Karen Winkoski never went by Dr. Winkoski. She didn’t like the airs and graces that came with the title. She wasn’t one to blend into any background either, she liked for her work to do the talking. She had studied synthetic biology for the best part of her career, finding it hard to tread the fine line of ethics and morality in a corporate capitalist system. She had gone off the radar in the past few years, taking her work away from the mainstream to focus on understating S.I.N and finding a reversal. She had established ‘The Order’ as part of her approach to undo the changes that had occurred in her lifetime, and how the corporate and class system had evolved around S.I.N; relegating many to its crippling societal discrimination.
Having come across resistance and unforeseen battles against agencies and individuals; her work was forced underground. This is where it may have slowly died if it wasn’t for a mystical discovery that was brought to her attention by way of a strange visitor. Unlocking parts of the secret had forwarded both her quest for a cure, and to move the benefits of this magic for all; beyond that of disease. A great equaliser.
Karen led them both around the room, showing them the sequencing and extraction machines and impressive hologram units which broke through codes and displayed eerie glowing vignettes of things that Jess could not make sense of.
“The vault is really the heart of our operation. I’m not sure how much you know Jess, or how much you should know; but The Order is no longer working on the solely on reversal of S.I.N in afflicted individuals, but the elevation of all human cells. We’re looking at what S.I.N does to the body, and moving things to the other end of the spectrum; creating cells and tissues resistance to cancer strains, diseases or immune disintegration.”
“Making everyone a superhero, right Bishop?” Levon said, nudging Karen in the side playfully.
“Kind of. While it’s true Jess that we have only selectively reversed certain people, this is not through any discriminatory process. We found that we can only use our reversal pathogen in certain gene types. The virulence is not stable on all cases.” Karen said.
Jess remained silent.
“I won’t go into the stages of success we’ve had over the years, or failures for that matter as I’m sure you can imagine what results we would’ve come across. It wasn’t a pretty process. But we have made huge advances in understanding S.I.N and its makeup, and reversing certain types and halting the mutation.”
“But you have a cure right?” Jess asked, watching Levon pick up a glowing test tube and shaking it, seeing the colours inside change.
“It’s not that simple I’m afraid.” She said, taking the test tube from Levon and putting it back in its holder.
“It’s not simple at all, but get to the magic part….that’s the bit everyone is always interested in.” Levon said.
Karen had walked around to the other side of the large metal table. She looked at them both, placing her hands on the bench before her.
“You know of The Altered, you know what this world has offered us. It has brought about a way of slicing through the darkness in our science, and has shone a light into that void. We call those within the order Saints, Bishops, Teachers and Priests; invoking a religious space and veil of mysticism. And in a way, it is. But the magic is ruled by its own decrees and laws. There are limitations to it and things we don’t understand. With the help of The Order, and the work we do here in the vault, we are marrying the two worlds together to understand the science behind the mutation for those suffering, and moving it to a space where we aren’t all just equal; but better than before. Our vow is to right a terrible wrong, not just for some; but for all. Our work is leading towards one great event to cure everyone.” She breathed out noisily, as if completing an affirmation.
She stared at both of them, letting the gravity of what she said hit each of them. Karen knew Levon’s circumstance, and she knew too of the likes of Jess. Soldiers in a war fighting with only have of the picture. She was brave and an idealist, but making moves with only part of the information.
“So what can we do?” Jess asked, looking Karen squarely in the eyes.
“The first thing is to be baptised.” Karen replied.
Jess scoffed slightly, a look of satisfaction coming over her.
“I’ve already been baptised, for nearly six months now.” Jess replied, cockily. Karen looked over to Levon, he looked away smiling.
“You can read the incantations, and I imagine you can generate the mind projections. Right?” Karen asked her.
Jess took a moment, knowing now where this was heading.
“Yeah.” She said.
“Which is a good start, I bet it wasn’t easy as it can be painful when you first begin.” Karen took out small book from her lab coat pocket, followed by a small viral; its contents glowing blue. “But you have yet to be baptised using anything from the altered I would assume?”
Jess was quiet.
“Levon here is a mystery to us still, what he can do and how his body reacts with the magic is still beyond our understanding. But there are some of us who do react more with the powers and the magic this mystic world offers. We have found ways to enhance ourselves to it, and as a result; can aid our efforts towards our goal. Initial steps, baptism for example, shows a commitment and entry to this world that we must keep secret and safe for now. But it also has physical and practical changes to our bodies.” Karen said, shaking the little vial.
“I want to help, I want to change what this world has come to.” Jess said, watching the vial hypnotically.
“Then you’re in the right place.” Karen replied, smiling. “Are you ready?” She asked.
Jess nodded. She was knowledgeable about much of the Order, having been eager to enter and do her part. She had met Levon this way, the strange cleanser who knew more than her would ever tell. She longed to help, and have a function.
She tipped her head forward and slowly removed both of her eyes.