Twenty years before the events of The Set-up, the first Medusa Project story, a secret government-funded group of agents, was set up to explore a range of things the government was curious about but couldn’t be seen to be spending public money on. The subjects under investigation included:
- Mythical creatures – or the existence of monsters such as the Yeti and the Loch Ness monster. (ANIMAL)
- Mysteries of the environment – from the Bermuda Triangle, where people allegedly vanish, to reports of statues weeping blood. (ENVIRONMENTAL)
- Psychic phenomenon such as mind-reading and telekinesis. (HUMAN)
Each subject area was investigated by a designated agent whose codenames were, respectively, Cyclops, Chimera and Medusa. Their aim was to unearth genuine examples of apparently inexplicable events and activities and then harness the power of those phenomena to serve mankind.
The Medusa Gene
The agent codenamed Medusa (real name Geri Paterson) coordinated the efforts of International Psychic Phenomenon Investigators (IPPI) across the world. She explored many claims, but the only one that led anywhere was Professor William Fox’s project to develop a mutant gene for psychic ability. Professor Fox was confident that if the gene synthesis he came up was injected into an embryo, it would combine with the hormones released years later, during puberty, and develop into one of a range of psychic abilities. Geri used a man called Jack Linden as an intermediary to fund the project and, when Fox eventually produced a synthesised, mutated gene, Geri was delighted to be able to call it after her own codename: Medusa.
A Fatal Flaw
However, the Medusa gene carried a fatal flaw. It is normal practice for any gene code being transferred into a host body to be embedded in a virus. This happened with Medusa gene synthesis, which was then injected into the umbilical cords of the four babies when they were still in the womb. Unfortunately, the harmless virus that the Medusa gene was embedded in reacted badly to the gene itself. The virus mutated into a fatal cancer which killed the mothers of all the babies, while leaving the babies unharmed. Further experimentation revealed that the gene had this effect on any virus in which it was embedded.
The End of the Project
Once the government realised that the viruses connected with the Medusa gene were killing the Medusa babies’ mums, Fox’s project was stopped. William himself was devastated (his own wife was one of those who died). He lost his own life soon afterwards leaving his brother, Fergus, with crucial information on the identities of the Medusa babies.
With Fox dead, his work on the gene discredited – the mothers had died and no-one would know for 14 years whether the gene implantation would lead to the development of psychic abilities – and no other convincing leads, the IPPI folded after five years. Geri took up new, unrelated work as a government agent. However, her interest in psychic phenomena never abated and she never forgot William’s work…