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The subject laid on his back as the computers surrounding him beeped and signaled erratically while they completed their algorithms to signal that the experiment was safe to go forward. Dr. Xiang stood in a separate room above the spectacle with a large one-way mirror overlooking the scientific auditorium and it's benches which were getting fuller by the second by the incoming doctors and members of the board.
Dr. Xiang gulped. This was his shinning moment; so many theories he could prove and glory he could have if everything went according to plan. Dr. Xiang scanned the machines inputs over and over again; the subject''s, or as everyone else knew him as, Major Erasmus' vitals were stable. With this final green light the good doctor tapped the last of the protocol questions and the air lock destabilized.
The Major looked straight ahead with unmatched concentration as the element crept through the many tubes that hung from the ceiling's apparatus and into his body.
Minutes passed with no visible results. The audience conversed amongst themselves. This was not according to the good doctor's notes and he began to sweat profusely.
Major Erasmus gritted his teeth, “the experiment requires more energy output. Mister Xiang, increase the fluctuation to 43% and await further orders.”
“I'm a Doctor.” Xiang thought. “I didn't go through 8 years of college in a country that hates my kind to be called 'mister'...jerk.”
“Increasing to 43%. Containment tubes are holding and operations are still stable, sir.” Dr. Xiang input this new data into the console.
The onyx bile trickled through the numerous medical tubes connected to the Major. He winced, “that's not enough Mister Xiang, fill me with more Crusonium. Increase fluctuation to 62% and stand by.” The data was input as well and more surged through Major Erasmus' body
Dr. Xiang panicked, “Sir, the data shows that-”
“Listen here Xiang you're in no position to talk back! Now pump the s*** into me.” Major Erasmus' hands clenched tighter. He swallowed hard. “And increase fluctuation to 97%!”
Dr. Xiang's face was stoic. He made a few minor adjustments and the values almost fully opened with a loud hiss. Crusonium rushed through the tube like wild rapids and into the Major's person.
This was too much for Erasmus to bear. He screamed out, floundering around trying to break free of the leather straps that kept him secured to the metal slab. He yelled out to Xiang, “I-I-Increase to 100% fluctuation-”
“You need to stop Major! Your stats are all over the place!” the good doctor rebutted over the microphone. “You've flat lined two times already! I'm shutting down the program!”
The Major strained his neck to give a bestial growl to the window. His eyes rolled to the back of his head and he bared his teeth; anything to keep the operation moving forward.
An alarm blared out. Every bellow coated the audience with a red light. They were distressed and climbing over each other to escape from the hellish scenario that had presented itself.
The doctor flipped through all of his notes and the massive amount of information that presented itself in each database. It was then he noticed that the Crusonioum's PH level was in the negatives. “Impossible, “ the doctor thought. “I studied it myself. There's no way it could-” It was then that Xiang's mind went blank. A little stream of black trickled from one of the cable's; a breach. The blood left Xiang's face.
“Wh-where the hell is that fluctuation I ordered, Xiang?” Major Erasmus' voice faltered.
The doctor lowered his head in shame. He then processed that all his work was failing, and failing horribly at that. He gritted his teeth trying to swallow the hot lump that materialized in his throat.
With one tap of the screen the experiment ended and the crimson lights lightened to the normal florescent. The computers' hums died down to a silence.
The major roared at the doctor above him, “Traitor!” His muscles contorting wildly to escape from his leather confines. “I could have taken more! What the hell's wrong with you?” He yelled wishing so much he could kill the good doctor.
Dr. Xiang took hold of the microphone with shaking hands. “S-Sir...the data showed-” He pleaded.
“I don't give a damn about what your f***ing data said! I could have taken more! We could have done it Xiang and you f***ing blew it!”
The containment crew busted through the door and released the Major from the his mortal enemy the leather fastening. He shot up ripping the tubes from his arms and neck. He still screamed up at the invisible doctor. The containment crew latched on to him and after him screaming his authority over them they dragged the Major to be cleansed.
Dr. Xiang slumped in his chair and contemplated the events that just occurred. He sighed and let his head fell back and ran his fingers through his hair as it sank in that two years of work was all for not.
There was a faint knock at the door. One of the personnel entered. He carried with him a clipboard and wore a company issue coat. His visor covered his eyes but was shut off like the rest of his kind.
Dr. Xiang perked up half interested. “You're here because of the experiment. It failed, the Crusonium grew unstable and it wasn't present in my notes. I know I directly disobeyed the Major's orders but if I were to carry those out then the substance would have eaten through the route and we would have had a head ache on our hands.” The doctor heaved. The personnel scribbled on his board while the doctor spoke and he waited patiently until he took all of his scribblings down.
“You're on suspension Doctor Xiang until the board members review the incident and pass judgment.” He said holding his clipboard under his arm.
Dr. Xiang fiddled with his thumbs as he took this new 'rule' into consideration. “am I allowed to still eat under thumb?”
“Of course Dr. Xiang.” He moved aside and I was allowed out of the laboratory.
Dr. Xiang sat alone in the cafeteria as most of his kind does know a days. People are scared of Doctor Xiang, not because of his work or his genius but because of his heritage. The good doctor was taking extra care to blow on his soup when a rather slender woman plopped in the seat beside him.
She wore an issue lab coat and auburn hair tied in a neat bun that the good doctor couldn't help but admire quietly.
The woman gave an awkward giggle. “You're Doctor Galileo Xiang right?” She extended her arm out for a hand shake which the shy doctor took with caution. He eyed her from top to bottom and nodded slightly. The woman patted the doctor's hand as she spoke, “ Hi there, um you don't really know me but I was wondering if I could get a little information on your work?”
The doctor froze. “Oh dear” he gulped subconsciously.
“Is there something wrong Doctor?” The woman tried to act concerned but our doctor could see through her clever facade. He motioned for her to lean in, “How did you get in here” he whispered. “The media isn't allowed in the facilities at all. You could get in a lot of trouble you know.”
“I know I know okay?” she said harshly under her breathe. “But this could make my career. The average man wants to know what goes on in the hallowed halls of Unicorp. If the government gives it half of the national budget I think that Joe schmo has a right to know.”
The doctor began to fidget. “Human rights are great but not when you and I could be put in the slab for 10 to 10 years.”
“Oh come on Doctor Xiang, a little bit of danger never hurt anybody.” She gave the doctor a playful nudge.
The good doctor is many things; cautious, considerate, quite, thoughtful. But our doctor is far from a devil may care attitude. He stood up from his seat while relaying his words mentally over and over again. “Miss, I am in a very...' tough' position right now. My alliance to this country is all ready in question and the last thing I need right now is another reason for the higher-ups to hate me.”
The doctor scurried away, leaving the little lady mulling over how she could make the good doctor squeal.
The doctor tapped on his desk, taking comfort in the soft pitter-patter it made. His office is quiet again. Usually he would be working on trying to prove the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle or trying to figure out the vast secrets of the universe but the company locked him out of the mainframe and took extra care taking away his paper and pens. Even if he wanted to doodle he couldn't and the doctor wanted more than anything to doodle.
There was a slight tap on the door. Doctor Xiang called for them to enter; it was the media woman.
“Hello Doctor.” she said taking the chair opposite of him. “I know I know, last person you want to see right?”
Galileo Xiang was skittish. He typed on his computer, “Sorry Miss, but I'm sort of in between two huge deadlines right now and I need all the time I can get.”
She turned the doctor's screen around, “looks to me like your playing solitaire, rather badly if I might add.” She giggled.
Galileo blushed. He turned the screen around hastily and sighed. “Guess I can't prove to you I'm busy huh?”
“Of course not, you're on probation right?”
“How did you-”
“I'm a reporter remember? I would be out of a job if I couldn't get simple info like that.” She crossed her legs and smirked smugly. “Now about those questions.”
“What about them?” Doctor Xiang inquired. “You're not getting anything out of me. So maybe you should try someone else. Major Erasmus is a sucker for ladies. Maybe you could pry some facts from him.”
She smiled, “You know as well as I do that the real dirt comes from the guys who actually, I don't know, UNDERSTANDS what they're talking about?”
“Was that a compliment?”
“If I say yes will you give me what I want?”
The doctor thought about this. A life of danger and intrigue is not exactly what he was looking for but it seemed less daunting than it did before. He didn't really have anyone to protect (except himself of course). Why not thought Xiang might be out of a job today anyway, might be nice to live for once.
“Alright miss, go ahead and shoot.”
The reporter blinked. “O-Oh really? That was easier than expected. Umm alright first question; what exactly is it that Unicorp do in partnership with the U.S. Government?” She took a small pad and pen from her shirt pocket. The doctor smirked slightly; at least she was prepared.
Xiang straightened his collar before he spoke, “Unicorp is developing...a solution to the problems in the East.”
“Does this solution have anything to do with you're discoveries?”
“it deals mostly with Printoms; it acts as a ever changing fundamental particles. This stabilizes the nucleus of an atom to allow more protons to be added.”
She was scribbling down her notes profusely. “What exactly does that mean Doctor Xiang?”
“It means that new elements not even imagined can be artificially created. One of this substances are being used in this 'solution'.”
“Aren't you originally from Korea Doctor Xiang?”
He froze. Of course this question was going
to come up but somehow the doctor had tricked himself that maybe, just maybe, it would slip past her radar. He cleared his throat, “Miss, I am a child of two Korean immigrants but I was born in the Bronx. Do I find it ironic that my creations are being used to fight against my parents homeland? Of course, but I have to do what I have to do to survive.”
She stopped writing. Apparently this touched something deep inside her and as she looked up Xiang could have sworn that a look of pity was in her eyes. This was covered up in a second of course.
Another knock. They both went rigid. Could it be one of the corp police?
“Look they'll just think I'm one of the interns. Act natural and I'll leave.”
Doctor Xiang nodded. On the other side was one of the personnel only this one's visor was actually one. This could mean one of two things; either he wanted to look important or he was receiving info from the Board of Directors. “Galileo Xiang, you have been asked to be present before the board as the deliberate on your case.” The personnel said.
The doctor consented, “Sorry miss, but I have to take this. Nice talking to you.” Doctor Xiang said to the woman at his desk. She sprang up and embraced him, “Good luck, Galileo.” she whispered and the doctor blushed like a school boy. The personnel carried him to the board room; leaving our intriguing reporter alone in his office.
“Doctor Galileo Xiang you have been brought before us on the matter of national and corporate security. Before we pass our judgment, we would like to here you're version of what happened.” One of the board said. After him the rest mumbled in gruff agreement with a hacking cough sprinkled in.
The doctor could not see the boards faces directly except for a few spectacles would spark in the under light. He wiped the perspiration from his forehead, “Sirs, with all do respect, I hadn't even seen a sample of Crusonium bigger than a quarter before today.”
“Did we not give you enough time to study the attributes of Atomic Number 255?” said another member to the left. Again their was whispers amoung the group.
“Sir, you could give me all the time in the world but simply studying a substance is nothing compared to actual experimentaion.”
This was not what the board wished to hear. The whispers were more audible making Doctor Xiang fear even more for his future.
“Perhaps we put too much faith in this one gentlmen.”
“My thoughts exactly gentlmen.” Erasmus came from the shadow. He came to the side of the good doctor. “Afterall he is one of the enemy, if the outside world found out that we were letting one of THEM work on such a 'delicate' subject it wouldn't pass over them the mirroring of the Boston incident.” He gave a glance over to Xiang and for a split second the good doctor's inhibitions broke.
“Sirs, I have never visited Korea and I have no plans in the future to. And if you forget I lost those close to me in the Boston attacks and if anything I want to get all the payback I can get on those who took my life away.”
The Board conversed amongst themselves turning their backs to the two bellow. Erasmus stayed silent, not even so much as aknowledging the doctor's being. Xiang's mind was buzzing with all the possible outcomes and more than 80 percent of them were not in his favor.
“We have reached our descision.” said one of them. “We see no reason for Doctor Xiang to be associated with such an accusation. This is, in our eyes, just an unfortunate accident. To make sure Mister Galileo studies ALL aspects of Atomic Number 255 he will be permitted to see the storage facility. Major Erasmus shall accompany him. That is all.” The members got from their chairs and hustled out.
“Excuse me sirs but I cannot allow such a person into such a highly restricted area.” Erasmus spoke out.
The Board stopped in unison. The one on the end turned, he was shorter than the others and had a humpback that rose up and down as he breathed. “Major it would be wise to allow the doctor anyway; a demotation would not look good on your record.”
The Major's eye twitched, he was defeated. “Come with me.” He spat out, and the two left their prescence.
The two were in the bowels of the building now and the hall ways were so narrow that it only allowed the doctor to follow behind Erasmus. They hadn't talked the way their and Doctor Xiang was hoping that this would keep up.
“I don't think the old geezers realize what hell hole they've opened.” He finally spoke up.
“Sir, I don't know if it means anything but I can assure you I'm not a spy or working for the East.”
“I've been in the army a long time son and one of the many things I've learned is to not trust people like you.”
The doctor shuttered; of course the Major was one of those people. Xiang thought to himself while the tap of Erasmus' boots against tile accompanied him.
Galileo looked up, there was nothing around them, no signs, no people, no anything. Just a single door beside them. He gulped “This is where the Crusonium is kept?”
“In a way yes.” The Major shuffled through his pockets until he produced a key. “though not in the way you think of it.” he unlocked the door. “Go on in.”
Xiang looked at him wide-eyed. The Major motioned his head in and the doctor obeyed though more on edge than what Erasmus had hoped.
The door shut behind him. The doctor was in total darkness. Something tells me this was not such a good idea he thought. Two possible outcomes; either I'm going to be shut OR tortured. Fun fun.
Their was some sort of sound in the room. It was rhythmic, sharp intake followed by a deeper but shallow breathe. It was quite loud and it was quite impossible for the doctor to worry without the noise invaiding his head.
When the doctor started contimplating that this sound was just their to drive him slowly insane the lights crunched on. The room was a complete, starke white. No windows, no smudges, just white. But in the center of the room was a stout chair and in it some sort of black mass that jutted in and out with the beat of the shallow breathe.
“Galileo Xiang, I must say that it is a great pleasure to finally meet you.”
The doctor jumped, could that possibly be the blob in the seat speaking to him. He approached it, taking each step into consideration.
The mess chuckled, “No need to-” it coughed violently, “excuse me child.” he laughed and the doctor could help but feel pity for the thing.
The thing in the chair was not a blob, but a person. A rather sad looking cluster of a person. He was severly out of shape; his folds of fat spilling over the confinds of the chair. He was completely bald, with chalky white skin except for the dark bags that sagged under his eyes. But what struck Xiang the most was his eyes, they were completely yellow and gave the 'person' an even more sickly glow. “I'm not much to luck at am I? It smiled. It shifted itself up in a flutter of black robe to greet the good doctor with a handshake which Xiang took begrundingly.
The sickly man gave a weak chuckle, “I've been watching you for sometime now Galileo. Marvelous work you've been doing, marvelous work.”
The doctor light up. “My work! Right, I was wondering if I could see the Crusonium?”
The sickly man cocked his head quizically. “Is that what you're calling it these days? It's definitely one of the more colorful names I've heard. Gehaha.” Do to his gelatinous form it was hard for the sickly man to stay upright so he shuffled up again and gave a ragged breath. “Sorry me boy but it's kind of an ordeal to get...'Crusonium'? Is that what you called it?”
The doctor again lost his inhibition and he spoke out of frustration instead of his usually calm demeanor, “Look tuby, I was almost put away for treason two seconds ago and the only reason I skid by was because I said I needed to see more of it. So I would like it very much so if I could just see more than a pin head of it and we can go on with our lives. Please, thank you very much and oh god I really just want to go home.” he panted.
“Sorry son but there isn't any left.” He coughed again.
“it isn't that hard okay? Just find a container of printoms, I'll calibrate them, and will make some from the air or something. I just really want to go on with my life is that so bad?”
“Printoms? Oh boy they tricked you something good didn't they?” He twisted in his seat.
“Look buddy, I'm only known for one thing and that's printoms. In simple terms that even you understand; printoms make Crusonium. Go find some.”
“Wrong Galileo. I make Crusonium.”
The doctor slammed his fist on the arm of the chair. “Don't lie to me!”
“I'm not, lift me forward and see.”
The last thing Xiang wanted to do was touch such an unsightly thing but just to mend his pride he would. He latched his forarms beneath the sickly man's arms and shuffled him to the edge of his seat. After awhile some sort of tension did not allow him to move anymore. The man gave a chalky grin, “Now look.”
The doctor did. In the man's back was a tube. An ivy tube; like the ones used to transport the Crusonium in-.
Galileo Xiang stumbled backwards, “Oh god, I didn't do a damn thing did I?”
“I'm sorry Xiang, They probably needed someone to explain where it came from. You were just their at the right time.” The man sighed.
“..so when oyu said you 'make' Crusonium, you mean”
“My body makes it? Correct son.”
“You'll figure it out eventually.” He placed his hands on his stomach and strummed.
Xiang looked at the man, so many questions he wanted to ask but only one seemed to seep out, “Who are you?”
The sickly man gazed down and a somber wave overtook the doctor, “I was given a name a long long time ago. I don't even remember it really so it couldn't have been that important.”
“How can't you even remember your own name?”
“Galileo, I'm old. Very old. I've outlived countless planets, solar systems, even universes. Do I know why? I do but I wouldn't wish it on any of my enemies. And Doctor Xiang you're far from my enemy.”
“Everything I've done is a lie. My mother was right; I didn't amount to anything.” Galileo slumped to the floor.
“What does she know? Xiang, when you get as old as me you learn that it doesn't really matter what people think. They die eventually and who gives a s*** about what a dead guy thinks?” he laughed.
The doctor couldn't help but laugh a little too. “So what do I do now? It doesn't even matter who does the experiment all they need is a button pusher; a monkey could do that.”
“They might get a monkey to do it Galileo. They're sending down a firing squad to, uh how did they put it, 'terminate' you I think?”
The doctor went pale, “Wh-what? Oh god I'm going to die. I don't want to die. I don't even have a woman and I just really don't want to die. If I get a woman can she die instead of me?” the doctor couldn't be counted on in tense situations.
“Relax Galileo, you're coming with me.” The sickly man smiled.
“Uh, you're stuck to a chair...sir.”
The sickly man laughed, “That's only because gravity is still around Galileo. I'll take care of that eventually.” he gave a loud grunt and jerked forward.
“Hold on sir, we don't want you hurt. If the guy responsible for their 'super solder' to go bunk dies while I'm in the room then...they'll want me more dead I guess.”
“Ugh the damn pipe in me. Child, hand me the knife.”
“What knife? I don't carry a knife with me at all times. I'm a doctor not a hillbilly!”
“Check your coat pocket dumb-dumb!”
Galileo did and to his suprise a knife was there. “Are you magic or something?”
“Of course not; Angela put it there.”
“Pretty girl, sent her out to give you a little help today.”
“Reporter? Eh, she did always like to let the men around her fill in the blanks on what she was...damn I'm gonna miss her.” He jerked again. “Boy cut the line!”
“It's highly corrosive are you insane!?”
“Listen to your damn elders and do it!”
In the heat of the moment Galileo slashed at the tubing and the black liquid sputtered across the floor and walls. It was strangely beautiful to see such deep black against starke white.
The white man gave several deep horrid breathes, “It get harder and harder each time.” he shifted his attention to Doctor Xiang. “Galileo, I am going to do something and I need to hold on to you okay? Do not escape from my grasp whatever you do, do you understand?”
Galileo gulped and nodded dumbly. The sickly man fumbled to his feet and rested his eyes. The black splotches grew, they were eating their surroundings; the floor to the chair, under the two of them and heading to the door. It swung open. Erasmus and a personnel was in the view. The Major screamed at Xiang but he couldn't understand it. The blackness ate Erasmus and the personnel but they didn't scream. Then they're was an unholy sound that pierced his ears. It was horrible he wanted to run but the old man's grip was stronger than he thought. He gritted his teeth and shut his eyes tight. This is it, Galileo thought. The End.
The wail stopped.
“Galileo it's okay now. Open your eyes.”
He did. They're was nothing to open his eyes to. “Wh-what happened...?”
“Apocalypse I guess you would call it. Welcome to the end of you're time. The world and the universe as you know it is over. And the good news is YOU survived it. Congratulations.”
“...Y-You did this?”
“Yea, all me.” He floated down to the good doctor's eye sight. “You've got a lot to learn son. Don't start it out by feeling all sad because your homes gone. Thinking of this as...'moving'.”
He grabbed the doctors hand and strolled along into the eternal nothingness. “Where are we going?” Our doctor said.
“Nowhere in particular, no way of telling when the next universe is gonna be here-” he coughed and whipped the dribble form his chin, “but it'll be here eventually and when it does you've got to be ready. You've gotta replace Angela as the 'temp' afterall.”
“..The reporter? What does she have to do with anything?”
“She was the Harbringer for a good while and now she's gone. Now you're it. Be happy.”
“Bringer of the end of the universe. Now shut up we got a lot to do.”