The Harpy: Birth of the Monster (Part 2)

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The second part of my serialized fanfic. Based off of the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU).

Episode One, Part Two

Rain was now falling on the green grass surrounding the three-story black basalt and glass building, known throughout the countryside as The Monolith.  It ran in sheets and small waterfalls down its sides, obscuring the view of the interior through the large, plate glass windows.

It fell down and around the acrylic glass sculpture of the "Armored Avenger" himself, the Invincible Iron Man, standing on the other side of the nearly vacant parking lot.  Through the trickles and rivulets of rainwater, letters in an industrial era font could be made out on the fascia of the building.  There was a bright flash of lightning during the rainstorm and the three-dimensional outdoor plastic sign letters mounted on the building could be seen to form these words — Stark Enterprises Westchester Facility.

Although no one knew exactly what went on inside the building everyone suspected it was something vital to the future of the nation, and the media spoke of those who worked there in hushed tones of awe and respect.

Inside, everything was dull and sterile.  The long corridors were unpopulated.  Only the winking television monitors gave signs of life.  The sense of being watched was haunting.  Somewhere the Raphael-3000--the facility's vatbrain computer--was registering your every twitch and itch, on data banks with tape spools whirling, flashing terminals, digital counters blinking their information ceaselessly.  It was a kind of immortality.

Doctor Franklin Richards stood at the window on the top floor of the Monolith and watched the precipitation bounce off the tops of cars in  the parking lot below.  Turning away, he entered the Gamma Ray Experimental Laboratory.  He paused at the entrance of the research laboratory.  The Raphael-3000 had frozen all three screens: "BASIC RNA CONFIGURATION SUSPENDED."  Richards enters the room, sat before the screens, and composed himself.

"Resume."

Three computer-generated images appeared simultaneously.  The first screen showed the chemical structure of RNA.  The next screen displayed a three-dimensional representation of the 50S ribosomal subunit.  Ribosomal RNA was in ochre, proteins in blue.  The final screen projected the total cost of sequencing a human genome over time as calculated by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

Richards then paused for a moment and began scribbling some rough calculations on a coffee-stained notepad next to the keyboard.  His beady eyes, the color of smoke, went back and forth between the notepad and computer screens for a few minutes.

With a loud outlet of breath, he finally stopped.  Rubbing his hands through his mid-brown short hair, Richards stood up from the stool he had been sitting on and walked over to the other side of the lab.

The lab was large, containing sufficient equipment and workspace for one researcher and up to four assistants to perform advanced bioengineering.  It contained tables, lab counters and refrigerators as well as high-tech (and fragile) gear such as genetic sequencers, several PCR machines, incubators, culture vats, microscopes and other imaging systems.

At the rear of laboratory is the shielded Gamma Ray Experimentation Chamber with one entrance and one small observation window.  Richards, obviously acquainted with most of the equipment in the room, begins to turn knobs on the operating panel for the radiation chamber.  A greenish light comes on in the chamber as various low-pitched sounds are heard.

He looked quickly, almost sneakily, around.  None of the security guards had come to investigate, though he would have been surprised if anyone had.  He was alone here.  Coming in after-hours to work on this magnificent piece of machinery.  But, alas, that wasn't entirely true.  Sitting silently inside the chamber was the Gamma Gun; the reason Richards was there in the first place.  He wanted to test it.

Richards observes a meter increase its reading and smiles.  He steps into the radiation chamber.  The Gamma Gun consists of five components.  These include the gamma-ray head, the rotation arm, the intensifier, the turntable, and the control panel.

The gamma-ray head provides housing for the gamma-ray source and the collimator.  The rotation arm allows the gamma-ray head and the intensifier to be rotated about the column.  The turntable gives accurate X, Y, and Z positioning for the patient lying on it while the control box contains all the electronic equipment required for controlling the movement of the motors.

Satisfied, Richards returns to the operating console.

First he sets the caliber knob to 0.001 millisieverts (mSv) and turns the countdown to event knob to two minutes.  Picking up one of the two syringes containing dozens of symbiotic nanomachines, Richards rolls up his sleeve and administers the injection.

He had to wait a few seconds while the nanomachines dispersed throughout his muscles and nerves.  They would remain immobile until Richards awaken them with a gamma ray burst.  Once woken, they would instantly respond the cellular distress signals--from an injury, for example--making copies of healthy cells and breaking down the damaged ones.

"Raphael, this is Doctor Franklin Richards.  Authorization code Zero-Six-Five-Alpha-Enable."

A display light labeled "READY" on the console lit up.  Rushing back into the chamber, Richards closes the door.  As he hops onto the turntable, the Gamma Gun lowers from the ceiling, trailing a translucent tube that glows with an unnatural green aura.  With a slight air of apprehension, he positions himself on the turntable so that the gamma rays emitted from the Gun can irradiate his body.

All of a sudden, the door to the laboratory is thrown open.  A woman rushes in, glances about and spots Richards inside the radiation chamber.

"What the hell . . . . !"

Staring at a computer screen, she watched the final seconds tick off.

00:25 00:24 00:23 . . .

To Be Continued

 

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