Full Name: Col. John Schneider
Faction: Supreme Alliance
“We need more!” demanded Professor Llusk. A thin, older man with receding hair framing a shrewd face, he did not easily accept dissent to his demands.
His younger colleague Van Beek looked on impassively as the four-star general standing before them attempted to frame a reply, “We-.”
“I will heed no argument General Lucas. We need more subjects, and we need the best! This chaff you send is not satisfactory. The process is near-ready, but it will take the right kind of subject, a very special kind of man prepared to sacrifice all to survive something that will make him like a god amongst men,” demanded Llusk in his heavy accent. It was one that Lucas could never place, but something about it unnerved him, even as a decorated war hero and man of noted valor.
“Be careful with your tone professor, these are brave patriots you are talking about,” replied General Lucas, “But I have compiled a list of the best of the best. If any man fits your criteria it will be one of those if they volunteer.”
“Oh, they will volunteer,” said Van Beek with the merest hint of a sly smile as his colleague Llusk straightened up imperiously beside him, “for what man does not wish to embrace greatness?”
Colonel John Schneider stood to attention with the rest of the men in his training platoon as the meanest drill instructor the Army could produce barked his order. In this place, in this camp, ranks were meaningless. There was one purpose for all of them, and that was to prove themselves worthy of Project: Omega. If that meant being drilled into the ground, Schneider would meet that challenge as surely as when he charged enemy positions during the war.
Days passed. Assault courses followed day and night runs, calisthenics sessions and maneuvers. Physical activity was interspersed with tactical and strategic assessments. There was no let up. Each day the number of men diminished as more washed out.
Within one week the number remaining in the group was halved. Within one month it was one quarter of those who started. Finally, a day passed with no washouts, then another. After one more week of grueling challenge the group remained stable. Schneider was tired, but focused. He listened carefully as the two scientists addressed all of the men. One had a peculiar accent he could not be sure of, the other a soft New England drawl.
The egg-heads made it clear that what would follow was highly dangerous to each test subject and that any man could back out there and then and return to their parent unit. None wavered. Then the procedures began, and with them, true pain the like of which none of the men had ever known.
First there came the pills, and a week of nausea and painful muscle cramps followed, prelude to days of nerve-shredding agony which Schneider could not articulate in mere words. Perceptions were distorted. He could hear a spider pad its way up a wall. He felt as though he could discern every single fiber woven into his fatigues. A nearby dripping tap was a cacophonous roar.
When he emerged from days lost in a miasma of hypersensitivity, he saw so few fellow participants remaining. Fear threatened to grip his soul but John pushed the emotion down, this was time to be a valiant soldier. The final treatment still awaited the handful of survivors.
One month later, General Lucas stood beside the two scientists, Van Beek and Llusk. The room was alive with murmurs from the various War Department big-wigs who filled it.
“We should not be celebrating failure,” rasped Llusk.
“Failure, professor?” began the general, “Where you see failure I see noble sacrifice by courageous men to give this country a new edge in war. I see success with our man. You wanted the best and he has faced every challenge and exceeded what was asked. We have what we wanted and more.”
“We could have had an army of Supremes,” lamented Llusk.
“In this man, we may have created an army,” said Van Beek, with something not unlike a sneer in his voice.
The attention of those present was called. The lights dimmed, and black and white footage began rolling, displayed onto a large screen. There was no sound except the whirring projector. A title declared ‘Project: Omega’ which was followed with a montage of images of a lone man assaulting an enemy base. One by one he knocked out and neutralized the soldiers guarding the compound, his lithe movements methodical in his systematic dismantling of defensive positions. Bullets bounced off his shield as he effortlessly made his way to his objective, the main compound building. When he exited, there as no-one to slow him down or to try and stop him. The film reel ended and the room was silent, the onlookers awestruck by what they had seen.
“Gentlemen, we give you the future of warfare,” said Lucas to the crowd, gesturing toward a heavy door. The door opened and through stepped an athletically-built figure dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, his head protected by a close fitting helmet. On his left arm he carried a shield, emblazoned with a star the lethal points of which overhung the main shield body. He stood proudly to attention, and all eyes turned to him.
“We give you, Spybreaker.”