Interlude 2

XCOM HQ
LABORATORY

Lancaster opened his eyes and could only see green. He brought his hand up to try and clear his vision, but found he couldn’t move his arm. He struggled, trying to pull his arm up, but it was being held back by something. He kicked his feet and found that were restricted by something as well, when he realized that he was floating in water.

His eyes went wide and he started to thrash fiercely, trying to swim out. He felt air on the top of his head and felt relief at being so close to the surface, trying to swim up and get a gulp of fresh air. He kicked and thrashed as hard as he could but the waterline was slow to come below his eyes, and then his nose. He was finally able to get above the waterline and took a deep breath, trying to force air into his lungs. It was only then that he realized he was wearing some sort of mask, and he had been breathing the whole time. He suddenly remembered he was in a glass tube, and looking down he saw the tubes connected to his body all, restraining his limbs. The green water was rapidly draining out of the tube, and Lancaster remembered what happened. He tried to say, “Genetic modification” but could only manage a grunt before the tubes fell out of him with a pneumatic hiss, and the tube opened up and dumped him on the ground.

He fell to the ground on all fours, his head hung low as a wave of nausea came over him. He had seen some people standing in the lab through the glass, and he was vaguely aware of them now standing around him. From nearby, he heard someone cry, “My arm WHERE IS MY ARM” and Lancaster looked to see Coach in a similar position as him, though his left arm was missing. Coach’s eyes were wide, but Lancaster’s eyes were drawn to his neck, where he could see his pulse traveling through his carotid artery, the flesh of his neck pulsating in a horribly hypnotic way. Suddenly, Coach’s arm materialized back into existence, and Lancaster felt another wave of nausea come over him. He looked back down at the ground, and someone squatted down next to him.

“Do you know who you are?”

“Squaddie Walter Lancaster. Serial number-“

“That’s fine. Do you know what’s happened to you?”

“Genetics,” replied Lancaster, “Genetic modification.”

“That’s right. Think you can stand up?”

Lancaster felt hands grip him under his armpits and he allowed himself to be picked up, closing his eyes as he did so. Once he was on his feet, he felt himself swaying a bit, and decided to try opening his eyes. He did so, and saw that Captain Ravenshaw was standing in front of him. He felt as if he was looking at her through a high definition camera, and blinked rapidly to try and restore his normal vision.

“Do you remember what modifications were performed on you?” asked Ravenshaw. Lancaster nodded his head, fighting down the nausea, and said, “Yes. Something with my eyes, my legs, and my skin.”

“That’s correct. Your depth perception has been increased, you have camouflaged skin, and you’re leg muscles are now denser.”

“Craziness.”

At the mention of the leg muscles, Lancaster suddenly became aware of a sort of tension in his thighs. Carefully, he squatted down slightly, feeling the energy start to wind up in his legs.

“Don’t…. don’t try jumping now, Lancaster. You should wait until you’re feeling better.”

“Right.”

The nausea had started to fade, but a multitude of other unpleasant feelings immediately hit him. His stomach growled, his mouth felt like it was filled with cotton, and to Ravenshaw he said, “I’ve gotta find a bathroom.”

Lancaster walked past Ravenshaw, feeling much steadier on his feet, and she called out after him, “You won’t control the camouflage for the first couple of days. So don’t freak out if parts of you go missing!”

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