bao-wei_icon.gif bella_icon.gif

Scene Title Pass/Fail
Synopsis Testing of something that many on the outside fear moves it neither forward nor backward; fortunate for the many, frustrating for the few.
Date June 29, 2010

Staten Island Hospital

Formerly known as Staten Island University Hospital, this facility is a two-campus, 785-bed former teaching hospital. Now the sprawling campus is patrolled by members of the Stillwater Solutions Private Military Company in accordance with their arrangements with the United States Government. The facility itself had been abandoned since the 2006 nuclear explosion on Manhattan when residents of the hospital along with staff were evacuated off of Staten Island. Today the hospital stands as renovated and fully operational, patched back in to the local power grid and ready for use. The many buildings of the Hospital campus are understaffed with only a handful of the actual buildings on the two campuses open and operational.

Access to the hospital is restricted to government personnel and the razorwire fencing surrounding the hospital has large signs warning that tresspassers into the hospital will be potentially met with lethal force. With violent crime as rampant as it is on Staten Island, warnings like this in government controlled areas are not surprising.

Ascendance is never easy. In fact, as of late, it has been nearing impossibility. The proto-formula that Bella Sheridan has helped to develop has been into widespread testing stages, and even more widespread detailing. One blemish after another in the formula has been patched carefully, and today's rounds are as close as they have ever been. For this reason, Doctor Cong is also as excited as he may have ever been thusfar. Possibly ever, period.

He waits for Sheridan out of pseudo-honor. After she made such a development, he hates to think that he owes her for it. And so, instead, he has settled in largely forgiving her stupidity, and having not made a big deal on having to work closely with her again. The lab of the day is one of the larger set-ups, lined with steel cells, and one large, crystal clear cell, central to the room. It appears vaguely like some sort of movie set, to be truthful; computers circled half around that primary cell, screens to either side containing vitals and another with the clearcut information surrounding the compound of the current formula. The best way to manipulate something is as you see it change. Doctor Cong stands amongst those screens, eyes lifted up to do nothing more than stare at it. His hands are clasped behind his back, brow low and lips turned downward, introspective.

The sad thing is, Bella's discovery, having drawn the praise of Broome and Luis, has only made Dr. Sheridan less and less dedicated in spirit to this project. The approval of such men as they, and the (semi)forgiveness of such a man as Dr. Cong, while sought with all the fervor of a teacher's pet, are now, upon attainment, less sweet that rotten to the taste. It would be unfair to call Bella a sociopath. She simply has a highly practical code of ethics. If she is broken in some way, these people…

These people are shattered, then reformed into something terrible.

But such thoughts are of no use to her right now. A clean white lab coat and a cooperative smile are the tokens of her apparent compliance. Better the to pull the devil's chariot than be crushed beneath its wheels. She arrives via the main door, her movements smooth and efficient. She is a picture of the professional. She gives Dr. Cong a nod in greeting, coming up next to him though maintaining at least a five foot distance.

"I'm interested to witness your modifications, Dr. Cong," Bella states, with her usual well-groomed politeness, "I wonder how close we might actually be. So hard to tell, until you get there."

"Let us hope that that day is soon here, shall we?" Doctor Cong lifts a hand to the intercom on the computer in front of him, glancing over Bella before alerting someone in some part of security. His other hand waves forward a few of the orderlies inside of the lab, jabbing a finger at the air near the steel cells. "I need cell five in the main cell"

It is only a few seconds before there is a faint sound- a lock clicking open- and then the sound of a sliding door as the orderlies open up the fifth cell down the row, bringing out a semi-sedated, middle aged Asian man. He is unremarkable in most ways, save for the tattoo that runs the length of one arm. Chinese characters, like a scroll- a pale, ghastly looking dragon twined around his forearm. There have been a few of these kinds of men as of late. Bao-Wei had requested specifically that some of the new subjects be natives to Chinatown. It so happens that it is very easy to net the lower echelons of the Ghost Dragons.

He has enjoyed every second of this part. Every second, every painful scream of change.

The man is dragged into the open door of the transparent cell, and stuffed unceremoniously into a chair within it. He lifts his head, dazed, scowling and muttering at everything, nothing- and Doctor Cong on the outside, spectacles lit by monitors.

"Would you gloss the alterations you've made thusfar?" Bella inquires, hands clasped behind her back. Her long red hair is pulled back in a pony tail, adding to her youthful appearance, one that stands as a contrast to the foreboding, broad shouldered Dr. Cong.

She keeps her eyes steadily trained on the captive, noting his ethnicity and likely associations. There is no point in deeply pathologizing Bao-Wei's selection. It may well be a simple matter of revenge. She is not sure to what extent it might constitute self-directed aggression as well, but that still falls within the systems of pathology she has already identified. She's still satisfied with her initial diagnosis.

In simplicity- it is revenge. Though he has no power to directly go after Zhao- he is finally able to go after the pride of the group, even in mystery.

"I have made the construction more simple. The several alterations I have made are in the lab notes. Read them before you come in here and inquire as to what you should already know." Ouch. He has a point, though. Bao-Wei presses a few of the buttons on the board, watching as a slat in the wall of the cell opens up. "Syrum number seven, please." The order goes to the men roughing around the 'subject'.

The nearer of the pair nods to the outside, before gathering up a disposable needle out of his coat and reaching into the chilled drawer for the seventh vial to place into it. No fanfare precludes his careful motions to inject it into the abdomen of the pale dragon on the man's arm.

Alright, fine, be that way. She was just trying to make conversation. Bella figures silence is probably the best reply, and so she lapses into it for the time being. Her pale blue eyes watch the unfolding scene. How long ago since she stopped pushing pills in favor of depressing plungers? How long since she made whatever decision landed her here, at Dr. Cong's side, watching a man be injected with serum number seven? Bella tries not to think too hard about it. Dr. Sheridan has a job to keep.

"Subject's state is normal? Stress, perhaps, from containment and rough treatment? Any known psychological disturbances, irregularities?" These questions break Bella's silence with the mechanical abruptness of a typewriter hammering ink to a page. It's not even really her asking these questions. It's the procedure. It's the med student observing a delicate operation, hoping to dazzle at the end of the day when the resident puts questions to her cohort.

"Sedated, mildly aware. Largely of my being here, and being the reason he is here." Cong watches as the nurse exits the cell, leaving the man inside to literally stew. "He is probably a psychopath. Most of the good ones of his station are." The comment dwindles as the monitors blip and bleep in various detections. "Good help is harder to find."

The tattooed man in the cell begins a series of short groans, a first reaction to the formula he has been injected with.

"Faster onset than my original strain," Bella comments, with appreciation, "I'm guessing he's suffering muscle cramps. That may be unavoidable. I wonder if he'll exhibit nausea? I don't think the gastro-intestinal symptoms are necessary to the performance of the virus. It mostly interferes with the subject's ability to eat solid foods and retain moisture. Counterproductive. Then again, if it works fast enough, dehydration is not so much an issue."

"I don't imagine psychopathy will present an issue," is Dr. Sheridan's reflection, her head tiling, "In fact, increased aggressiveness, and the attending adrenal release, might aid in the process. A good choice, though we may need to induce adrenal release in psychologically normal subjects."

"We had to add some fast acting attributes, it seemed as if the time that it took was just slow enough so that some subjects rejected the formula entirely." Doctor Cong stays still, watching the cell ahead of him. "Seven is one of the few that was made with adrenal release in mind, hence my use of subject five."

"Right," Bella concurs, "Immune suppression is not a feasible technique for widespread use." She watches the subject intently. If she shuts out everything but the here and now, the pressing questions and the ultimate goal, this is, if not palatable, at least interesting. "It may be wise to integrate a anti-body counter-measure in the virus itself, to prevent immune interference. Something to make the body fail to recognize the virus as a foreign body. A gene cloak of some kind… though implementation of such a complicated mechanism might be impracticable."

"We are at the point where nothing is impractical or unpracticable." Nothing happens for a very long time. Until it virtually seems as if nothing will happen at all.

The first thing to go up is heart rate. It hiccups. Jerks Subject Five into an upright sit. Blood pressure rises in a dangerous spike, a stream of red flows down from both of the man's nostrils, pooling down over the thin edge of his upper lip. He writhes in his half-sedation, knuckles white as he grabs onto the chair. The haze in his eyes lifts only just enough to fix a brown gaze onto the outside laboratory. His heart rate skips up again, leaping like a spooked deer and causing his eyes to mimic the oncoming headlamps, shining white when they roll back.

One last jump takes his rates to the human limit- and they flutter out as solid lines on the monitors. Bao-Wei, watching, scowls and turns away from the keys.

Beep. Beep, beep. The faint pitter patter of a heartbeat comes back, within seconds of his readiness to discard the subject. Doctor Cong practically whirls himself back around, catching Bella in his vision for but a moment.

But, as hope dies and returns, it dies again. Vitals rise, blood from nose, mouth, spittle gurgling from the corners of the man's lips. His pale skin has begun to redden, as if a band had pulled tight on his body's vascular system. Within mere seconds, the vessels in his eyes burst crimson, miniscule vessels along his body doing the same. Blotches of bruising pool over the surface of his visible skin, purple, red, pink- white, as his skin hardens defensively, inflammation overcasting the blood bursts and ballooning a normal man into what looks like an allergic reaction from a cartoon.

His figure bulges at the seams, before he finally lies his head back- and the man simply pops. The tattoo had formed into a bulbous creature before this, splitting when the man's skin breaks; the whole that used to be a person, now spills into a wet, slush-like mess all over the cell floor, a pool of pink, red, and watery white liquids.

There will be many more of these, before the evening is through.

The Institute> !Your Friend! Bella says, "If Bella ever gets snapped up by the good guys, the first thing she'll insist on is that she's the /nice/ evil scientist."
The Institute> TO INFINITY Bao-Wei says, "she- really is, isn't she."
The Institute> Manhattan laughing.

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