Apocalypse Man 2: Apocalypse Harder

Project Monolith update: January 1967

Director Howard

Following the Korean War’s end, most of DOD’s Super Soldier programs were scrapped while the rest were consolidated under a new umbrella program called Project Monolith. Further advancements in our understanding of superhuman physiology has been critical in maintaining our military dominance over Soviet equivalents.

Thanks to the international ban on serum based Super Soldier development, we have been forced to adapt our methods. Luckily, the recombination of older programs has produced several highly successful hybrid programs and many first generation Super Soldiers have seen continued enhancement as a result.

Consider Subject A2, publically known as the All-American. Subject lost his right arm above the elbow during service in Operation Downfall, a Japanese hyper grenade according to the report. By grafting a Series 3 bionic arm to him (courtesy of the defunct Project Vulcan) we’ve been able to bring his fighting ability back to 93%, up from 65% with the standard arm prosthesis. His eagerness to test the latest coming out of R&D is a testament to his character but we should not be satisfied to give him mere toys. Gentlemen, we have an opportunity to create a better human. A Post Human. We already have the perfect subject.

May 1968

The All-American

The science officer pushed his thick black rimmed glasses up on his nose, watching the All-American try out the new prosthesis. The old Series 3 arm, all metal, wires and gears, had been sorely in need of replacing anyway. All-American flexed his hand, squeezed it, articulated every finger. It was good to have five of them again.

“And it’s stronger than the last one?” the All-American asked.

“By light years,” said the science officer.

“It almost feels real,” All-American commented.

“The Series 4 uses biofeedback and responds to the impulses of your nervous system rather than the hydraulic skeletomuscular matrix you had before.”

“Groovy.”

“I um… I just wanted to say it’s a real honor to meet you, sir. You’re a living legend,” the science officer said. The All-American looked at him.

“You volunteer?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” the science officer replied. All-American laughed.

“I didn’t. I was drafted.”

“You… you were?”

“It’s a matter of public record, but you’ll never see it in the papers. I was a farm boy. Never thought of killing a man my whole life. Never even hurt a fly. But then my number came up. The Hun were sweeping over Europe, you understand. Tojo was set to own the Pacific. I didn’t want to fight, or kill, but I couldn’t let the world fall to men like that. I wasn’t no deserter. But now, I don’t even know if I can call myself human.”

The science officer nodded, unsure of what to say.

The fighting in Vietnam was heating up. Khe Sanh, Saigon, Hue, these names were burned into the minds of the American forces. NVA were hammering the defenders from seemingly everywhere. Human wave attacks hadn’t been a viable military tactic since WWI, but damn if it didn’t make a soldier shake in his boots at the sight of one. The North had their fair share of superhumans as well. So many in fact, that the few American supers present in the country struggled to keep up with the seemingly endless numbers of them. Of course, there was no question who their supplier was. China had been keeping up with superhuman research, much to the world’s surprise. Now they were making their move against American interests.

The brass had had enough. It was time to push back. The All-American was tasked with finding the Chinese suppliers and taking them out. That meant operating behind enemy lines. He requisitioned a team of supers for the mission. He only got three and one of them was a civvy. It would have to do.

The team was air dropped in under cover of night. Teleport was unavailable and even if it was, the damn things only worked half the time in this humid hellhole. All-American, Cpt. McDonnell, Lt. Suarez and Special Agent Emerson found the enemy encampment fairly quickly thanks to intelligence from their remote viewers. What they weren’t prepared for was the number of superhumans on base. The Communist forces were getting ready for something big. All-American knew there was no way he was putting a dent in them. Sabotage would have to do.

By sunrise, fifty NVA were dead. So were Cpt. McDonnell and Emerson. Lt. Suarez was halfway to death’s door and All-American had lost most of his left foot, but that didn’t stop him from dragging the bleeding Suarez out of range of the airstrike. McDonnell and Emerson would be given medals that no one would ever see. Their families would only know that they died fighting for freedom. Suarez would never walk again. All-American got a new foot. He wondered how much more of himself he would lose in this place.

Memo to Joint Chiefs: April 1969

Director Howard

We’re not losing this damn war. We’ve spent billions on this. American lives are lost every day. Those jungle Commies and their two bit super knock-offs will not best us! They fight like cowards. Without honor. They hide in rat holes and behind camouflage screens. They shoot from tree tops and burnt out buildings. They throw themselves at us in waves, sacrificing themselves for an evil cause. China is lost, but damn everything if we’ll let the rest of Asia turn red! This madness stops here with us. With Project Monolith. We will throw everything we have at this. Our reputation as the forefront of scientific warfare on the world stage is at stake. The enemy builds their nightmare machines from scraps. Piecemeal and rickety, and yet surprisingly effective.

They cannot win. They must not win. Superior science will take the day. Superior soldiers. Superior military doctrine. Superior values. Damn it, we are the winners of history. We are the scions of invention. We made the atom bomb for Christ’s sake! They and their Commie peashooters and their pinko imitation supersoldiers never stood a chance against us and they never will! We will burn them to cinders! We will atomize the cinders to oblivion! There will be nothing left of the Reds in the entire universe! This I swear!

Director Howard has been recommended for a psych eval and temporary leave for mental health. Continued funding for Project Monolith will be reviewed.

June 1969

The All-American

It was going to be a bombing the likes of which hadn’t been seen since WWII. It would be total. It would be complete. Tet part 2 would not go unpunished. Saigon would be avenged. Operation Menu, carried out three months before, had only been a preview of what the new President had in store for the Viet Cong.

The brains back at the black box labs worked non stop coming up with new and incredible weapons to fight Communism. The Reds worked just as tirelessly, perhaps more so, and so nothing less than the best would do. At camp, the science liaisons would lecture and instruct the special division tasked with utilizing the cutting edge tech. Lightning guns, Plasma throwers, Full Spectrum Goggles, the works. One week there were even jet packs. Honest to goodness jet packs, just like the science pulps and serials of All-American’s youth. Unfortunately, most soldiers crashed and burned or were picked off by especially talented snipers, so the jet packs were quickly scrapped.

It wasn’t hard to notice the desperation in the eyes of the liaisons as the months wore on. Every new innovation failed. Every new device met with the same fate. The enemy, they just kept coming. There was no end in sight. Vietnam, the quicksand of war. But this bombing run was a different beast entirely. Newly minted jet bombers carrying highly advanced bombs that made Napalm look like a gas lighter. If the NVA wanted to hide in the jungle, fine. They would get to watch the burning up close and personal.

All-American got a special seat for the operation. 0323 the jets left the airfield. 0330 they were within strike range. All-American watched with a pair of binoculars from the FOB next to the base commander. The first series fell on target. The second series hit the mark too. The third missed by a few dozen yards but the hit was still good. On and on for hours. Slowly, very slowly, the jungle was burned to ashes. Rice paddies, fox holes, innocent villages, every inch of it north of the front line was decimated. One square mile at a time.

Groups of people started showing up barely an hour into it. People without clothes. People without skin. Anything that looked even remotely like a fighting age male was smote with extreme prejudice by the base defenses. All-American laughed at first. After months of losing ground and men, it was good to watch it all burn. Then children came. He stopped laughing. Others around him laughed harder. The screaming. God, the screaming. He’d ended so many lives and heard so much pain, but nothing like this. One of the generals sitting next to him pulled a pistol out, goaded on by his peers. Try and hit one! Extra points for a headshot!

The general’s shot left barrel of the gun, but stopped was stopped by All-American’s artificial palm.

“Friendly fire,” All-American said.

“The hell are you doing, son?” the general asked.

All-American vaulted the base’s outer fortification and sped to the children, rounding up as many as he could and taking them within the safety of the base. The brass ordered him to stop until they were red in the face, but All-American refused. No one dared get in his way.

It was going to be a court marshal for sure. But he’d seen death take many forms in ‘Nam. He would not let it take the children.

And behold a black horse; and he who sat upon it carried scales to judge the worth of men across Creation.

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