As part of Ari’s master scheme, he began selling and distributing altered and unaltered versions of Serum 43. The sale of the Serum not only provided funding for his twisted project, but also created a global network of accomplices that the scientist could call up for favors or information. One of these accomplices was Gregory McFarland, another ex-Ovid scientist and loose cannon. The two met while working on a series of bioengineering projects for the company, years before Serum 43 was developed, and kept in discrete correspondence with Gregory often writing to Ari for assistance with one or another of his pet projects. When Ari went rogue, Gregory handed in his resignation papers and attempted to contact his friend. Time passed, and then through happenstance, Ari was checking a little used email account and noticed one of McFarland’s coded messages. Through several discrete pay-phone calls and coded letters the two arranged for Gregory to help work on the unfinished Serum 43.
With the help of Mcfarland, Oosterhuis was able to finish his serum, but first had to get rid of McFarland. Ari baited the trap he set for his college with this promise, McFarland would able to engineer his own breed of genetically altered creatures. With his own nest egg, as well as funding from Ari, Gregory was able to obtain the equipment necessary for his endeavors, and to also hire a small, private security company to ensure his privacy. Known as Stark Operatives, the group is comprised of mostly Ex-military and Ex-law enforcement personnel, but has been know to hire individuals who show extraordinary talent.
Once Stark Ops was watching his back, Ari urged McFarland to pick up his operation and move away from his mentor. The two reasoned that spreading their operations apart would decrease the chance of both of them getting knocked out of operation in one sweep. The more likely case was that Ari didn’t want his brilliant, yet often bumbling, pupil to interfere with his objectives by revealing himself to the “Outing Club.”
McFarland wasted no time in scouting out possible bases of operation. In a matter of days he picked out a remote region of Wyoming, the Bridger Wilderness
, as his new headquarters. Via a series of carefully concealed HALO (high altitude, low opening) drops, the necessary equipment and personnel were brought to the location. Due to the secrecy that such illicit experiments required, Stark Ops kept all aspects of the operation under tight wraps, sometimes being forced to do so violently. The base itself was built in the bottom of a deep lake, with a rough tunnel system connecting it to the outside world. Over weeks this system expanded, eventually twisting under most of the Bridger range, and even beyond. On occasion hikers would pass through the area, and more often than not they were left in peace. If, however, they saw something they weren’t supposed to, McFarland or his henchmen would arrange for them to meet an untimely ending with one of his SO agents.
Whereas Ari had preferred to stick within the Genus Panthera for his experiments, McFarland was not limited by such personal preferences. In fact, he considered anything with in the Phylum Cordata to be fair game. Once he had free reign with his experiments, and a steady supply of Serum 43 components being airdropped in from Ari’s escapades out East, he began to tweak the formula, applying his own touches. He was not always successful. His first attempt at originality resulted in a SO officer who assumed the form of a mountain lion. Unfortunately, the officer couldn’t contain his elemental abilities and the resulting wild fire burned out not only the man but also a large swath of Wilderness land as, almost reaching into the territory of Yellowstone.
Sense then McFarland hasn’t had any major failures, preferring to play it safe rather than give any of his subjects more power than they could contain. Another side affect of the disaster, however, was that it became harder to find SO personnel who were willing to undergo inoculations. This forced McFarland to ‘recruit’ among the general populous of the United States. Any reasonably healthy adult, and the occasional child, was deemed a suitable subject. SO had their orders, and began to cast their net for fresh blood. Pretty soon about a dozen children, teens, and adults were brought to the Bridger Lab for inoculations. Not many survived the initial injection, and even fewer lasted long enough for McFarland to monitor their growth. Unfortunately for both McFarland and his subjects, not a single member of the first through fifth generations off inoculations survived for more than a handful of weeks
McFarland has none of the deftness with his experiments that Ari achieved with Serum 43. His patients drop into week-long comas after their initial inoculations, and when they wake their first transformations are painful to the point where they often pass out again from the pain of the ordeal.
This is where we find ourselves in the present day. McFarland discovered the mistake in his previous serums, and once that was fixed he had unlocked full, multi-class mutation. He calls his version of Ari’s masterpiece Serum 43x.
His first batch of ‘successful’ subjects was exterminated by SO after their sixth month with no visible side effects, but now he was ready to move into a long-term testing phase. The Seventh Generation of Chordate Inoculates, as they are officially referred to in the lab, has been inoculated and all that must be waited on is for them to wake from their comatose state and begin their testing.
Projected Date of Awakening: July 22nd 2010