Apocalypse Man

Apocalypse Man

 

Briefing: July 1943

Colonel Reed

The Super Soldier programs are either resounding successes or abysmal failures, depending on who you ask. Our brain trust, the most gifted scientific minds in the world, have given us miracles. Man-made superhumans. Yet pencil pushers with small minds are responsible for our continued funding. A drug that can give a man the power of flight is on the chopping block next to a cybernetic initiative that can make honest to god robot-men. I’m no scientist. I’m not even an altogether bright man. I just know a winning hand when I see it. I believe in these kids. These men and women are the key to beating the krauts. Hell, if they gave us even half the money they throw at building carriers, we could have a force of super soldiers that could win the war tomorrow, and then conquer every country on Earth next week. This is not hyperbole. The War Department doesn’t know what they have on their hands. If they could only see them in action, all their doubts would disappear.

Take Staff Sergeant *redacted* heretofore known as Subject A2. Subject A2 has responded to the hyper serum regimen better than anyone else on the project to date. He is no longer strictly human. He is perhaps the first of his kind in history. A post-man. The After Human. Do I sound like I’m gushing? I am. Ten of him could bring an empire to its knees. Congress won’t approve our funding because they think super soldiers are crackpot science. Flights of fancy. They don’t want mystery men or Masks fighting next to our boys.

 

November 1943

The All-American

They weren’t so sure about him on his first combat mission. By his third, he was a war hero. Two months in, he was the best thing to happen to the American military since they invented America. Now, in the Pacific theater, the All-American proved again and again the necessity of superhuman aid on the battlefield. The Japanese had super-men of their own but they weren’t man-made like the All-American was. Their natural born abilities paled in comparison to the fruits of scientific enhancement and by the time Tojo’s top men realized this, it was too late to make their own. Japan’s secret science divisions would never catch up in the superhuman arms race.

Tarawa was the proving grounds. If the U.S. wanted to take the Marianas Islands, they needed the Marshall Islands, and if they wanted the Marshalls, they needed to take the Tarawa Atoll. But the Japanese were ready for them. It was coastal defense guns all the way up and down the shore. Not a square inch of ocean was safe from their crossing fields of fire for miles out. The Marines didn’t waver. Orders were to take it, and they replied, “Give us an hour.” But the reality was bleak. Dire. Success meant throwing bodies into that meat grinder until it clogged up, no two ways about it. Enter the All-American. Under the cover of night, he took out a third of the shore gun batteries by the time anyone on the island knew they were under attack. The guy in charge of the island defenses had boasted before that, “it would take a million men a hundred years” to take Tarawa. Apparently he’d never met an American super soldier, because it only took two days. Without him, many hundreds more American lives would have been lost.

Something must have lit a fire under their asses, because the next year the Japanese war machine went on a full counter-offensive across the East Asian world. With the strategy to defeat Japan already decided by Roosevelt and others at the secretive Cairo Conference, the U.S. military began preparations for a full blown invasion of the Japanese Home islands.

 

Briefing: July 1945

General Reed

Iwo Jima. Okinawa. Previously unknown in this part of the world, now these names are synonymous with the greatest American casualties in this war, in this hemisphere. The goal is within reach. The Imperial Japanese army is in full retreat. They shore up their defenses at home. They aim their guns at the sky and sea, ready for the invasion that is to come. Their entire society has been mobilized, their people on a permanent war footing. The casualties on both sides will be innumerable. A master stroke is needed. A final decisive blow. Without this, the enemy will fight to the last man, woman, and child. Every bunker, every cave, every hole on those islands will be occupied, their inhabitants armed and suicidally loyal.

Everything rides on the success of Operation Downfall. With over a dozen super soldiers in the campaign and a hundred more being developed, we are capable of fighting this war for years to come. It might take millions of American lives, but it can be done! Let those bastards hide! The greatest scientific minds on Earth have only just begun to open their darkest deepest vaults to give our boys the fruits of their labor. The products of billions of dollars of research is about to fall on Japanese heads!

 

*Note*

General Reed has been recommended for psych evaluation before continuing supervision of super soldier projects.

 

August 1945

The All-American

It was a cool morning that threatened to become blisteringly hot before long. From the amphibious landing craft, the All-American watched as the distant island grew closer. They would be within range of the coastal defense guns in five minutes. Hakata Bay and Kokura was a good hour beyond that.

“Anyone who values their eyes will put on their flash goggles in T-minus sixty seconds!” the commander of the vessel announced.

The All-American checked his watch. This next part had to be perfect. The operation had been planned down to the second and even a small delay or early advance would spell death for everyone in the fleet. Except for him. The All-American wondered if he could die.

Four minutes to contact. The Marines and Navy boys had their goggles on now. Because of radio silence, the next phase was signaled by flag.

Three minutes to contact. The science vessels were on both sides of the fleet. If the radar hadn’t spotted them by now, the green arcing lightning from the vessels surely gave away their positions.

Two minutes to contact. High above the city, a B-29 Super Fortress closed in on the bombing point, Japan’s largest munitions plant. The bomb bay doors opened. Inside, the experimental nuclear weapon known as Fat Boy, hung precariously.

One minute to contact.

The science vessels’ energy radiated out several miles in every direction. A green mist or fog enveloped the fleet. The All-American felt his guts churn. It was like he wasn’t entirely there on the craft. The sensation of being in two places at once was new and terrifying.

“If any one of you sons a bitches makes it through this, I’m buying you a drink! And if I make it through this, you’re buying me a drink!” the vessel commander yelled.

The latches blew, and the Fat Boy began its descent. Forty seven seconds later, a fireball engulfed the heart of the city. The target munitions plant and everything within three hundred meters was vaporized. A mile out from ground zero, the shockwave collapsed every single building, and those that somehow withstood the blast caught fire instantly. Fifty thousand people died within seconds.

Forty some miles away, in the heart of Hakata Bay, a green orb appeared and grew almost a mile wide. Miraculously, an American invasion fleet appeared from within the electric cloud. The All-American checked himself to make sure he was still in one piece. The after action report would list at least a dozen casualties from the translocation maneuver, most of them fused to the hulls of their craft.

Even from that distance, the light of nuclear fire reached them. They stood dumbfounded, watching the mushroom cloud grow like a hungry fungus, feeding off human misery and suffering and growing fat from it. The fleet separated into three landing parties, each tasked with eliminating the coastal gun batteries so the rest of the invasion force could safely approach.

One by one the landing craft hit the shore. With gas masks firmly in place, the men charged. Barely had they established beachheads when Japanese defenders closed in. It became apparent very quickly that the majority of the enemy were not proper soldiers but ‘mobilized’ students and civilians. None of them yet realized that the explosion and accompanying earthquake had been caused by U.S. forces. They might not have fought so fiercely if they had.

Kokura was won by nightfall. The dead numbered in the thousands, hundreds of thousands when the radiation sickness was accounted for. In a makeshift hospital, the All-American sat as a medical officer patched up the stump where his right arm had been. In his left hand, he gripped his service pistol so tightly, the handle had busted and was digging into his palm, drawing blood. Of all the fights he’d been in, this had taken the biggest toll on him. Though the mountains had bore the brunt of the fireball, the radiation was still spreading on the wind, taking more soldiers and civilians every minute.

The horrors of that day; the walking dead, the fires, the human shadows, the student soldiers puking their intestines out as their hair and skin fell off, they would never leave him. He wondered if this new thing could kill him, this radiation sickness. So far bullets, bayonets and flame throwers hadn’t done the trick. Maybe this new horror of science would do it. High above them, the clouds split apart where the heat from the bomb had punched up through the atmosphere. He’d heard that a second bomb had hit Kyoto. He wondered how many more bombs the government had in the wings, how many more it would take before the Empire of Japan surrendered. He wondered if this blasted earth, this flash fire furnace where human civilization had once stood was the future of war. He wondered if this is what Apocalypse looked like.

And behold a red horse; and power was given to him that sat upon it to take peace from the Earth.

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