Trenton, New Jersey- Night. That cool, calm time in which the world slept was completely lost on geneticist Carl Redfern. He was nervous. After all, this was one of the last presentations that he had to make to his superior, and he wanted it to go smoothly. Fortunately, he did not have to wait long. No sooner did he smooth back his bright red hair (clipped short, of course) than his superior, Dr. Mendel Stromm, entered Redfern's office. As always, Stromm appeared in every way the scientist everyone envisioned with their mind's eye. Stromm, with his white lab coat, ID badge, and bespectacled face peered upon his subordinate, clipboard in hand, and asked:
"Is it ready?"
"The specimen," inquired Redfern, "of course. Well, almost," he sheepishly added.
"Well, it's not like I expected you to be finished on time. After all, what we are doing is pushing the boundaries of what man has thought possible," said Stromm, entering his, "preachy phase," as Redfern called it. "Not to mention how many lives this will save."
"I suppose," added Redfern, with a sigh as he exited his office with Stromm following right behind him.
Redfern, as he walked through the identical, sterile hallways that composed the secretive government facility code-named Octagon, could not help but feel a surge of satisfaction and pleasure. Here was his life's work, nearly completed, and, despite his disinterest in Stromm's speech, (as he had already heard it numerous times before) he knew that his work would indeed spare human lives, and it would also fulfill him with a sense of patriotism and pride, despite the fact that his work would garner no public recognition whatsoever.
Dr. Charles A. Redfern was a kid with a bright future, and in his opinion, he had spent it wisely. Born within the city of Boston, he had chosen to attend MIT, where his aspirations were to enter the rapidly growing bioengineering industry, no small feat. However, just before he was about to enter into the then-lucrative Oscorp, he was approached by Stromm, who made quite a compelling case for him to work in a government-sponsored laboratory. In any case, Redfern was now quite glad at his choice, especially after the collapse of both Hammer Industries and Oscorp. Much better to be under the radar than on it.
After a few more twists within the labyrinthine corridors, the two geneticists finally reached the lab section, which featured heavy metal doors, which constantly made an electric hum, causing Redfern to believe that the doors were either electrified, magnetically-locked, or both. In any case, both scientists went through the tedious process of first swiping their ID badges under the scanners, then enduring a fingerprint and retinal scan, before finally inputting a code into two keypads on either side of the doorway. After a few seconds, there was a hissing sound of the doors being open, before the cool refrigerated air emanating from inside the laboratory beckoned them in.
Redfern, eager and yet at the same time nervous, walked briskly over to a row of metallic cabinets on the left of the door way. Redfern, after reaching the cabinets, scanned each of them until finally locating the one he was looking for, a cabinet with the name, "Toxin," on it, in bold-faced capital letters. Originally, each of the cabinets was numbered. Redfern, however, was never good at memorizing numbers, despite his otherwise magnificent prowess with the manipulations of genetics. So, after arriving at the Octagon, he immediately ordered that each of the cabinets be assigned a code name, the better for him and his research team to keep track of their multiple specimens and samples. Power and influence certainly have their advantages, thought Redfern, as he unlocked the cabinet, taking out, in a large glass vial, a thick, gooey substance, which possessed a deep violet color, with a few traces of black, but I just wish I didn't have to memorize all those damn codes.
"So, I assume this is it?" Inquired Stromm.
"Indeed. It is. I just hope it's worth it given the time my team and I poured into this specimen."
"Of that I have no doubt," responded Stromm, an amicable smile crossing his bearded face. "As I already know, the specimen is not yet complete. So tell me, what have you already done and what else is there you need to do?"
"Well," Redfern began, "where do I start. First off, the normal enhancements have proceeded along smoothly. We have ironed out all the 'kinks' in the cell growth process and have managed to, in my opinion, make one of the best replications of the original suit out there." He paused. "In any case, it took some time, but thanks to numerous months of research my team and I have been doing, we have successfully been able to imprint the correct genetic sequences into it. Specifically the linguistics and hand-to-hand combat sequences."
Stromm raised an eyebrow. "Hand-to-hand combat and linguistics? I'm impressed. But, and forgive me if I'm raining on your parade, but how are the bonding and compliance protocols?"
Redfern replied immediately, without hesitation. "Well, the bonding protocols, based on our computer projections, can be carried out flawlessly and quickly, taking up to about twenty to thirty minutes, minimum. The compliance protocols are just as fail-safe. The person who bonds to this specimen will obey orders from a superior without question or hesitation."
Stromm stood facing the sealed glass vial, staring into the depths of the organism contained in there, mesmerized in thought. The rate of time it took for a person to bond to each of the previous suits usually took at least a day, if not weeks. Not to mention the amount of time it took to mentally condition each of the participants. It usually took months to prepare a new, "asset," to enter the field. This new shorter, quicker time-rate was a phenomenal breakthrough. Yet, he could not help but see a small glimpse of uncertainty cross his subordinate's visage, "What's the matter, Carl? What you've managed to accomplish here has exceeded my expectations, why the long face?"
"Well," Redfern began, "I'm well aware of the amazing progress I've managed to accomplish. Without my team, I'm pretty sure that the specimen wouldn't have turned out as well as it did. It's just that, I confess to having some fears about this specimen. For one thing, I fear it may be too smart. I mean, with everything we've put into it, I'm worried it might gain sentience, rebel, and escape. On another note, I confess to admitting that there are still a few problems with the bonding process. In our rush to successfully trim down the amount of time it takes to merge with a host, we haven't been able to trim it's, (I'm not quite sure how to say this), appetite down to a more manageable level."
"Stromm cocked his head in confusion. "What do you mean by appetite?"
Redfern sighed. He should have known it was going to be difficult to explain this. Dr. Stromm was more of an administrator than a scientist. He had hundreds if not thousands of projects to oversee; he didn't have time for all the minute details. "What I'm trying to say is this. As you probably well know, the original Venom suit had a monstrous defect. In fairness, the project, based on the notes we managed to recover, was only in the second stage. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that it had a huge defect. The suit, after bonding with a host, was constantly hungry, devouring any unfortunate passerby. While we've managed to correct that defect, there is still a problem. As you know, the previous symbiotes went through numerous genetic treatments and alterations so that they would only consume a small portion of the host's adrenaline. The problem with this particular subject," he said, gesturing at the vial, "is that it still has an extremely fast metabolism and that if it bonds with the host, it may consume him or her immediately, leaving no remains whatsoever."
Stromm stood to regard his colleague for a moment or two. Then, he opened his mouth to speak, "I fully understand your concerns Carl, but frankly, I'm not that worried. What you and your team have accomplished here is incredible, and therefore you should be celebrating, not worrying about a few glitches. Besides, you yourself said you weren't finished with it yet, and given what you've already said you've managed to accomplish, I'm fairly certain that you'll be able to remedy these problems in no time. Now come, let us celebrate your progress with a drink or two. What do you say?"
Redfern, despite his worries, relaxed at the casual offer to share in a drink with his superior and acquaintance. It had been a while since he enjoyed himself, and he and his team can always iron out the remaining errors the next day. Not to mention-
Redfern's train of thought all of a sudden came to a screeching halt. He stared with a mortified expression on his face as Stromm, thinking nothing of it, casually tapped on the glass vial with his pen- "…now if you'll just put this away, then we can leave and I'll buy you a drink-" he was all of a sudden cut off by Redfern, who snatched away the glass vial the way a mother would snatch away a newborn infant.
"Don't touch it! Do you realize how sensitive this thing is?"
"I apologize. I meant no harm. I was just trying to get you to relax-"
Redfern would not be soothed. "Please, Professor. This thing is the newest edition of the suit, and as a result, it is very unpredictable, so I would appreciate it if you refrained from touching it in the near future, as a full measure of its artificial intelligence has not been done yet."
Stromm once again cast a benevolent smile. "I am sorry. It's apparent you are tense. If you aren't feeling like relaxing then I am sure that-"
Redfern interrupted hastily, "No, no, it's fine. Allow me to just return it to its locker and we can be on our way. And you're right. I do need to relax."
And with that, Redfern returned the specimen to its locker and departed with Stromm, determined to not give another thought to the suit, determined to have a good time.