Saturday 16 – Monday 18 February 2013
‘Just explain to me one more time, how is it that someone managed to get away from us when we have the best technology in the world available to us? This team is supposed to be made up of the best of the best, and you let a mark get away. I find that very difficult to accept.’ Verity Flynn was not impressed with the efforts of upper management team in attempting to apprehend whoever the scans had picked up discussing Blackwood Research and Development over the cell phone network. If Terence Blackwood found out that they had a leak within the company and that leak had evaded apprehension by her team, heads would roll and the first to lose its position would be her head.
‘Portland,’ she was stern in her address of Gus, ‘I want a team set up over at that hotel and I want the leak plugged before Mr. Blackwood gets wind of this.’
Gus nodded. He knew better than to verbally interact with Verity when she was this irritated. He stepped away from her, gestured to the rest of the team to gather around him, and then allocated jobs.
‘You two,’ he pointed to the team members he wanted to do the job, ‘get yourselves back over to the hotel. You’re to stay there until you identify anyone who might be receiving the leaked information. When you do identify someone, send a photo back to me and we’ll verify from this end. Once verified, enforce A seven. Extreme prejudice. But make sure you are invisible.’
The couple collected their equipment, threw it in the back of the standard black SUV, and drove off to in the direction of the hotel that Gus and Hilary Thoms had been at earlier.
He sighed and rubbed his forehead, Hilary noticing that beads of sweat were forming under his fingers. She approached him cautiously.
‘Gus, is everything alright?’
‘No,’ he snapped, ‘everything is not alright. Have you spoken to your uncle yet?’
She shook her head.
‘If you don’t hurry up –’ he started.
‘I know. I know. If I don’t hurry up then we’ll all be committing murder in the name of the almighty Blackwood R and D. You need to keep Verity away from me for a while so that I can contact him. Can you do that?’
Gus considered Hilary’s request. It was entirely possible that he could send Hilary off on a solo run where she could contact her uncle, Terence Blackwood, and attempt to convince him to rescind contingency plan A seven, but sooner or later, Verity Flynn would demand to know where she was.
‘I can get you fifteen maybe twenty minutes before I have to give Verity some sort of decent excuse for your absence.’
‘That’s good. I’m sure I can do something in that time,’ Hilary replied, ‘and hey, if she starts in on you, just tell her I’m PMSing. That should shut her up.’ She smiled and Gus noticed how her eyes lit up when she was relaxed. He thought she looked like the only real human being amongst them.
‘Take my car and head out somewhere quiet.’ He lowered his voice, ‘Get him to change his mind. Please.’ Gus tossed her the keys, and then turned away from Hilary as she jogged to the SUV and left ground zero of the Facility Five disaster. Verity noticed the absence immediately and strode over to Gus, pen in hand despite the fact that all of her information was on a tablet not paper.
‘Where’s she off to then, Gus?’ she asked.
‘A bit of investigating outside of the blast radius. See what the local community is making of this. You know, sometimes it’s good to see what the local gossip is saying. Maybe we can pick up something about our leak from them.’ He hoped that Verity couldn’t see the slight trembling of his arms and hands. He wasn’t a good liar, particularly not to the face of someone as observant as Verity.
‘Oh. Good. Excellent thinking, Gus. Don’t know why I didn’t come up with that first.’ And without hesitation, Verity Flynn walked away.
‘Dodged a bullet there, Gussy,’ he said to himself.
* * * * *
Eden Gross and Nicholas Kent had been discussing the death of Vincenzo Lucciano with his parents, Carlo and Anna, for at least an hour before there was a knock on the door. Nick flinched, thinking the worst was about to come to fruition – he and the journalist would be slain alongside the parents of an innocent child, and no one would put two and two together to get Blackwood Research and Development. Carlo disappeared to attend to the new visitor. It wasn’t until he heard the familiar gentle female voice that he relaxed.
Dr. Felicity Evans joined the four of them in the Lucciano’s lounge room, medical file in hand, and looking tired and fed up. Nick understood perfectly well the strain she would have been under since the death of the boy. He had chosen to step away from that type of medical service after the experiencing the death of a patient. Blackwood had appeared on the scene shortly afterwards, and offered him a lucrative position with Blackwood Research and Development. He had readily accepted; anything to get away from the abyss that he had been teetering on after losing that first patient.
Nick stood as the doctor approached. His mother had practically beaten into him that a gentleman always stood for a lady as she entered a room, and returned to his seated position after she had taken hers. It was something that he continued to practise, mainly because his wife enjoyed the act of chivalry. He offered his hand to Felicity as Eden introduced them.
‘We know each other, I believe, Dr. Kent,’ she spoke in a gentle tone.
‘Ah, yes, I think we’ve crossed paths once or twice,’ he replied.
She sat in the chair closest to Anna, and reached out to take her hand.
‘I, uh, requested a few different tests and the results have just come through.’ She passed the medical file to Nick. ‘Maybe, Dr. Kent, you can explain the results to us, because there are some things in there that I just do not understand in the slightest.’
He nodded and opened up the file, half expecting to know what he’d read. Eden watched his face, and guessed immediately that Nicholas was perfectly aware of the results that he was reading.
He flipped through the entire file, examining each page in detail, and nodding occasionally. When he was done he passed the file to Eden. She too flipped though the file.
‘I have no idea what any of this means. Would one of you care to explain it? Nick?’ she asked.
‘Well, in short, what those results tell you . . . the only thing that you really need to know as his parents, and you, Eden, as a reporter is that Vinnie died as a result of some of the work that was being conducted at Facility Five. The debris that he picked up off of the ground, and cut himself on, was probably originally a phial that contained a specimen of a synthetic, a man-made virus created as a weapon for wartime.’
The silence in the Lucciano’s living room was palpable.
‘Dr. Evans, it simply would not have mattered what you tried to do to save him. Vinnie would have died anyway because, while we’ve created these viruses, the antidotes are still being worked on. But the real problem isn’t with the ones like Vinnie came into contact with, it’s with the airborne ones that may have escaped prior to incineration.’
‘What the fuck?’ Eden colourfully asked.
‘Like I said to you earlier, Eden, we’re going to die today . . . one way or another.’
* * * * *
It took ten minutes before Terence Blackwood found the time to take his niece’s phone call. His response to her request to rescind the enforcement of contingency plan A seven was swift.
‘Absolutely not, Hilary. The research that was being conducted at Facility Five must not fall into the hands of my competitors, and in order to secure our access to that research, everyone associated with Facility Five, should they still be walking around or lying in a hospital bed, or wherever the hell they are, must be eliminated. My decision is final. Kill them all.’
. . . To be continued . . .