X-Men Origins: Cypher (Prelude)
Considered by most a minor character in the X-Men mythos. Read here the backstory of Douglas Ramsey AKA Cypher, as he is recruited to help confront mysterious goings on at an abandoned H.Y.D.R.A. base.
Prelude: The Two Men
The noise of the industrial assembly line buzzing with fervor, two figures moved slowly from one aisle to the next. One, a man with short red hair, slight limp, trim business attire and a pair of polarized Aviator sunglasses perched atop his forehead, was gesturing emphatically to the other. His gestures were accompanied by a well-rehearsed sales pitch. His name was Henry Peter Gyrich, and he had become accustomed to giving this particular pitch to high ranking members of the military, government, and press. This was the first time he had dealt one-on-one with a civilian.
The men stopped at a computer console. On its screen appeared a rotating, wire-frame diagram of what resembled a human skull. Gyrich raised his finger to the touchscreen and with a few movements slid several layers of computer generated graphics into the skull framework. Then his hand moved to the keypad immediately under the touchscreen. A few keystrokes there produced the desired effect.
"All of our designs are produced in a similar manner," stated Gyrich. "And since we've been through the raw material already, perhaps you would like to see what happens when we reach the end stages of production."
The other man looked at Gyrich and nodded. He showed no emotion. He had been through transactions like this one before. "It never behooves one to give away too much," he thought, "especially to money-hungry derelicts like Gyrich."
The two men made a left turn at the end of a vacant, unmoving line, and met a heavily secured elevator door. Gyrich limped forward and produced a keycard, which he ran through the proper channel. The effect of this was that a panel to the right of the elevator door slid open and revealed another computer console. Attached to this console was a numbered keypad and a blue-green translucent horizontal screen, pulsing with electricity.
"Don't worry. It's completely safe," said Gyrich, a clever smirk stretching the corners of his mouth into a slight jester's grimace.
The other man was not amused.
Gyrich continued. He entered a five digit code on the keypad, then laid his palm on the translucent screen. It gave a tame crackle and accepted the given hand as Gyrich's. The door to the elevator opened and the two men stepped inside, whereupon the elevator descended into the waiting dark. The elevator ride was quiet, aside from an occasional musical whistle from Gyrich. When they emerged from the lift, Gyrich spoke.
"What you are about to see is highly classified. We manage to keep what we're doing here a secret. What isn't a secret is how this particular venue for mutant control has been closed to us time and time again by both the government and by rogue mutant organizations. Even the inventor of this technology once dealt critical damage to the success of our operation. We work hard here sir, but we need financial backing to make this happen. I hope you can help us."
Gyrich had opened his mouth to speak more, but the second man wasn't listening. Instead he was staring intently beyond Gyrich's left shoulder, where, along the wall, there were lined several enormous robots, each standing twenty to thirty feet tall. But what caught the second man's attention most of all was an empty space between two of these robots. Along the wall at this empty space were several disconnected electrical cables, several of which were giving off cascading showers of sparks.
Gyrich noticed his speech was falling on deaf ears and turned to see his visitor's focal point. His face burned red with anger. Fuming, Henry Peter Gyrich strode forward.
"Gilberti! Where are you? Gilberti!
There was no answer. Gyrich turned to his guest once more.
"I'm sorry. I gave specific instructions that there was to be no testing of the prototypes. I must find my assistant."
But at that moment, the elevator ground to a start and lifted off the ground back towards the ground level and the main warehouses. Ten minutes later, Dr. Sebastion Gilberti emerged from the recently re-descended lift car.
Gilberti was a middle-aged man. He had a graying widow's peak, with a nearly white goatee that didn't quite match his face. He wore a long black leather coat, unbuttoned across the chest. Under his coat he wore the standard uniform of the scientists working at Gyrich's facilities, a black buttoned shirt with violet buttons and trimmings at the cuffs and neck. He seemed prepared to face Gyrich's wrath, but Gyrich took him by the elbow and drew him aside.
"Gilberti, I gave you instructions that no testing was to be done today. Yet now I arrive with a potential financial sponsor to observe our work and one of the prototypes is not in place. What have you done with it? I see that they haven't been painted yet either. Must I do everything myself?"
Gilberti's face was a little more blank than usual. He seemed puzzled as well.
"You didn't receive my message, sir? I called your offices this morning to say I wouldn't be in until later today. I'm only just arriving now. I've done nothing with any of the prototypes today, although I'm afraid that also means I was not able to paint them either."
The guest spoke up next. He asked, "Is there a problem?"
"Not at all," said Gyrich. "We'll be right over."
Gyrich's anger had defused into confusion, but he still would not jeopardize this chance. He forced himself into a cool, collected mood. He had been waiting years to make significant advancements, years that had only brought his plans toward fruition at a snail's pace. That was about to change, Gyrich told himself. Gyrich was almost right. Something was about to change.
The three men moved over towards the robots. Despite the emptiness in their eye sockets, eye sockets that the visitor recognized from Gyrich's wire-frame 'skull' displayed earlier, they stood ominously, watching the proceedings like sentinels. The three humans gazed back.
It was at this point that things began to go wrong for Henry Peter Gyrich. At this point, a heavy creaking noise issued from a darkened corner of the facility. It was mechanical in nature, as were the two electric-red eyes that greeted the startled gaze of the three onlookers.
The three stood frozen as the missing sentinel stepped from the shadows. It was the robot that broke the silence.
"Surrender now, mutant."
The voice wavered like a radio receiver trying to find a frequency before repeating its demand. Receiving no response from the three men, it advanced upon them. The buzzing voice emanated from the robot again: "Mutant not identified. Surrender now or be subject to consequences."
Gilberti had moved over to the room's main control board upon the robot's first advances and now was typing frantically. The robot raised its arm in the direction of Gyrich and his guest.
"Shut it down," yelled Gyrich, as the visitor gazed in intrigue at the monumental mechanical monster. Despite the threats of the sentinel, he was not afraid. From his post by the computer, Gilberti was encountering difficulty.
"We're locked out! Someone's got access to our system," yelled the scientist.
"How is that possible?"
"It isn't possible!"
"Well, right now circumstances seem to indicate otherwise! Do something!"
"I can't get control back!"
At this point, the robot's raised hand had opened and revealed a circular glowing module on its palm.
"It's going to kill us," yelled Gyrich. And with that exclaimation, the robot delivered a volley of highly concentrated laser beams towards Gyrich and his visitor. The lasers missed their targets, as Gyrich and his guest had leapt behind a row of unused crates and boxes. The robot appeared to be uninterested in Gilberti. After another attempt failed similarly, the robot spoke again.
"Cooperation not received. Lethal force enabled."
With this declaration, metal plates covering the robots shoulders slid to the side and two Gatling Guns made an appearance. Gyrich was beside himself now. He began yelling at Gilberti again.
"Shut it down! Hit self-destruct! Do anything!"
Gilberti had already been working at a feverish rate. His attempts at accessing the 'self-destruct' command had already proved worthless.
"I'm completely shut out of everything. I can't get to the control protocols! I've only got one chance to stop it."
Gilberti was no fool. He had already begun a complete shutdown of the entire operating system, hoping that the hacker was using it to control the attacking robot. The scientist won his gamble, but at a great price. A complete shutdown meant losing years of files, years of work, down the drain. As the last of the system files were destroyed the robot's red eyes faded from view and the beast slumped into an inoperative heap of metal.
The chaos concluded, Gyrich sheepishly helped his visitor from the floor, apologizing profoundly.
"I'm so sorry. If you'll allow me to – "
The visitor cut him off.
"Mr. Gyrich, I've had it with your babbling. I believe I've seen enough."
"Give me another chance, sir. This is merely an anomaly. If you – "
Cut off again.
"Gyrich, be quiet and listen to me before I change my mind. I've decided to finance your entire operation."
Gyrich was speechless. His guest continued.
"I am prepared to deliver you a sum of one million dollars first thing next week to keep your work going," he said, "as a start."
"Whatever you want, I'm sure, sir," stammered Gyrich. He was confused. He had nearly killed a man thanks to a renegade robot, a computer hacker, and what appeared to be a faulty mutant DNA tracer. Gyrich continued: "The first thing we'll do is improve the targeting system. Never again will innocent citizens like yourself be targeted as mutants. I'll see to it personally once we repair the damage here."
Sebastian Shaw straightened his suit, smiled, and made his way back to the elevator.
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