The Harpy: Birth of the Monster (Part Three)

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Part 3 to the first episode of my fanfic series — The Harpy. Based off of the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU).

Episode One, Part Three

In The Gamma Ray Experimental Laboratory

"Raphael," the woman said. "This is Doctor Laurie Banner. Authorization Omega-One-Seven-Abort!"

The lights dim. The meter and the high pitch tone decrease to zero. The digital display on the screen stopped at zero six seconds.

"Damn it!' Richards shouted--half in pure anger, half in surprise. "Damn it all to hell!"

Banner races to the radiation chamber, opens the door and recoils at the sight of Richards's angry and frustrated face.

"Turn it back on!" Richards demanded.

"Are you out of your mind?" Banner asked. "We haven't proven that a human can tolerate the gamma ray exposure in there yet!"

"What about test subject F.R.O.7?" Richards inquired.

"Shortly after being exposed to a gamma ray burst, Freddie the Frog exploded and his little amphibian innards splashed all over the inside of his container." Banner replied. "Now get out of there!"

"Please . . . please . . . turn it back on." Richards pleaded.

"Do you know what you're doing?" Banner asked.

"Yes."

"Well, you're not killing yourself in my laboratory!"

Richards gets off the experimentation table. The woman standing at the entrance was very familiar to him. After all, he had worked alongside Doctor Laurie Banner for the last three years at Stark Enterprises. He knew almost every piece of language which she placed her 5'7" body in to convey her feelings. And, right now, Richards knew she definitely wasn't pleased.

"You can begin with, Doctor Richards, by telling me why you're in the laboratory this evening attempting to test the Gamma Gun on yourself?" Banner said, placing her hands on her hips in a manner that implied she wasn't leaving until he gave her an acceptable reason.

Richards took a couple of steps, and then sat on a stool by the instrument panel.

"Heh, heh. I can explain everything, Doctor Banner." Richards began. "It's not as bad as it looks. The work is all done on the Gamma Gun finally. And, well, sort of got extremely happy about it and . . . ."

Banner didn't let him complete his hurried explanation.

"You wanted to be the one to put the Gamma Gun to the test, and then tell our employer that the billions of dollars he sunk into this project was worth every penny; to get some kind of edge over me with Mister Stark."

Banner threw him a knowing glance with her brown eyes and all the flimsy excuses that had been swimming through his mind vanished before the truth of her words. Richards took in a breath, let out a large sigh, and nodded.

"Guilty as charged," Richards said credibly. "I know our relationship hasn't been the best after our split-up and your marriage to Val. Please, don't take it as anything personal. It was a bad call, that's all. Just don't let it interfere with what we have left. I was doing this for you; I wanted to make sure it worked before we presented it to the Scientists' Guild.

Banner looked into his eyes. She decided finally that Richards was being straightforward with her. She brought her arms and hands to rest against the waist-high rail that separated the pair. As her fingers wrapped around the cold metal, she saw the small golden ring on her left hand. She nodded slowly, shaking her head a little to help clear her eyes of the brown, shoulder-length hair that had fallen during her movement.

"Franklin," Banner said pleasantly. "It has been difficult, hasn't it? I really can't say that I blame you for your actions. To be honest, if I'd been in your place I probably would've done the same thing."

She gave the gold band another quick glance, thinking back to a time before it had significance.

"What you and I had was special, and I would like to believe that you were aware of that." Banner continued. "But we each had a career and neither one of us was willing to give it up to settle down. I realize that you could've refused to work with me when I came to you for assistance with Project H.A.R.P.Y. I just want you to know that I'm glad that you didn't."

A slight weight was lifted off his shoulders as Richards saw that that his problem had been resolved. Laurie Banner had opened up to him again, if only for a short time.

Richards swiveled around on the stool, facing the myriad of controls and readouts on the console yet again. With the knowledge of someone who had been working on this project for a few years, he deactivated the rest of ray emission equipment. The sounds of hydraulics filled the radiation chamber as the Gamma Gun returned to its previous position.

Richards turned to Banner again, speaking what was on his mind.

"You're right, as well." Richards said. "It was reckless of me to even think of proceeding with the experiment without further testing. If I had continued, you might have found me later lying on the table with my intestines sliding onto the floor. I guess we'll just have to wait until the dog-and-pony show for the official unveiling, won't we?"

"Yep." Banner answered, nodding her head. "Have to wait like the rest of us. Come on, I'll buy you a Skinny Mocha or whatever espresso beverage they're serving at the Grind House Café this evening.

The two people turned the lights off and left the laboratory. Inside the experimentation chamber, the Gamma Gun was oblivious to their departure. It remained as still and lifeless as it had been before Richards had switched it on.

To Be Continued

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