The success of Project Atlas came at great cost. Not only the loss of Zimmerman and his entire team, killed by an Agency reprisal, but the many waves of willing and not so willing test subjects before the more modest success of the sixth wave. The Atlas Project began by taking grizzled special forces veterans as their subjects. This first wave of testing was a disaster, the soldiers ended up with physical mutations and malformations which quickly killed them. Or prompted merciful medical staff to do so.
The second and third waves took promising cadets, but these faired no better. These batches of subjects were effected by a mix of physical defects as well as psychological. This ranged from unexplained comas to deadly seizures. A small number of grown men were left with the IQ of infants and needing round-the-clock care. And still, the Project pushed on.
By the forth wave the Project could no longer countenance the risk of wasting the lives of talented soldiers or cadets. So, instead, the Atlas Team toured the political prison block on Titan. This building housed detainees from inside or outside the US deemed too dangerous to have running free, from Titan secessionists to organised criminals from the Black Moon Union.
Individuals with either combat or intrusion skills were offered their freedom in exchange for taking part in the Project. Given the miniscule chance of escape or release from Titan (along with the high rate of prisoner-on-prisoner violence) over half accepted. The new Director – Professor Yacof – was defined by his focus. Previous Directors had tried to elicit myriad changes in a subject at once. Yacof made his teams work slowly and methodically, concentrating their efforts on one genetic bundle at a time. They could spend one month all working on the same subject, testing, checking and double-checking.
The Project board were used to frequent reports and dramatic developments. Yacof’s approach delivered little of either, which confused and frustrated the politicians. A handful of them turned up unannounced, only to be barred access by the unflappable Director Yacof. By the time they had returned to Earth, Professor Yacof had fled the base, along with half of his test subjects and all of his data. The US Navy scoured Sol for any sign of the escapees, but found none. The remaining test subjects showed no obvious enhancements or defects and were shipped – under protest – back to prison. This phase of the Project was over.
Rumours abound about Yacof and his freed experiments. They are said to be capable of superhuman feats. One an expert marksman at unfathomable distance, another capable of superhuman tricks of the mind and manipulation. Of Yacof himself, very little is heard. The astronomical bounty on his head remains.