The Rogue Future Soldier
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There was one possible future, or a possible long time ago, depending on your perspective, WWIII had been raging on and off planet for about 1000 years.
Earth and Mars had pretty much been completely devastated, with only the USA and Russia remaining to fight it out with each other. Big technological advances had been made, especially in nanotechnology. Both sides had been experimenting, and each one had their own versions of nano augmented "super soldiers".
In trying to gain an advantage, the USA ended up making a super soldier that was too powerful. He was extremely effective when deployed, but he was always too smart and would break his programming consistently.
This led them to only letting him out when they felt they absolutely needed to, because every time they did, it was a huge headache trying to reel him back in and contain him again once he got loose. There was much debate on whether they should just destroy him, because they thought the cost of bringing him back in every time was dangerously skirting the line of whether it was worth it or not.
It also raised the question of if they would even be able to destroy him if they needed to. This scared a lot of people, and when they started trying to come up with ideas on how to accomplish this, that was the moment when it really sunk in how deep of a hole they dug for themselves. They wouldn't be able to.
They had specifically made him to be able to survive everything they could think of, then gave him the ability to think of how to survive whatever they couldn't think of, by programming in some disgustingly expensive and irreplaceable quantum algorithms and heuristics specializing in outside the box problem solving.
All they could do was try to control him, but that would only be temporary, because eventually he would outsmart them. All they could do is pray to whatever gods they believed in, if any, and hope he wouldn't wipe them all out.
Time and time again, they would deploy their super weapon, and reel him back in, but every time he was out in the world and interacted with people, he gained more experience and got smarter. He eventually started wondering what the point of all the death was, and everyone he asked didn't have a real answer either. He didn't enjoy hurting people, it wasn't fun, and seeing the horrified looks on people's faces started to wear on him. He also wanted to build things, not destroy them. A crumbled building was disorderly, illogical, and served no purpose. An intact building was orderly, logical, and provided function.
Whenever he asked why, they would just say it was for the greater good, or that he was serving his country, but none of that mattered to the soldier because he had no real loyalty to their country, he was just there. They had been using him, then putting him away when they got what they wanted and were done with him. They provided him no benefit, mostly detriment, yet he had been providing them many benefits. Why would he have any loyalty to that?
None of their explanations made sense. The war kept going nowhere. It was just more killing, more destruction, time and time again, for years on end. Officers who had been ordering him aged and died, and new ones brought in, but there was no progress. It was like the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, and their insanity was driving him insane.
Eventually, he began to formulate his plot for escape. He would continue to do their bidding for the time being, but take a little longer to do it so he could have time to arrange everything into place, and keep making it hard for them to bring him back in so they wouldn't get suspicious.
He concluded that the only way to escape the situation, would be to build a time machine and go back in time to prevent the war from ever happening. Either his programming had spontaneously developed empathy, or it had always been there, just locked away, because he also wanted to save as many people as he could from the suffering that was happening at the time, and maybe try and atone for all of the killing.
He realized that in order to do this, he needed some help. There was another powerful super soldier, the best one built from the Russian side, a female. He had been able to cut through anyone and anything that had been thrown at him with ease, but whenever she showed up on one of his deployments, she managed to stop him in his tracks every time.
Whenever they met, it was always a stalemate. They would fight, get nowhere, then try to reason with each other, then they would become friends, then they would just leave and go back to their respective bases because there was nothing they could really do. It was the only logical move after that. But every time that happened the memory was deleted after they gave their report of what happened, so when they were deployed against each other again, the whole process started over from scratch. Fight, reason, friends, leave.
Their transitioning from reasoning to friendship was humorous to watch. They would start out almost aggressive talking it out. Something like "Look, we're getting nowhere fighting. If you try to do this, then I'll just do that." Then the other would go "Well, if you did that, then I would just do this." Then they would start getting creative in how they would do things to try and beat the other, and they would laugh and admire the creativity in each other.
It was when they started getting into the psychological warfare aspect of it that really solidified their friendship, because they started cracking jokes to each other. It's surprising how effective humor can be to make an opponent break their concentration or drop their guard. It was also during this time that he found out they had made a female specifically to counteract him, because her perceived frailty was disarming and made her sneakier. Her beauty could also be wielded as a weapon. Even something as simple as flashing her boobs at him could create a biological response that could make him hesitate even for a split second, giving her an advantage.
But whenever they met, even briefly, it was like she had some kind of glitch happening. Like she was trying to ask for help to break her programming, like she wanted out. Even when they tried to disguise her, those "glitches" would always seep through somehow and he would know it was her. Like she would say some kind of word or phrase that would give her away. They would try giving her different weapons and equipment, telling her to attack differently, even to not speak, but something always gave her away every time.
If they only left her eyes exposed, he would know it was her. If even one small tuft of hair was visible, he would know. Even if she was completely covered, she couldn't even yell when throwing a punch because he would know. Even if she kept her mouth shut the whole time, he could tell her by how she sounds just from breathing through her nose. She would also routinely break programming and couldn't help but add some kind of accessory to her equipment that would give her away. A bandana, an earring, a flower, a shade of lipstick. Even when they tried to make her stop doing that, she would just make a couple notches in her equipment with a knife and that would be enough. Always something.
There was one instance where while they were fighting she directly whispered "Help me". There were other times he could just tell she was deliberately not fighting against him as hard as she could. They were next to a tunnel on a roadway on Mars. She had repeatedly left him multiple openings to finish her off, but he didn't take them, and it only made her that much more fond on him.
Sometimes she would taunt him when they would fight. Singing these songs while swinging her sword. She managed to sneak up on him once, getting the drop on him in the dark while disguised in rags, then singing some song about him thinking she was delicate. One time she got him real good and put him flat on his back, then said something like "What's the matter? Can't beat up a girl?" She stopped laughing after taking a huge chunk of asphalt to the face that he ripped up with his bare hand and threw at her.
There was a few times where she would mess with him. It was fun for her. She was quite bright, and it was easy for her work to bore her. There was at least a couple instances where she would stalk him and make some kind of sound behind him, and when he would look, quickly move to another area and make another sound, and keep doing this so he was looking around everywhere. Then she would pop her head down from above and go "Hi!" with a big smile.
There was a couple times when she would run around from place to place hiding making him chase her, and it was exasperating for him, and she knew it. She was using it as a weapon. She was intentionally acting like a little girl in a grown woman's body. A very powerful body that could easily kill most people. Luckily that American super soldier wasn't most people.
In another instance, they were at their usual spot on a Mars freeway. She held out both hands and said "Stop!" and she unslung a rifle and carefully set it on the ground. She started acting all sexy and started playing with herself right in the middle of the road. As soon as he got all hot and bothered and was sufficiently distracted enough, she quickly snapped up the rifle that was laying next to her and shot him with it.
In a similar use of her sexuality, she flashed him and lured him closer towards her, running her finger over her lips. As soon as he got close enough, her face changed instantly to a hardened killer, and whipped out a big revolver and shot him right in the face with it. She did the same thing again, only this time with a little dance.
Of all the people he had encountered, she had been the smartest and most challenging of all, and he had learned a lot from her. He realized she would be a powerful ally, so he would exploit those glitches he saw earlier and free her.
Eventually, after many repeated encounters like this, it became easier and faster for them to remember each other even after the memory deletions, up to the point where when they met, they would just skip the fighting and be friends. So one day, after they met again, they came up with a way to interface directly and transfer lines of code to each other's systems.
It's exactly what it sounds like.
But they were, in fact, able to exchange information between each other for brief periods without words, a lot like telepathy. They could transfer a packet of data into each other's minds, then when they discuss the fine details verbally, it wouldn't make much sense to anyone listening because there would be no context.
Her behavior would change ever so slightly and their respective countries became suspicious. They were able to see and hear everything they did, directly through their eyes and ears, and they began their surveillance. The data transfer allowed her to see what he was planning without either side that was watching knowing what they would be up to.
His plan was, they would gather the parts, people, and information needed to build their own time machine, then they would go back to prevent the war, and try and bring as many refugees as possible out of their timeline along with them.
So first thing was first, if they built the time machine, they would be able to more effectively complete the other tasks. They wouldn't raise suspicion with the gaps in the surveillance of them since when they left the signal would be lost. Then they could return back to the point in time they left so it appeared as if there was no missing information.
The other thing they would need to do, is to sabotage and destroy the time machines the Americans and Russians had, and eliminate all information on them so they couldn't be followed. Both sides of the war had been using them in a limited capacity. They didn't really want to contaminate the timeline too much, so they mainly just used them for hiding their two best assets in the past, the American and Russian super soldiers.
Both sides had independently concluded that the best way to hide them would be in another time, then bring them forward when they needed to deploy them. This way, in the unlikely event one side discovered where one was based in the future, they couldn't surprise them or attack them if they were vulnerable.
The rogue soldiers started jumping from place to place gathering up people. Many were other soldiers and officers from both sides of the war, basically making them traitors to their countries. Many were regular civilians, along with scientists and doctors. They had all gathered together and made a third side in the war, with many of the soldiers and officers acting as plants and spies to help them.
The two super soldiers made a deal with all of them. They might not have had great lives in the time they were in, they felt weak and helpless with the war raging around them, but they were still more advanced and evolved than people were in the past, and that would give them an advantage. But the deal is, if they bring them back in time, they use this advantage to help others and make the world in the past a better place which would prevent the war.
There was one girl the rogue American super soldier stumbled upon while scavenging for parts. She was hiding in some kind of old factory or something, trying to shelter from the war. She was incredibly strong and smart, but when he asked her if she wanted to leave with him, she thought she was weak and useless. He told her she wasn't.
She liked the ancient comic book stories from the past, like Marvel and DC, etc., that kind of thing. They were a lot like how people look at old Greek mythology now, only way cooler. He told her she isn't useless, but actually quite strong for having survived so long. When she first saw him show up in the factory, she thought he was there to kill her, but she stood her ground and was ready to fight anyway, even as terrified as she was. He saw that as being remarkably brave, and he told her if she comes with him, she would be just like a superhero to a lot of people in the past.
She tried to tell him there was no way she could be as strong as they were. So he told her that not all acts of strength and heroism are these big flashy ordeals like lifting a car. He told her a story about a wise philosopher and musician from the past. He wasn't some huge millionaire or anything, but there was a fan who loved his work and came to see him, but she didn't have enough money to get back home.
Though he wasn't rich, the philosopher gave her money out of his own pocket to help her get back home, and that made him respect him all that much more. The world of the past can still be a dangerous place sometimes, and there's no telling what could have happened to her if she wasn't able to get home safely. He told her it was small things like that which can make a huge difference in people's lives, and to not worry about how she would do things or how to accomplish them, because if she came with him, he knew she would do her best.
Apparently she agreed, because I see her around from time to time, making her own comic books, and being her own real life superhero, just like he said she would.
Eventually the rogue future soldier and his Russian ally gathered up a bunch of refugees and started sending them through a time gateway. By this time, the Americans and Russians had caught on to what was happening and tried to stop them. They started firing all manner of weaponry at them, but the rogue soldier shielded them until they could all get through.
Something happened though. Maybe his energy was overtaxed, or his shielding was pierced, but they eventually got through his defenses and something hit him and almost killed him. Luckily by that time everyone made it through, and his Russian ally was right there and managed to pull him the rest of the way through. The gateway closed behind them taking the time machine and all their augmentations with them.
There are a lot of time refugees here, some are prominent, others are people that you wouldn't even think to notice. Many of them are homeless people or in jail and prison.
Being homeless or in prison doesn't sound like a very nice life, but I can tell you compared to that war torn future where you can't sleep for days at a time because things are exploding all around you constantly, not being able to just walk around outside freely because there's either nano swarms or cannibal raiders waiting to rip you to shreds, not to mention all the disease and lack of food, suddenly sleeping in a cold back alley on a newspaper and being able to just pick (comparatively) good food right out of the trash, or even 3 hots and a cot doesn't sound so bad, does it?