The year was 2049.
He’d survived the Olduvai massacre only to have to endure three years of seclusion. UAC had refused to let either of the twins leave once they’d exited from the elevators at Papoose Lake.
Three years of being a goddamned guinea pig. Three years of having to hear that his sister was alive, only to learn that she’d mutated when they administered the serum. Seemed UAC was keeping even more secrets.
The serum that had made him superhuman had been replicated and existed on Earth. And they were creating an army. For what purpose, John didn’t know. He wasn’t read into it. But they were testing subjects and marveling that he was still one of the few who could function with the additional chromosome and remain human.
Except he wasn’t. Not anymore.
John was slowly becoming whatever it was the denizens of Olduvai had been, prior to their escape from the red planet. He didn’t know what additional changes would occur for him, nor did he want to know. Not at that point. What he wanted was to escape.
But even that was beyond his purview. UAC kept close tabs on him and had long established that they were aware of his limitations. Adamantium seemed to be the limit of his strength. Unable to break through and bend it, John was forced to exist in a suspended cage made solely of the offending metal. He was bound with cuffs of the same material and escorted from session to session.
It wasn’t until they had him ready to cry uncle that they read him into their plan. Seemed they’d cleaned up the facility at Papoose Lake. They’d repaired the Ark Portal.
And they wanted to ship him through it.
John wouldn’t be going back to Mars. That Portal had been damaged beyond repair and would no longer be accepting travelers. But they were interested in seeing just where the other portals were. There had to be some, right?
It was a suicide mission.
John fought them, as best he could. He struggled and argued and tried to relay his point. They were going to ship him off through the wormhole and he was going to wind up spaced somewhere. And they were going to have wasted their precious resources. Their weapon would be useless and dead somewhere.
But they had their minds made up. Suiting John up in an ancient (and stupidly heavy) astronaut suit, they prepared him to go through the Ark. He’d have enough oxygen to last the trip there and back. That was the goal. Just to locate the next Portal, establish what the atmospheric situation was like, and return.
It was his chance to escape. Even death was better than what they had planned for him. He moved slowly - thanks to the suit and its weighted ankles - toward the suspended, iridescent goop. He still didn’t know what it was made of. Eyes shutting, he reached forward and felt the pull. Even in the suit, he could feel the rush as he moved from one Portal to another.
This time, he saw neither his old team nor his family. There was nothing but blissful silence. Seemed even the radio they’d attached to his helmet wasn’t working.
He was jarred to a stop, damned near dropping to his knees. His stomach rolled, but didn’t revolt, which was good considering he would have had to deal with that in the helmet had he vomited.
He was on a planet.
Green waters greeted him at the edge of a grey, sandy beach. The sky was a strange purplish color and when he raised his sensor, it registered enough oxygen to be able to breathe. Not by much. He’d wind up having to use a breather if he stayed long enough, but it was enough to get by. Turning, he took in the Portal that stood like a lone sentry on the beach. There was no way to activate it from his side. At least, nothing he could see.
John pulled the helmet off and dropped it into the sand, taking a chance. The air smelled strange. It wasn’t poisonous, at least, but he couldn’t place the scent. Loamy, perhaps? The sensor was pocketed and he slowly stripped out of the suit. He’d need to keep his respiration down, otherwise he’d hyperventilate. He discarded it near the Portal and rolled his shoulders, ready to do a little exploring. So long as they didn’t send a secondary squad through to collect him, he was finally free.