An Interview With Cadmus

January 14, 2017:

Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen head to Cadmus Labs' Hell's Gate facility to see what they're up to.

Note: Cadmus NPCs emitted by Wonder Woman, who does not otherwise appear in this scene.

Cadmus Labs - Hell's Gate Facility

Cadmus Labs facility at the edge of Hell's Gate is juxtaposition of cutting-edge high-tech and temporary make-do. There's no intention that the lab will be here 'forever', but it certainly intends to stand as long as there's a threat to Metropolis from Hell's Gate.

It has highly secure areas where hazardous research is performed, and more open areas where business is done. The facilities are largely non-descript, however, with alphanumeric identifiers on rooms instead of proper names and titles.

Further, the place is full of installed surveillance equipment and security checkpoints. No one's walking in here easily without proper authorization and credentials.


NPCs: Jimmy Olsen, Dr. Kavita Rao, Dr. Charles Andreas, Major Thomas Lutwig


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Cadmus Labs. Hell's Gate, Metropolis.

It's a secure facility, not often open to the public or, perhaps especially, reporters. However, today, Daily Planet ace Clark Kent is expected. So, those staff that matter have been told to be on their best behaviour and security has been told to be nice, but firm.

The appointment is set with Dr. Kavita Rao, head of the research effort. But, there's no doubt others will be sitting in as well. Cadmus isn't leaving much to chance, if they can avoid it.


An unremarkable brown Toyota pulls up alongside the building. It idles in place for about a minute as some sort of exchange occurs within before the driver's side door opens.

From the rear-passenger side a young red-haired man dressed in jeans and a button up shirt emerges before reaching in and removing a bag of recording equipment.

Concurrent with this the rear-driver's side door opens but there is something of a struggle as the man attempts to exit without removing his seat-belt. Then he does exit. He appears overweight and dressed in an off-the-rack brown department store suit that seems a half-size too big.

When they enter the man in the suit does so first and then holds the door for the video journalist carrying the equipment. When they reach the security check-point Clark Kent smiles while working his wallet from his back trouser pocket, "Clark Kent and James Olsen to see Doctor Rao."

Olsen loads the bag onto the scanner and then produces his own wallet. A thorough search reveals nothing you would not expect a journalist and photographer to have with them.


The pair are told in no uncertain terms that they're to leave their recording equipment, whether visual or audio, entirely packed and deactivated until they reach where they're going. And even then, it can be surmised, there will likely be restrictions. But, perhaps they'll cross that bridge when they come to it.

They are then escorted to a non-descript lab environment with an attached office. The office is spare and doesn't particularly suggest a lot of personal investment by whomever works in it. So, it's reasonable to surmise the office isn't Rao's usual workplace. Same with the lab, really. It's set up more as a visual backdrop or controlled demonstration than a regular working facility. There's no question Cadmus intends to control the spin.

Within seconds of Clark and Olsen's arrival in the facility, a trio of people arrive — two men and a woman. The woman is evidently Dr. Rao, if one were to guess. Of the two men, one is obviously a scientist, his expression a trifle on the arrogant side. The second has military baring, his posture straight and his haircut high and tight. He doesn't look like a man with a great sense of humour, but he could probably open tin cans with his teeth.

"Gentlemen," Dr. Rao says warmly, extending a brown hand towards them — Clark then Olsen. "It's so nice to meet you. I am Dr. Kavita Rao. This is my assistant Dr. Charles Andreas and our chief of security, Major Thomas Lutdwig. I see you found us alright."


When they arrive Kent stands near the window that overlooks the laboratory. His hands are in his pants pockets and lingers with hunched stooping posture that seems to betray some ever-present discomfort for any unfamiliar situation.

Olsen has put the bag of equipment upon the ground and kneels at its side.

"Maybe just the camera, Jimmy." Kent had just finished saying when they hear someone at the door.

Kent's stooping posture becomes barely straighter as he turns around. He seems the affable sort as he comes forward and takes her hand with a grip that presupposes neither strength nor impudence, "I," he falters, "We really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you." He says and at the introduction of the other two he offers his hand, "Yes. The GPS led us straight here."

Jimmy shakes the doctor's hand but waits to see what sort-of reaction an overeager Kent gets from the fellow with the stern countenance before putting himself out, "Doc," he says to Lutdwig, "I thought maybe just some still shots of anything you show us," nodding to the lab, "I usually do an audio recording the interview too - for Clark."

He shrugs his shoulders, "I don't see a need to get anyone's faces in anything. Unless you were /wanting/ to be famous." Olsen says with a wry humor.


Both Andreas and Ludtwig do reciprocate Clark's gesture. Both grips are firm in that way confident men tend to be, but neither is out to crush anyone else's bones. It seems they can both be polite when necessary. Andreas does arch a cool brow at Olsen's comments; Ludtwig scowls a little. But Rao simply laughs lightly. "Of course," she tells the videographer. "We've nothing to hide here." Her smile turns a trifle rueful. "At least, not in this part of the facility. We do have classified areas, you understand, that are under government restriction." That shouldn't come as a surprise.

She gestures, however, to a table that's been set up with half-a-dozen not horribly-uncomfortable chairs. Not quite a boardroom setup, but certainly decent for a corporate meeting, nonetheless. Or an interview.

"Please, have a seat and we'll get right to it. What would you like me to tell you?"


Clark Kent sheepishly rubs the tension from the back of his neck as scowls are passed Olsen's way. He looks about to say something with Rao smooths things over and so he just lets it drop.

"Okay, thanks." Jimmy says and then retrieves a camera and recorder from the bag. As others might move to sit he continues to stand but becomes otherwise unobtrusive in role.

Clark Kent sits at the table his elbows upon the arms of the chair and posture slightly forward so that there is a slight curl to his spine as he addresses Rao, "Well, can you tell me about your mission as a result of the Terragin attack? Several governments have contracted with CADMUS to assist in clean-up and researching those affected. What's your mission? Does it vary from county to country?"


Rao takes a seat opposite Clark, while the two men flank her. Adreas looks about to speak, but Rao is smooth in cutting in just half a second or so before him. "I can't really speak for what happens outside this facility," she says. "I don't have much in the way of information about Cadmus Labs' national or international programs beyond the same press junkets you get." She offers a rueful smile at that, but resists the urge to add a sympathetic chuckle to it, wanting to keep Andreas from interrupting still.

"Our facility here, however, is tasked with helping to find out as much as we can about the Terrigen mutagenic process with the goal of eventually being able to reverse it. Hundreds, possibly thousands of Americans have been affected by this and the government believes it is important we do everything we can to help the victims of the mist resume normal lives as quickly as possible. I certainly agree with that mission, myself, which is why I'm proud to head the research we're doing here."


Clark Kent's spine seems to curve a bit more as the other men flank her giving the vague impression of a turtle. When she deflects his question, there is a furrow above the rim of his glasses.

"What sort-of mutations are you seeing?" He asks her, "I've heard stories that range from simple physical mutations, to more complex terminal illness - such as cancer, to the demonstration of umm," he searches for his next word, "Superhuman powers? Is it accurate at all the compare Terragin effects to the emergence of the X-Gene?"

"Have you discovered any pattern to the mutations? Like those with a dormant X-Gene are affected more profoundly than someone like yo—" a beat, "Jimmy or me."


Andreas again looks to inhale a breath, and Lutdwig sits there with a distinct scowl, but Rao gives the other scientist a quelling look before she continues. "It's not entirely inaccurate to compare the Terrigen effects to the X-Gene, the results are largely the same in that, yes, they cause serious mutations in human beings that can range in effect from physical deformity to unnatural abilities and even death. However, the mechanics are quite a bit different. The x-gene is a naturally occurring variation in the human genome, unique in its broad application of affect. Although it's not popular to say so, the fact is that people who possess the x-gene are simply manifesting a variation of the natural human state — albeit a typically problematic one. It's no different, in many ways, to many other genetic mutation syndromes found in medicine."

Andreas snirks some at that. Rao ignores him.

"Terrigenic mutations, however, appear to be far similar in nature to a retroviral inclusion, wherein external DNA changes are introduced to an organism from an external secondary source." She gives another smile. "In essence, X-Gene manifestations are built-in mutations that could happen to anyone with the right activated gene sequence from birth. Terrigenic mutations are imposed on the body from outside — which is why a high number of victims die. Effectively, their immune systems are overwhelmed and simply can't fight back effectively."


When Rao begins to talk Kent's focus wavers after a moment and he gives a directed look to the recorder Jimmy setup on the table earlier - as if momentarily afraid that he may not have the opportunity to hear this again later. When he has google or a university professor or someone available to help him parse this out.

It is recording, thankfully.

Looking back at Rao he squints a bit thinking through what she's said now that his panic over the recorder has passed, "So it's a bit like being born with a genetic predisposition for lung cancer or being exposed to harmful chemicals that would then cause lung cancer?"

"If that's the case," Clark scratches his forehead while thinking, "Golly, is it even possible to reverse a mutation like that on in human being? It", Kent stops scratching and then looks to Rao, "Wow." He states and you can almost see something click in his brain, "A controlled catalyst for mutation. That could be, revolutionary." He hesitates, "Is that..?" the point of your research but his voice trails off.


"That's a good analogy," Rao agrees. "We're essentially trying to cure that cancer." She follows his train of thought, her own expression becoming thoughtful. Andreas' expression, however, starts shifting towards hostile and Lutwig leans back casually and examines both reporters closely.

"We're not sure whether or not it's possible to reverse it or not," Raoe admits. "That's a lot of what we're working on. So far, we've not had that much luck in that regard." She shakes her head. "Our research, at this point, is entirely focussed on understanding the catalyst, as you put it, so that we can stop it — and hopefully reverse it. We do believe it's possible. But, we're still working on the how."

Could her research be weaponized? Well, yes. Yes, it could. But, she lives with the understanding that's true of most scientific research. Certainly, that doesn't seem her intent — any more than cancer should be weaponized.

Andreas breaks in, his smile sharp. "The government is very clear on our mandate," he says, a hint of that natural arrogance in his tone. "And we're certainly not going to gainsay them."

Lutdwig smiles faintly at the comment, but otherwise continues to study the men across the table.


Truthfully, beyond his seemingly natural awkwardness Kent does not seem off put by the fact that it could be weaponized. There's a chance the journalist has not thought that far into this but the idea of altering genomes to cure debilitating disease is - exactly as he said 'extraordinary'.

Andrea's break in gets Kent's attention and he reaches to the side of his glasses, adjusting them, for the movement of his head, "Oh," he says looking from Rao to Andreas for a moment and then locks eyes with Andreas, "What was that mandate?" He asks, taking his opportunity to include someone else in this interview as the interject.

Immediately after asking the question he tenses and politely looks away from a presumed stare down.


"To analyze and cure the terrigenic mutations," Andreas says, not quite sneering. But, he's unimpressed with this reporter's display of intelligence — such as it is. Andreas is telling the truth, although it may not be the whole truth. Rao, however, doesn't gainsay him. "What the government chooses to do with the research once we're done, isn't our concern."

Rao does react to that. "Our research," she says sternly, "is being conducted and disseminated to our partners with the utmost care and discretion," she insists. "There is no reason whatsoever to be concerned with its misuse. We're all on the same team here." It sounds much like she's trying to remind Andreas of that fact.


Clark Kent seems to hesitate at the lack of concern, "Still," the reporter says more aloud to himself than trying to cast aspirations on the ethics of others, "you have to be careful what you hand to whom. Given the full scope of all of your possible partnerships," his voice firms slightly, "which you said you are not informed of.. There has to be some concern that you're going to hand both a match and a powder keg to someone who doesn't know not to put them together in a public place."

"The Terragin crisis was world-wide. It just makes me wonder what information sharing agreements are in place with all of your partners," he looks up at Andreas then, "Major. I trust the United States but I'm not as ready to say North Korea or Iran is as culpable. Just based off AP wire. I, I don't want to seem dramatic but," Kent's brow knots as he looks at Rao, "Those Terragin canisters were all over the world. Isn't that a lot like completing atomic research and passing it out to nations who might be sitting on weapons grade material because someone just dropped it in their back yard and their worried about the effects it may have caused on their citizens?"


Lutwig speaks up, "The government isn't sharing the research with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or any of our enemies. No one's that stupid."

Even Andreas barks something of a laugh at that.

Rao, however, straightens to assert her authority over both men and says evenly, "We have little control over with whom the government chooses to share our research. That said, this is an American funded initiative looking specifically at the effect on American people. I am not aware of any international partnerships, at this time. The simple reality, however, is that once the government has the research, it will do with it what it deems best. We must always hope that it chooses to act with the best interests of Americans at heart. I will tell you, however, that if I did discover our research was being used for unethical purposes, I would certainly reconsider my involvement with the project."

She eyes both men beside her. "Currently, however," she says, her tone serious, "I am satisfied the research falls within acceptable ethical boundaries. We are not, for instance, performing experiments directly on human beings. Nor do we plan to without proper application to the appropriate authorities."


Clark Kent shifts nervously as they laugh at him briefly inspecting his fingers as he runs back over the line of questioning in his head, "Oh. Sorry," he apologizes, "Earlier I didn't think we were clear about what nations were involved. Don't have much information about the international agreements, I thought."

He exhales and then looks and says, sincerely, "Sorry," for the second time

"Okay," he says to Rao when she states no human research is occurring, "You know. As part of this story I met an activist." Now he's looking at the three of them, "She said there were cocoons or pods. With people in them? What she described made me think of something out of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

"According to them CADMUS personnel were putting them on trucks and moving them onto the island," onto Hell's Gate, he means, "Are those people, are they still alive? And if you're not experimenting on curing them - what are you doing with them?"

"Jimmy, did we-"

Olsen has already pulled another recorder out of the bag and is fiddling with it, "The pictures? They're right here, Mr. Kent."


Lutdwig frowns openly, now, shifting in his chair so he's sitting straighter, resisting leaning forward — barely. Even Andreas narrows his eyes, attention darting between the pictures Olsen is apparently fishing out.

Rao, however, nods, her face still fairly relaxed. "We have brought some of the pods from the mist fields into our facility," she admits. "It is necessary in order to gain some of the information we need. Most of the cocoons, at this point, remain dormant. We use x-ray and sonographic technology to see inside, to gain some sense of what is happening within. On occasion, when the cocoons do 'hatch', for lack of a better term, we keep the extant material and study it. The victims of the cocoons are not at this facility, but have been moved elsewhere — generally to care facilities better equipped to help them learn to manage their new condition. They are being provided every support to enable them to regain productive, full lives."


When Clark takes possession of the recorder its displaying a single still image. The image of a pod. When Rao gives her explanation he just sets it on the table opposite the audio recorder without bothering to make them look at all of the images.

When she says 'do hatch' his eyes widen for a second as if mentally recalling the drama from the old film he mentioned earlier, "Golly.."

Then he composes himself asking, "What care facilities?" Clark adds, "I think that understanding the care is an important piece of understanding the entire crisis." In an attempt to make it clear he's not trying to verify what they're saying but just wants to continue the article.

As Clark says this Jimmy sidles up behind Kent and reaches to take the device with the pictures. The photojournalist perhaps having better sense with materials that may wind up published at some point.


"May I?" Lutdwig says, placing a large hand over Olsen's and over the secondary recorder. "I'd like to see the photos." Even if Rao doesn't seem overly interested in them.

"I don't have a list of the care facilities," Rao admits. "But, I am sure one of our people can get you that information." So, they're not shutting down that avenue of questioning, per se. It's just not something she can speak authoritatively about.


James Olsen seems about to protest.

"It's okay, Jimmy," Clark says with a wave of his hand the reporter's authority seemingly a bit negligent.

"Sure," the younger man then says and slides his hand out from under Lutdwig's.

"Doctor," Clark Kent checks his watch, "I think the time you've given us is about up. I appreciate your willingness to do this." Sliding backward in his chair he puts his palms on the table and stands. There is that bit of back-and-forth where they shake hands again.

Jimmy eventually recovers his recorder while Clark takes the audio one. For the next few moments Olsen begins putting the equipment in the bag while Clark's appreciation of the interview becomes almost obsequious. Then Olsen stands patiently for a few minutes and then tries to extract them all from Kent's good nature by saying, "Mr. Kent, the recorder."

"Oh, right!" Clark says, "Sorry Jimmy." He starts across the room with his awkward plodding movements and rather than hand the photojournalist the piece of equipment he reaches to put it in the bag himself.

"Clark, wait," Jimmy half-pulls away so it's not just tossed in atop everything, "I have to put it in the ca—"

Predictably, to anyone who has worked with him for any length of time, Clark Kent attempting to walk hand-off something sensitive and overcome resistance in an unfamiliar room is a recipe that can lead to..

Clark half-stumbles and in his attempt to right himself grabs hold of the equipment bag. He lunges forward a step and then crashed upon the floor spilling the equipment which had not been fully stowed. Sending a half-dozen devices skittering across the conference room. Some split open spilling batteries and bulbs, others flicker on.

Kent essentially face plants..

In the moment things begin bouncing around and activating time seems to freeze. Kal-El's perception slides beyond the physical pull of gravity. He can feel himself falling but simultaneously mimes a milquetoast's attempt to not hit his face and scans the entire complex within his field of perception. The outside is doubtlessly protected from Metropolis's hero but what of its inside?

He hits the ground, rolls with an injured moan, and then turns his head so he can see the rest of it. Miming that he's trying to shake his rattled head.

Layers peel backward except those concealed by lead or ultra-dense refractory particles.

Then Jimmy is there, and Clark gives him a hand. "Golly, Jimmy. I'm sorry." And fights to struggles to stand. Nearly pulling Olsen over for his bulk.

"Mr. Kent, it's okay," Olsen says with some exasperation, "I've got it." Then begins to repack things.

Clark looks sheepishly at the assembled, "I'm okay.."


The unfortunate reality is that Cadmus Labs is built in the middle of Metropolis — the home of Superman. And very few organizations actually know more about the Man of Steel and his people than Cadmus. Which means there's precious little to be found with the x-ray scan. Of course, that in itself is informative: They really don't want anyone snooping around. Especially Kryptonian heroes. Paranoid, much?

Lutdwig snorts some at Kent's clumsiness. He obviously has little respect for the hapless reporter, though he's not outright rude.

"Careful!" Andreas barks in a disapproving tone, as one might to a disobedient child.

Meanwhile, however, Rao steps forward to try to steady the man. Not that it matters, since he collects himself soon enough. "Are you alright, Mr. Kent?" At his apparent affirmative, she smiles. "It was a pleasure to meet you. If you have any more questions, do let me know. I'm sure someone can find an answer for you."

That said, she steps back and lets Lutdwig do the job of escorting the pair back outside to their waiting vehicle. He's definitely a 'don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out' sorta guy. Not sad to see the two men go.

When are security types at top secret laboratories anything other than asses, anyway? That's life in the fast lane.

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