[b Bioterrorism is terrorism involving the intentional release or dissemination of biological agents. These agents are bacteria, viruses, or toxins, and may be in a naturally occurring or a human-modified form.]
[i Terrorism has come and gone throughout the world in many forms. We have battled it many times and showed our solidarity when we have needed to the most and it has been years since we have experienced anything like a terrorist attack. Instead the people of planet earth put as much time into developing cures for diseases and now 90% of the planet's killer diseases are only as lethal as a common cold. There are companies that have made billions developing and distributing cures but there doesn't seem to be a need for them any more - not now that they have eradicated their targets.]
[i In a world where science has cured most of the planets horrors who would have thought we were on the cusp of an apocalyptic world? No one could have expected this to happen but the world cannot know about it yet. Perhaps somebody somewhere got a little bored making cures or perhaps one of the companies decided that they wanted to make more money. Whatever the reason behind this despicable attempt at wiping out the human race is, we will put a stop to it.]
Someone has created a disease - one that can spread quickly and kill just as quick and it only started with one person. When the CDCP get involved they recruit someone from the FBI to help find the person responsible for releasing such a deadly disease. For now they have them in contained in a bio-facility but with no way of know how it is being spread or what the strand is, there is no hope for a cure - especially when the victim of the disease is showing more and more complicated symptoms and is fading fast. They can culture the disease just not a cure; not yet.
Can the CDCP and the FBI work together to find the terrorist and put a stop to another fatal disease from spreading amongst the human race?
Eli listened intently to Mrs. Yazan as she spoke about her husband. He was apparently a good man, a good husband and a good father. She spoke fondly of him, and yet fearful of his uncertain future. She gave him permission to break the lock of his door, and warned that Mr. Yazan did not bring his work home. Happy Wife = Happy life. She didn’t want it in the house, and he didn’t bring it, but apparently he’d grown more secretive. He also apparently wasn’t sleeping well and had resigned himself to more hours at his home office. Eli knew then, he’d heard enough. He mulled over his own thoughts as he drank the warm tea while Sophie and Mrs. Yazan conversed. He wondered what Eris had found on the son’s computer.
Upstairs Eris stood beside the young boy as he showed her internet searches he’d found pertaining to the same field of study his father worked in. Considering what he had wasn’t much to go on, it was still more than what Eli and Eris had been given. He was rather good for someone so young, and showed her images of the same doctors that were in their mission folder.
“They’ve all gone missing too, my dad went to a conference with these guys a few years back in London.” Well that was new. Their file didn’t say anything about Yazan actually knowing these doctors.
“Does he know them personally?” Eris asked. The boy nodded and rifled through a stack of notebooks before opening one and showing her a picture with two post-it tabs noting the same two missing scientists and doctors.
“Yeah, he grew up with them in Israel. They went to school together too, and they came here back in the late 70’s on student visas. Dad stayed state side, but this guy went back to Israel, and this guy moved to the UK.” The son explained pointing each of them out in the old photograph. Eris was impressed. Now it was confirmed that the missing scientists knew one another, and their one infected scientist was connected with this afterall. Eris smirked, and took the Photo and the notebook.
“You don’t mind if I take this and make copies do you? I’ll give it back,” She lied. The kid probably wouldn’t see this notebook again if he let her have it.
Surprisingly, the boy shrugged his shoulders. “Whatever helps you figure out what happened to my dad and who’s trying to kill him,” he said. Eris nodded her head.
“I’ll try my best. You’ve given me a lot of good material the FBI didn’t have. Keep this up and you might have my job one day,” She joked. The kid smirked and nodded.
“That’s what I’m hoping to do when I get older. I want to work Cyber Intelligence for the FBI, or maybe the CIA.” Eris arched a brow at that and wanted to laugh.
“The CIA is a joke, all they know how to do is funnel drug money to pay for pointless wars.” The boy’s jaw dropped
“For serious?” He asked on a gasp.
“Hell no, kid,” She told him. “Didn’t you know? They’re actually in the business of spying on American Citizens… Spying on our foreign enemies is soooo 1999,” She teased.
“I can’t tell if anything you just said was truth or a joke,” the teen mused, scratching at his head. Eris was about to speak when she heard Eli call for her from down the stairs.
“That’s my cue, time to boogie,” She said and took the material with her from the room and down the stairs where she met Eli with Mrs. Yazan and Dr. Harlow.
“What’s up?” Eris asked looking at them all curiously, and looking sorely out of place in the home with her black hair and tattoos.
“Mrs. Yazan has given us permission to unlock Dr. Yazan’s office and see what he’s got in there.”
“Awesome!” Eris exclaimed with a big smile to Mrs. Yazan. “I love it when people cooperate with investigations. To be on the safe side, we’ll still request a Search Warrant so all our bases are covered-“
“That’s not nessecary,” Mrs. Yazan cut in. “I want you to find out who did this to my husband… even if he did it to himself.” Eli tossed her an almost shocked look. It wasn’t often they heard people say things like that.
“Well alright,” he murmured and they followed Mrs. Yazan to a door at the back of the house, and she jiggled the handle.
“It’s locked, but, as I’ve said: I’m sure you have your methods.” Eli nodded his head, but stepped back as Eris was the one to pull a bobby pin from her hair and began to play with the lock of the door. It took her a good moment, but the door finally gave way.
“Hell yeah! Nancy Drew for the win,” She whispered under her breath as she stepped back and walked in first.
The office was dark, and chaotic. Papers were everywhere, a whiteboard had formulas and notes scribbled all over it. Eli had no idea what it was, but he was sure Dr. Harlow might. Eris made a beeline for the computer and powered it up. Eli walked around the room looking for anything that might stand out to him, when the computer made a sound and a voice began to chant a series of words in Arabic. Eli recognized what they were saying, too little too late.
“OUT! EVERYONE! ERIS-“
The words were: “Death on you and your family! Betrayal will not be forgiven!”
The Eli had just enough time to grab Dr. Harlow beside him and duck for cover. Mrs. Yazan had never entered the office, but ducked away behind the wall just in time. The computer had been rigged into a bomb, and detonated right in Eris’ face. The blast rocked Eli and Dr. Harlow to the ground, while fire began to consume the office and the debris of the computer. The explosion decimated the desk, nearby paperwork, knocked the whiteboard back, and took out the window of the office. Once the dust cleared, but the fires began to rage, Eli helped Dr. Harlow to her feet and rushed towards the fallen figure of Eris. “Eris?” He asked coughing in the smoke as his hears rang from the explosion. He turned her body over to see her eyes closed, jaw slackened, and half her face covered in burn marks, and blood, blood was everywhere. A piece of the monitor had stabbed right into her chest, deeply imbedded. He felt for her pulse and saw her hand that had been by the PC was practically gone. Her pulse was thready and fading. “ERIS!” He tried to shake her awake, but he knew she was dying. He’d seen too many IED’s take too many lives when he served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if she did survive, she would be an amputee and disfigured for life.
Upstairs came panicked screams from the children as they came running downstairs. Mrs. Yazan had bolted from the room to collect them and run outside. Eli had to get Eris and Dr. Harlow out.
“Can you walk?” Eli shouted to Dr. Harlow. She was able to evacuate the home on her own and Eli hefted Eris into his arms and carried her out. Smoke was filling the house and neighbors had come out to investigate what had happened. MRs. Yazan was in shock, and her oldest was the one on his phone calling 911 for first responders. Eli took the phone from him though after he provided the address.
“Dispatch, this is FBI Agent Eli Cook. I have an agent down and need an ambulance STAT.” He laid Eris down on the sidewalk and felt again for her pulse, but this time it was gone. He sat on the sidewalk beside her and covered his face with his hand -defeated at the loss of the only partner he’d ever cared for. He felt guilt for surviving while she died. It just wasn’t fair.
Sophie signed herself out of the building and removed her lab coat before making her way to the car that Eli and Eris would use to drive to the family home of Dr Yazan. She kept her ID badge with her just in case it had been too long since she had last seen the family. She remembered being told that before her accident she was a regular at their home for dinner at least once a week but now she barely knew them after throwing herself into her work because it was the only thing she was still familiar with. Eris’ voice broke the silence by asked Eli what was on his mind. This conversation was none of her business so she remained silent until Eris addressed her directly and a smile appeared on her lips as they parted to reply but Eli interrupted them before she could.
As they pulled up to the house she took in the grandeurs of it, it was as though she was seeing it for the first time and even though she had technically seen it before, she hadn’t been there since her accident. As they exited the car Sophie couldn’t help but feel slightly nervous about this. It had been a long time since she had seen Dr Yazan’s family and she could barely remember them but still she composed herself and waiting for Mrs Yazan to come to the door.
“Sophie, how wonderful to see you, my it had been years.” She reached out and embraced her for a moment and pulled back. “What brings you here? Any progress?”
“Mrs Yazan, I am here with the FBI who have taken a particular interest in what has happened to your husband. This is Agent Cook and Agent Alcone, they have a few questions for you and your family. Is now a good time?” When she invited theM in it seemed Eris was more than happy with the offer of food and she had to hold back a laugh as her enthusiasm. She left Eris and Eli enter first and followed behind them, smiling warmly towards their host.
When they were introduced to the family you could almost feel the tension in the room but Sophie new that the conversation wouldn’t last long, at least until they had eaten and she took a seat at the table and as Mrs Yazan did, Sophie bowed her head out of respect. She remembered how her husband spoke of their faith and how they prayed before they ate and never spoke of business during dinner. It was strange to think this was the first time she had eaten here since her accident. The food was good and the conversation was light and she overheard Eris talking to one of her children about computers and she was enjoying listening until Mrs Yazan addressed her directly.
“We miss you around here Sophie. You know that we once considered you a part of our family. My husband told me what happened to you and I am so sorry that you had to endure something so terrible. I can’t imagine what you must have gone through. Has anything come back to you dear?” She asked as she placed her hand on top of hers and she simply shook her head in reply. She was glad that Eris and one of her children got up to leave the table because she didn’t want to really talk about what happened to her; that was not why she was here. Instead, she helped Mrs Yazan clear the plates and waited for family to retreat from the dining table.
After that they were led into a sitting room where they would start to talk more seriously about the case. The way Eli spoke to her made her look up towards him. Did he suspect the family had something to do with this or was he just unable to make people feel a little more comfortable? It didn’t seem to faze Mrs Yazan though who sat there sipping her tea, seemingly giving herself time to formulate a response.
“I see, well for starters, his home office is locked and I don’t have a spare key but I am sure you have your ways to get into the office and you are more than welcome to have a look around. As for his behaviours, he very rarely brought work home, it was one of the rules in our house. His work could be stressful sometimes so we didn’t talk about it at home. He was a little anxious for a while when Sophie was off work.” She said turning to Sophie, “I’m sure that is more to do with the work load increasing while she was recovering but that seemed to disappear when she returned to work.” It all seemed very logical really, they were once close and he would have been worried about her and the lab.
“Mrs Yazan, at work he became quite secretive about his work. He very rarely shared his research and he didn’t do a lot in the office. Would you say that his time spent in his home office had increased recently?” Sophie asked, knowing that the answer would be yes. He must have been working on something she didn’t want the lab to know about and that might explain why his home office was locked.
“Come to think of it, he hadn’t been sleeping very well so he went to work in his office a lot.”
Eli was pleased to hear that Dr. Harlow was more than willing to accompany him and Eris to the Yazan homestead to interview his family –mainly his wife. They would need a familiar face to gain entry into the home –most immigrants did not trust the government, no matter how long they’d been living in this country legally. Eli had also noticed it wasn’t just immigrants who were beginning to distrust the American Government, Millennials in the thousands were becoming anti-establishment. He honestly couldn’t blame them… for the past three presidencies since 9/11 the government had continued to ignore the word of its people. All Politicians were bought and paid for. Eli could only think of a few rare ones that weren’t. These were dark days ahead of them, political and religious dogma threatened to unhinge the planet with the threat of nuclear war by Russia and North Korea. Now to have a bio-terrorist plot in play? Eli was about to rip his beard out, but he certainly didn’t dare show it.
IF only Eris wasn’t so intuitive.
“Penny for your thoughts?” She asked on the car ride to the Yazan house. He spared a glance in the rearview mirror where Eris sat, space buns and all with a smirk on her face. Dr. Harlow sat in the front seat of the black Escalade.
“You don’t have enough pennies,” Eli gruffed, causing Eris to chuckle at his half-hearted attempt at a joke.
“Chill, amigo,” Eris teased. “We’ll crack this case, save the world, and then we can fly home and have a party. Present company invited,” Eris added, patting her hand to Sophie’s seat. “By the way Doc, is Needham always such a flirt-“
“We’re here,” Eli cut in before the two women could begin their ‘girl talk’. They had pulled up to a wealthy looking brownstone in the Atlanta suburbs. It was supper time and inside they could see into a dining room where two teens and a woman sat to their supper. Eli hated to interrupt, but they had no choice, in a case like this time was of the essence.
Eli was the one to knock on the door, but they let Sophi take the lead in introducing them to Mrs. Yazan. It was a Jewish Israeli family home, filled with warmth and the smell of delicious cooking. Mrs. Yazan was older, like her husband, with her wavy black hair pinned into a rather vintage styled bun and wore a lovely floral black dress. Still in mourning.
“The FBI?” She asked curiously once Sophie introduced them and looked past her husband’s college to Eli and Eris. “No matter please come in, all of you. We have just sat down for supper, will you join us?”
“SURE!” Eris said for them all and was the first to walk in and shake Mrs. Yazan’s hand. Eli followed in thanking her politely. Mrs. Yazan hurried ahead of them after she closed the door and collected extra plates for them.
“Children, meet Agent Cook, and Agent Alcone. They’re with the FBI, it’s about your father.”
“Do you know who killed him?” The oldest asked, a boy of sixteen. Eli frowned at his question.
“What makes you think he’s dead?”
“He’s going to die. Director Perona told us about what happened to him,” The boy said with the usual teenage angst.
“We’re hopeful we can find out who did this to your father,” Eli said choosing his words carefully. “For now we want to know about his comings and goings. The more we know about his private life, the better we can figure this out.”
“Let us talk after we eat,” Mrs. Yazan insisted and waved her hands at the children, and they instinctively bowed their heads. Eli and Eris shared a glance, but both bowed their heads as Mrs. Yazan began to pray in Hebrew over the meal, out of respect.
Dinner was delicious, and by the end of it Eli was convinced that even if Dr. Yazan was purposely involved with any malicious plot –his family was not. They were the sort of people the world was sorely lacking these days. Thoughtful, compassionate, kind, and true to their convictions. They did not speak of Dr. Yazan during supper, but instead focused on current events. Eris answered tech questions from the oldest who confessed that he considered himself a hacker. Eris had laughed saying he must not have been good enough because the boy wasn’t on a watchlist or on queue for possible employment. Though young Yazan had been hopeful telling her to give him time. That conversation ended with Eris asking a serious question. “How bad to you want to find the person who did this to your father?”
“Real bad, I’ve already done some of my own digging,”
“Have you now?” Eris teased, but she was genuinely interested. “Well how about, my partner Agent Cook, talks with your mom and I’ll follow you to your computer and see what you’ve got. Impress me enough and I might let you in on the investigation…” Eli had been against that, but the boy would prove to be a vital asset in uncovering his father’s tracks, so he said nothing against it and allowed Eris to go with the teenager and see his work.
Mrs. Yazan watched them go upstairs, her youngest who was thirteen followed behind to observe and help if she could. Eli was even more certain that the family had no ties to any terrorist organization and if anything, Yazan was probably trying to protect them. Eli would have too, if he had a family like this depending on him.
“We can talk in the den,” Mrs. Yazan whispered once the children and Eris were out of sight. She led them to a sitting room where she set down a serving tray with cups of tea. Eli took a cup out of respect and sat down on the sofa beside Sophie, while Mrs. Yazan took up a leather armchair across from them. “I never expected that the FBI might be involved in what happened to my Husband.”
“Well we don’t think it was an accident. We were hoping you could fill us in on what was going on with your husband before his accident… Did he seem normal, anxious, paranoid, anything? Also, we were hoping you could help us find anything of importance in his home office. You’re more than welcomed to turn me down, just know I will come back with a search warrant. I wanted to sit down and speak with you first, ask you before I take those measures. I’m hoping I don’t have to.” Eli said plainly to her. He was certainly not the type to sugar coat anything.
It was clear that Eli had seen everything he needed to see and to be honest at this stage there was not much to observe and that developments were being monitored closely and nothing had really developed or changed in several hours. Just before they started to move away from the observation room she made it clear that any changes would be forwarded to his place of work and that he would have full access to whatever it was he needed.
She stepped to one side and accompanied him back to the main part of the building.
“I did work closely and I he was my mentor and helped me through my student days. However, when it came to his own personal research he very much kept that to himself. I am told he used to be a lot more open but in recent years he changed the way he worked and his research became top secret. I’m unsure whether that was due to being concerned about his work being stolen. That background you ran sounds about right. As for his sanity that is something I cannot really comment on. I have heard of scientists with complete sanity sink to lower levels than to test things on themselves. If it’s my opinion you want, I don’t think he would have tested anything on himself. He was always so concerned with ethics and how pathogens should never be tested on any animal or human being.” Sophie smiled slightly, realising that her memory loss would have been a massive hindrance when it came to this case because she couldn’t remember any of the projects they had worked on before her accident and as far as she was concerned Dr Yazan had always kept himself to himself although she had once been told that he used to share everything with her. Sophie shook her head and looked towards the floor for a minute to gather her thoughts.
“This case that you think it is linked to, I’m assuming that you think it could be a large scale bio-terrorism attack? I know his family and I am more than happy to accompany you to see them and I will help you in any way that I can. I would personally like to offer my expertise on this case if there is anything that you need from the CDC or from a scientific point of view.”
Sophie looked up as one of the scientists offered to help the woman who came into the building with Eli and she couldn’t help but laugh slightly. Dr Needham was well known around these parts for his flirtatious nature and with new blood he would have been the first to pounce on the opportunity. Eris looked as though she wasn’t going to make it easy for her though and she admired that fact because some of the scientists in here just fell to his feet because he had a pleasing face and physique.
Eli joined Eris and began question him. Sophie stood back slightly and listened carefully to whatever it was he had to say.
“Dr Yazan has always worked on the pathogens that would kill viruses and diseases. He is one of the best in the field, obviously present company excluded.” Dr Needham looked towards Sophie and winked. “Dr Harlow and Dr Yazan both work on cures for serious diseases whereas I work on cultivating different strands so we can predict how diseases and viruses might evolve so that they can continue to stay one step ahead. Lately, Yazan has been very quiet about his work.” Dr Needham looked towards Sophie. “It was actually ever since you came back to work that he became secretive. God knows why.” Sophie shrugged, not really having an answer or explanation for that. “I didn’t really have much to do with him other than passing on evolved pathogens threw the necessary procedures. Everything gets recorded and signed for and he hasn’t had any pathogens passed on to him from my lab in over a week.”
So Dr. Harlow had no idea what the pathogen was, but she had some good professional guesses. One: She agreed with him on his being an engineered pathogen. She didn’t believe it was airborne, and apparently no one else did either. Two: She had never seen anything like this. No one had, but whatever it was, was changing Dr. Yazan. Only time would tell how that change was affecting the man. Eli ran a hand over his face, tugging at his beard to help him focus and think. If this was in fact engineered, that would make it a case for the ATU and he’d have to look deeper into the scientists that had been kidnapped already. Harlow had worked closely with Yazan, he’d have to keep an eye on her.
There was nothing more to see, Yazan was passed out, his breathing shallow and quick –almost like the panting of a dog. Asking him questions was not an option, so Eli thought he’d try something else. He walked away from the observation room with Sophie back to the offices where Eris was sure to be.
“You said you worked closely with Yazan. Do you know what he was working on? Our intel tell us, that Yazan was an immigrant man from Israel. He came to the states back in 92 and has been working for the CDC since then. A Microbiologist, studies pathogens and tests them for vaccines or cures. Was he working on anything in particular? Do you think he was mentally unstable enough to test something on himself? I apologize, I have to make sure this is not connected to a larger case the ATU is working on… and if it is…” He sighed heavily. “A lot of people could be in danger. I need to know everything you know,” he told her. “I think our next step will be to search Dr. Yazan’s home office. I’m assuming you know the family. I’d like for you to join us, speak to his family and let them know why we’re here. Sometimes it helps to have a friendly face,” he said and they came upon the massive open floor plan that was nothing but rows of desks and low rise cubicles.
Eris was at a door about to exit as Eli and Sophi were about to enter. Her arms full of the PC she was taking with her when one of the scientsts made his way over to help her.
“Can I help you with that miss?”
“No thanks, I got this,” Eris tried, not one to generally accept help, especially when handling evidence.
“Although I can see that you clearly have it handled, it doesn’t seem right to let a woman carry such things without so much as an offer.” He stepped out of his room and moved towards her. Woman? Who was this guy? Yeah sure, he acted chivalrous, but to insinuate he had to offer because she was a woman, rubbed her feminist ego the wrong way. Still, she wasn’t so far left she took it as an insult. Perhaps he was just trying to be nice.
“Well, thanks for the offer,” Eris said tucking the small PC under her arm. “But these new PC’s are pretty light. Not like the old 90’s windows… damn those things were huge. Screens weighed more than the PC did!” She cracked a grin, and the man smiled back. “I’m Agent Alcone,” She greeted, moving one hand to shake his hand.
“I’m Dr Needham. I assume you are here about what happened to our own Dr Yazan?” Eris quirked a brow at him, and glanced to her side where she saw Eli and Dr. Harlow entering.
“Yeah… I’m going to assume you knew him, your office isn’t far from his desk. What can you tell me about Dr. Yazan?”
“Tell us,” Eli corrected as he made it to Eris’ side and took the PC from her and tucked it under his own arm. Eli looked irritable, and nononsense. Which was true, Eris glanced back at him and then to Dr. Needham.
“This is Dr. Needham. Dr. This is Agent Cook. He’s the lead on this case, I just play with the gadgets,” Eris informed and since Eli was there to carry the PC she went back to Yazan’s desk to dig through the drawers for any discs or USBs. Including any relevant paperwork. Eli remained close to Dr. Needham and stared him down.
“So what can you tell me about Dr. Yazan and his work?”
It was clear from the very beginning that there was not much point in explaining any of the symptoms to him using any medical terms, beside from the fact FBI agents didn’t commonly come with a medical degree, he was obviously disinterested by the situation anyway. Sophie looked through the glass window to see that he had been strapped down and had been given another sedative to keep him calm just in case the FBI insisted on getting closer to him to analyse him more closely but upon meeting Eli she figured her efforts were wasted.
Considering she could only remember the last few years of her life, she hadn’t forgotten how to break something down to someone who had no medical experience so that part shouldn’t be too hard when explaining the situation to Eli. For a moment she thought about the moment she woke up in the hospital with no memory and thought back to the irritated FBI agent who had been there ready to question her when she did. For only a short time they were under the impression that her accident was in actual fact an attempt to kill her based on some research that she was doing but when they realised that she had no knowledge of what had happened before the moment she woke up, they soon became irritated with the inconvenience of her memory loss and with no evidence in the CDC of any research that would be worth killing for, they gave up and everyone accepted that it was in fact an accident. Eli reminded her of the man by her bed side that day and she knew that patience would be the only way to effectively deal with him.
When he spoke it was clear that he didn’t want to waste any time and she only waited a beat before answering him directly.
“No, we do not believe that the infection in airborne. We wore face masks for the first few days while we tested the ventilation systems and such but there were several people working within the proximity of Dr Yazan when he fell sick. Everyone else in that room seemed to be fine after testing and observations. At this stage we are unsure of how this might have been contracted. His skin seems to repair really quickly so if it was injected there would be no sign of a lesion. In my professional opinion, this is an engineered pathogen. There are no known illnesses that can do these things to the body. Even though it looks like he is sick and is wasting away, his is growing stronger, his cell regeneration has more than tripled. I think this is an experiment of some sort but I have no idea of the intent. If this gets out who knows what it could do people. We don’t even know the full effects of this infection yet, nor do we know if his body is in fact dying.”
Sophie moved over to her personal filing system and pulled out a file labelled Dr Yazan – FBI and handed it over to Eli. “This is everything we know about the infection so far, using the least amount of medical terms as possible. I think that we really need to consider our next steps with this because this could be an act of bio-terrorism.”
On the other side of the building there stood an intelligent scientist at his computer analysing the results of something but the second he saw Eris walk past with a computer he instantly shut it down. She looked like she could have been one of the FBI agents that Harlow had so inconveniently called in but he was good at hiding his secrets and covering his tracks. Instead he turned on his charms and moved to the door.
“Can I help you with that miss?” he asked with a smirk on his face. “Although I can see that you clearly have it handled, it doesn’t seem right to let a woman carry such things without so much as an offer.” He stepped out of his room and moved towards her. “I’m Dr Needham. I assume you are here about what happened to our own Dr Yazan?”
Sophie was saddened by the state that she found Dr Yazan in as she found herself outside of the observation window, watching his twitching body ooze sweat out of every orifice of his body. Several house ago his eyes had turned blood red and his pupils had dilated to the point that they were almost undetectable from the distance she remained from him. It wasn’t as though she was close to him but she had admired his work over the period of her recovery and she couldn’t help but think that if this had happened to someone else he would have been the first person to help her solve problem. For now, she was putting on a protection suit and getting ready to take some bloods so they would be able to run some diagnostics that might help them figure out what was happening to him. They hadn’t yet been able to run any tests and because this disease had elements of things they had never seen in a disease before, as head of the department she was running, she had decreed that only she would be allowed any contact with him within the observation booth. She didn’t want any of her staff to become contaminated and she would much rather examine the results herself too.
As she opened the door to the containment space his eyes remained on her as though calculating her moves. She knew that his symptoms could display anything at this stage so she was careful not to take her eyes off him and she was glad that she didn't because as soon as Sophie had closed the door behind her, Dr Yazan lurched towards get with his arms extended in a violent rage. She didn't dodge him but she allowed him to get close enough for her to inject a sedative in his neck but before she did his abnormally strong body had knocked her to the ground and his fists began beating towards her but she was able to inject him before his fists came down on her. A sigh of relief escaped her as his body fell limp and she pushed with every ounce of energy that she had to remove him from her. For a man of his weight it should have been a lot easier to do so but it seemed that his muscle mass had doubled over the course of the illness he had contracted and so she made a mental note to add to his diagnostic analysis.
Sophie rose from where she had been knocked down and considered asking someone to come in to help move him but she was not willing to take any risks. She leant down next to him and took some blood and made her way out of the room and back to the observation window where she could see how long it would take him to recover from the sedative in case they ever needed to use that again. After an hour he awoke and she made her notes as she climbed out of the contamination suit and made her way to meet with the director who had notified her that the FBI had now arrived.
When she approached the gentlemen she analysed him quickly, concluding that he was not at all what she expected of an FBI agent but he seemed just as stiff and uncaring as many that she had met appeared and he handshake merely confirmed her thoughts. Sophie offered a smile and nod when he got the pleasantries over with and was greeted by a handshake from him female partner who seemed a lot more friendly. She waited for her to ask for whatever it was that she needed and the director began to lead her towards Dr Yazan's work space, leaving Sophie with Eli.
"Right this was sir. I will warn you that he may be a little hazy as he has recently been sedated but I can show you his notes and currently diagnostics but we are still in the observation period as there is an uncommon pattern in the way the symptoms appear that lead us to believe this is new infection." She pointed towards the contamination area and expected him to follow, not really attempting to make any conversation with the man who appeared to prefer to be anywhere else but here.
Dr. Harlow showed Eli down the myriad of halls of the CDC. For the most part it all looked the same. Tiles floors, florescent lights, and the stench of sterile airflow. It was no different from most High level Government offices or facilities. The CDC was a major Government group and with the imposing threat, it was bound to be thrown money for funding research. Eli did not enjoy being here, his job was chasing down bad guys -terrorists... he wasn't a doctor. Dr. Harlow could tell him all about the virus, the strain, the symptoms... all of it. Didn't mean he would understand a damn thing she said. He didn't bother with conversation, simply followed her towards observation.
When they reached the observation wing, Eli took a moment and walked right up to the glass. Dr. Yazan was laid out on the table, strapped down and unconscious. Eli took stock of everything that he could tell was wrong with him. For starters, it was obvious Dr. Yazan was of Indian descent by his dark caramel brown skin, which was currently pale and covered in sweat. His chest rose and fell rapidly, panting almost like he was an overheated dog. His heart beat on the EKG was erratic. The strangest thing was how around his eyes the skin looked bruised and blue -the same with his lips and his fingers. Was he lacking oxygen? Eli's brow furrowed in confusion. It was the strangest sight he'd seen.
"How do you think he contracted this?" Eli suddenly asked Dr. Harlow. "I'm assuming it's not airborne or everyone would be wearing face masks. Do you think he came into contact with the virus? Or..." His frown lines deepened and his eyes went steely. "Do you think this is a engineered pathogen or contaminate? I'm a member of the FBI's ATU, that means Anti-Terrorism Unit. If you think this was engineered then I have a purpose to be here, but I'm not a doctor and I won't understand any medical jargon you throw at me. So tell me straight up. Do you think this illness is an immediate threat to the American Population?"
Meanwhile, back in Dr. Yazan's office, Director Perona watched on curiously while Eris worked her hacker magic and with ease broke into Dr. Yazan's computer and began to search through all of his files... even recovering the ones he deleted.. after clearing out his recycling bin. She frowned, hundred of old emails, and images of research graphs, and then she found something she hadn't been expecting at all.
"Well I'll be damned..."
"Did you find something?"
"No. That's just it. There's nothing on this computer but old work emails and research. Though I don't know why he deleted research..." Perona looked over her shoulder and scanned the old documents she recovered and explained that those images were old research files and he probably had hard copies of them somewhere and didn't need the digital copies. Eris was unconvinced and it showed on her face. Yazan was an older man, but he was still young enough to have a solid grasp of technology, if he didn't he wouldn't be working for the CDC. Eris shrugged and began to tear the computer down, starting by shutting it down and then unplugging it all.
"What are you doing?" Perona demanded. Eris smirked.
"Collecting Evidence.. duh."
"This is CDC property-"
"It's also involved in an open investigation. I'm also going to need the hard copies of his research, his employee files... you know.. all of it. I can secure a warrant if I must," she challenged with a smile. Batting her eyelashes she played her game well, and turned away from the flustered Perona, carting the Computer with her, but leaving behind the monitor and it's other attachments.
Agent Eli Cook of the FBI’s Anti-Terrorism Unit or ATU, former Marine, jilted lover, divorcee, and gym junkie leaned back in his seat. He stared blankly at the screens of his two computer monitors. They were covered with the faces of known Terrorist leaders currently in hiding. Gathering intel was certainly a difference from aiming and shooting them. It was a transition Eli took willingly enough. When he returned from the war, he returned to find his new wife had betrayed him. She had a new lover and was getting ready to give birth to her bastard. He left, unwilling and unable to handle that level of betrayal, meaning he had a ton of free time to devote to his new job and his new home out in Quantico. Now Eli had been working with the ATU for the last six years, and had his partner Eris Alcone for the past two years. Currently her desk was empty, cluttered and a mess but missing the young twenty-seven year old woman.
Eris was aptly named after the Grecian Goddess of Chaos. She was the definition of Chaos. Currently she was working with Missing and Exploited children tracking down a Human Trafficking ring that had been busy these past summer months as young teenage girls and boys were disappearing left and right. All of them stemming to online chatrooms. Eris was a master of her craft, quirky and odd, but he could give credit where it was due. Eli was currently stumped with the list of known Terror Suspects sitting on his desk. They had no leads on any of them, but Eli was being required to do bureaucratic bullshit and update a profile he had nothing to update for. Before he knew it, he was lost in thought as he contemplated the best way to update the profiles, and was drifting away to thoughts of how he didn’t want to go home to his small empty apartment. That was when Eris came skipping from around the corner.
“You should be getting a message from Street right about –“ PING. Eli arched a brow at Eris who gave him a smug grin. “Now,” She saddled herself up on the corner of his desk, her commando boots swinging with her feet as she wore tight black jeans a white tank, black vest and her black hair was pulled up into two buns on the top of her head, her blunt bangs sitting halfway down her forehead, and her arms covered in two sleeves of tattoos. “Well would you look at that?” She commented before guzzling down her smoothie. She stared at him with those large doe eyes of her. It was unnerving and he knew she did it to bother him. Groaning he went to open it, but stopped.
“Don’t happen to know what’s in it do you?” She just smiled from around her straw. With Eli she was a charismatic pain in the ass, out in the field she was a frightening force and badass comparable to him. She made him read it. She was right. The Director of the ATU wanted them in his office.
Thomas Street was an older man, his black skin freckled and his once pitch hair, now silvery white. He was clean cut and manicured and carried himself like ex-Military. Dressed in a pair of nice slacks and a button-down, he was office appropriate. He had a new mission for them.
“We are sending you to Atlanta at the CDC Headquarters. They had an incident, and have a man showing symptoms of a deadly Virus. They had no idea where it came from or how it works. They’ve got him in observation. This is the dossier we were able to produce on Dr. Yazan. Alcone, do some further digging into this guy when you get to his computer in Atlanta.”
“sure thing…” she said distractedly and looking over the picture and information in Eli’s hands. He eventually handed it over to her, and finished getting the details from Director Street.
“How does anything that happens at the CDC directly involve us?” Eli asked.
“Well,” Street began, leaning back in his desk. “We’ve also received word from Interpol, and our own missing persons. These people have been flagged because of what they do.” Street turned his computer screen to show Eli four faces. Three were old men, and the fourth a younger middle aged woman. Eli’s brow furrowed.
“Two Microbiologists, A Bio-Chemist, and a mechanical engineer…”
“These won’t be the last. They were all kidnapped from either their home or while out running routine errands,”
“So they were obviously under observation,” Eli commented. Street nodded. “Go to Atlanta and see what you can find there. We’ll build this case as we go. For now I’ve got Homeland breathing down my neck over this thing. They want it figured out before the next massive outbreak kills us all.”
“Fear-mongering? Not like you to give into that,” Eli commented.
“Getting paranoid in your old age?” Eris teased, there was no inflection of humor in Street’s dark face.
“Go to the Atlanta CDC, you will be working closely with a Sophie Harlow. They’ve been made aware you’re coming. Your plane leaves in five hours. Go home, pack and prepare.”
[center ~*~*~ Six Hours Later ~*~*~]
“Wake up,” Eris jolted awake, and looked around startled from her sleep.
“Are we there yet?” She asked looking about the cabin of their private plane.
“Yes, now let’s get moving.”
“But it’s so late!” Eris whined. “Can’t we go check in and go to bed? Deal with this in the morning?” Eli actually smirked at Eris, helping her to stand up and disembark the plane. A Car was waiting for them on the tarmac, which they took, Eli driving them right up to the security gates of the CDC. They were granted clearance and before long placed in a lobby for holding until they could meet with the Director and Ms. Harlow.
The Director of the CDC was a man named Phillip Perona. He was a stoutly large man, bald, and wore business attire, and looked nervous. He was accompanied by a young woman whom Eli assumed must have been Ms. Harlow.
“Director Perona,” Eli greeted as they came into the lobby.
“Agent Cook, Agent Alcone. The FBI certainly doesn’t mess around do they?”
“Terrorists don’t sleep. Neither does the ATU,” Eli stated coldly.
“We like to make it a habit of being where we need to be.” Eris added. Dr. Perona seemed pleased by their statements and turned to showcase Sophie.
“Thank you for getting here so quickly. This is Dr. Harlow. She worked closely with Dr. Yazan before the accident.” Eli was quick to reach forward and shake her hand.
“Hello, nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you,” Eris added shaking her hand as well. Once introductions were complete Eris looked to Director Perona. “I need access to all his computers, his desk… everything electronic he’s been in contact with.”
“Of course follow me this way,” Perona offered. Eris took a jaunty step behind him, saluting Eli as she passed. Eli turned to face Sophie, now that they were alone and, placed his hands in his pockets.
“I would like for you to show me. Dr. Yazan. Then I’ll have some questions I need you to answer for me…”
Eli was as cold and unemotional as the Arctic. He seemed perpetually bored, tired and disinterested. It was as if he just wanted to figure this out and get home. Not that he had anything pressing to get back to. He had no pets, no girlfriend, no kids. Just an elderly neighbor named Marla who kept her TV too loud because she lost her hearing aids all the time, and was always bringing him food to eat because she had a habit of making too much. So he made it a habit to eat with her when he was available. She had become his family of sorts and he kept an eye on her. But he was stuck in Atlanta on a wild goose chase to see if this new virus really was a new terrorist attempt against America and the rest of the Western World.
The memories of childhood are different for everyone. Where some have the happy memories that force their lips upwards in a smile whenever their thoughts wondered on to them, others tried their hardest to forget. Although either could bring a person pain or happiness people justified their life experiences as the events that helped shape them as a person. Of course if anyone were to make such a statement those around them would agree often think the same about themselves. The building of a human being was quite often a fascinating subject and to delve into the mind if one who had experienced so much certainly seemed like the best way to learn.
Sophie herself did not have many memories at all. Unfortunately she had found herself in an accident the year before this one that caused her to suffer some form of memory loss. Many told her she was lucky to have survived but she never asked to have her accident recalled because she didn’t want to know anything. Everything about her life from before her accident had merely erased itself, giving her an entirely blank canvas. Many suggested to her that is was a blessing in disguise and that they would give anything to be given a second chance at life. Sophie wasn’t so sure if that was how she saw it, at least not straight away. It was a terrifying experience to wake up and not remember anything about the years that had led to her becoming this 26 year old woman but she was working hard to rebuild it.
She was lucky enough to have a supportive family surrounding her who were so willing to help her piece together the missing events of her life and from what she could tell she had been a rather successful researcher in the field of science. It amazed her that she could remember the basic knowledge that would have made her extremely good at her job. It sounded as though she had a good life up to this point.
It wasn’t exactly a perfect world to wake up to either. Her friends had told her that there were diseases spreading rapidly and that they had already ruined the lives of many around them. The stories of the disease were the only thing that made her feel any sense of familiarity as though she had experienced that pain of it first-hand but when she asked her family if they had lost anyone to it they found themselves lucky enough to be able to say no.
A year on from her accident and she found herself working in a lab. Even though her memories had escaped she had somehow miraculously been able to train and refresh her science knowledge through re-education provided for her by her parents. It was the one thing in life that gave her joy and even though she couldn’t remember the feeling from before she was almost sure that this was something she was meant to do with her life. A new project had started amongst them weeks before where they were asked to work on vaccines that would help cure whatever disease was ready to be eradicated first.
It took a few more years before the world was finally at peace with itself and now, as a 30 year old woman she had been advised to head up the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. It seemed her experience deemed her fit for the job and it was one she really enjoyed but she was certain that was about to take a turn for the worse when one of her buildings was forced into lock down. One of the staff had become infected with something and no one seemed to know what it was or even how it was spreading. Several people within the same block as her staff had been showing symptoms and they had to close the unit down into quarantine, ensuring that no one got out and anyone going in was wearing the necessary bio-suits.
“I have a horrible feeling about this. I think we are going to need FBI here. This is definitely a new disease – man made and I can guarantee you this is a test. We need someone to work with us here.” Her assistant nodded and made her way out of her office with the intention of setting up a meeting with the FBI. For now she hadn't made her way to the building where the disease broke out but soon enough that is where they would have to go.
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