[My first attempt at a fanfic. The opening to an ongoing storyline covering a New52 version of Lex Luthor's Everyman Project.]
Issue #1 - Superiority Complex
Mercy Graves wisks through the corridors of LexCorp Tower, radiating a cool confidence that sets her co-workers on edge. Conversations die and the water cooler chatter goes silent as she passes, leaving on the sound of her hose brushing back and forth as her legs march her forward in the professional looking business jacket and knee length skirt. With her hair pressed against her scalpe and pulled back into a tight ponytail, and a complete lack of make-up, she does not appear the traditional attractive business-woman who would be concerned with impressing clients or bosses, but rather something akin to a High School English teacher, the type that would volunteer to host a Saturday in-school suspension. Though barely thirty years of age, already a V of wrinkles creases the corners of both eyes, with a double set of vertical lines carved between her brows painting an almost permanent scowl. She reached the cold steel doors of the private elevator, inserted her key and summoned her ride in the booth that travels exclusively to the uppermost floor. Turning and surveying over the cattle making up the lower floor, the clerks and secretaries and security personal, she feels almost sickened, a copper taste in her mouth. Everywhere she looks, they avert their eyes and immediate engage in shuffling papers or clattering over keyboards. "They're right to be afraid," she thinks to herself, the gentle ding of the elevator sounding behind her before the whoosh of the doors open and escort her away from these common cattle and summon her to the upper floors. The elevator leaps upward and her stomach does a somersault. This was where she belonged.
Graves took a moment to look to the clipboard in her hand. The results of the experiments had been mixed, but the information was complete and Mr Luthor had been very clear this was to be brought to him the moment it was ready. A less confident underling may have been concerned with how to spin the information, to downplay the bad news and make it seem as a greater success than what it was. But Mercy was no underling; she was a trusted advisor and Luthor's personal right hand. That was a position she had earned through years of tirelessly performing her duties with exactness, even the messy or undesireable ones, and by never disappointing. Mercy knew that Mr Luthor was a man of science, and as such he wanted facts, not hopes. He wanted results, not pleasantries. This is why Mercy's assignments were always performed to perfection; never once had one of her 'duties' washed up in the harbour or been found in a dumpster. Never once had anything unscrupulous been tied through her to the ever-clean hands of Lex Luthor. He knew she could be trusted, and this would be no differant.
With a second soft ding of a bell, the doors whooshed open and faced the large open office of Lex Luthor. To call it an office was like calling Metropolis a town: a dramatic understatement. Luthor's office occupied the whole of the floor, with large glass picture windows lining the perimeter on all sides, providing a breathtaking view of Metropolis every which way one could turn. Luthor was seated at his desk, a large Snakewood peice ornately carved from the extinct Mennegoxylon tree, which was rare even when it was alive. Luthor had told her once that he had commissioned it because "greatness is never fully appreciated during the lifespan, but rather reflected in what remains after you're gone". When Mercy looked on it, however, she could see little beyond the 2.2 million dollar tax write off for a pronounced business expenditure. She preferred to deal with the cold facts rather than the abstract concepts; she left those responsabilities to the man best prepared to shape the future.
On the corner of his desk was perched the delicate frame of one Lois Lane, chewing on the end of pen as she looked down on some papers in her lap. This wasn't the Lois Lane, Graves was aware even if so many others were not. This was an incredibly lifelike robot which Luthor had designed himself, and given the reporter's likeness for a cause that seemed apparent only to him. In the hands of most men, Graves would have assumed that it's purpose was to fulfill a baser need, but Luthor was too refined and dignified to engage in such foolishness. Mercy did not fully understand the robot's place in his plans, but she had full faith that anything Luthor did was set in motion to serve the greater good. "Mr Luthor," Graves announced herself, "I have the results of the Everyman Project. Doctor Eisenhalve finished his testing. You were correct, Sir, with the DNA of the alien in our possession now, we can create our own superhumans."
"Excellant," Luthor says, his voice pleasant while his eyes remained cold and focused, burning a hole through the clipboard with his riveted attention. "When shall I prepare?"
Graves passed the papers to Luthor, continuing unfettered. "There were complications in this first wave of testing," Graves explains, "The Everyman Project treatment appears to be, at this time, terminal. It introduces a low level carcenigenic to the body, causing cancer."
Luthor makes a dismissive gesture with his hand. "Then we'll cure cancer," he says simply, "I will have the power of that Kryptonian for myself, and finally mankind will have the power to be able to drive these aliens from our world."
"A secondary complication," Graves explains, undetered in the delivery of her information, "Any proximity contact with the extra-terrestrial mineral known was 'Kryptonite' causes unpredictable reaction to the test subject. Abilities were nulified, magnified, entirely altered, subjects were rendered incapacitated or insane, the results varied, but in every instance the carcenigen was amplied and death was result in less than 24 hours. If you undergo the treatment, Kryptonite will be more deadly to you than it is to the alien."
Luthor's mouth turns downward in the faintest hint of a frown as his eyes glance to the ring on his left hand and it's sizeable green stone. "Well that will never do," he says after a few moment's consideration, "We will need to further refine the procedure before I am to undergo it myself. Tell the good Doctor to continue with his research; spare no expense. This is to be considered a high priority project."
"Sir," Graves interjects momentarily, "Eisenhalve advised me that in order to move any further in his research, we shall have to begin engaging in Human testing."
Graves had no qualms about the risk to human life, and Luthor well realized such. The morale debate was nonexistant between these two. Rather, the poignant question on hand remained, whom could be reasonable selected for this treatment? This was a remarkable amount of power to place in the hands of an untrained individual, the potential for a rogue test subject causing public scandal or actively seeking to do harm to the corporation, and in light of the health hazards presented from the treatment, there were bound to be some disgruntled subjects down the road. While she prided herself on often being able to employ logic well enough to predict Luthor's actions, his next decision utterly shocked her. "Open it to public application," he boldly declared, "Let us ask Metropolis, who wants to be a Superhero?"
"You cannot be serious," Graves gasps before realizing that she had committed herself to never questioning the genius's decisions. "What I mean is, we are only preparing for the first round of Human testing. Obviously these subjects will not be ready for public scrutiny. Surely we have employees already on payroll whom could be convinced financially to volunteer for such a responsability."
"Nonsense, Miss Graves," Luthor laughs, "If we're going to be turning common men into Superheroes fully under my control, then I intend on taking full advantage of that investment. Send word to my public relations team; I need my, say, thirteen top representatives by 3pm today if we are to have this ready to announce by tomorrow morning. Good day to you, Miss Graves."
Luthor's word was final, and as infallable as Biblical commandment. Mercy Graves took her queue and immediately nodded in agreement, turning herself back towards the elevator to go and gather the public relations team that would be assigned to handle this nightmare. Turning her key in the prompt for the elevator, Mercy's attention is pulled back toward her employer as Luthor calls after her. "And Miss Graves," he adds, affectionately patting his robotic similicron of Lois Lane on it's shoulder, "Contact the Daily Planet and inform them that I am offering an exclusive to the announcement. I trust they'll know whom to send."
Mercy's reply through her forced smile are barely a whisper and the soft ding of the elvator sounds over her as she grumbles. "I *DING*ng hate Lois Lane."