Genetic Imperative


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Scene Title Genetic Imperative
Synopsis Even monsters have hearts, even the callous have reasons, even blood starts somewhere…
Date November 28, 2010

Coler-Goldwater Hospital

The night's sky is a matte black field when viewed out a hospital window. Light pollution hides the starts more than clouds could, and it creates a sensation of loneliness and emptiness in a world that could use more humanity, more companionship.

Laying in his hospital bed, one arm in a cast slung over his chest, Desmond Harper has only the lonely night's sky to keep him company. His eyes consider the way lights from the parking lot outside reflect off of the glass of the windows, the way wind blows the boughs of stick-bare trees against one anther, branches scraping across his second floor window like raking fingers. Death's hand, clawing for him— almost had you.

Almost had him.

When Desmond's eyes shut, it is to block out the memory of that day. The noise of the explosion so loud that it shook his bones inside of his body, the feeling of his lungs burning in his chest from the force of the impact. The internal injuries he suffered that day, both from the grenade shrapnel and the concussive force of the building's explosion has left him in traction, left him incapable of leading the Institute's offices in New York City. He worries on who will be put in charge in his stead, will they be as capable to do anything to protect this world?

In Desmond's eyes, that is exactly what he does, protects the world; not just one country, one state, one people. In his eyes, he is a hero.

It's all he ever wanted to be.

The Commonwealth Institute

Cambridge, Massachusetts

March 18th


The world is dark, empty, and lonely.

«Initiating phase one.»

Below the surface of water, Simon Broome's voice sounds muffled as it echoes inside of the enclosure that Desmond Harper floats weightlessly in. The taste of saline solution on his lips is bitter, though the warmth of the body-temperature fluids surrounding his unclothed form helps draw away sensations of corporeal wholeness.

The interior of a sensory deprivation tank can be claustrophobic to those who have been in them. Complete and utter darkness, compounded by the echo of one's own breathing and a feeling of disembodied weightlessness on floating in a high-salt content fluid solution that supports the human body's weight better than water. Having been floating here for five minutes, Desmond can't even feel the tiny plastic discs studding up and down his body, connected to a nerve mass of wires reading his heart rate and brainwaves.

When he closes his eyes, it isn't to any verbal instruction that he is operating, but rather memories of the repetitions of this experiment. Iteration #119, remote sensory projection test.

In the 1960s, he would have been on lysergic acid diethylamide — or LSD — for a test like this. But the CIA's experiments with MKUltra were just the beginning, clumsy steps forward in a field that Doctor Simon Broome was pioneering while they were stumbling.

Outside of the sensory deprivation tank, laboratory lights are bright and reflective off of matte white walls. The ceiling overhead is unfinished, just a skeleton of aluminum framework with exposed wires and electrical conduits, piping and ladders reaching up into the ventilation ducts.

Dominating the center of the room, the wedge shaped sensory deprivation tank looks like a polygonal, black coffin large enough to hold a bison's corpse. A spooling morass of wires spills out one side, slithers across the floor in serpentine fashion, held together by plastic clips and ties before finding its way to a bank of computer screens and desktop systems. Behind the glow of these monitors, displaying Desmond Harper's suspended form floating still in murky waters, Doctor Simon Broome watches intently.

Harper's image is reflected in the lenses of Broome's glasses, and in his chair Simon's posture is stiff. One hand braces his brow as he leans away from the microphone, crossing one leg over the other nervously. His dark eyes tick up to the ticking clock on the wall, showing the hour reaching midnight. Everyone else in the lab has had the common sense to go home, leaving Simon to stare vacantly at the lone soul left in the unfinished lab with him.

Turning his attention to a screen showing Desmond's heart rate, Simon breathes steadily out through his nose, then reaches for paperwork displaying the previous iterations of the experiment. Steadily, Desmond's progress is growing, the range on his remote viewing expanding on each test.

A wince crosses Simon's expression, and setting down the paperwork, the old man lifts up his glasses and pinches fingers at the bridge of his nose. Sharp pain throbs at the side of his head, and Simon's eyes close in frustration. It's a constant, throbbing, reminder that he isn't as young as he used to be, that his days of all-night lab work had most certainly come to an end long ago.

When the pain doesn't subside, Broome's eyes slowly flutter open to blurred vision. His throat tightens out of nerves, swallows noisily, and when he lurches forward for the microphone he can feel the tingling sensation in the side of his face and down his arm, prickling fingertips and numbness alerting him to the seriousness of what is about to happen.

He's having a stroke.

"Ss— " Simon slurs into the microphone, and on the screen Desmond's body stirs. "Des— es— hes— Desmon…" Simon's right hand begins trembling around the microphone, his back tenses and his vision blurs towards the right. All it takes is that panicked, struggling speech for Harper's eyes to open in the tank, for him to slosh around and look left and right in the darkness. His pupils dilate, and soon it isn't the dark that Harper is seeing at all, but a hazy representation of the lab, watching Simon Broome slump forward out of his chair and collide with the ground.

"Simon!" Harpers voice is a muffled ring inside of the sensory deprivation tank. Arms swing up and down, feet kick, and tangled up in his wires, Harper's palms find the bottom of the tank and push him up into a seated position. Springing forward, he reaches for the interior hatch, wet and slicked fingers pawing over the entry hatch, nails scraping on the latch. "Doctor Broome!" Desmond's hand pounds against the shell of the tank with an audible clang, unable to open it from the inside.

Laying on the floor beneath the computers, Simon Broome's face sags on one side, his lips slouching and hands shaking, body convulsing in tiny tremors as a line of saliva sticks his mouth to the floor. "Simon!" Desmond screams, slamming his hands against the tank's pitch black walls. Doctor Broome can do nothing, save for stare vacantly out across the floor, dully hearing the sounds of Harper screaming inside of the tank.


"Doctor Broome!"


Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital

Roosevelt Island, New York

November 28th



The grumbling voice causes Desmond to blink his eyes open and closed, slowly turn his focus towards the door to his room where a dark silhouette stands in shadow. Easing into the street lights filtering in through the hospital room's windows, Doctor Simon Broome watches Desmond's slow shift on the bed with worry hidden in the pits of dark, dark eyes.

There's a reluctant smile on Desmond's lips as he recognizes his father's silhouette in the doorway, then shuts his eyes and draws in a deep breath slowly. "Visiting hours ended a while ago," Desmond notes jokingly, his smile growing as he glances up to the clock on the wall, unable to read the exact time, then squares his attention back down to Doctor Broome.

"You must be pretty upset at me," Harper's smile fades some, self-consciously. "I just don't— "

"I understand," Simon interjects, walking over to Harper's bedside, laying his weathered old hands down on the railing. "With what you know about Doctor Stevens' ability, it's perfectly reasonable for you not to trust it. But I will note to you that miss Dooley owes us a great deal for the training we had given her, and I'm fairly certain that if I asked her, she would come here to see to your injuries, Desmond."

Harper's eyes shut, a breathy snort escapes him, and his head shakes slowly. "I wouldn't put this on her, or Reid. I've been through worse, and I'm going to come out of this fine. We have the best surgeons in the world, I'm not…" Harper laughs breathily and slowly shakes his head. "Trust me, it'll be fine."

"I trust you," Broome murmurs, lifting up one hand to brush hair from Harper's brow, "he's just worried about you is all." That assertion has Harper's brows furrowing, and then turning his attention past Simon to the doorway where a shadow still stands in the frame. Confusion briefly paints itself across Harper's face, right up until he looks back up to Simon and sees the old man smiling.

Slowly turning his head to look over his shoulder, Broome calls into the dark. "It's okay," and his lips creep up into a smile. "Come on in…"

"I'm sure your father wants to see you."

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