Before you is the impressive main facility of Project Lazarus. The design of the building is incredibly modern, looking like it belongs more in a sci-fi novel than real life. The walls consist only of planes of pristine glass and steel beams for support. Almost every floor is fully lit, though you've heard that the building generates its own energy. As you are escorted into the building, you notice the heavily guarded fence surrounding the building.

Pretty well fortified for a research facility.

You are here to interview the founder and head researcher at Project Lazarus, a research facility that has the lofty goal of achieving eternal life by developing methods to revive dead tissue. While it sounds ridiculous, they've successfully managed to revive at least one (previously dead) person. However, thus far they have not allowed any interviews, but perhaps your persistence will finally allow the public to gain some insight into this very reclusive and camera-shy company.

As the security guard leads you through the lab, researchers in their white lab coats turn to give you inquisitive looks. There is a lot of glass within the building as well, and you can see into each laboratory and office. While you might think that the openness in the architecture and tone of the building might inspire conversation and collaboration, the building is noticeably hushed.

After a quick (and silent) elevator ride to the top floor, you are brought to a sparsely decorated office room. What the room lacks in personal effects, however, is made up with the copious amounts of text books and scientific journals filling the bookshelves on two of the walls. The man sitting behind the desk stands awkwardly and approaches you. His smile doesn't quite reach his eyes.

Ah, welcome to Project Lazarus. How may I help you?




You have just sat down and begun introductions when the phone suddenly rings. He picks up, interrupting you mid-sentence. After a brief conversation, he smiles coldly again at you, excuses himself, and rushes out of the room.

You suppose that research scientists probably do have busy schedules. Still, somewhat miffed, you decide to review the notes that you've made through the past couple weeks of research.

Profile Information


Name: Lukás Zath, PhD

Gender: Male
Age: Mid forties
Species: Ixi
Color: Grey
Height: 6' 0"
Hair: Brown, but greying
Eye color: Pale pink
Occupation: Project Lazarus Director


Summary
Dr. Lukás Zath is the PI (principal investigator) and Director at Project Lazurus, a lab that has become a corporation and intends on creating a cure for cell decay and death. Their ultimate goal is to give eternal life for all.

What initially started off as an idealistic urge to help people who were suffering from terminal diseases has become a monster after Zath himself began to die from long exposure to the various toxins in the lab. In desperation, he used their extremely limited treatments on himself, only to find that while he bought himself a couple more years, he was still dying.

Since then, he began to work ruthlessly to make the Project's goals come into fruition. When the lab needed more dying subjects to test their treatments, Zath did the then unthinkable and hired some unsavory people to "find" viable subjects. These new employees found people who wouldn't be missed and gave them life-threatening injuries or diseases.

For Zath, the Project has become his life, and there isn't anything he wouldn't do to keep it, and himself, alive.

Physical Appearance
Zath appears to be extremely sickly, although he still has a reasonably strong build. His skin is pale and always cold, and he is of medium height and requires glasses. As he spends most of his time at the lab, he usually wears a lab coat with a typical button-up shirt and tie underneath. His hair is graying and face is typically unshaven. As a result of the degeneration of his vocal cords, his voice is now quiet and raspy.

Personality
Before the accident, Zath was quite jovial, if slightly obsessed. Among his coworkers, he was generally well-liked, partially because of the potential of his work, and partially because of his easy-going attitude. After his near-death, he became increasingly less-liked, because of his desperate obsession with perfecting the process. He is the driving force behind the various research experiments being done, and has become famous for having unattainable standards. His humor, once easy and light-hearted, has become more self-denigrating as the potential of fixing the therapy in time for himself becomes less and less likely.

Morals
Zath truly believes that the benefits to all of humanity of fixing the process far outweigh the losses to any single subject - after all, if the process can be fixed, then he can simply undo any damage he causes them. For this reason, he has kept some of the failed experiments in a cryogenic storage facility so that they may be revived once the treatments are perfected. He does realize, however, that there will be many more failures than successes. Because of this, he usually will attempt to only use terminal patients for his experimental treatments. But should those be in short supply, he is willing to lie, cheat, and steal to keep the Project running.




It's been at least an hour, and this is just becoming ridiculous. Restless, you begin to look through the papers on the desk. A somewhat open drawer catches your eye, and you pull it open to find a worn leather notebook. After scanning through a couple of pages, you realize that this is Dr. Zath's personal journal. You struggle for a moment, before deciding to read through some of the pages. You have to have something to report, right?



Can you imagine a world where you don't have to die? A world where every single person would be able to choose when they would like to pass away … while seemingly fantastical, it may just be within our grasps.

Ah, I should explain. Today was the annual Regenerative Medicine Convention. I was, of course, giving a presentation about my work in muscle regen which went incredibly. The sheer number of investors that came up to talk to me afterwards was staggering! Thinking that there may be enough interest to put a comprehensive research group together, I have discussed this sort of organization with some of the leaders in other tissue engineering fields.

Imagine the work that we could do, with all of the brightest in one place working towards one goal. I feel that this is the way science should be done… collaboratively, and without the pressures of competition. Yes, competing for funds and recognition helps push us forward, but better science can be done when different perspectives are used to solve the same problem. I imagine it will be a matter of when, not if, we manage to regenerate an entire body. After we accomplish that, we could move onto actually reviving those who have just died in tragic accidents.

I will continue to meet with these scientists and biotech investors in the coming days. Given the importance of this work, both at a basic level and with its potential for translation into medical techniques, there. If I can get enough funding, we should be able push regenerative medicine forward faster than any of us dreamed possible. I can't wait.



Well! We have the new lab almost completely set up. I cannot remember the last time I was so excited. We had a great deal of fun trying to think up a name for this project, but we ended up settling on "Project Lazarus," after the biblical character. While I think it may be slightly pretentious, our ultimate goal is resurrection, so it fits surprisingly well.

We have all agreed that our purpose for this Project is to combine our knowledge for regenerative engineering, and ultimately, to extend the lives of those that do not yet wish to die. I want to emphasize that we are not trying to give eternal life to everyone, but to have a way to extend life when it is cruelly cut short. We are not God. At any rate, this technology is still a while away. While we have a good deal of knowledge for regenerating tissues from existing cells to help rebuild parts of an existing body, we have not yet been able to revive dead tissue. This will be the first obstacle that we will have to overcome.



Exciting news! We have finally overcome the obstacle of reviving dead cells. After endless rounds of directed evolution, we have morphed an existing set of repair proteins to kick-start cell metabolism after it has stopped. Someone jokingly named the protein assembly dFib 1-7 (and unfortunately, its name is stuck as that now).

Our trial attempts on rats have seemingly gone perfectly, so it is about time we tested it on a human subject. Luckily, a nearby hospital had a patient with severe brain damage, and we were able to use the dFib assembly to jump start his dead neurons! We will still need to refine the treatment as he remains comatose, but basic brain activity was restored. It is possible that with time, he will be able to awaken from the coma. Other patients have.

However, my research has largely been on increasing cell divisions and growth without the usual consequences of cancer has not seen as beautiful of results. This sort of treatment would be essential to rebuilding missing tissue, and would be able to replace current stem cell-based therapies. However, all of my attempts have been thwarted... all of the mice that I have used quickly developed cancer and died. But, there are still many avenues that I can pursue, and I expect to have a new technique within the next couple of years. If our funding can survive that long.



We finally brought someone back today, and the entire lab is out celebrating, though I have stayed in to document today's success. A young girl was brought in, who was involved in a traffic accident. She had been dead, officially, for half an hour when we began. After removing her from the ice, I took over as lead surgeon. The operation was essentially the same as any other, with one, possibly crucial exception. The difference with this operation was that we focused on the brain, as that was where the largest amount of damage was, instead of working on the heart first like we normally do.

When the treatments actually began to work, it would be impossible to overstate the amount of excitement and energy in the room. I am not a father, but I imagine I now know the feeling of fatherhood, holding my own newborn for the first time. Many of us would spend days in her room, simply watching her breathe.

With this singular success, I am now much more hopeful than I have ever been, and I can see this hope reflected in every person working within the Project. Yes, it was not a complete victory... we were ultimately unable to recover her eye. But our research had begun to lag, and our drives were beginning to fade. That we can actually restore a formally dead person to any semblance of life is incredible. With this first resurrection, we can continue to revise our process until it is perfect.



It's 4 AM. I haven't slept in 2 days, and I don't think I'll be capable of sleep for a long time. How anyone can react to this kind of news in a "healthy" psychological manner is beyond my comprehension.

Terminal cancer. I can't die yet. There is far too much left to do. We have saved one person so far and that is not even close to enough.

The doctors told me I had only a few months to live. The tumors are too many, growing too fast, and spreading, apparently, like nothing they have ever seen before. There are simply too many for them to be able to treat me.

That the research that I have devoted my life to is the cause of my imminent demise is an irony that is not lost on me. My work in creating the newest cell division stimulant is the only possible cause of this illness. I must have inhaled small amounts of it with each use, and once it reached my circulatory system, I was already dead. The gradual accumulation must have caused my cells to spin out of control. The doctors told me that this level of metastasis is impossible, theoretically. If I had not already created higher levels of cell growth in my lab, I might have been inclined to agree with them. Small, but very malignant tumors have started growing everywhere within me. No one within the Project knows yet, and I rather intend to keep it that way. The number of growths should be sufficient to kill me even before visible symptoms show.

Especially disturbing is the thought of the tumors in my brain. My brain, my intellect, has always been my singular strength, and the one thing that has made me special in this world. I cannot bear the thought of it twisting into something monstrous. I will not become just another old man, dying in his own filth, as the the world speaks in hushed whispers around him.

The sterile smell of the hospital seems to still linger around me, different from that of the lab. Maybe the collected last breaths of countless people are what makes the scent so inhuman. I cannot imagine spending my last days in such a place, with doctors and nurses bustling around me, jabbering away while holding pointless diagnostic charts. We already know what's wrong. They would make futile attempts to make me comfortable as I prepare for a death as unmemorable and insignificant as the rest. I suddenly feel a sharp pity and sense of companionship with our own subjects… we bring them to our lab not even to offer them any sort of support, but to watch them die and record as much data as possible. Will mine be any different?

What can I do now? Or should I even do anything? There is nothing left. I will be erased from the world far before I had the chance to complete my life's work. Months is not enough time to create a cure for cancer… not enough time to do anything except give up.

Straighten out my affairs. Just … slip out of existence. Perhaps I will be a footnote in a textbook some time if the Project manages to finish the treatment without me, not that they really can. Even though all of our research notebooks are accessible by every member of the Project, no one really understands how the disparate thrusts of the Project fit together except me.

If I get extraordinarily lucky, maybe I'll even be the "Father of Regenerative Medicine", doomed to die hundreds of years before someone else can implement my techniques to save me.

I just need more time. We somehow managed to return Rinn from the underworld, but she's the only one. More bodies, more experiments, and maybe - just maybe - we'll be able to repeat Rinn's procedure to save another person. But still, they would remain only in the same, static, half-dead state. If the same procedure could be done on myself … I would have more time, and maybe just enough.

It's impossible, though... the freshly-dead, or the dying subjects only pass through our lab maybe once a week, if we're lucky. That's simply not enough test subjects to make any sort of improvement, or indeed even the same incremental success.

Unless we resort to the somewhat.... darker path that my foreign colleague used before joining us. These are people who no longer wish to be alive anyway, and if we didn't give them the opportunity, they would find it some other way.

No. Our job is to save people, not kill them. Whether or not they are happy with life is not our concern.

But … I suppose … if they would do it to themselves, are they really alive any more? They are abdicating their lives. We have a duty to make them contribute at least something for the world. In life, or in death. In fact, we have already been approached a few times by those who want their last moments to make a difference ...

And, if we succeed, we will save millions. Death and disease would no longer be enemies, and instead, every person would be able to focus on life however they so choose, and these people would have given their lives to make that possible. Lives have been sacrificed over much less.

It is growing light out, but I have a lot to do tomorrow. 4 hours of sleep will be enough to function on.



We took a first step on this dark, dark road. We were able to recruit our first crop of "volunteers", and I have to say how surprised I am at how many were interested. I never thought so many would be willing to leave their entire lives behind.

And in fact, our first experiment using these recruits was a success, up to the level of Rinn. At least we know the progress we made with her is reproducible. And while I cannot say that I am completely comfortable with what we are doing, when I look at it objectively, I can see no other way. The world needs this treatment, and to obtain this treatment, I must survive.

The problem is keeping this secret. We cannot have subjects appear out of nowhere on our research reports. And the hospitals themselves know exactly how many bodies they have sent to us. It seems that we will have to work very hard to consider how exactly to account for our sudden increase in research subjects.

However, these are trifling concerns. The most important impact is that, for the first time, I see a glimmer of hope for the eventual success of Lazarus. I can only hope that the fruits of its success will balance out the evil we are doing to make it possible.



It is depressing how comfortable I have become with pulling otherwise healthy people into stasis. Yet, as our progress seems to accelerate exponentially, it is hard not to take a small degree of satisfaction in that choice. We have made breakthroughs with nearly every organ system, and have successfully revived nine of the last ten subjects.

As our successes have grown, so has our funding, from a mere trickle that was barely enough to pay salary, to the torrential storm of today, where I spend every night feteing and paying lip service to our many donors. Yet, the benefits to our work cannot be overstated. The Project has expanded, from a single floor in a research university, surrounded by useless undergraduates, to an 8-floor multiplex, isolated enough to significantly simplify the entrance and storage of our research subjects. However, the stress of doing so much in so short a time has probably accelerated the progression of my demise.

And now, I have run out of time. My illness has progressed to the point where others are beginning to take note. I will make the announcement tomorrow that I will be undergoing the procedure myself. I will, of course, not be going into stasis once my operation is complete. My mind is essential to finishing Lazarus. I only hope that I will not become like Moses, coming close enough to see the promised land, yet being struck down for my sins before I can enter.




You finish thumbing through the journal, placing it back within the drawer in shock. As you close the drawer, you notice a few folders lying under a few papers. Since you recognize the name on the top folder, curiosity overtakes you and you decide to read through the files.




Name: Marinn Pareil
Relation: Subject #174
Risk Level: Low

Summary:
Marinn, or Rinn as she likes to called, was the project's first success. She was only nine when her accident allowed us to experiment upon her. Rinn was not completely resurrected, as she is currently 'stuck' in a static state rather than alive, but she was the first subject to regain a level of functionality akin to life.

She was released after a few years of observation as newer subjects became more valuable. While she was somewhat troublesome with the lab techs (known to bite viciously as well as destroy notes), she has yet to show any hostility toward the Project since her release. We do, however continue to check in on her each week without her knowledge.

Notes:
It is important to note that Rinn's near-alive state has been a continued source of hope for those at the Project. At the point of her operation, we had already invested many long years into Lazarus. We were about to run out of funding, and most people were dismissing us as a bunch of hacks. Rinn's revival was what the Project needed to stay afloat. Without her, we would have been forced to shut down years ago.





Name: Nem Alaire
Relation: Employee #
Risk Level: Unknown

Summary:
Nem has been a member of our acquisitions team for a few years now, and is an efficient asset crucial to our "fund-raising" activities. Her father died several years ago; what she does not know is that his death has much to do with our experiments. Our decision so far is to keep her in the Project in order to be able to contain and control her should she find out.

Notes:
It is never a good idea to employ a trained killer when she has reason to hate you. And yet, circumstances being what they are, that is exactly what we have had to do. It is partially because of her effectiveness, though, that I am somewhat unsettled about keeping her so close. She is not one to forgive, and tends towards violent retribution more often than not. Should she hear even the slightest rumor about our experiments on our father, I know that she will be ruthless in destroying us. I cannot even say that we have the necessary manpower to control and subdue her either, as she has already proven that she is among our most talented recruits.

I suppose it is a good idea that we are in the business of restoring life after death. We may need it.








Name: Myishi Fay
Relation: Consultant #013
Risk: Moderate

Summary:
Myishi is easily the most cost-effective asset in the Lazarus Project. While not an employee of the Project, she often aids us as a cleaner whose task is to destroy any larger areas that may contain any unsavory evidence. She is skilled in various ways, and most notable is her talent in making bombs, even from rudimentary equipment. However, because she is unpredictable, under no circumstances is she allowed on the grounds of the Project.

Notes:
Her random acts of destruction, her ability to completely ... erase a building has proven to be extraordinarily useful. Interestingly, despite her inherent tendency to destroy things, her activities are more to cause chaos than to actually harm people. Rather, she simply enjoys watching people panic, and feel the energy of unfettered chaos. So far, I can only assume that she has not turned towards us because she finds our projects for interesting. I can only hope that we can keep her interest long enough to keep her from putting us in her sights again.








Name: Kaien Raith
Relation: Possible Threat
Risk: High

Summary:
Kai is an acquaintance with Nem that specializes in poisons and has already sent several irrevocably damaged people our way. Our efforts to obtain any sort of leverage on him have so far been thwarted, but it is of utmost importance that we find some way to control such an unpredictable and viciously self-serving man. I would normally request that Nem stay away from him, but she has insisted repeatedly that he is a valuable resource to her work. While he has yet to seriously challenge the Project, we will certainly keep a close eye on him.

Notes:
Kai is perhaps one of the greatest threats to the Project. He first came to my attention last year, when Nem's handler reported an acquaintance with this apothecary had turned more towards a wary friendship. Nem has been trained to use discretion about our work, but given his intelligence, it would be stupid to assume that he knows nothing about us. What he will do with this knowledge, however, is still unknown. Furthermore, while we were able to collect valuable data from those subjects that he "treated," it is completely unacceptable to take a life for no purpose but for one's own enjoyment. If he so much as twitches in our direction again, he may have to become the next subject.






Several hours have passed, and you decide that you've already learned more than enough. Hurriedly, you place the files back where you found them, and slowly leave the room. You pass through the glass building as quickly and quietly as you can, hoping that you can leave before anyone sees you.

On your way out, the guard calls out to you, startling you. Hope you had a good visit! Take a card before you leave?







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