie. Lots of Doctor Paperclipses and The Brooklyn Phycisists worked together back in your days. It was before my time."

"Doctor Paperclip? Isn't that too kind to you, Helmut? Why don't we all call you Doctor Strangelove, instead?"

A British voice suitable for cutting glass interrupted.

"May I bring to everyone's attention, gentlemen, that Herr Doktor Professor Hafenreffer isn't exactly correct in his assessment. We did not reproduce exactly the same mistake as in 1944. By combining all these four experiments into one, we are bringing unforeseen parameters into the equation, which were unknown at the time each experiment was performed separately. The present state of research bring us advantages our precursors didn't have."

"Precursors?", four voices unintentionally exclaimed in unison.

"I am so sorry. Advantages some of us didn't have in the past. I would look upon this event as a minor setback."

"A minor setback?", the Brooklyn dialect interrupted. "A soldier just died in there, fried by Doctor Strangelove's  non-empirical spook-ray."

"Oh please, Aaron. Zere is no evidence, zat it vas ze Vril Power, zat caused ze unfortunate condition of ze test subject. It could haf been Vlad's or Mr. Jackson's chemicals zat interfered, not to mention ze unproven combination with ze Zythronic field, vhich Her Majesty's government has provided us viv." After a short pause, he added: "Ve are all very zankful for Prime Minister April's co-operation."

"Nowadays, we need every trading partner we can get.", the British voice commented dryly.

"Unfortunate condition? Haven't you learned anything, since 1945, Helmut?"

"Oh, here we go again", the Texan sighed.

"In your clothes, I vouldn't claim any moral superiority, Aaron. Vat happened to ze American marines you and Mr. Jackson tested in ze 1980s, ven you vere afraid of Vlad's comrades? And vhy vas your governmental research grants vivdrawn?"

An embarrassed silence ensued, but I had heard enough, and I had to avoid to be catched while listening. I silently returned to our barracks.

- - -

I couldn't concentrate the next day. They were experimenting on human beings. I had to tell Karen, but how? I had no leave scheduled for several weeks. And if they had pumped Brad full of that green liquid, his life could be in danger. And Sergeant Williams, too. I couldn't be sure about Brad. I felt so bad: We had known each other for years. He had helped me. He was my friend. The weird chewing gum event suggested, that he wasn't entirely on the government's side, but exactly where did he stand? Would he report me, if I confessed about Karen and the 'Rebel Alliance'. I couldn't avoid smiling quickly. It sounded so silly. Then I became serious again. I had to protect Brad. They were not going to murder my best friend. What should I do? What was their plan? What was the purpose of the experiments? My thoughts run in loops. I couldn't concentrate the next day.

I avoided the medical facility the next day. Cleaning the same floor in two consecutive days when the entire base was that vast, would be a suspect behaviour.

In the middle of the night, I woke up by gunfire and roars. I wasn't the only one of us new recruits who awoke, but when we had dressed and ran out in the yard, some of the big Guards ordered us to return to our barracks. They tried to block our view, but I could see eight men struggling to carry a bier on which laid a giant. A giant! I don't exaggerate. A dead giant was carried away. There was gunsmoke and blood in the air.

- - -

The next day was full of physical exercises, and I had no time to investigate about the appalling experiments that took place at the base. Usually, I would briefly meet Brad several times a day, on our ways to different buildings, but that day, I didn't see him at all. What if he had become ill by the experiments?

I saw him in the gym after supper. He looked different. He looked slightly bigger than before, if that was possible. He was curling a barbell with unusually heavy weights. I froze in the doorway. He wore a black tank top with the crest of the Security Squad, and it was almost bursting at the seams. His shoulders protruded, and veins I had never seen before crawled over his chest, biceps, forearms and legs. I got hard. My best friend. Big. Veins. Protective. Again, I wasn't sure about my feelings. I wanted to be like Brad, didn't I? Well, yes. And I liked him as a friend? Of course. Was I feeling something more? I admired him. Big. Friendly. Admirable. Like being impressed by another man. Impressed. By his strength. And -- ehrr -- size. And assertive presence. And... and veins. Veins. VEINS!

I wanted to warn him, but how could I do that, without telling what I had overheard? I didn't know the answer to that question. I left the gym, and hoped, that he hadn't noticed me.

- - - 

Bill was missing from exercise the next day. I was scheduled to clean a few buildings again in the evening, including the medical facility.

Something was happening in Laboratory III, and the door to the room with the IV equipment was locked. I was lucky. The badly illuminated office was left unlocked. I had cleaning gloves on my hands. No fingerprints. I began to peek into the folders on the shelves. Old yellow papers, which smelled of old paper dust. Some from the 1940s. It had been kept secret, but both Germany and the British Empire had raced to be the first country with super-soldiers. In reality! Weird. It was like one of Brad's favourite films. The Nazis had exposed some of their soldiers with a classified power called Vril -- God knows where they had found that strange power. I was into computers and egineering, but I knew enough natural science to know, that there was no empirical base for such a power. But here it was: A detailed description about awakening the Vril Power in soldiers, and then expose them to it. Wait. Awaken... and expose? The first experiments had gone horribly wrong. Soldiers without Vril sensitivity had burst into flames. I felt sick. So they tried to ... awaken... Vril sensitivity. What the heck?

And a series of British experiment at about the same time. At something called Torchwood Instute, not far from... let's see... Bletchley Park. Zythronic Beams? Never heard of. That is... not before a few nights ago. Zythronic Beams? It was some sort of science-fiction gobbledygook. And then I saw the black and white photographs.

That sort of physique was impossible back then. Both the Germans and the British looked like super-heavyweight bodybuilders from the third millennium, with the difference, that their muscles looked like they were adapted to perform real and heavy work. And engage in combat. They were very impressive. That is, those who survived. The death rates on both sides were high, before the scientists achieved what they hoped for.

And a thick stack of papers in Cyrillic script, dated to the late 1950s and early 1960s. I didn't read Russian. 

More recent papers. An American experiment which ran in 1969-1974, and was revived in 1981, but aborted after some terrible accident in 1985. More photographs. American marines. Very sun tanned. And muscular. Wasn't that oil too much? Oh, yes, it was the 1980s, so it must have been normal for the time. Strange dead eyes. Like their minds were shut off.

And sketches of machines. Improved ones, based on the four old ones from different decades and places. A helmet connected to the main centre, intended to control and co-ordinate all the processes. Control and co-ordinate? I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"Who have we here? Reading classified documents, Private Wilson?" It was the voice of Sergeant Williams.

Sergeant Williams stood there, intimidating as ever.

"No harm done, Wilson. You would be briefed sooner or later, but I suppose it is time to begin your treatment."

"T-treatment?" I suddenly felt very, very afraid.

"Our research team want to compare the effect on different body types. Your perfectly ectomorph build would give a good impression how the treatment will work on soldiers of your constitution. We have mainly worked with mesomorphs in the past, which cause the results to be askew. I had hoped to introduce you to the test programme a day, or so, in advance, but let's face the music. Prepare yourself to become big, Private."

- - -

Part four is here:


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11 hours ago, hardmuscl4life said:

You have a great imagination.  I really like the plot so far. Please continue your excellent work. 

Thank you for the encouragement. The general outline is finished, but I haven't decided some details. I hope chapter 4 will be posted soon, but I have work and a training schedule to attend to, too.

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