by CSyphrett and Doc Quantum
A United States Air Force blackbird took off from Andrews Air Force Base. It was to fly over Russia and China and ascertain damage caused by the recent Crisis on Infinite Earths. Numerous reports of Redstar being active in relief efforts had come in. The intelligence committee wanted a closer look. So a pilot and a plane were assigned to go in and violate their air space and take pictures, a thing that had been done numerous times before with a high success record.
This time destiny took a hand. As the plane went into a sub-orbit on the edge of space, the instruments became erratic. The narrow window fogged over, then cracked apart. The pilot felt his plane begin to shake under his hands. He decided to abort as he saw sparks, and then flames leaped from the control panel.
He pulled the ejection lever to disengage the canopy and eject his seat into the clear. He was thrown into the air as the plane exploded. Fragments stabbed his body as flames wrapped around him briefly. His suit had caught fire and then went out from the lack of oxygen. He fell into the atmosphere, barely alive. He impacted hard near Tunguskhaya. The Russians found him forty minutes later.
Comrade Zastrow of Soviet military intelligence regarded the survivor of the exploding plane after being called to Mission Control. Robotics genius Dr. Vladislav Yomorov had waited in his office for his arrival. Now the scientist stood at Zastrow’s side waiting for the decision on his idea, which was audacious but simple enough.
Dr. Yomorov wanted to use this pilot to test a new technology that he had been developing for years, ever since Soviet agents had retrieved top secret information from the American agency, OSI. He thought he could make the pilot an agent for USSR by rebuilding him using cybernetics and bionics. Zastrow knew that such a thing had already been done in 1973 with another American pilot named Colonel Steve Austin. That man had become one of OSI’s greatest agents after a similar plane crash. Just as he had duplicated Captain Atom’s powers in Redstar, the Soviet spymaster hoped to recreate history once more and build a cybernetic man for the Soviet Union, the first of a potential army of cyborgs. (*) If he had to use another American pilot as an initial test subject, so be it.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Origins: Times Past, 1965: Redstar Rising.]
Zastrow weighed the options. It was a winning prospect for him as far as he could see. He gave Dr. Yomorov his approval for Project Svarog. Then he went back to his office to start the paperwork for the project, so that a staff and funds could be placed to fuel the operations to rebuild the unknown soldier the Soviet army had retrieved. He was not optimistic about the success of the project, but he thought that perhaps later they could harness the same technology for a soldier that was not already dying.
He just hoped the Americans would never find out what became of their pilot.