Ultimate Origins: Chapter Seven

Fever: The Chernobyl Incident

 

"He's alive?" Justin asked. "How. Start talking."

 

"I don't have time for this," Mitchell said. "Get out of here before I call in the Guardians."

 

"Talk!" Justin snapped.

 

"Tell us about Section 31 and the Egos," Simon said.

 

Mitchell sighed and leaned back in his chair. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a cigar, and lit the tip while taking a puff. "You kids have no idea how lucky you are I don't shoot you down right here."

 

"You tried that," Hunter said.

 

Mitchell leaned back and slowly blew out a puff of smoke. His gaze was distant. "I'll tell you about Section 31 and your father...but only because he saved my ass more times than I can count. I owe him."

 

***

 

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 1984 AD

 

A stealth troop carrier flew over the landscape of the Soviet Union near Pripyat in Ukraine at night. The helicopter was the latest US military prototype developed by Starr Industries, one of the government’s biggest military contractors during the Cold War.

 

About 30 soldiers crowded together in the helicopter’s troop pod. The soldiers were dressed in dark uniforms and hardhats, and they carried a wide arsenal of weaponry. Corporals William Mitchell and Matthew Stewart, both in their mid 20s, sat next to each other in the troop pod.

 

Stewart could have passed for an 18-year-old with his boyish looks and clean-shaven appearance. Mitchell looked more his age, in his mid twenties, with a square jaw and dark, brooding eyes.

 

Their sergeant stood next to the drop door. “All right, men, listen up. You remember your mission briefings, so I’m going to keep this short. Things are going to be quick and messy. This is a civilian installation with a low military presence. Those commie bastards thought a low profile would let them hide whatever weapon it is they’re building. They were wrong. Shoot anything that moves and blow the damn place to hell.” 

 

Mitchell hung his head low. Stewart looked to his friend. “Nervous?”

 

Mitchell shook his head. “It’s not that. I just didn’t sign up for killing civilians.”

 

“They’re communists,” Stewart said. “Cronies for the enemy military. Think of them as a bunch of whacked-out, crazy-evil scientists like in the movies.”

 

“This isn’t a movie, Matty,” Mitchell said.

 

“Just think of them as targets then,” Stewart said. “It’s what we were trained to do.”

 

The troop carrier lurched as it descended towards the nuclear power plant. All 30 soldiers stood, lined up, and leapt one-by-one from the helicopter. They opened their parachutes and angled their descent towards the main reactor hall and turbine building.

 

They landed and spread out while taking cover behind the hills of the landscape.

 

A sniper took position and looked through his scope towards the building’s entrance, where two guards waited. “Two guards but…”

 

“But what?” the sergeant asked.

 

“They don’t look Russian,” the sniper said.

 

“Are they armed?” the sergeant asked.

 

Yessir.”

 

“Then quit yapping and start shooting.”

 

The sniper quickly shot down the two guards, and the troops fanned out to assault the building. One of the men stayed back, crouched down, and fired a grenade launcher that blasted through the reactor hall’s main entrance. Another soldier launched a grenade at the turbine building.

 

Stewart and Mitchell were in the rear when they charged into the main reactor hall. A massive power core was suspended from the ceiling and took up most of the room. Five guards and several scientists stood on a railed walkway that wrapped around the core.

 

Five more guards were on ground level along with about 12 scientists that scurried for cover behind the many computer terminals.

 

hydra22The guards did not appear Russian. They wore dark-green jumpsuits and green masks that wrapped around their heads and covered their faces from the mouth up. The eyes on the masks were red. Red bands wrapped around their upper arms, and each band had the black insignia of a multi-headed hydra.

 

The buzz saw noise of machine gun fire immediately erupted as the guards and US soldiers dove for cover. Stewart heard Mitchell sigh at the sight of several scientists mowed down by the cross fire.

 

Stewart ditched his rifle in favor of his hand gun, leaned over a control terminal, and aimed upward while firing two shots that blasted through a guard and whipped his body over the railing.

 

The gun fire died down as the last of the guards fell.

 

“All right!” the sergeant shouted. “Charges! Move!”

 

Ordinance specialists placed detonators against several key pieces of equipment that kept the installation’s nuclear reactors stable. Detonating the explosives would cause a chain reaction resulting in a nuclear meltdown and massive explosion.

 

A rattling noise suddenly came from above. The soldiers looked up to the catwalk to see a scientist climb back to his feet. His jacket was drenched with blood from bullets that had punctured through his chest.

 

The scientist’s eyes turned red as he glared at the soldiers. “I’ve always hated guns. They are so…crude. And lack a personal touch.”

 

His body rippled and burst from his clothes. He transformed into a wolf-like beast with spiky hair, razor-sharp claws, and massive fangs dripping with saliva.

 

The soldiers opened fire on the creature as it pounced downward. Their bullets did no harm. The monster lifted a soldier, bit his head off, and hurled the body aside.

 

Snarling, the creature snapped around and clawed open a soldier’s chest. The wolf reached for another soldier and tore out his throat.

 

“Jesus Christ!” Stewart shouted as he opened fire on the creature. Mitchell joined him, but their bullets were harmless.

 

“Blow it up!” the sergeant shouted above the screams of his dying men. “Blow it the hell up, God damn it! Detonators, now!”

 

A soldier activated the detonators. A massive wave of concussive force knocked Stewart and Mitchell off their feet.

 

***

 

"When I came to, Stewart had dragged me back to the carrier," Mitchell said. "We got out of there just before the nuclear reactor melted down. Besides the pilot…we were the only survivors."

 

"Whoa…" Justin could barely believe what he had heard. "The Chernobyl explosion…no way. What was that thing that attacked?"

 

"I wasn’t debriefed until a week later," Mitchell said. "They had me and Stewart in separate holding cells while we waited. After the debriefing, we learned that a terrorist group called Hydra was actually responsible for developing the weapon at Chernobyl."

 

"Didn’t the Hydra uniforms kind of give that away?" Justin asked.

 

Mitchell shot Justin a scowl. "No. Hydra is low-key and works outside the public eye. They were even more of an unknown back then than they are now.

 

"The thing is though, Hydra wasn’t working alone," he continued. "They had been infiltrated by a group called the Egos, which no one had heard of before. Ever. We learned about the Egos through an advanced data core we found at the Chernobyl site. The data core was so advanced, we couldn’t decrypt it. So we went to the private sector for help."

 

***

 

Angel Grove, California, 1984 AD

 

Mitchell and Stewart sat in a briefing room along with a man named Col. Tye, who was the head of Section 31, a top-secret offshoot of the CIA that worked above the law. Tye’s security and intelligence clearance was higher than the president’s.   

 

A businessman named Anthony Starr stood at the head of the table. He was one of the military’s top contractors and a technological genius. He often did work for Section 31 as well.

 

At Starr’s side stood Professor Koji, a widely renowned scientist and archeologist from Japan. Starr and Koji were close friends.

 

Tye placed his elbows on the table and leaned forward while lacing his hands together. “I read your initial report, and this better be some kind of god-damn joke you’re trying to pull, Starr.”

 

“I’m afraid I’m not nearly that creative,” Starr said. He activated a projector screen and pulled up a logo that looked like a Chinese dragon strangling the planet. It was the symbol of Egos. “From what we’ve learned so far, Egos appears to be from the future.”

 

“How in god’s name is that possible?” Tye asked.

 

“Time travel would be the obvious answer,” Starr said. He activated another series of slides that showed various technical diagrams. “In terms of proof, the data core itself is beyond anything we have now, and we’ve found several blueprints and specs that are just as advanced. Some of the data we can’t access because it was designed for display by holographic projection. We quantum dated the core, and well, let’s just say the results turned out...weird.”

 

“Weird?” Mitchell asked.

 

“Yes, weird. Odd. Out of place,” Starr said. “The results seemed to indicate the core was from the future. Same as a few other pieces of equipment we found.”

 

“Like what?” Tye asked.

 

“For one, a data pad,” Starr said. He looked to Koji. “You want to take it from here?”

 

Koji nodded and stepped forward. “One of the data pads contained religious texts,” he said. “The infiltrator likely brought this pad with him for personal use. It provides some insight into the mentality of this organization, as well as their motivation.”

 

“Like what?” Tye asked.

 

“Their beliefs are centered around something, or someone, they call the Dragon,” Koji said. “They believe the Dragon appeared in the early 2000s and failed to complete his destiny, something they call the Breaking of the World. They believed this breaking would lead to a new world, where only the strong survived as part of a utopia.

 

“My assumption is that Egos traveled back to our time and secretly infiltrated Hydra to gain a power base large enough to take control of the Dragon and manipulate him.”

 

Tye leaned forward. “How the bloody hell do they turn themselves into monsters?”

 

Koji shook his head. “We are not sure. But from what I have read in their texts, they believe in the advancement and forced evolution of our species. If they are from the future as we believe, it is possible they have found the technology to create genetically enhanced soldiers.”

 

Tye leaned back. “Tell me what you really think.”

 

Koji hesitated. “The text of the Egos speak of a group called the Gorgom Syndicate. I have heard of this Syndicate in Japan. For years, there have been rumors that this very secret society is capable of creating genetic beasts like the one at Chernobyl. The Egos, according to their texts, are an offshoot of the Gorgom Syndicate. This offshoot formed at some point after the Dragon failed to break the world.”

 

“Then why haven’t we seen these genetic things before?” Tye asked.

 

“According to the texts, we will be seeing them, shortly after the start of the new millennium, when the Dragon arises.”

 

Tye shook his head and did nothing to hide his agitation. “I still don’t believe a damn word of it. But what it boils down to is we have a bunch of religious nut jobs that can turn themselves into god damn monsters.” He looked to Starr. “How do we fight them?”

 

Starr smiled. “I have an idea, inspired by the religious nut jobs.”

 

“And what idea is that?” Tye asked.

 

“Okay, you have to promise not to laugh when I say it,” Starr said. “Here’s the plan: Power Rangers.”

 

To be continued...Chapter 08