34 Why Live?

I posted a new discord link in the description as the old one expired.


11:00 am

That was what his internal clock informed him as Toby the lizard lounged upside down on his messy hair, his tiny belly filled with his favourite insects.

"The stability problem..." Peter frowned. Everything about Extremis sounded too good to be true until one stumbled upon the stability problem, a problem that almost every biologically enhancing serum had - well, a virus in this case.

After a week of studying the Extremis enhancement through Killian's blood, he'd hypothesized why Extremis was so unstable. It had a ninety-eight per cent chance of being accurate, but one shouldn't look down on the two per cent.

The short answer was that it was man-made.

The long answer is that with current technology, one could not replicate the sheer number of intricacies that nature had developed with billions of years at its disposal. The closest thing to it would be Peter's BOE, but even that stole most of its mechanisms from Nature!

Killian's and Maya's Extremis was inherently unstable due to it also being a Techno-organic virus. Unlike natural viruses that evolved over millions of years to balance stability and replication, it lacked this natural optimization. The artificial genetic sequences it introduces are prone to errors, mutations, and instability. Moreover, it constantly seeks to optimize its host, which could mean that any accidental errors would lead it to fight against itself, in turn making the subject explode in a big fat boom.

Injecting yourself with Extremis would be playing a game of chance with the odds completely against you. If you survived by some miracle, your sanity wouldn't have.

Natural viruses also have evolved to have checkpoints and regulatory mechanisms that ensure their replication and integration into a host's genome - evolutionary safeguards that are tightly controlled. Extremis, on the other hand, lacks the aforementioned safeguards.

Lastly, natural viruses are part of complex ecosystems where they coexist with host organisms, gradually adapting to ensure their survival without causing the host's immediate destruction. Extremis, created artificially, lacks such an ecosystem. It doesn't have the evolutionary pressure to maintain long-term stability within a host.

"Thus, the only answer to the stability problem is to create a perfect virus," Peter deduced, rubbing his chin as Toby rolled around in his soft hair, clearly in complete bliss.

If one was merely looking through an evolutionary lens, a perfect virus should strive not to harm the host in any way. Why, one may ask?

To answer that question, one must ask one of the most fundamental questions - why live at all?


What makes organisms strive every day to get their hands on food and water while trudging through harsh environments, whether it be physical or mental? Some may answer survival but why survive? What's the point of it all?

This line of questioning would inevitably lead to a philosophical rabbit hole or an existential crisis, but biologically speaking, the purpose of life forms is to replicate. Plain and simple. The spreading of one's genes is all that we should, biologically speaking, care about, and that is the same for viruses, too.

Sure, the debate on whether viruses are truly living seems to continue on endlessly with no clear definition in sight. Still, fundamentally, it too wishes to replicate as much as possible - the killing of cells in the host body is just an unfortunate side-effect that may cause harm to you. The virus would most definitely wish to send its condolences to you if it could.

If, theoretically, a selective pressure forces a virus to evolve to never harm the host, then it would, technically speaking, be the most successful virus ever as the host would not die and it could continue to replicate until the body expires.

'I can't let Extremis be contagious in any shape or form, and I need to genetically engineer the evolutionary safeguards into Extremis,' Peter deduced, scratching his head unconsciously, which woke an angry Toby from his sleep. The tiny lizard gave Peter's finger a tiny chomp in an attempt to convey its anger, but that only made Peter chuckle.

'But that would lead to a greatly delayed procedure that would greatly increase the chance of developmental errors. I wouldn't be surprised if that would kill the subject within two days,' Peter frowned and removed his finger from his head, which made a now proud Toby snuggle back into his hair. 'I need a catalyst. Something to speed up the reaction, while not destabilizing it.'

He thought for a while, but most of his ideas led to creating nanomachines - something in which he had no expertise. Sure, Gwen could help him, but he doubted she could pull it off within half a decade. After all, even Tony Stark, the greatest engineer to have ever existed, dwarfing the likes of Richards and Doom, took the entire Infinity saga to invent and perfect it.

'But without nanomachines, technopathy and the Cybernetic Interface are a no-go,' he mentally sighed. Extremis had coded for the aforementioned powers, but the main component in them was nanomachines, which Killian and Maya couldn't figure out. "Eh, I'll create my own methods for the powers later. It would be better anyway."

He stood up and began pacing around the room, carefully using his Adhesive touch to prevent Toby from tumbling down.

"Do I even need a catalyst..." he whispered, thinking. If he found a dead-end, he could either break through it or find another way. In most cases, finding another way was much, much easier.

'The problem is Extremis being too slow if I induce evolutionary safeguards, effectively increasing the chance of errors... thus if I temporarily keep the virus dormant...'

"Oh my god! I am so DUMB!" Peter grumbled, facepalming with enough force to produce a tiny shockwave that woke Toby up again.

"Right under my nose, and I take five fucking minutes to figure it out," Peter grumbled as a rage-filled Toby expressed his feelings with a series of quiet chirps, the loudest he could muster. "Alright, alright, I won't do it again."

'I could make the Extremis Virus act as a Retro-virus. And then induce it via... something... to activate it,' he thought furiously, marvelling at the ingenious idea.

Retroviruses were one of the many banes of humanity - HIV being one of their main harbingers of doom. Its genetic material called 'proviral DNA' integrates into the host cell's chromosomal DNA. It becomes part of the host cell's genome, residing there as a stably integrated sequence.

It sits there, completely harmless, perfectly integrated into the cell's genetic material - an imposter among the DNA.

The scariest thing about it is that when the cell divides and replicates, the provirus (the integrated genetic material of the virus) also replicates with it, leading to more and more cells being infected via the very fundamental property of cell replication.

Then, under certain conditions - BAM! it becomes transcriptionally active, and the cell produces the proteins to assemble multiple other virus particles that infect other cells.

'I could genetically engineer the Extremis virus to integrate 'Proviral DNA,' which would not be transcriptionally active and then activate it after it has properly integrated into all the cells,' he thought and his eyes began glowing a bright green. 'Then I can induce it to become transcriptionally active so that Extremis would begin modifying and optimizing the cells without overloading the body with errors.'

'This is the perfect method for genetic modification...', Peter whispered to himself, while Toby smacked his reptilian lips, oblivious to the world-shattering discovery his human friend had just completed.

Not only would this let him activate Gwen's latent potential, but it would also allow him to integrate BOE and BIHT in a much better fashion - a less painful way, which would make future evolutions much smoother.


His internal clock gave him a notification.

11:15 am

"Shit! Need to meet Gwen," he swore, slipping out of his lab coat and flying out of the door with an angrily chirping Toby demanding more insects as compensation for being woken up three times in a row.


"Who is he..." a quiet voice demanded as it loomed over two trembling figures who were kneeling with their faces glued to the marble floor.

Another figure lay splayed on the floor, panting in pain as its four metallic tentacles lay ripped into pieces. It looked as though it once had metallic armour around it, but now it resembled a scrap heap, the person's face bloodied and limbs broken. It was Otto Octavius, one of the greatest minds of the human race.

"...My arms," he whimpered with his teeth broken, unable to form a coherent sentence. Olivia and Harald seemed to have done quite a number on him.

"He was a bystander to the... fight, Your Highness. We thought he would have valuable information," Olivia rasped.

An elegant hand in a white glove reached down and grabbed Otto by the head, bringing him up to her eye level. Otto's own swollen eyes cracked open a little, only to be met by two fearsome blue irises that were filled to the brim with rage, hate, and loss.

"Who are... Aaaarghhhh!!!!" Otto yelled as Emma's psyche pierced through his mind, searching through every single thing, paying no heed to his well-being.

"Aaaaarghhhh!!!!" the screams continued as Emma searched through Otto's most recent memories, seeing in clear detail how he made a plan to ambush Killians, destroy the military, and escape with Extremis for his twisted uses.

She saw as Otto's plans were crushed by Shaw and his Knights who were then ambushed by a man with adamantium claws and two kids with superpowers.

"CHARLES!!!" She growled through clenched teeth as she watched the infamous Wolverine and the X-men attempt to corner Shaw and lead him away from the runway. She watched as Kurt Wagner betrayed Shaw, which filled her with guilt. Just how much more powerful was Xavier that he could create barriers that not only evaded her investigation but also produced such convincing memories?

She pushed away the questions and continued watching as the X-men were trying to tire Shaw out by constantly placing obstacles in his path.

'But this could not have killed him,' Emma thought in confusion, as she watched Shaw break the ground to reveal Kitty Pryde and Bobby.

'Perhaps he was merely captured and his mental barrier destroyed...', Emma thought as Shaw leaped toward Bobby, hope slowly filling her chest. 'The X-men don't kill all that much, do they? Yes, Shaw's probably still aliv-



{Shhhhhh... You were loud enough so far. Die quietly.}

Emma's pupils trembled as the scene of a giant draconic figure piercing Shaw with its claws shattered the tiny hope that had begun growing in her heart. The monster's intimidating figure now seared into her mind, never to leave.




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