Friday 22 – Sunday 24 February 2013
The discussion that Nicholas Kent had been roped into with investigative journalist Eden Gross, and Anna and Carlo Lucciano, the parents of now deceased Vincenzo, lasted longer than he had anticipated. The introduction of Dr. Felicity Evans into the mix was the key to the extended meeting. She had wanted to know the ins and outs of what Nick knew regarding Facility Five and the research that it had been home to. If, as he said, they were all going to die as a result of the explosions, then she wanted to know what they were up against, and if she’d be able to provide any sort of medical assistance or better still, cure.
‘There’s nothing you can do, Doc. Everything that we dealt with was, as the company name suggests, research and development based. If there were any cures, and I’m not saying that any existed at this point, they would have gone up with the rest of the stuff.’ Nick didn’t want to be drawn in to whatever half-brained notion of altruism that the good doctor was concocting.
‘So, what you’re saying, Dr. Kent, is that there are no cures available for anything that you and your merry band of crackpot scientists were creating? You didn’t think to work on cures in conjunction with the creation of this, this . . . shit?’ Felicity Evans battled to keep her contempt for the man sitting opposite her under control.
‘Well, it’s not like you can create a cure for something if you haven’t created the something first. Come on, you’re a doctor. You know how these things work. You need to have a problem before you have a solution. There’s no pre-emptive aspect of this kind of research and development.’
The Luccianos sat in silence, staring at the too-ing and fro-ing that was occurring between Evans and Kent. Eden Gross battled to take notes, finally deciding too late that recording the conversation on her cell phone was the best option.
‘For Christ’s sake, shut up. The two of you are driving me insane. There’s no point bolting the barn door after the horse has run off,’ Eden snapped, more angry at the fact that she couldn’t keep up with taking notes than she was at the two doctors going head to head. ‘We’re not here for the two of you to see who has the bigger set. We’re here for them,’ she pointed at Anna and Carlo sitting almost motionless on the sofa.
Her statement brought the arguing doctors to a halt. Embarrassed, they looked from each other to the Luccianos to Eden and back to each other.
‘I’m sorry,’ Evans offered the parents of the dead boy but neither of them acknowledged her.
‘Nick, what can we do?’ Eden’s voice broke the awkward silence in the room. He scratched his chin and cheek, which were covered in stubble that irritated him. Nick felt guilty for wanting to shave when the Luccianos had far greater problems than his irritated skin.
‘Honestly, there’s very little we can do other than get the hell out of this place and deal with the issue from far away. We’ve got the upper management team to deal with as well as whatever viruses and bacteria may or may not have survived the explosions. And out of those two, I’d rather take my chances with the viruses and bacteria.’
* * * * *
The two Majors and the teams he’d previously sent them off to assemble surrounded General Clayton Darnell. Technicians had set up notebook computers and tablets and printers and all manner of tech gear that Darnell wasn’t even sure he knew the names of. Contemplating the gravity of the situation and the pressing need for Hawkwind to be underway, he watched the personnel flit about the room and it served to calm him somewhat. Darnell, a highly respected and medalled veteran of several wars, was used to high stress environments but he’d never had to strike on home soil and it was that small fact that was causing him distress.
‘General Darnell,’ Major George Platt, the taller of the two Majors spoke quietly, ‘we’re almost ready.’
‘Good, George, good. Have someone place a call through to Terence Blackwood at Blackwood Research and Development. I haven’t heard from him yet, and he’s only got about twenty minutes before Hawkwind is off the ground and irreversible. I need to know whether or not he’s got the salvaged files. As soon as you’ve got him on the line, give him to me.’
‘Yes, sir,’ replied Major Platt and promptly pushed his way through the bodies to find a telephonist to place the General’s call.
‘Allan, get over here,’ Darnell directed his attention to the second Major on his team. Major Allan Michael had, at some point, removed his uniform jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt to above his elbow, slightly exposing the tattoo of the insignia of his former platoon. He strode confidently towards the General and stopped about a metre in front of him.
‘Sir?’ Michael asked.
‘You’re good with tech stuff?’ asked Darnell.
‘I do okay with it, sir.’
‘I’m expecting an email. I’ve opened up the account but I need someone who can quickly verify the information contained in the document, make sure that everything comes through in full. Then I want it saved to the hard drive of my computer, the flash drive, and backed up to the Pentagon main servers. Can you do that?’ Darnell waved his arm around in authoritative gestures as he spoke.
‘Sure, but why not get one of the tech heads?’ Michael responded.
‘The information is of a sensitive nature. I don’t want those grunts seeing the details,’ replied Darnell.
‘I’m on it, sir. This your computer?’ Michael pointed to the pristine notebook that sat on the table to his left. It looked as though it had hardly ever been used. General Darnell nodded and waved his hand over it indicating that he wanted Michael to sit down and begin the task.
‘General Darnell,’ a voice called from across the room. Darnell looked towards the direction that the voice had sprung from and spotted a hand waving a telephone handset in the air. He expected that the telephonist had managed to contact Terence Blackwood.
‘Get yourself ready, Major,’ he told Michael. ‘Patch it through to my phone.’
After the press of a button the telephonist called out that it had been delivered to the General’s phone. Darnell waited for the phone to ring three times, something that he’d always done and probably would do until the day he died. He picked up the receiver and spoke.
‘Blackwood, you have the information that I requested?’
‘It’s coming through to me now, Clay,’ replied Terence Blackwood from the other side of the country.
‘Send it through, in full, to me immediately,’ Darnell demanded.
‘You should be getting it any minute,’ Blackwood said.
Darnell looked expectantly at Major Michael. Within seconds, the Major made eye contact with Darnell and nodded. The information had come through and he was now in the process of making multiple copies and back ups of the files.
‘Stay on the line, Terence,’ the General instructed the businessman.
‘Why?’ Blackwood asked.
‘Because I need to verify the information, and I told you too.’
Major Michael gave the thumbs up to his commanding officer. The information was good and had been successfully backed up multiple times. Darnell replaced the phone receiver in the cradle, cutting off Terence Blackwood without any further word. He looked up at the swarming bodies in front of him.
‘QUIET,’ he called and the room fell into immediate silence, waiting for the next instruction. ‘Hawkwind is go, go go.’
The swarming mass of personnel in the room launched in to immediate action, with computer and television screens throughout the room flickering back to life. From the relative comfort of the Pentagon, General Clayton Darnell would view the most horrific act of war he’d ever been involved with – the complete destruction of a location on his home soil, an act of war against his own country in an attempt to preserve and keep covert the research and development that had occurred at Blackwood Research Facility Five.
. . . To be continued . . .