Virus Analysis: Progenitor

The single most important plot point in the series and the backbone of the Biohazard story, it is literally difficult for me to exaggerate the importance and potential of the Progenitor Virus. It can make, remake, and destroy all life, and all the fantastical science behind the monsters and mutations is only possible due to the unique nature of Progenitor.

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Genesis

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The Progenitor Virus is an RNA Retrovirus, and is unusually massive in size, which goes some way towards explaining it's storage capacity for genetic material. For a basic understanding on how viruses work, please watch this very short video.




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Viruses cannot infect just any animal. It's genetic makeup must be compatible with the host in order to affect it's cells. Cross species infection is extremely limited, and it's completely unheard of for a virus to be capable of infiltrating the cells of both a plant and animal. Yet despite all this, Progenitor is capable of infecting all forms of life, be it bacterium, fungus, animal or plant. This is because all organisms on Earth are actually the result of Progenitor producing mutations in microbes long ago. It is responsible for biodiversity, and created life as we know it on Earth. As it mutated the original organisms, the diverse Progenitor Mutants bred and populated the planet, and this has actually been repeated with the G-Virus (see Virus Analysis: Golgotha).


Viruses alter the genetic makeup of cells, but Progenitor, as the agent that created life, is capable of completely changing cells on the most basic level. This element is referred to as it's "DNA Mutation Factor". It's potential here is completely unlimited, and if a virus based on Progenitor guides it's mutations in a certain way, any result can be achieved (best seen in the C-Virus).


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Over time, as life spread and changed, organisms grew weaker and were no longer able to survive the drastic mutations of Progenitor. As the virus spread in the body, the rapid mutations caused cells to break down under the severe changes, resulting in cell death, AKA necrosis.

If a host somehow survived, it would be left in a weakened state. In order to survive, it's metabolism would drive it to consume the protein rich flesh of the uninfected. This is the Zombie mutation, which is inherent to Progenitor, not just the t-Virus. However, Progenitor became too lethal even to create Zombies, and it's unknown if "natural" Zombies ever got the chance to walk the Earth, beyond the test subjects created during Uroboros development.


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Without hosts to establish itself in, all but a single known strain survived extinction (although Alexia's Queen Ant/Insect Virus and the Abyss could also be long lost strains). This strain was able to establish itself in one of the only remaining compatible hosts: the Stairway to the Sun flower, located in an underground area in West Africa. As the game developers chose this place due to the origins of humanity, and because the virus would only cultivate in this spot when Spencer and company discovered it, it could be where Progenitor first appeared in the first place, making the Sun Garden it rests in the birthplace of life. Garden of Eden?

The flower had outstanding endurance, and could grow underground.


This strain of Progenitor was isolated due to it's lethality, but some potential hosts had a unique genetic makeup capable of producing antibodies capable of weakening Progenitor. These hosts could subdue the lethality and drastic mutations of the virus, and would only aquire benificial mutations. This is called adaption, and human adapters are called Progenitor Humans.

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Progenitor Humans possessed some degree of biological immortality, meaning they no longer aged, along with enhanced speed, strength, reflexes, endurance, healing, and intelligence. The series has also dabbled with the idea of adapters possesing mind powers like telepathy. They would retain their human appearance, except for a mutation in the eyes causing them to take on a red reptilian appearance, and to be capable of bioluminesence (glowing) when the host experiences intense emotion.


History of Evil

The flower was eventually discovered by the Ndipaya people, who placed great significance on it and associated it with their sun god. They performed a ritual involving the oral consumption of the flower, where survivors would become Progenitor Humans and be crowned king. While adaption was rare, kings could reign for hundreds of years. The enhanced intellect granted by the virus led to the technological supperiority of the Ndipaya.


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It was around this time that Progenitor (I believe) created Las Plagas, which the Ndipaya used to create primitive B.O.W.s (living weapons). These B.O.W.s eventually destroyed their sprawling underground kingdom, and the ruins (including the Sun Garden and Progenitor) were sealed away and protected by the Ndipaya survivors.


During the expeditions of Henry Travis in the Age of Discovery, he recorded the Ndipaya legends surrounding the flower and it's abilities in his Natural History Conspectus.

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While it was discredited and dismissed by most, a rare copy found it's way into the possession of lord Oswell E. Spencer. He, fascinated by the possible implications of the story, went on an expedition with his friends lord Edward Ashford and Dr. James Marcus to Africa in search of the flower. They discovered the virus in the year 1966, and began to research it. Marcus discovered that the virus was capable of producing life, and deduced it was responsible for life on Earth. With this discovery, he named it accordingly: the Progenitor Virus.





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The three eventually founded the Umbrella Corporation, which would use the virus for both medical and military purposes. In order to use the virus, it had to be weakened to allow hosts to survive infection. Since the Ndipaya days, Progenitor had grown even more lethal in humans, and no human on the planet, even Albert Wesker, could hope to survive long enough to adapt. The t-Virus project aimed to create a strain thousands of times weaker.



The founders planned to use the subsequent virus research to become immortal, and Spencer wanted to create a new world utopia after killing off the unworthy (which led to the Wesker Project). Spencer also had Edward infected with Progenitor, killing him.


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Before Umbrella was founded, Spencer hired researchers and conducted Progenitor experiments at his mansion in Arklay. He created the first weakened strains (Type A and B) and performed experiments on plants and the Trevor Family. Lisa Trevor partially adapted and gained immortality, but at the cost of severe necrosis and brain damage.




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Marcus performed his own experiments at the Umbrella Executive Training Facility. He discovered that arthropods and annelids had more success with the virus, and Leeches in particular were capable of adapting, like the flower. They developed into a new animal far removed from regular leeches, and the recombinant virus it carried (the t-Virus) was weak enough to begin infecting many other animals, including humans.

Alexia Ashcroft used Progenitor to create t-Veronica. Lisa's strain became the prototype for the G-Virus.


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In order to maintain a monopoly on Progenitor, all cultivation was conducted at the secret Africa Laboratory where the Sun Garden was located, and the t-Virus became the default base for many new strains. While production of Progenitor in a lab setting eventually became possible, it was not produced in any other location.



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After the Raccoon City Destruction Incident in 1998, Umbrella's illegal virus research was revealed to the public. In 2003 Umbrella folded, and Spencer buried the Africa Lab's existence to preserve the location of Progenitor. He had all employees who knew of it's existence killed, except for Carlos M., who was interrogated by Albert Wesker (a former Umbrella researcher turned bioterrorist who killed Spencer in 2006) and the multinational conglomorate TRICELL to discover it's location. TRICELL recovered Progenitor and used it to create the Uroboros Virus, along with the Licker Beta and the drug P30.


After the discovery of the Sun Garden by the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) in 2009, it's fate is unknown. But dozens, if not hundreds of artificial viruses carry it's DNA mutation factor to this day.


Symptoms

Modern Progenitor has a number of secondary effects which carry over into other viruses:

  • Necrosis, leading to pale skin, darkened veins, and exposed tissue.
  • Aggression due to hormonal changes and an increase in metabolism that leads to constant starvation. This symptom is the most universal, as what good would monsters be if they weren't aggressive?
  • Size increase due to an increase in growth hormone. This is most noticable in arthropods, but is also commonly seen in mammals and reptiles.
  • Eyeball growths are most common in G, but it comes from Progenitor.
  • Claw development, with bone growth at the tips of fingers.
  • A change in fertility. Arthropods generally become more fertile, while mammals become infertile. The latter may be why Ndipaya kings did not rule by birthright, and was rectified in G.
  • Brain damage. Like infertility, the virus either enhances the host's mental capacity or damages it.
  • Red eyes, due to damage caused to blood vessels.
  • Heart expansion, to the point it emerges from the torso.

Progenitor is also capable of repairing damaged tissue. Even dead cells can be revived, and the virus' regenerative potential borders on the supernatural. It can also cure disease, like cancer.


In the next several comments I examine various mutant examples in greater depth, in addition to the Progenitor-derived drug P30.
 
Mutants

Very few mutants exist in modern times that were directly created by Progenitor, due to it's sheer lethality. Instead, it is used to create weaker variants capable of creating stable B.O.W.s that survive infection. Yet some creatures were created using Progenitor itself.


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Lisa Trevor partialy adapted to the Type B strain, one of the first weakened strains of Progenitor. While technically not injected with vanilla Progenitor, her strain was still extremely lethal, and it's artificial modifications were minimal compared to T. She suffered brain damage and necrosis, which led to facial disfigurements and blackened veins. An increase in growth hormone caused her limbs to extend, and she gained unnatural strength. She also developed an eye growth on her back.

Lisa's most prominent mutation was her increase in vitality and regenerative potential. Being strengthened by the virus has given her a resistance to other viruses, and she was almost completely immortal. Her unique biological status could mean she is a natural adapter like Wesker, and the two are meant to parallel one another.


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Like Lisa, the prior infection of Lickers (evolved Zombies created by the t-Virus) made them resistent enough to survive Progenitor injection. Their mutations into the Licker Beta were limited due to Lickers being an "evolutionary dead end", and there wasn't much room for improvement. They still lacked eyesight, but their other senses were enhanced. Their muscle mass increased further, including tongue length and heart size.

The most significant development was they aquired the ability to breed with one another due to Progenitor's effects on reproduction, which negated the need for cloning. The fact they now had families further enhanced their already significant social nature, and they hunted in large packs.

Strange this detail is so glossed over - the idea of Lickers making whoopie then giving live birth is the single most disturbing detail in RE5.

Licker Betas were distributed on the black market as a replacement for regular and enhanced Lickers.


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Uroboros test subjects created with Progenitor became "proto zombies". Too weak to walk, they relied on playing dead like T-Zombies and waiting for prey to come to them. The outward signs of decay were not as dramatic as T-Zombies, but they were less formidable due to Progenitor's lethality.

Some species of plants, like the Stairway to the Sun and the plant George Trevor stumbled upon, were still capable of surviving Progenitor infection.


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Leeches were the most compatable known non-plant organisms to be able to adapt to Progenitor. Marcus' Leeches are a great example of Progenitor-created, stable new organisms totally different from the host species.

The leeches developed a social nature unheard of in simple parasites, and they developed a queen based society. They would fight and move in perfect unison, and operated together as a single organism. They would even imitate the behavior of others, mainly James Marcus, which is a sign of extremely high intelligence.

Aside from intellectual developments, their breeding capacity was enhanced severely, like the Licker b or T-infected arthropods. They could lay hundreds of eggs that hatched in hours, as seen on the Ecliptic Express.

Each leech developed an eye growth on the back, and sharp teeth on the underside. Even more dangerous than their mouths was the thick liquid they secreted containing their weakened Progenitor strain (t-Marcus).

The liquid secreted by the Leeches allowed them to change their outward color and texture while clumped together. A mass of leeches could take the form of a human being, an excellent ambush technique. The Mimicry Marcus creature is an example of this. The mimicry could maintain it's disguise as long as it remained motionless, but excessive movement caused it to lose it's camoflague, and it only retained a roughly human shape.


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The Queen Leech had the unique ability to incorporate consumed brain matter into it's own biology. By devouring the corpse of Marcus, it gradually turned itself into a copy of him, perhaps in order to enhance it's ability to camaflogue itself and hunt more efficiently. The Queen adopted his memories and personality, and believed it was the real Marcus. Unlike Mimicry Marcus, the Queen could retain a human disguise as it moved, and was even capable of speech. It could control it's inferior offspring with it's voice, and used them to launch an assault on Umbrella. The Queen had greater control over it's appearance, and could shift itself to look like Marcus as a young man or as his elder appearance when he died.

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In the DMC version of RE3.5, there were people from an ancient civilization (these became the Ndipaya in RE5) who turned into monsters from Progenitor and survived into modern times, sealed beneath the Spencer Castle. These creatures lost their identity, and are called Nobody.


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Nobody were formerly warriors, and all that remains is their fighting instincts. They were quadrupeds with claws, like Lickers, and extra limbs like Laura from TEW. They also had eye growths. Their tribal tattoos and attire are still visable.
 
P30

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During the development of Uroboros, some TRICELL researchers experimented with using Progenitor to create new B.O.W.s and to improve old ones. While Progenitor was too lethal to create suitable products itself, it was used to improve Lickers (see above comment). It was also used to create a special chemical drug called P30 ("P" likely being "Progenitor"). Most info regarding P30 is covered in a single file:


http://projectumbrella.net/articles/No-10-Jill-Valentine


There was a drug produced as a by-product of Progenitor Virus research. The drug didn't have a full name and was merely called "P30" among researchers. If this is administered, a test subject can acquire superhuman capabilities and be controlled at the same time. In other words, it's a kind of doping.

The Uroboros Project's purpose was evolution toward a new human race. In this sense, the existential value of this drug was low. But it could be usable as a product. Therefore, "P30" research was continued alongside the "Plaga Project" to create the most powerful soldier who similarly never rebels, but there was a large fault. Effectiveness time was extremely short. A strong point was that after-effects barely remained if it were metabolized and discharged out of the body, but its effectiveness time was too short and it wasn't marketable as a product. Then continuous administration of the drug through an external device was devised. Although its effectiveness time is short, there's no difference in the powerful drug. However, it's unknown whether continuous administration causes damage to the body. In order to find out, they decided to use Jill as a test subject. The external device attached to her chest continued administering the drug to Jill on an ongoing basis. It continued to erode her mind and kept her alive as Wesker and Excella's "toy" until the hour her ex-partner Chris set the spell free.



P30 is also mentioned (it seems) in another file:


http://projectumbrella.net/articles/About-Plaga-Type-3-Field-Test


Our Goal is to create soldiers with superhuman physical abilities without changes in appearance. Only then will it be marketable.

Although another research team seems to be developing a similiar concept product other from the Plaga, it's best to use the Plaga considering it's affinity with humans.



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So P30 was a product in the prototype stage, likely lost after the liberation of Jill and disollution of TRICELL. Being derived from Progenitor, P30 was capable of enhancing the speed, strength, agility, and reflexes of human hosts. However, no actual genetic mutations take place, meaning P30 is not only temporary, but does not damage the host.

Since users of P30 do not undergoe genetic changes, they are not true superhumans. The drugged Jill had abilities exceeding those of a human, but was far less fast and strong as the true superhuman Albert Wesker. Jill could also be killed with a single (or several) gunshots, meaning P30 does not improve vitality or regenerative potential. These shortcomings make P30 users far less dangerous in combat than true B.O.W.s.


P30's more attractive attribute as a product is it's ability to completely control humans without compromising intelligence or causing adverse mutations. The brainwashed Jill was used as an effective messenger and errand runner. P30 causes the mind to enter a state which is highly open to suggestion, forcing the host to obey orders. During this state, the host is still consious and aware, and can recall everything from this state even after the drug has worn off. This means the host can also resist control to a degree, but larger doses of P30 and prolonged exposure can stiffle this.


The reason P30 renders hosts compliant is unknown, but the virus has created monsters before that experience the same phenomenon. This includes t-Veronica and J'avo.


Injection of P30 causes intense pain, likely due to strain on the body. Prolonged exposure has been suggested to cause adverse symptoms like brain erosion, but whether or not Jill suffered long term adverse effects is unknown.

A common misconception is that P30 caused Jill to become blonde. This was actually caused by the t-Virus in her body, not P30.


In short, P30 is a mind control steroid. P30 could possibly be used to control B.O.W.s as well.
 
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