STARTING UP appeared out of the darkness. Below the floating green letters appeared a loading bar that quickly moved from the left to right. The bar filled, and my vision cleared. Again, the group of four scientists and Soul were standing over me. Something was different when I woke this time. First of all, I started up much faster this time. Second of all was the floating dashboard in the lower left corner of my vision. It had statistics and diagnostics, such as power levels, heat levels, tachometer, and a few other measurements that I didn’t recognize.
“Are you alright, Mr. Carter?” Soul was standing near to me. I looked at him and sat up. The warehouse was brighter than before, and I could see sunlight shining in through several skylights on the high ceiling above. I noticed that I could see Soul in clearer detail now. He was completely bald. I mean completely bald. He had no hair, mustache, eyebrows, or even eyelashes. It was almost disturbing how different someone looked without eyebrows or eyelashes. I decided to ignore it for now.
“I’ve been better.” I said in a slightly angry tone. I motioned toward my visor. “What’s with the dashboard lights?”
“That’s part of the software we installed into your computer mainframe. That, among other things, will make using and controlling your new body easier and more enjoyable.”
“Wait, what do you mean, ‘among other things’?”
“Well, take a look at your new arms.”
“What new arms?” I looked down and saw that they had indeed installed two extra arms directly below my first two. “Whoa! I was joking! I don’t want to look like a… freak.” I realized that the four arms weren’t really what made me a freak. “Never mind, how do they work?” I moved all four of my arms in an up and down motion. All four limbs obeyed. The extra arms were exactly the same as the original two, just lower on my boxlike torso.
“I had your third and fourth arms installed, just as you asked. It was really a good idea on your part. They should provide an enhanced range of motion in combat.” Soul continued, “We had to modify part of your control-mechanism in your brain in order for you to control each arm individually, but you shouldn’t have any problems. Why don’t you try them out?”
I began moving each arm individually. It was actually really easy. I could move them in completely different motions. “Wow, that’s pretty cool.” I continued moving the robotic appendages around.
“Good Mr. Carter,” Soul said, “Now we must do some tests to make sure you are running at full potential.” He turned to the other scientists. “Prepare Simulation Number One. Adam, please follow me.” The scientists dispersed, and I walked next to Soul. I decided to try and get more information of the bald man.
“So, Soul,” I began, “You’re, like, the leader of this RRT thing, right?”
“That’s correct, Mr. Carter.” He continued forward and he spoke.
“Um, you can call me ‘Ace’ if you want.” It was bugging me the way he called me Mr. Carter. “So anyway, I was wondering, does anyone know that I’m, well, alive?”
“Of course. Everyone in this agency knows you’re alive.”
“No, I meant my school, my friends… My aunt.”
“Heavens, no. They gave up the search for you months ago.”
“What? Months ago? Months ago!? How long did your little operation take!?”
“Well Mr. Carter, your operation took nearly two months. Today is July 2nd.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was on the field trip on May 7th. It seemed like I was asleep for hours. Turns out, I was out for two months! I stopped walking and put my lower hands on my knees and my upper hands on my face. Who knew what had happened in the last few months?
“I was asleep… for two months?” If I wasn’t overwhelmed before, I was now.
“No. Technically, you weren’t asleep. Prior to your operation, you were in a medically induced coma. After the operation, you were shut down. Either way, you were not conscious for the last months.” Soul motioned for me to continue following him, so I did. As we walked along, I continued asking the bald man questions.
“So, what are these tests going to be like?” As I asked, we entered a large room with strange greenish black panels all over the walls, ceiling, and floor. There were several doors of the same color on the far side of the room. “Um, what is this place?”
“This, Mr. Carter, is the simulation chamber.” The door swung shut behind us as we entered. “This is where you shall undergo most of your tests and training. Commence Simulation One.” With that, Soul exited through one of the doors on the other side. For a minute or two, I stood in the middle of the room, unsure what I was supposed to do.
Then, the panels started glowing. Suddenly, I was standing in the middle of a desert, with the sun beating down on my metallic skin. I guess that was what Soul meant by ‘simulation’. Then, three men in desert-cameo rags appeared a few yards in front of me, each wielding a military grade machine gun. Their skin was a darker shade, and they spoke to each other in an odd language that I didn’t recognize. Then, the men spotted me and shouted something at me in their foreign tongue. The three started running towards me and shooting their weapons in the air.
As the men charged at me, my mind was racing. This is a simulation, right? These guys can’t hurt me. They’re probably just holograms or something. Then, one of the men fired his weapon at me. Two speeding bullets grazed my metallic arm and bounced away with a clang. Ok, I thought, these guys might me real. I quickly turned around and began to run. I was surprised at how fast my robotic body could go. As I sprinted, I focused on the dashboard in the corner of my vision. The speedometer calculated my speed to be 30 miles-per-hour. That was the fastest I had ever heard of anyone running before.
“Wow. This is awesome!” I ran and ran, and soon, the three men were far off in the distance. I stood on top of a large sand dune and looked out on to the desert horizon. “Well, now what do I do?” I said to myself.
“Try enhancing your senses.” Soul’s voice echoed loudly in my ears, making me jump five feet in the air.
“Enhancing my senses? How?” I was amazed at how high I had jumped, and while waiting for a reply from the loud bodiless voice of the hairless scientist, I started jumping up and down. I had a vertical of at least 15 feet!
“To enhance your senses, you must learn to give mental commands to you’re the cybernetic portion of your mind.” Soul’s voice echoed, “Focus on an object in the distance, and think, ‘zoom’.”
I didn’t fully understand, but I turned to the distant figures of the men and cameo and focused on them. “Zoom?” I said out loud. Suddenly, a small vertical scrolling bar appeared in the upper right corner of my visor. I was able to mentally adjust the bar, and immediately it was as if the men had moved 100 yards in zero time at all! I could easily see what the men were doing. I had literally zoomed in on them. They had stopped running towards me, and we now building a fire and setting up a desert campsite.
“Well done Adam! Now, focus again and return your vision to normal.” I did as Soul said. “Good. Now, enhancing your hearing isn’t quite as simple. You have to increase and decrease volume, and also filter out any other noises mentally. Give it a try. Here, let me add a little extra sound.” As soon as he finished speaking, a large wind began blowing sand around. The wind, along with the sand sliding down the hill, caused a lot of background noise. I tried focusing on the white noise of the wind, but couldn’t seem to get rid of it.
“I can't do it!” I shouted over the wind.
“Adam, focus on my voice.” I could barely hear him, but I did as Soul said. “Good. Now, try to increase the volume of my voice, and decrease the volume of all other noises.” I focused and tried to imagine his voice louder. Just then, a small box with pitch, volume, and sound filtering options appeared where the zoom adjuster once was. I mentally changed the levels until the sound of the wind and sand was almost gone. “Mr. Carter, can you hear me now?”
“Loud and clear, Soul.” I was pretty proud of myself. I had figured out how to mentally control my digital brain. It was as if my eyes were a computer screen, and my mind was the mouse. “What's next?”
“I would check back on your friends with the machine guns.” After Soul spoke, I zoomed in on the men in cameo again. They were setting up some sort of missile and aiming it somewhere to my left. I zoomed out to try and figure out what they were attacking. I spotted a small encampment that wasn't there before. Upon focusing on it, I spotted an American flag waving proudly in the center. Soul spoke once again. “Well Mr. Carter, I suggest you stop that warhead.”
“How do I do that!? I'm not on the Bomb Squad!” I had know idea how I was supposed to redirect a missile.
“Just try your best, Mr. Carter.” With that statement, Soul's voice fell silent. I sighed and began running at my 30 mile-per-hour pace. In no time at all, I had reached the men in cameo, along with the warhead. The men grabbed their guns and came towards me.
“Um... I suggest you stop that missile.” My voice was uneasy and my stance was less than confident, but I put all four of my fists up, trying to look threatening. The men laughed, and then one of them said a command in their odd language. The other two immediately began shooting at me. I put my arms up against my face and braced for the impact... Only to discover the bullets were bouncing right off of me in all directions. The men stopped shooting; I guessed they were afraid of getting hit by backfiring bullets.
The men threw their weapons down and raised their fists, ready for a fight. Meanwhile, I noticed a clock counting down from three minutes on an old computer screen near the small missile. I needed to do something, and quick.
While I was looking at the clock, one of the men charged at me and swung a wild fist at me. It hit me, but I could barely feel it. He swung another fist and hit me in the face, again without inflicting any damage. I then took an uppercut shot to his stomach with my lower right arm, and the guy went flying upward and backward about ten feet! I was amazed at the damage I had inflicted with one punch. The other two looked at their fallen friend and then charged me. After a few missed swings, I managed to inflict quite a bit of damage. The three men struggled to their feet and began to run away.
“Come on guys? What’s wrong? Can't handle Ace Carter?” I shouted as they ran. I was having a lot of fun, that is, until I felt and heard the rumbling. I turned around to see the missile taking off. It quickly flew toward the American base. Seconds before impact, the missile stopped in mid air. The desert landscape disappeared, revealing the green-paneled simulation room once again.
“Well done Mr. Carter.” I looked up to see Soul peeking out of an open panel about one story above. “You are an exceptionally fast learner. You'll be combat-ready in no time.”
“But I failed. I didn't stop the missile.” I thought a moment. “Wait, what do you mean by 'combat-ready'?”
“I'll explain at dinner. Meet me at the mess hall.” With that, the panel closed and Soul disappeared from my view.
After getting lost in the massive building for around 30 minutes, I found my way to the cafeteria. The large room was crowded with long rectangular tables, and the tables were crowded with people. Dozens of men and women were eating. Some wore business suits, some lab coats, and some coveralls like the men I had seem before my accident. One thing I noticed that everyone wore red ties, not including the people in coveralls. It must have been a requirement in their uniform.1
I spotted Soul sitting at the end of a large table, an empty chair sitting near him. He had changed out of his lab coat and into a fancy business suit, still wearing a blue tie. As I made my way through the maze of tables and chairs, I noticed that none of the RRT employees seemed to acknowledge me, as if a four-armed cyborg was nothing unusual. I decided I would ask Soul about it later.
I met with Soul, grabbed some chicken pot pie that the kitchen was serving, and sat down next to the bald scientist. As we ate, I asked Soul as many questions as I could. He answered all of them. I learned that I was a prototype for a Super Soldier project that the President of the United Sates personally had Soul working on, entitled Bionic Blitzkrieg. Soul explained that the government wouldn't allow me to leave the RRT, which I had already assumed, but said that once the BB project is completed, I might be allowed to join the military as a Super Soldier. He said that throughout the next few months, I would be put through many training exercises, simulations, testings, and evaluations, to get me ready for the deadline of the project. He didn't reveal the date of the deadline, but he referred to it as V-L Day. I wasn't sure what that meant.
After dinner, Soul had two short, portly scientists show me to the room I would be staying in. It was rather empty, with a dresser, closet, and a bed with two chords dangling from it. The chubby scientists demonstrated how to attach the chords to two ports on opposite sides of my neck. The men left, and I laid down on the old bed and thought about the life changing things I had been through. I stared at the ceiling for an hour, reviewing all the facts Soul had revealed to me that afternoon before shutting down. I still had so many questions, but one thing was certain: I was going to have an interesting year.