New World Order, A
|It was an historic day at Luna Genetics.
The executive board filed into the conference room, taking their places at the long oak table. Two female scientists sat at the far end of the table, fighting to contain their nervousness. Months of research and testing and many thousands of hours of hard work had led to this day. The woman in the lab coat whispered to her superior.
"These idiots are not going to want to hear any of it. I'd bet you a million bucks."
The other woman seemed calm cool and collected to her young assistant.
As head of developmental research for Luna Genetics, Lisa Quinn had been through this process before. She was a tough cookie and could play hardball with the boys when the occasion called for it. Today the order of business was to present a final rundown of the benefits and specifically the known side-effects of Promade, the company's first mass-market drug and first ever true cure for male pattern baldness.
"You're probably right Kendra, but we'll lay it all on the table and let them make the call. I won't let any of this be on OUR consciences. When and if the shit hits the fan, these monkeys will be the ones who'll wish they were wearing diapers, not us."
Ed Hollings, vice president in charge of product development, took his place at the front of the room and addressed the dozen or so top brass who were now seated.
'Good morning gentlemen... and ladies."
He smiled to the group, and winked in Lisa and Kendra's general direction.
"Today the first ever over-the-counter "genetic treatment" will be introduced to the global consumer marketplace. Gentlemen, as I think you already know, we've got the goddamned killer app of all time on our hands here; the cure for male pattern baldness. Now, in a minute I'm gonna let our head of research, our lovely... Lisa here, tell us all exactly how it works.
But first I want to say that for those of you who've been here from the start, Jack, Dick, all the original Luna team who stayed with us during this long ramping up period... boys your ship is about to come in. Big time..."
He went on like this for awhile, gloating over Luna Genetics' pending success. Hollings was a middle-aged horse's ass who didn't understand any of the science behind Promade. He was more of a marketing dink. A fifty year old half-bald marketing dink. His specialty was ballyhoo, rallying the troops. Luna hired him away from Max Factor only five months ago but he strutted around the offices like he owned the place. Promade was his first big project with the company. The girls down in the labs had nicknamed him "the suit", after his rather poor taste in cut-rate Italian suits, which he always wore to the office. For Lisa and Kendra it was hard as hell to sit quietly and listen to his self-congratulatory preening. They tried not to look at the nasty white stuff forming in the corner of his mouth as they steeled themselves and waited their turn to speak.
"...every man in the world is going to want Promade. It'll be more popular than Coca- Cola... "
He was practically spitting on Lisa's notes.
"...More popular than fucking mother's milk for Christ's sake... and gentlemen... by god, WE... are going to have a corner on the market." He pounded his fist on the table for emphasis. Lisa's binder tumbled onto the floor. He didn't even notice.
"Now, Lisa, get up here girl. We all want to hear your brief on Promade."
His voice was condescending, rather like a lecherous uncle.
Lisa stooped over to gather her scattered papers while Hollings stood there lighting a cigarette. Every eye in the room was checking out her ass and Kendra was embarrassed for her friend, even a little pissed. Everyone knows there's no smoking allowed in the building!
Lisa Quinn righted herself and took her place in front of the room.
She peered through the lenses of her reading glasses at the room full of men and began her presentation in a cold scientific manner, reading from her notes.
"Like the Cytex series and other prescription meds that blazed the trail for us, Promade is gene therapy in pill form. When taken three times daily Promade is a cure for male pattern baldness. But we call it 'genetic maintenance' because the effects of the drug only last so long as the patient keeps taking the it. Promade is based on a genetic matrix derived from a pool of particularly exceptional male specimens. When taken as directed, Promade takes the genetic makeup of the patient and combines it with the Luna template. Sort of taking the patient's genes and the Promade genes and 'averaging them'. The longer the patient takes the drug, the more closely he approaches the Promade ideal. With each capsule he takes, his own original genetic disposition is 'averaged out' until eventually his own original genetic disposition is completely overridden by the Promade matrix.
If the patient goes off the drug, his original weaker genetic matrix reasserts itself.
"The drug works on the body as an amplifier to the lymphatic system of glands and the cardiovascular system of the user, increasing blood flow, especially to the scalp. Some of the unobjectionable side-effects of the drug include mild euphoria and a heightened libido. Focus groups that we conducted indicated that these side-effects would NOT hurt sales... if any thing they would only ENHANCE the Promade experience and serve as an inducement to all men to try the drug..." "...even perhaps those who are not yet balding."
She looked up from her notes and smiled. Heads around the room were nodding in the affirmative.
"The negative side-effects are no more alarming than those of alcohol or other substances that men have abused for centuries. High blood pressure, loss of motivation and slow imperceptible decreases in mental acuity should do no more to discourage the use of Promade than they have discouraged the use of Budweiser. All of these side-effects will manifest to varying degrees in the men who take the drug regularly. The stuff burns brain cells gentlemen. Make no mistake. Beyond that... we have determined that in cases where patients used Promade without interruption for longer than 6 months, 3 out of 5 those patients experienced not only the restoration of a headful of thick hair but also some degree of enhancement of his... sexual functions, this accompanied by an increase in stamina, a degree of enlargement of the sex organs and... patients reported... intensified orgasms."
By now the board was shifting in their seats. Some of them men were slapping each other on the backs. They came to the meeting expecting to have to wrestle with the moral issue of dangerous side effects but so far this sounded awfully damned good. No doubt half of them were ready to start popping Promade right then and there. Hollings sat next to Kendra and smiled proudly. He placed his cigarette hand on top of hers and patted it as if to say "great work, honey".
Ash fell onto Kendra's notes.
Lisa could feel the men's eyes all over her. She pulled her suit jacket together and buttoned it as she continued.
"It seems the severity of these secondary side-effects can and will vary widely. Depending on the amount of testosterone naturally present in the subject, these side-effects can be cumulative over time... or, they may go unnoticed completely. But I would like to underscore some of the potential long term drawbacks of the drug and explain to you while R&D is recommending further study of Promade before launch. While we have not determined that there is any risk of mutation, there remains of course the risk of heart attack, the risk of unwanted or excessive hair growth... Beyond that there is no... I mean, we're not suggesting that Promade is chemically addictive.
It is not. But in the long term men might become addicted to the benefits, both physical and psychological. We can't know how these factors will play out over months and years..."
No one was listening to any of this.
There were other assorted concerns that Lisa addressed before she wrapped up her presentation. The board was deaf dumb and blind to anything but the thought of all that money. Hollings had been promising a cure for baldness. Lisa and the scientists "down there in the kitchen" had served what sounded like a new genetically-turbocharged Viagra. They'd make money hand over fist with this miracle drug.
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