XVIII. All The Answers

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Chapter Eighteen
Soroya


Bruce sighs, starring at the screens in front of him for a moment. I'm sitting on the table again, with Bucky by my side. Alex and Khari are of course here, but this time T'Challa, Nakia, and Okoye are joining us also. All three are trying to give me reassuring looks, but everything about this situation unsettles me. Even though I know what the answer will be, as Bruce and Shuri turn back to me, I feel my heartbeat pick up.

"Okay, so I read through the file Alex gave me. I got the formula for the PROJECT SHIFTER serum, and as I suspected, it matches the serum in your DNA. This goes for you too, Alex. You both have PROJECT SHIFTER and PROJECT SAVAGE in your genes." Bruce informs us.

"But the thing is," Shuri adds. "The sample of the serum you got at Becker's house, is different from the original formula like the one in your DNA."

I nod, not at all shocked. "When PROJECT SHIFTER failed, HYDRA basically fired her. Before she fled for England she gave serum to Alex, then stole my parents to experiment on them. She started tampering with her serum formula, so it makes sense it's different."

Alex shakes his head. "I've never understood why Mama and Papa never died. Her serum killed the other subjects, why not them?"

Shuri leans against the table I'm sitting on, contemplating for a moment how to explain what she's about to say; "The serum she gave your parents was different from the one she gave the other eleven subjects in the project. It had several new components that weren't as deadly. But I think there's a quirk in your genetic makeup that helped all four of you live. I think your mother and father had the two components of the genetic quirk, so it was enough to keep them from dying. But the two gene pools combined together, are partially what allows you to be able to shapeshift. Analiese Remington got the serum and there were tons of other subjects. She was the only one the serum worked on. I think she has the same genetic quirk."

"So the reason Alex and I didn't die, was because we have a genetic quirk that allowed us to accept the serum that was given to us?" I ask.

"Partially," Shuri repeats. "If you had been given the serum from PROJECT SHIFTER and not PROJECT SAVAGE, you would have died like the others. The mutated human stem cells in the serum have traces of radiation in them. I think this is what killed the other subjects. They were basically injected with chemicals and radiation. With you and Alex, you have the mutated stem cells along with the mutated animal cells. This combination along with your genetic quirk is what allows you to shapeshift and control it."

"How does that work?" Bucky inquires.

"From what I read in Becker's notes," Bruce begins. "She thought using the regenerative healing factor of a starfish, the appearance changing abilities of a cuttlefish, and the animal stem cells in an immortal jellyfish, would allow a person to turn into animals. Stem cells are the key here. There are cells in every human and animal, and they can turn into any type of cell the body needs. When she tried to make a serum to turn a person into another person, she turned to human stem cells to do the trick. In order to make it work, she needed to combine the radiation she added into the human stem cells into the formula she created for PROJECT SAVAGE."

"So if I have the stem cells for both humans and animals inside me, why can I only change into animals?"

Bruce tilts his head to the side, considering this. "I would guess that's because of the animal DNA in the serum. So when the radiation is activated and your stem cells are looking to see what cells they need to transform into, they latch onto the animal DNA in your genes. But stem cells are in every animal on the planet, and it's that common factor that allows you to shift into any animal you want. In theory though, with a few more chemicals added to the mix, you could shapeshift into both."

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