Crosse was a small city rutted deep inside Michigan, having stood through its own share of bitter-cold winters. Those who drove through on Highway 97 might stop in one of the many fast-food restaurants that dotted the main road, stay overnight at a hotel, and be on their merry way that morning. It would simply serve as a quick stop on their way to other, more modern places. The people of Crosse would smile, offer friendly chatter to strangers, and bid them a safe trip when they left. It was what they would always do; it was what they were paid to do.
Out of all the buildings in Crosse, only one stood out among the other low-rise structures. Perched on top of a steep hill on the east side of the city was what was simply referred to as "The Hospital." A towering, cinder-block faced rock that loomed over the city – and yet retained the sterile look of a decent medical facility. The only difference was if a curious traveler wandered too close, a Jeep carrying two identically armed guards met them in mid-stride and escorted them back into town. Each time, they were given the same excuse: "The Hospital has been quarantined by the Federal Government. For your own safety, we advise you leave the immediate area."
If that wasn't enough to coax the unwanted to leave, they were always ready to let their two standard-issue M-16's persuade them further. After a few years, this urgency to "preserve the health of the immediate public" began to attract conspiracy theorists of all sorts. Even so, the reason for secrecy was always the same, and The Hospital came to be a name synonymous with Area 51. Yet, as if defying human nature, nobody came. No cameras, no TV shows, no postcards. It was there… and yet the world had somehow made a conscious effort not to think about it, or what could be inside. That was a secret held on so tightly, that even the residents of Crosse could only harbor speculation.
In truth, The Hospital was an illusion. One so thorough that in the unlikely event that the entire building seen above the ground were to disappear, there would still be reason to pay the guards. This was a facility contained completely underground. The hill served only as the upper level. The manmade cave that was referred to under a different title stretched underneath the city in all directions, serving not as a hospital, but as the largest and most secure laboratory the United States Government had ever funded. Its purpose was not medicine, but gene research. But even a child could tell that a research facility would not need such high measures of security. At best, that sort of place would only require one underpaid knob of human guarding a hut with a wood stick hanging in front of the road. This massive lab was protected by a force that could stand up against and easily repel a S.W.A.T. Team, and perhaps even a small army. What wasn't apparent on the outside became very real on the inside.
The organization that ran the lab had one simple name that was found on nearly every piece of equipment that went into it:
A web of corridors streaked out from the main entrance – a large lift resting inside a room marked "RADIOLOGY" somewhere deep inside The Hospital – and for every corridor were at least fifty doors. While the doors in The Hospital were only a precaution to fool anyone who would see inside the building, each one underground inside GenTech had its purpose. Guards stood watch in each hall with their rifles armed from muzzle to stock. Night vision scopes were fully adjusted on the body of the guns, along with an attachment that was designed for grenade rounds. But inside GenTech, lethal force was not considered as an option. With the amount of sensitive equipment, foot traffic, and specimens, the guns were loaded with tranquilizers and tear gas. Tests had shown that everybody inside was vulnerable to the cocktails stored in those high-power rifles.
In the center of the maze, directly under Crosse Park, was a constantly closed door painted red. It was the only other color than white in the sterile web work, and inside there was even more to be seen. The door contained a cavernous and separate laboratory that was different than all the others. While the hundreds of smaller labs were devoted to research and refinery, this main room served as the cornerstone of GenTech's existence. The whitewash room sank more than ten stories deep and resembled a missile silo. On every level of this cylinder was a steel catwalk that clutched the walls. Each ten levels were connected by small stairwells, and two bisecting steel walks that cut the large circles into fourths. Exactly twenty people roamed this cylinder, two to each level. One to each half. Half of what?
The walls of the cylinder were not quite walls as they were stacks. Stacks of smaller cylinders. 200 of them lined the outer borders of the lab like cans on a store shelf, only that this store didn't sell produce. When you worked in a subterranean, secretly funded laboratory that was guarded by the U.S. Military, you didn't sell things. You made them, and you made them in bulk.