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Aberrant: The Long March - Fighting The Good Fight

Andrew Murphy

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“… and with the introduction of this RNA strand the cell’s DNA chain is reset, the cell is now identical to an embryonic stem cell.” Andrew turned away from the screen and toward the audience a proud smile upon his face. Behind him the video ceased and the final slide showed the conversion ratio of healthy cells to stem cells; an over 98% conversion ration. The assembled doctors were already applauding loudly and many were already on their feet.

Andrew smiled all the more broadly; he had every right to do so, unlike so many of the scientific advancements that were credited to him on this world he hadn’t cheated on this one. The technique to change normal human tissue, be it muscle, bone marrow, or even skin, to stem cells was entirely his development.

What would they all say if they knew my real reasons behind this work? Would they see past the horror of it to see the condition? Or would I become a monster in their eyes?

Andrew waited for the applause to die down before moved across the stage to the table that was setup for him. He motioned for the other man to come onto the stage from the wings. “Ladies and gentlemen I’d like to introduce my research associate Jonathan Kane. Together we will demonstrate the technique I discussed.”

Andrew removed the drape from the table showing an array of scientific equipment and a cage with a white rat and a clock within. “We start with a perfectly healthy white rat,” Andrew begins gesturing to the rodent running on a wheel within the cage. Andrew reaches into the cage and extrudes a talon into the rat pumping a small amount of sedative into the creature. “Next I will sever the spinal cord between the sixth and seventh vertebrae and extract 1cc of muscle tissue from the right rear leg.” Andrew proceeds to complete the tasks as the overhead cameras relay the images to the screens behind them.

This advancement will save thousands, but it cannot make me human once more. I am becoming a monster, driven by my hunger to feed on human flesh. It will allow me to sate my hunger, nothing more. It will never be enough though, I will always need more.

He places the rat back into the cage, and begins the process of transforming the muscle tissue into stem cells. “Now if you don’t mind Jon. Mr. Kane, who happens to be a temporal manipulator, will now accelerate the passage of time within the area of the cage, you can see that the clock is moving ahead at great speed. The rat, it’s spinal cord severed is finding it unable to move it’s hind legs but otherwise it heals from its injury as normal.

“Now similarly Jonathan will accelerate the progress of the muscle cells into stem cells. There we are.” Andrew begins to draw up the newly formed stem cells into a syringe and picks the rat up from the cage. “And the final demonstration, I will inject the stem cells in between the sixth and seventh vertebrae. And Jonathan will accelerate time once again.” Inside the cage the clock begins to spin rapidly and the rat at first staying near it’s food and water begins to walk slowly about the cage. Within a few minutes the rat is back running on the wheel within the cage.

I may be a monster in the making but I can still do something good while I am able …

“As you can see ladies and gentlemen within an elapsed time of about six weeks the rat has regained full mobility. The stem cells, genetically identical to the host, have rejoined the spinal cord; the rat is fully healed.” Andrew stops as the assembled doctors rushed to their feet applauding once more. Andrew smiles, and looks over to Jonathan who is also basking in the limelight. Andrew gives Jonathan a smile and a thumbs-up, having a temporal manipulator of the team had allowed them to complete the work for this presentation and the paper itself in a fraction of the time it would have taken otherwise.

Eventually the applause dies down and Andrew finishes his presentation. “As you are all well aware until now the only reliable source of stem cells has been from embryos and umbilical cord blood. Although it has proven possible to clone stem cells the time and harvesting rate have not been ideal. The other advantage of our technique is that the stem cells can be created from any healthy cell and will be genetically identical to the patient assuring no chance for rejection. On behalf of myself and my team, thank you.” With that Andrew gives a short bow and ends the presentation.

At the very least I’ll go down fighting. I will not embrace the taint, I will fight it.

The audience applauds loudly once more and Andrew waits on stage, moving back to the podium to answer any questions that will come up after the final round of applause. As he waits he wonders if the doctors would be as impressed if they knew why he had spent so much time working on the initial stages of this project. While the final testing and proving of the theory had been completed only within the past six months Andrew had been working on this technique for years waiting as much for the technology to advance to where he could produce the needed RNA sequences and catalysts on a large scale.

Although nobody in the room noticed Andrew frowned sadly for a moment, it was difficult to not see the hideous things he had done, the heinous acts that taint had driven him to do. One day I will find a cure, I will rid myself of this curse.

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