Part 2: Chapter 3
The Biomedical and Biological Research Center was not exactly the place Dr. Emma Frost had wanted to spend her days these past few weeks. She always thought she would leave with some incurable disease and at the very least usually did leave with a treacherous headache from the incessant whirring of expensive instrumentation.
Or perhaps it was Dr. Jean Grey’s fault. Who today, was inappropriately playing Billy Joel’s Easy Money. It was inappropriate, of course, because Emma did not listen to him and thus, thought it was in bad taste. But then, in Emma’s opinion, Jean had terrible taste in everything – except men.
She was wearing a drab navy blue turtleneck and gray slacks complete with sensible pumps and a lab jacket that had to be fitted to her petite frame. Her shoulder length red hair was pulled back in a low ponytail and her makeup was muted, almost non-existent. And yet, she managed to look pretty anyways.
The two women, who would probably never get along, had been forced to team up, when one of Emma’s interests collided with Jean’s assigned project. They both were working on a way to understand the Mutant Growth Hormone, or MGH, Jean biologically speaking, and Emma, psychologically. Because using it was illegal, it was very difficult to obtain samples, and thus, they had very little biological data to work with. However, they had better luck obtaining more qualitative data in regards to accounts made by those who were arrested after using it. So, Emma wondered, why couldn’t they meet in her office instead of here?
“I read the information you provided on hormones,” Emma stated, without even a ‘good morning’. “It was boring and very much over my head.”
Jean glanced up from her notes. Today, the esteemed psychologist was dressed in a deep red dress that stopped before her knees, her usual patterned-type nylons better suited for a dance club and a pair of possibly three or four inch black spike heels with an ankle strap. Her bottle blonde hair was blown out and given a bit of curl, and her makeup finished the sexed-up ensemble, with her pale blue eyes outlined in way too much eyeliner. But then, much as Jean might critique the outfit, the makeup, etc., she was always taken aback by Emma’s ability to wear such things and feel confident. And well, she certainly was beautiful.
Responding now to what Emma had said, realizing Emma basically had asked her why she had provided so much useless science stuff and what exactly were the main points to be taken from it. That was the benefit of both of them being psychic, though Emma was much stronger than Jean was. In fact the only psychic stronger that Jean was aware of was Charles himself.
“I think it’s important that we both have access to everything the other does. I don’t suppose I would understand all of your psychological jargon, either.” She was kind, and did not say ‘bullshit’, but Emma could imply it if she wanted to.
Emma batted her eyes, and smiled. “Relax, Peaches. I’m not going to turn in our report with only my name on it.”
Jean was used to the nickname and the sexual overtones it implied by now, but she would never like it. She wouldn’t have liked it even if Scott had called her that. She continued, “The main point to take from the information I’ve provided is that dissimilar to the human growth hormone, which is found naturally in the pituitary glands, the mutant growth hormone is much less specific in where it is found, and there is also less specificity in where and what it binds to – receptor speaking. In fact, much like the word ‘mutant’ implies, there is evidence to suggest that MGH actually mutates to fit a certain receptor, depending on what is available to it. Almost like a virus.”
“So, the MGH would mutate to, what – fit – into whatever body it was injected in?” Emma didn’t like to play keep-up with Jean’s science talk, but was smart enough to know it was for the best she tried to understand.
And Jean, though she could take pleasure in making the other woman feel stupid, she didn’t. In fact – Emma would never admit it aloud – Jean was a rather good tutor. “In a manner of speaking, yes. If I injected the MGH isolated from a mutant with powers vastly different from mine, the binding sites on that particular form of MGH might not be able to find a capable receptor and thus, might reconfigure itself in order to fit.”
“But wouldn’t that change what the MGH does? If it changed to fit you, so to speak, wouldn’t the powers be aligned to your own?”
“We can look at MGH molecules like various sets of key rings. Each ring is structurally the same, and very similar to the structure of the hGH molecule. However, the main difference is the keys it has attached. In hGH there are two different keys that bind to two different receptors. That isn’t the case with MGH, which has what appears to be two entire chains of proteins, the keys in our example, that are different in every case studied. More interesting is the fact that when certain samples were reexamined, the protein chain had restructured itself, thus, making its binding site different.”
“So, like a key, it has only a certain configuration, made up of this chain of proteins? And that chain usually does not change?”
Jean didn’t want to get into a discussion on the make-up of proteins, but, she thought this was important. And interesting. “Well, proteins are made up of amino acids, and each amino acid must be in a certain position to assemble a certain protein. In MGH, these amino acids are reconfiguring themselves, changing positions, most likely.”
Emma took that in for a moment, and by Jean’s face and tone, could tell that this did not normally happen. But such was the nature of mutants, she supposed. She then asked, “Back to someone taking it: if someone isolated MGH from a specific type of mutant and injected it into say, the exact same type of mutant, what would be the point then?” They were now entering territory Emma could understand.
“Most of this is theoretical, but amplification of a mutant power seems the most likely. Like the synergistic effect of drugs. Take two that enhance the other and get the results you want faster and stronger.”
“Now that, to me, makes sense. And is something a lot of mutants might be interested in.”