Project 173 acquired, returning to base.
Expect 1717 to follow with company. 2 known, 2 unknown.
Prepare proper welcome. M.
Dr Rattray raised an eyebrow as she read the message. The small man who had handed it to her looked nervous and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“It came through about ten minutes ago. They’ve changed their cypher again – probably just to test us, but Amley cracked it in a couple of minutes. I got it up here as fast as possible.”
“A couple of minutes? She’s getting sloppy.”
He laughed nervously, the sound slowly fading away as she didn’t join in. She smiled coldly at him until he became flustered and hurried away.
Dr Rattray stood up from her desk, walking over to the huge curved wall of monitors that encompassed the entire left side of the room. She stared at the feeds with a calculating glare, nails tapping lightly against her arm. A small monitor at the bottom beeped with a green light, recording the tracking devices and employee ID tag movement between buildings. From here she had a view of the entire central facility and a few of the outbuildings as well. There were many images, many rooms and corridors, many people. She could see every experiment, every surgery, every place of work and rest. Nobody escaped her gaze.
Her eyes travelled across them all, eventually settling on a couple of screens in the very middle of the wall. The feeds showed two small white rooms which were conspicuously, tauntingly empty.
It had been over a year since they had lost 173. Officially it was intentional, part of procedure and arrangements that were strictly need-to-know. When 173 hadn’t arrived at the destination, she had moved with lightning speed to suppress any panic and rumour. None of the original staff who had lost it had survived the incident to relay the truth. The site staff had been curious, but eventually accepting. After all, the higher ups knew what they were doing. When it came to doing great works, these things often didn’t make sense until later when you could see the bigger picture. They were all working towards the bigger picture here.
Unofficially, it had been a disaster. To lose a project as valuable as this, their most promising and successful to date and the only remaining survivor from numerous batches… it had been devastating to their research. There had been so much more to be done, so much more to be gathered. Knowledge was the ultimate goal, and in doing so a future for mankind, something more than mankind. But others had also known that it was valuable, motivated by crude human desire for money and power and the illusion of miracles contained in the body of a small docile boy who always did what it was told.
Messiah. They have no idea how apt that word is, and how very wrong.
Of course, she had quickly adapted, found a new way to work this to their advantage. They had released 1717 and used it to track both the projects, and made use of outside sources where necessary. It had been costly, but ultimately worth it. Mathew had come crawling back eventually, when he realised just what he’d done, what they had unleashed. And now they were both returning to the facility, having developed some fascinating new capabilities and bringing back some added material with them. It was almost worth the staggering loss of data and invalidation of the future projects she had been hoping to pursue. Almost worth the time that would have to be devoted to bring the two original investments back into line. She would have to re-evaluate things, gather new materials, accelerate some plans that had been dormant and maybe even start afresh with something better. It could be salvaged.
Still, to know that decades of her life’s work had effectively been thrown away by one man’s reckless greed… It had given her a terrible ulcer at the time and she’d had to up her pill dose for almost two weeks. Even now it made her want to snap her pen in half – she didn’t though, that would have been unnecessary waste. She just stared at the screens. Her face was blank, but a very keen observer would have seen a wistful note in her gaze. She reached out a hand to touch the left monitor.
Fifteen years of my life. The ultimate project, gone in mere moments like smoke between my fingers.
My own employees, turning on me over something as trivial as greed, for money and power.
How very… human.
They’re all coming home now. It isn’t a complete loss. It can still be salvaged.
If Mathew thought he could get away with his actions, he was gravely mistaken. She didn’t give a shit about his plans, or his money at this point. This may have started with outside assistance, but it had become so much more than someone like him could ever imagine. If he thought he could hide behind the boots of a warlord, even one as supposedly great and terrible as the Dragon, he was a fool. After all, the Dragon was but a man.
Here at the facility, they created creatures that were more than men. She was the architect of gods.