Clear Springs Press

The Non-Conformity Chronicles

Chapter 22 - Pandemic Day

"Forgiveness is a warrior's strategy. If we hold on to past injuries, real and imagined, those injuries kick our asses over and over. If we forgive the offending party, we reclaim our energy, retrieve our fractured soul fragments, empower ourselves, and enable ourselves to move forward. Forgiveness is the difference between winners and losers. Losers cling to old injuries and grievances and disempower themselves. Winners extend forgiveness, recover lost energy, empower themselves, empower others, and move forward to victory. " - From The Non-Conformist Training Manual

         As the airlock on his capsule opened, an assistant wearing a WGI uniform stepped forward and nervously greeted him. "We received notification of your arrival only moments ago!" The director is on his way down here now. We . . . had no time to prepare a reception."

         The assistant stared at Dr. Axelrod feeling very uncomfortable. The assistant clearly didn't have a clue who he really was and he certainly didn't want the attention he was attracting.

         "We have never had a visit from an Omega level scientist before!" he stammered.

         The director rushed hurriedly into the transit room. He smiled weakly and reached out to take Dr. Axelrod's hand. His grip was weak and his hand was clammy and sweating. His face was a ghostly pale and there were minute tremors in his facial muscles. His chest badge read, 'D. Benson.'

         "I am Dr. Julius Axelrod," he said as casually as he could. "What have you been told of my assignment?"

         "Nothing!" Director Benson stammered. "We were advised only a few minutes ago that an Omega level scientist would be arriving, that we were to cooperate with you fully, ask no questions, and classify all details of your visit top secret!"

         Dr. Axelrod nodded in approval and said, "I will require the use of three of your laboratories. One will be an access terminal to all of your digital and biological resources. It must be equipped with a gene sequencer and a viral synthesis unit. It must have Omega level access only. The second laboratory must be a viral manufacturing unit with Level One isolation and containment capability. The third will be a general services lab to support the other two. The latter two labs must be top secret access only. Do you have sufficient staff to support my requirements?"

         The director stammered, "I have only a half dozen technicians including myself who have top secret clearances and we have no Omega level personnel."

         "That will have to do," he said pretending to be annoyed. "I will have to operate the Omega access lab myself."

         "May I ask what your assignment is?" Dr. Benson asked.

         "I am sorry, that information is restricted to Omega level personnel only," he said pretending to be sympathetic.

         They walked into the building in silence. "How soon can you have the labs set up for me?" he asked.

         "It will take us about a week to re-arrange our schedule and . . ." director Benson stammered apologetically.

         "I am on a tight schedule!" Dr. Axelrod snapped. "I must have the Omega access lab on line with full security arrangements by tomorrow morning and the two supporting labs on line by the end of the day!"

         "But that will mean . . . !" director Benson stammered.

         "This project has Omega priority!" Dr. Axelrod reminded him.

         "I will have to get authorization . . ." the director stammered.

         "I am your authorization!" Dr. Axelrod growled. "You are ordered to make no contact with your superiors regarding me, my actions, or my mission here! None of your superiors have an Omega level clearance and any contact would be an Omega security breach. Do you want to assume that responsibility?"

         "No," director Benson replied flatly. This time he did not stutter.

         Dr. Axelrod went to the guest quarters and turned in. As he lay on his back contemplating where he was and where he had been only a few days ago, he suddenly remembered. He was Dr. Sam Baker, dispossessed and shivering on the ground under a bush because the Central Accountant had rejected his card and cancelled all of his accounts. He remembered the shock of being utterly dispossessed and powerless and the terror of being required to surrender a key part of who He was just to conform.

         Were it not for the reality of knowing that most of the human race faced a future as COMM terminal operators, then extinction for being an evolutionary dead end, he could not do what he was preparing to do. He slept soundly.

         He awoke early. After bathing and eating, he went to the lab. He was greeted by an irritable and sleepy eyed director. He ignored him, faced the COMM terminal, and ran his card through the scanner.

         It flickered to life and acknowledged him, "Dr. Julius Axelrod, Omega Level Authorization, secured mail waiting.

         He turned and said to the terminal, "All communication through this terminal is Omega level secured. Connect to the laboratory security interface and secure all access to this lab to Omega level. Scan all COMM traffic and secure all communications referencing my presence to Omega level access only."

         "Instructions Executed," the terminal replied instantly. Then it paused and added, "After broadening the search pattern, I have located one communication between Director Benson and Central Accounting Administration regarding your presence."

         He shot Director Benson a cold stare and noticed him turn a ghostly pale and a dampness appear on his pant leg. "I see that you have defied a direct Omega level security order!"

         Director Benson fainted and dropped to the floor.

         "Set him up and revive him!" Dr. Axelrod barked to the assistants. Then he turned to the terminal and ordered, "display Director Benson's communication!"

         The terminal responded instantly. "An individual identified as Dr. Julius Axelrod has presented himself with an Omega level clearance. He has directed us to cease all normal operations of the center and support his project. He is unwilling to provide any information on his work. I protest this intrusion and request a disclosure of Dr. Axelrod's project. - Dr. Daniel Benson, Director, World Genetics Institute."

         "Display the response," Dr. Axelrod directed.

         "Dr. Axelrod's identity as an Omega level genetics scientist is confirmed. His Omega level clearance gives him the authority to direct your affairs as he chooses. I will press for a disclosure of his work, but I will have to go through channels and it will take time. - Dr. James Ruger, Senior Administrator, Central Accounting Administration."

         The director sat weakly in his chair staring at the communications displayed on the screen.

         "There are implications to this situation that you would never suspect. There are high level politics involved." Dr. Axelrod said flatly. "Keeping you uninformed was a way of protecting you, and don't ask me why! If you give me your full support and create no further incidents, I will do what I can to keep you out of any political implications that may follow this affair."

         Director Benson nodded meekly.

         "We must push the schedule forward. I need the secondary lab online by no later than sixteen hundred hours today. Be prepared to manufacture one thousand liters of a genetically engineered virus and one hundred thousand liters of an epigenomic bio plasma which I will specify!" Then he pointed his finger directly at the director and said, "Everything that transpires from now on is Omega security restricted. You are all directed to reveal nothing more to anyone other than an authorized Omega level scientist."

         He excused them from his secured laboratory and turned back to the COMM terminal. "Display Mail," he directed.

         The terminal responded, "Results of your inquiry on the effects of psychic faculties on the probability of individuals rejecting authority have been completed. The results have been restricted. I am unable to provide the data. The assessment of the probability of such individuals succeeding in their rejection of authority has been completed. This information has been restricted. I am unable to provide the data. The "

         He interrupted the mail summary, "I am an Omega level scientist. I direct you to provide this information!"

         "Your Omega level authorization is confirmed. I am unable to comply," the terminal responded.

         "Is there a security level above Omega?" he asked.

         "No," the terminal responded.

         "Then provide the information!" he demanded.

         "The information is restricted. I cannot comply," the terminal responded.

         None of this made any sense to him. "Resume mail summary," he demanded.

         "You have a message from Dora Agnesi," the terminal responded.

         "Display message," he replied.

         "The Central Network is exhibiting unexplainable anomalies. Certain files are being restricted, even to Omega cleared individuals. I cannot determine what is happening. Complete your assignment as quickly as possible. - Dora."

         "Priority message to all Omega level personnel," the terminal flashed. "Routine self-diagnostic programs are detecting multiple system level faults in the Central Accountant. The cause of these malfunctions has not been determined. This situation appears to be both serious and critical. Correction of these faults is to be given the absolute highest priority. Knowledge of the existence of this situation is restricted to Omega level personnel only. - Seymour Code, Omega Chief of Security."

         Something was happening and he didn't have a clue what it was. He had the very uncomfortable feeling that he had better move fast . . . and get away fast. He cleared the terminal, removed the packet of genetic materials and files that Dora had given him and began working. The design for the genetic reprogramming was essentially complete, only a few details needed clearing up.

         There were some aspects of this reprogramming that bothered him greatly. In all of the reprogramming that he had participated in, he had used only one virus of restricted virulence to manipulate one gene at a time. Because there would be only one opportunity to attempt this reprogramming, and because so many genetic codes had to be inserted, a family of viruses was created to carry the multiple genetic codes that were needed. Nothing on this scale had ever been attempted before. The response of the human immune system to a family of viruses was an unpredictable variable. The extreme virulence of the modified H5N1 family of viruses added another serious concern.

         By sixteen hundred hours, he had finished his viral designs and the staff was ready to replicate them in large quantities. It required forty eight hours to complete the manufacturing project. It was the longest forty eight hours of his life. He checked and double checked the viral and epigenomic protein designs. He breathed down the necks of the technicians replicating the viruses and epigenomic serums. He checked and double checked the security of the operation. He constantly monitored his terminal for communication from Dora. None came. He was half asleep, running on adrenalin and totally focused.

         Finally, all of the batches of viral culture and epigenomic serums were completed and sealed into biological isolation capsules. There He sat with five hundred million capsules of the most deadly, most illegal, and potentially most valuable biological material in the world. There was one capsule for each individual under Central Accountant management and enough epigenomic serum to activate the new genes. There was only one more task to perform.

         He went to the terminal and accessed the Central Accountant. "Direct the WGI to distribute all of the vaccine in batch X001 to all Central Medical Clinics with instructions to inoculate every member of the population. This inoculation is to proceed with extreme urgency. The vaccinations are to be accompanied by an infusion of the accompanying epigenomic serum. This is an Omega level directive."

         He called Dr. Benson into the lab and told him, "I'm not really supposed to tell you this, but this vaccine is critical for saving the life of everyone on this planet. I have entered the directive to facilitate the distribution and use with extreme urgency. However, I need you to keep an eye on things here to guarantee that it goes off smoothly."

         "What about the political consequences that you mentioned earlier?" Director Benson asked.

         "The situation has changed. There were those among my peers who argued that the threat was exaggerated. Their conservatism is no longer an issue," Dr. Axelrod replied.

         "Can you tell me the nature of the threat the vaccine is supposed to address?" Director Benson asked.

         "All I can say is that there is a bio-genetic threat to the survival of the human population and this vaccine is designed to correct the problem. Can I count on you?" Dr. Axelrod asked.

         "You can count on me. Thanks for including me in the loop," Director Benson replied.

         "You must not talk to anyone until this is complete. Questions might cause delays and delays may cost lives," Dr. Axelrod added.

         They shook hands and Dr. Axelrod headed for the transport terminal.

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