If you've ever heard of Griffin, please report immediately to your nearest station for memory modification. Then we'll give you a lollipop. Even if you're the President of the United States, don't worry; we'll fix it up, no matter what we have to do. There's even a saying we have about that: "We don't consider ourselves above the law, just before it." The Articles of Confederation were only a dream when Griffin was established, and some of our counterparts are even older than that.
If you want proof of how Griffin perverts the law, just look at the Watergate Scandal. Nixon wasn't responsible; we were. A new recruit forced our hand by leaving evidence that just couldn't be ignored, so several memories were modified using the drugs we developed as part of our research. Even Nixon thinks he's guilty, but Griffin knows better. Well, just some of the older operatives. Everything in Griffin is on a need-to-know basis. That way, you can't know enough to take them down without massive numbers of people from among Internal Records personnel, Operations Managers, and the test subjects themselves. That's too many to hide from the Board of Reconciliation and Oversight's loyal spies, in theory.
It is in this way, my fellow operatives, that the much retold mission of the original BROs lives on in our midst. Pay attention to now to the modern mission statement.
They say lycanthropes, werewolves to us field Ops, are strong and fast, and they're right. Griffin's mission is to capture and hide werewolves so they can research their abilities. Werewolves have been around since ancient times, when they joined the ranks of conquering armies. Their fierceness, bravery, and fast healing made them the perfect soldiers. In the wars of today, however, their feral wolf-logic wouldn't work, and a lycan in the middle of a Change is extremely vulnerable.
That's where science comes in. Griffin scientists do experiments on lycans to try to develop a superman serum based off the lycanthropic mutation of the rabies virus, which we just call "the virus". They're not ready to inject it into people yet, but werewolves are less than people to them. They're feral, wild, and a danger to society, so if they're going to be rehabilitated—ha, murdered—why not get some science out of them? It's not like they're experimenting on actual humans.
A certain blundering new recruit used to agree with them, until one mission at Watergate. I was hot on the trail of an escaped werewolf during her Firstchange stage, an infected relation of a Griffin operative (rel-Op) who had come to us, then panicked and made a run for it. My team knew she was harmless, so we split up. They actually trusted the rookie to call them on the unlikely chance she was down the corridor they'd given me.
I can only imagine the agony she felt when I cornered her, and the fear combined with the time and the full-moon-like lamp behind me to trigger her Firstchange. I should have known it was behind me, should have known to look for the bright, round objects that can trigger a Firstchange when the moon is full and the virus has programmed the brain to search for that shape. That programming goes away after the Firstchange, as it's only a way to ensure the virus can mature and take up full inhabitation. The Firstchange is the most painful, the peak of a human's losing side of the battle against the virus before they start adapting to living with it, but it's also the most dangerous. The Firstchange is the time when a lycan is least in control of itself.
I saw the target, and in my exultation at my first real capture mission I forgot about backup, even forgetting to scout for possible triggers, one of the most basic of all rules. I stepped forward, then back again, horrified, as I saw the light, this werewolf's moon substitute, reflected in her eyes. I just had the time to feel guilty for forgetting, even for that moment when I'd stepped forward, that this was my adoptive sister, Joann, and that I never wanted her to get hurt. Then the horrible twitching of a Firstchange started, and all I could feel was a stomach-churning mixture of revulsion and horrid fascination at witnessing my very first Change.
It's a very complex physiological reaction, really. Of course they don't actually turn into wolves. Changes are a whole lot worse. The skin tightens, especially around the fingers and gums, which gives the appearance of lengthening teeth and nails. Facial features become super-defined, warping to appear more canine. Muscles, including the heart and diaphragm, flex and pull off-rhythm, causing the body to convulse uncontrollably as if with seizures. The lining of organs tightens as well, and the airways constrict, turning screams to nothing more than a snarling rasp that sounds like growling as the lycanthrope tries to suck air in. All the while, the virus fires synapses like crazy in the brain. Aggression is rocketed sky-high, and that's when it's best to run if you're not a trained Griffin operative with special equipment.
Most newbies panic in the face of a Change, which is why we're rarely alone as I was. I didn't. Instead, I tuned off the light, knowing it would hurt Joann's eyes, and taped the door open so she could escape, a cover story for it already forming in my mind, being careful to avoid over-rehearsing. It was typical newbie mistake, unlike misleading the rest of my team so a potential weapon could get away.
I still can't explain why I hid Joann, although I can find plenty of reasons now. Maybe it was because I knew her before she was bitten. Maybe it was because she'd come to us in false security, knowing she'd be safe and would still be treated okay even of they locked her up for her protection. There was a contract, a plan in which any infected operative or their relations would be secured, but cared for. Instead they nabbed her, then turned around, ripped up the contract, and threw her into the pen with the others. This was a human, family, a person I knew who had been pushed into a cage of dirty, smelly, unwashed bodies covered in sweat and tears and often blood.
I had never seen the cage before, so I followed them. It was the stench I noticed first, an ugly animal scent of sweat and pain and fear. I nearly doubled over and threw up everything I had, but I hadn't eaten and was dry-heaving with nothing left to give. Undiscovered after my few seconds of recovery, I went ahead and opened the door, already regretting the choice but too curious to stop myself. It was absolutely appalling. Some people were twitching in the middle of a Change, accidentally trodden on as they writhed on the floor merely because of the confined space. Others, in a post-Change haze of aggression and euphoria, squabbled with pack leaders and yanked, howling, at the chain link, beyond logic in their fear and rage. Most of them stood huddled in tight groups which I assumed were packs, talking and whispering among themselves. Their clothes were in varying degrees of shreds, but among the packs I saw one made entirely of people with the Griffin crest on their protective jumpsuits, which apparently hadn't been protective enough. They'd obviously gotten rid of the regular clothes they must have been wearing over the suits, but every Griffin in there displayed badges and standard-issue uniforms.
"Joann," I tried to yell, but I was speechless. The Griffin pack was heading toward where she sobbed against the chain-link when my team leader led me away, and then my chance to speak with my sister was lost.
"They're not human anymore, Jake," they all told me, "Not after the Warping takes over their minds." But they were wrong. I'd seen human people shaking, sobbing, coughing, screaming, and huddled in groups. They shared human fear and human pain and human understanding that they were all doomed.
When the entire population revolted three days later, picking the locks expertly with hairpins and bits of wire—a Griffin ID had been jammed in the electronic card slide to trap the guards after the escapees had shorted the mechanism—and the remaining operatives were sent to recover them, I denied and feeling of attachment to the test subject, using the stench to explain the tears, so I could keep my job.
Griffin still held a certain attraction to me, and besides I didn't want to be mindwiped and given a new job fit only for the mindless drones created by extensive memory modification. It's the reason most Griffin operatives stay in the organization until they die— decommissioning, that is. Decommissioning, in the beginning, was why I didn't just leave the organization, even after I'd learned of the inhumanity.
After that, I was just too involved in my own sector of Griffin, named Novus, Latin for new. Novus Griffin wanted to learn about lycanthropy, too. But when I showed my own team the horrors I'd seen years and promotions earlier in the bowels of the Griffin labs, I swore them in to protect werewolves. By the time I'd moved from team leader to station manager, hiding infectees and assisting in escapes of all sorts, Novus Griffin had spread into every sector. Even the lycans as a whole got wind of it, and once they realized we were on their side we were contacted by Matt DeMain's pack. For the longest time, they'd been the only pack which didn't persecute ex-Griffin operatives. DeMain, the Alpha of many Betas and females and son of a long line of ex-G's, wanted in on Novus Griffin.
A/N: Some revisals have been made, mainly typos and grammar boo-boos. There have also been a few slang modifications, the most important being that "op" as in "operative" has become "Op" in order to differentiate between it and "operations", which has remained as "op". I will update forwards to Chapter 8 throughout the month, just to keep it all spread out.