Short Story Saturday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 10

This story is expanding. This week, you get a little bit of background on the technology being used along with some advancement of the current plot. I’ve got my end-game in mind, but I think I’m going to take a few more weeks getting there.

If you want to catch up on past installments, you can click on the links below:

Please enjoy No Pain, No Gain – Part 10


Four Years Earlier – Secret Military Facility – Arlington, VA

“Mr. Blaylock, I’ve been getting a bit impatient with the promise of seeing your research. Today better be the day you deliver.”
This ominous statement came from General Franklin Winston Butler, an imposing figure named after his father’s two heroes from World War II, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Butler came from a long line of military men. Most were West Point graduates and had risen to the rank of colonel or higher. Butler was a three star general on his way to his fourth star which he would earn and then retire soon after.
“It’s ready for you to see, General,” Devon Blaylock answered. “We wanted to be sure that it was exactly the way you wanted it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.”
“Well, I have been completely disappointed thus far,” the no-nonsense general answered. “If you don’t deliver today, you’ll be finished with this contract. Frankly, I never believed in its viability anyway.”
“We’ll deliver today, General,” Blaylock answered confidently. “You have my word.”
“So far your word has been as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Let’s get to it.”
Blaylock nodded to his then head of research, Warren Miller, and he signaled one of his subordinates. As Blaylock and General Butler watched from behind heavily plated glass, a large man with muscles that seemed to burst from his skin and luminous green eyes entered the lab. He wore a non-distinct military style set of fatigues that seemed to strain under the strength of his swollen muscles. The uniform was for effect, the muscles were quite real
“He looks like some kind of Arnold Schwarzenegger character. Did you just bring me some kind of body builder with fancy green contact lenses?”
“The eyes are capable of night vision, General,” Blaylock answered. “I can assure you, he is much more than a body builder.”
“Well, let’s see something.”
Blaylock gave a signal and, in turn, so did Miller. One of his assistants came into the room with a large knife. He approached the green-eyed specimen and lunged at him with the knife. The muscle-bound man deftly grabbed the blade of the knife and proceeded to snap it like a brittle piece of wood.
“Well, that’s a nice parlor trick,” Butler said, “but I’ve seen magicians do that. How do I know that knife isn’t as dull as a politician in Washington?”
Blaylock seemed pleased by the question. He expected the general to be skeptical and he had played right into his hands. He signaled to Miller again who nodded to his assistant. Another knife, larger than the first was picked up from the table along with a length of wood that appeared to be oak. The assistant banged the wood on a metal table to show that it was solid and not rigged in any way. He then raised the knife with his other hand and struck the wood with the blade. The wood split where he hit it leaving about two thirds of the length. He then struck it again lopping off another length of wood. He then gestured to the green-eyed Adonis who put his bare forearm on the metal table. The assistant lifted the knife and similarly brought it down on the man’s forearm. The knife not only failed to cut him, but the metal blade came away with a significant chip in the area where the knife had struck the arm. The assistant recoiled from the stopping force.
Butler raised his eyebrows and Blaylock felt satisfaction begin to invade his body. He nodded to Miller once more and the assistant tried to plunge the knife, tip first, into the behemoth’s bare forearm. This time, the knife blade shattered.
“Well, that’s interesting,” Butler said. “Too bad the enemy isn’t running up to our soldiers with knives. They tend to use weapons that are from this century.”
“We’re just getting started, General,” Blaylock answered.
He nodded to Miller and the assistant took a handgun from a holster on his hip. On cue, the uniformed man untucked his shirt and removed it. His skin had a synthetic quality as it stretched over his eight-pack abs. The assistant aimed the gun at a mannequin that was in the room and pulled the trigger. The mannequin’s torso shattered. He then turned his aim toward the torso of the shirtless man.
“Now wait a minute, Blaylock. I don’t want a man killed during one of these tests of yours. The knife was one thing, but a bullet at close range? I don’t see a red ‘S’ on this man’s chest. You can expect me to believe that…”
“General, I assure you that we have conducted this test multiple times. The test subject is not in danger.”
Blaylock nodded to Miller who passed on the signal and the assistant pulled the trigger. Blaylock and the general watched as the nine millimeter ammunition failed to penetrate the man’s body and further, flattened out like coins against his skin. The man winced just a bit, but then dislodged the flattened bullets from his skin and, apart from barely visible circles where he had been struck, there was no damage.
“There you have it general. He withstood nine-millimeter shots at close range as if they were mosquito bites. I assure you his skin is also fire resistant and he can hold a live grenade in his hands and let it detonate into a puff of smoke. He is the ultimate soldier. Imagine an entire army of specimens like him. It’s easily achievable and cost effective when you consider the cost of body armor and medical treatment.”
Butler was silent for a while and then he broke out into an uncharacteristic grin.
“I think we’ve got something here, Mr. Blaylock. Of course, I’ll want more testing, but I am definitely intrigued. I’ve got a meeting with the Joint Chiefs and we will talk about next steps.”
Alberg lived north of Albuquerque, about halfway to Santa Fe, New Mexico. As he pulled onto the highway to make the journey northward, the black sedan followed him from about a half-mile back. The driver of the sedan knew where Alberg lived and was in no hurry to get close to him and alert him he was being pursued. As they approached a spot 15 miles out of town, they entered Indian Reservation land. This was the spot when the sedan driver would make his move. The elevation increased gradually in this area and the traffic was practically non-existent. As Alberg’s car climbed, it approached an area where the only thing that separated the road from a plunge off of the side of a mountain was a thin guard rail. Alberg’s small car might not push through the guard rail on its own, but it would easily take the plunge with the help of another car.
The driver of the sedan gradually closed the gap on Alberg. At just the right spot, he pulled into the left lane next to Alberg and pulled the wheel hard to the right. The sedan was at least twice the weight of the much smaller car. At first Alberg was just sandwiched between the sedan and the guard rail, but as the sedan’s driver pulled more to the right, Alberg’s car became airborne and flipped over the rail plunging down the nearly vertical face of the mountain. Alberg was dead before his car reached the bottom as his neck had snapped during the car’s tumble. For good measure, however, the car burst into flames at the bottom.
On cue, a flatbed truck appeared and the driver loaded the damaged sedan onto its bed. The sedan’s driver climbed unscathed into the passenger side of the truck’s cab. As the driver climbed back in and put the truck into gear, the sedan driver made a call on his cell phone.
“It’s done,” was all he said before disconnecting the call.
Devon Blaylock was emotionless as he put his personal cell phone face down on his desk He walked out to the reception area where his assistant was answering emails and phone calls.
“Michele, can you order some lunch. I feel like barbecue today and, go ahead and get yourself something.”
“Thank you, Mr. Blaylock.”
As he returned to his office, Blaylock wasn’t aware of the irony of ordering burned flesh for lunch given Alberg’s ultimate state.
The testing of the new tech by the military had gone smoothly. General Butler had been pleased and the potential use of this nanotechnology seemed promising. Beyond the first test subject, the testing team realized the need for more subjects. They wanted to assess their viability in a group scenario given the propensity of the enemy to target vehicles and other areas where groups were present in confined quarters.
It was a crisp morning in a remote area of Virginia as a Federal Department of Corrections bus pulled up to a remote outbuilding. From the bus, 17 men were unloaded. They were all restrained with shackles on their wrists that connected to a chain around their waists and more shackles around their ankles. These men were some of the country’s forgotten prisoners. They had been incarcerated in the bowels of the federal prison system. No one missed them or even knew of their existence. They were selected as test subjects because, frankly, they were disposable in the eyes of the government.
Once the men were lined up in front of the outbuilding, General Butler addressed them.
“You men have been given a second chance. You have been brought here to help your country move its military to the next level. If you cooperate and our testing is successful, you will be rewarded with reduced sentences and the chance to once again see the light of day. If you don’t cooperate, you will be buried in a hole so deep in the prison system that it will make the place you came from seem like a resort on the beach. Am I clear on the terms?”
All of the men reluctantly nodded. They didn’t really have a choice in the matter. In hindsight, however, they would have been much better off in the desolate prison that they came from. Their fate would be much worse as a result of the testing.

47 thoughts on “Short Story Saturday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 10

  1. I sympathize and know how easy it is to make such mistakes (believe me….) It’s amazing how many times you can go over the same, simple one. Hope you’re not offended. It’s meant to be helpful. I dislike actual pedants! x

    Liked by 1 person

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