In the aftermath of World War One, governments of the United States, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom (among others) adopted policies of state funding into military-oriented science and engineering projects. This practise carried on into the duration of World War Two, and further through the Cold War period, stimulating huge growth in research and development. Between 1920 and 1940, the number of scientists employed in American research laboratories increased tenfold, from 2,775 to 27,777. Notable early examples of the results of such projects include the invention of radar and radar detection systems, commissioned by the British Air Ministry in the early 1930s; the synthesis of Airman's Tonic in 1939, a joint effort between the Air Ministry and United States' Naval Consulting Board; and the development of the atomic bomb, based on a variety of collaborative research.
World War Two
The Airman's Tonic would mark the first successful example of human enhancement, and proved instrumental to the Allied victory of World War Two. By enabling the pilot to withstand increased gravitational stress, use of the Tonic vastly improved the dogfighting abilities of air force units. It was not long, however, before the creation of Flugserum
(English: flight serum) by the German Army Weapons Agency. Serving as the German equivalent of Airman's Tonic, the Flugserum
induced similar effects in Luftwaffe pilots. Based on the encouraging results of flight exercises, both the Royal Air Force and Luftwaffe anticipated overwhelming victories from their serum-enhanced airmen. At the beginning of the Battle of Britain, therefore, the two sides' seemingly equal performance cast huge doubt over the combat viability of synthesised flight serums, and the costly projects were almost abandoned. The incredible effectiveness of human enhancement treatments only became clear at a later date, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The Russians, lacking similar enhancements, faced a huge disadvantage, and over the course of Nazi-Soviet aerial battles many German flying aces
accumulated in excess of 100 victories.
Throughout the rest of the war, the Airman's Tonic continued to prove its value. The achievements of US hero Contrail
, the most successful Allied pilot ace, with 150 aerial victories, have been attributed in large part to his use of the Tonic. With the beginning of lend-lease support to the Eastern Front, part of which included shipments of Airman's Tonic, a number of highly successful Soviet flying aces also emerged. Governments of the USSR and USA quickly realised the potential for human enhancement, in military and civilian applications alike, and at the end of World War Two the Airman's Tonic would form the basis of much biomodification-focused research.
Cold War Era
Assigned as a special task to the Soviet Institute of Physical Problems, Russian scientists were commissioned with the reverse-engineering and further study of Airman's Tonic. Progress came quickly, and in the year 1946 researcher Ivan Sechenov identified the Tonic's mechanism of action. Unlike a regular active metabolite, Sechenov discovered, the Tonic produced its effects through the action of a mutated form of the hormone erythropoietin. Introduced directly into the blood stream, this fast-acting form of erythropoietin stimulated the production of erythrocytes at a much higher rate than would normally be possible. Stated in Sechenov's report on the matter:
Обычно, когда пилот получает гипокс, почка производит эритропоэтин. Эффекты, однако, проявляются 70 часов позже. С тонизирующим возбудителем больше эритроцитов можно заметить в течение нескольких минут.
Even under unadulterated circumstances, the kidney responds to hypoxia by increasing the production of natural erythropoietin. However, the effects following first transcription, namely a meaningful increase in oxygen delivery to the brain, can take as long as 70 hours' time to come into effect. With the administration of Airman's Tonic, an increase in red blood cell count can be noted within minutes.
Sechenov's study concluded, somewhat accurately, that the creation of Airman's Tonic had resulted from the exposure of blood samples to ionising radiation. He believed that, if radiation of a highly specific wavelength was used, the effects of mutation could be selectively chosen. Some decades prior, American scientist and Nobel laureate Hermann Muller had demonstrated that x-rays could cause genetic mutations in fruit flies, and it is likely this that led Sechenov to his conclusions. In truth, the collaborating research groups had achieved their results through trial-and-error synthesis of a number of known chemical mutagens. Nevertheless, Sechenov's study provoked a craze of human nuclear experimentation within the USSR. Carried out as part of the 1945 Soviet nuclear program, radioactivity experiments were performed on hundreds of thousands of Gulag prisoners.
In the United States of America, similar research initiatives were being undertaken. American citizens who had checked into hospitals for a variety of ailments were secretly injected with varying amounts of plutonium, as well as other radioactive materials, without their knowledge. Most believed the injections to constitute part of their treatment, but the secret studies left enough radioactive material in many of the patients' bodies to induce life-threatening conditions. Such experiments were not limited to hospital patients, and included other populations: orphans who were fed irradiated milk, children injected with radioactive materials, and prisoners in Washington and Oregon state prisons.
Experiments took a drastic turn in 1950, with the discovery of an unidentifiable material deposit at a Siberian Gulag mining station. Following a large number of sudden deaths, believed to be related to the deposit, the People's Commissar for Armament took an interest. The new material, eventually identified as a metal, came to be known as sibirium
(after its region of origin). Sibirum's radioactive properties were quickly identified, and it soon joined the various isotopes of uranium being used in the Soviet nuclear program. Following exposure to sibirium radiation, human test subjects developed a plethora of unprecedented mutations. Contrary to prior experimentations with other forms of radiation, changes were extremely rapid. Visible, total anatomical restructuring could take place within minutes. Researcher Artyom Antonov, who headed the initial tests, wrote:
Пациенты проходят большие атономические изменения. Я наблюдаю увеличены члены, деформированной мышцы, и пигментация волос и глаз. Многие пациенты погибли.
Many of the subjects are displaying incredible changes. It is not uncommon to observe limbs swolen to twice their original size, musculature of a vastly deformed arrangement, and discolouration of the eyes and hair...There have also been a large number of deaths.
Following these developments, many Soviet scientists withdrew themselves from the study. Most had claimed to do so on moral grounds. It was not long, however, before a new research team was formed, and a second phase of sibirium testing began. In what would become known as the Sokolov Exercise
in both visible anatomy and physical and mental faculties. Notably:
Subject 42, Johann Stickel
Subject 361, Ivan Popov: prior to [/quote]
Meanwhile, at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, sibirium had been identified as a fissile, and began to be used in its own nuclear weapon dev
Unbeknownst to Soviet scientists at the time,
The Airman's Tonic, taken as a standalone drug, is now considered an obsoleted technology, though a similar drug with improved properties, eLeVate
, is sold by criminal syndicate the New Aces
. Similar concoctions are still issued to military pilots
By performing the treatment on young children, it was found that DNA repair was largely decreased
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The Red Scare