Experimental Ethics Ch. 02byRisiaSkye©
** Chapter Two: Looking Back, Moving Forward **
The renegade researchers left the room with surprisingly minimal celebration; during the whole circuitous walk back to their secure laboratory, each had far more in their thoughts than they showed to the others. Power might corrupt, but they'd all just gotten a lesson in the reverse reality: corruption creates power. It hit them differently, but they all felt it; this was the real frontier. They were holding the keys to awesome power, enough to change society forever. For a group of people who'd all spent much of their lives as social pariah, the brains instead of the brawn at every turn, it was the true turning point. Despite their varied responses and lingering concerns, they'd finally hit the real point of no return.
For his part, the team's lone executive was alive in a way he'd never imagined; months and months of playing nurse-maid to Dr. Frankenstein's little family of researchers had gotten him in good with both the Board and the Dream Team. He was the only person with real access to both sides of the fence, the only person with all the key information. Cromwell'd been a mediocre chemist, but he was a great archivist in possession of world-class manipulation skills; he'd documented practically every minute of the team's activities, realizing from the outset that aging executives would never make sense of raw data and projected figures. They had to be intrigued, but devoid of real understanding; he had to turn on a bunch of tight-assed WASPs without making them acknowledge it, no small task. So, he'd carefully selected the most telling moments from the animal trials and run them on multiple screens while he spoke to the directors.
It was an award-worthy performance, his solemn admiration for the team's dedication and careful attention to protocols, his cheerful surprise at their progress, his focus on the shareholders and public. Master showman or not, William Cromwell's smiles were legitimate. He, of course, knew damned good and well that there was more, much more, footage that could never be shown to the suits--and now it appeared that he and the Dream Team were going to get away with their...lapses in experimental ethics. Everybody owed him a little something, and he hadn't even pulled the real rabbit out of his hat yet.
Once Stimulex got final FDA approval, it really wouldn't matter what they had done to get it there, unless the media got hold of it. They'd never understand it, so they'd explain it in the only way they could understand; after all, the media was nothing but a bunch of perverts with one track minds, so they'd do anything in their power to make everyone else look the same way. Scientists screwing like crazed rabbits in heat made for sensational headlines, something researchers of the past had less reason to fear. But it was science and progress, not slavery and pornography, no matter how the press would portray things if given the chance. Denise's team, after all, was working in the long tradition of medical innovators before them; why was it okay to risk contracting smallpox by experimenting on oneself, but not okay to test Stimulex? Silly double-standard, if you asked William.
Yep, he was ready for anything. He'd prepared his little "great tradition" sound-bite to explain the team's "revised protocols" many weeks earlier, just in case. Besides, done is done, and nobody could go back and make different decisions. Whatever his faults, William Cromwell was decisive, not to mention relentlessly goal-oriented. Single-mindedness has its compensations; he grinned anew at his own wit. He didn't have a one track mind--he was just single-minded. Funny.
Denise felt detached, like she'd had a nasty accident and gone into shock. Truly a weird thing to feel at the moment of her greatest victory to date, but there it was: the ease with which they'd gotten approval and covered their tracks stunned her, left her with the anticlimactic knowledge that her gut-wrenching anxieties meant nothing. She hadn't really believed it was possible, Moore realized. Part of her had been waiting for the whole team to be caught, stopped, questioned, something; despite William's continual cockiness, the Girl Scout in her had been expecting some kind of punishment.
Thanks to the Holy Roman Church, guilt came naturally to Denise. Between parish school, mandatory confession, and her family's deeply held and highly visible Catholic traditions, she'd been steeped in faith and provided with a rigidly defined moral code. As a woman of science, she'd fallen away from the church as she reached adulthood, but part of her was forever counting and cataloguing her sins, eager to make good on them. Usually, it stayed in the background, but right now, she felt bathed in sin and shame. But whether her guilt was over her questionable research ethics or her newly-minted sexual promiscuity, she couldn't have said for sure.
Victor was overjoyed, eager to celebrate, and utterly unsurprised by the afternoon's events. This was going to be one hell of a year, but more importantly, he was going to really do something. Despite his training and abilities, Navarre had always felt like he was wasting himself somehow, as though his life lacked some essential core of meaning that others' had. Before this project, that was. Now, he had the chance to be great, to make himself part of history. His father would have been proud, and Navarre could almost feel his approval in the air.
The neurologist knew in his heart that he and his team (he'd thought of them as his team almost instantly, but never said it out loud) were going to change the world, literally. He could make people happy, keep them healthy, and get rich in the process? Great. He could fix so much that was wrong in the world, and nobody was even going to fight the changes. Victor knew that at heart, many people must know that sex and romance were to blame for most of the world's tensions. The "battle of the sexes" was over, though. Women would feel beautiful and complimented by all the attention they'd receive, men wouldn't need to fear rejection or deny their sexual desires.
He flashed on a glimpse of Neda's black hair shining under fluorescent lights as she knelt at his feet and eagerly tongued his throbbing prick, a dozen doses in her system. How far they'd come in such a short time. Tonight, he thought he'd hyper-dose Neda again, let the little lesbo beg him for his cock, and fuck her senseless. He might even take her in the ass, and then move on with his life afterward. No explanations, no bullshit, no hostilities.
Life had never been better. He felt like singing.
Nobody had asked her to say much during the presentation, and for that small favor, Neda was grateful. Denise and Victor covered the science, William made the sales pitch, and once again she was left somewhat on the fringe of their core team, in appearance if not reality. Forgiving and generous by nature, Amanpour didn't think they'd do such a thing intentionally. She hated public speaking anyway, and felt particularly at a disadvantage in a room full of old white men with money; they were everything she wasn't, and nothing she wanted to become. Besides, even she knew that Dr. Moore was the one they wanted to see--and Denise was apparently unphased by the prospect of facing a room full of patronizing bosses who'd spend as much time checking out her ass as listening to her ideas. They'd talked about it a few times, and Denise explained her pragmatic reasons for suffering the indignities which came with being an attractive young woman in charge of a sex-related study.
"I know, I know. It's unfair as hell, and it's always the same old thing. If you're single and femme, you're either a Barbie, an evil man-hating feminist, or a potential conquest. If you're too girly, you're a know-nothing flake; if you're too butch, you're a dyke with an axe to grind." She fidgeted a bit, realizing what she'd said. "I'm sorry, Neda. You know what I mean...I'm not talking about being a lesbian, I'm talking about the boys upstairs..."
Neda let her off the hook; truthfully, she hadn't taken offense in the first place. "No, I know; I know just what you mean. But that's just it--how can you put up with it? How can you face people like that and keep your cool? I always end up wanting to tell them off, so I just keep my mouth shut."
Denise rolled her eyes. "It's all just games, so I treat it like playing a part. When I have to deal with that kind of person, I play the part they've already assigned to some extent, and I get enough leverage to get my ideas out, too."
"Wouldn't work for me--I'm not pretty enough, even if I wanted to do it your way." Amanpour shrugged casually; she took herself as she was, but she didn't kid herself either.
"First, you're kidding yourself about your looks; don't sell yourself short. Besides, it's a double-edged sword anyway: If you're attractive to the muckety-mucks--you know, fuckable in that midlife crisis-I'm hip because I read GQ-I'm going bald so I'll buy a sports car kind of way--then you belong in the secretarial pool. But if you're not attractive to them, they don't even look twice at you OR your resume. It's a bunch of bullshit, but it's reality. They're not going to hand over the reigns, hon; we've got to get in the door however we can."
Sometimes, Neda really couldn't understand other women; how could a woman as capable and qualified as Denise play their misogynistic games with a smile?
But her feminist ideals, as well as her rock-solid sexual identity, were seriously compromised only weeks later, during her own crash-course in Stimulex hyper-dose. Reflecting on all she'd seen and done in the safety of the lab, and all that she'd experienced among the colleagues she'd grown so close to, Neda was momentarily jealous of the men and women who'd be paid to try the pill and taste its powers. It seemed almost ridiculous to compensate the test subjects, knowing the pleasures they'd experience; instantly, though, her envy was swept away in a wave of ambivalence.
She was briefly flooded with a memory of her first threshold trial, of gleefully drinking down a stranger's cum while Victor fucked her from behind, and relishing every second of it. And she was, for data collection purposes, a virgin; she could scarcely imagine all that the more appropriate experimental candidates would get out of the experience. Was she doing something awful here; would she someday be seen as a Judas, or worse, by the very women who'd been her extended family back in college?
In some ways, she supposed she was. Neda'd been out of the closet since high school, and had never even really considered sex with a man beyond a few awkward and aborted encounters as an adolescent. On a multiple dose of Stimulex, though, she'd done far more than consider it; it was an intriguing result, which raised a host of complicated questions. while the drug didn't change her sexual identity, she did quite happily have sex with men while on the drug. At the time, it didn't matter who--or what--she fucked, but later was a different story.
She didn't find men sexually attractive, and realizing that she'd not only had sex with them but had begged for it and then some was profoundly humiliating. It just went against everything she knew about herself, twisting her up inside. But underneath that was another feeling, a strange sexual thrill that seemed based in her pain attached itself to the memory of her Stimulex driven adventures in heterosexuality. Despite what she knew about her own sexuality, she'd had sex with both men and women on the drug, and both gave her orgasms so intense she couldn't do anything but ride them. Confusing, indeed.
It was precisely this kind of confusing confrontation with the consequences of their brain-child that made Neda wonder if the whole team was making an enormous mistake. Knowledge isn't always progress, certainly not always the right kind of progress anyway. With all of them quite eagerly participating in the secret pre-trials, could any of them keep a clear enough head to work in the interests of using science for the greater good, or had it all already spun way out of control?