Source, page 1part #3 of Transient Series
Book Three: Episodes 1 - 4
Copyright © K & M Hill, 2019.
The right of K.M. Hill to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author. You must not circulate this book in any format.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
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BOOK ONE - TRANSIENT
#1 THE CRYPTOGRAPH
#4 THE CELL
BOOK TWO - OUTLIERS
BOOK THREE - SOURCE
‘Citizens of America, I stand before you today not just as your elected president, but as a fellow countrywoman.
Our world has seen many changes in the last decade and as a species we have walked to the edge of the abyss and been saved from its depths by what can only be described as a miracle. The discoveries of Doctors Oberkampf and Lakeb have given mankind a second chance.
A chance to avoid making the same mistakes.
Unfortunately, there are still those who have darkness within them - individuals who only want one thing; anarchy.
We recently learned that the radical group known as The Tetrad - previously believed to have been neutralized - has struck a damaging blow against OBK’s systems.
The attack was cyber in nature and its focus the cryptograph testing system - and more worryingly the new Lifelong program.
Today I, and my colleagues from the G16 nations, are announcing immediate measures to address these threats once and for all.
As of nine pm EST, I along with my fellow leaders around the globe, have no choice but to declare a national state of emergency.
We are asking citizens to stay at home until we can safely ensure that OBK’s systems have not been compromised. Martial law will be enforced, and penalties for those who break it will be severe.
As part of our retaliation against such terrorism, online access will be unavailable while updates are made to all breached security systems.
This outage should be for no more than six hours.
As your president, I vow to do whatever it takes to stop these people. And to the Tetrad and other dissident groups who are no doubt watching right now, I say one thing: your days are numbered and our world will only be stronger for your actions.
History has a tendency to repeat itself. This is not after all, the first time a President of the United States of America has stood in this very office directly addressing his enemies. JFK himself said, and I quote:
‘In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.
I do not shrink from this responsibility - I welcome it.’
ONE WEEK EARLIER
Rae could feel her skin burning as if she was standing too close to a raging fire.
Her skin was clammy as she tossed and turned in sheets already damp from perspiration.
Her mind swirled with images of Jenny’s face smiling down at her. In her hallucinations Jenny had been joined by Doctor Oberkampf and Lakeb; the three of them laughing together as they mocked her.
Then they were gone and Rae’s mother was sitting on her bed, cooling her forehead with a damp cloth just as she had done when Rae was a young child.
She felt the earlier panic and fever begin to subside just as her mom plunged a syringe deep into her neck.
She bolted upright in bed, screaming.
‘Hey, it’s OK. You’re safe.’ Peter attempted to soothe Rae while also physically restraining her. She stared at him, her pupils dilated and a mix of panic and fear on her face. ‘Just breathe Rae, you’re OK.’
She took a deep breath and he felt the heat radiating off her body like an electric element. She took a couple of deep breaths and he loosened his grip as he felt her begin to relax.
Then she rested her head back on her pillow, while he brushed her matted hair away from her eyes.
‘W-w-where am I?’ She managed to force out the question in a croaky voice.
‘In your apartment. You collapsed on campus right after telling me someone was trying to kill you. Here, drink.’
Peter held out a glass of water. ‘You’ve been out of it for a couple of hours. I was about to call a medic when you started to come to. Looking at you now though, I think I may still have to.’
Rae almost spilled the drink. ‘No, I’m … OK.’
She thrust the glass back at him and rubbed her neck, slowly starting to remember her last encounter with the medical staff.
How the doctors had insisted she needed a patch to resolve some issue with her so-called Lifelong implant.
‘So what’s going on?’ Peter asked. ‘Who was trying to kill you?’
‘They told me there was a problem with my implant …’ she said, trying to recall the sequence of events more clearly. ‘The doctors put something in me, Peter, some kind of nanotech.’
She placed a hand on her forehead. ‘Something isn’t right. I feel like I’m going to burst into flames. I need to talk to Apollo. I need to get out of here.’
She pulled back the sheets, rolled onto her side and threw her legs down on to the floor.
‘You need to rest,’ he protested.
‘I can’t stay here. The way they spoke to me; they said there could be side-effects, said it would be a shame if maybe I ended up dead.’ She struggled to her feet and walked slowly to her desk, reaching underneath it.
Then she slumped into the chair and peeled her laptop open before inserting the secure key drive Apollo had given her into the USB port.
‘I need to tell Apollo what’s happened - let him know my position i
She indicated the device that they’d agreed Rae would use to plant a trapdoor in OBK’s system when the time was right.
‘Plug it in somewhere with the highest security clearance you can find, so that he can gain access when he sees it going live.’
She opened a new thread on a forum:
Anyone rambling in Germany and Italy today?
Her and Apollo’s prearranged code for a time and place to meet.
’What are you going to do? You’re in no fit state to go anywhere.’ Peter tried to reason with her as she closed the laptop and unplugged the device.
’Just promise me you’ll get this as high up the OBK food chain as possible,’ she reiterated, pressing it into his hand. ‘I’ll be fine, I’m just a little groggy is all.’
She walked slowly and unsteadily towards her bedroom door while Peter watched her, seeing her legs begin to buckle.
He tried to make up the distance between them but it was too late; Rae collapsed to the floor with a thud as her body went rigid and she started to convulse.
Horrified, he cradled her head and her eyes rolled back into her skull as she tried to speak.
‘Park ….wwwhere you met Logan …today,’ she managed to get out between convulsions.
Peter grabbed a cushion and placed it under her head to stop it banging on the ground with each spasm. He stood up, panicking, and noticed blood emerge from the corner of her mouth before her body went limp, her face slackened and her lips began to turn blue.
Putting an ear to Rae’s mouth Peter felt a new wave of terror wash over him, as he realized she’d stopped breathing altogether.
Drew couldn't believe his eyes. He was right within touching distance of revealing the truth.
He had trawled through tons of data over the last while and was now pretty certain that the common denominator between outliers was the childhood immunization program - or rather the lack thereof.
He had gone deep into public records in relation to what was referred to as the Great Pandemic: Ground Zero.
The image of the world painted was familiar, and brought him right back to what he had learned in class of a time when relatively common diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis had mutated and become so resistant to modern medicine, that the world had been cast back to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Except globalization and interconnectivity meant disease contagion had spread unchecked like wildfire.
He recalled learning about the telomeres breakthrough Oberkampf and Lakeb had made back then. The Nobel prizewinning doctors were catapulted straight to top of the list of the world’s most influential people, and viewed as saviors of the planet with as much vigor as traditional religion.
Drew’s upbringing had automatically made him question this. His mother always told him that God had a plan and two doctors being lauded with such godlike status never sat well with him.
His brief spell working for OBK had merely compounded his cynicism even more.
Now, as he sat looking at analysis that seemed pretty conclusive as to why he, Rae and other outliers had ‘beaten’ the cryptograph, he wanted to shout from the rooftops.
The one thing they all had in common was missing childhood immunization.
Over the years, the population had gradually been refused permission to opt out of any immunization program, with both the government and OBK citing the need for absolute herd immunity to prevent disease mutation and thus, further pandemics.
People were largely willing to accept this, having seen what could happen. But absolute herd immunity was simply not achievable due to the vagaries of each individual’s health, age and immune system.
He and the other outliers had fallen between such stools, due to a shared allergic reaction to Infanrix Hexaan - a common ingredient in childhood vaccines - during their first round of jabs, causing them to miss subsequent boosters.
A few things seemed clear to Drew now; firstly, if he and the others had beaten their death dates because of this, OBK’s latest propaganda about the Lifelong program being responsible could be refuted.
Secondly, if he, Rae and Peter fell outside the scope of the immunization program and thus the cryptograph testing procedure, surely there were many more.
But finally and far more concerning, what exactly had OBK been administering as part of their immunization programs worldwide?
As he pondered these questions, a message popped up on screen, alerting him to a new thread on a forum which meant only one thing: Rae was in trouble.
The exit protocol that they’d agreed was only to be used as a last resort, an emergency.
Grabbing some things, he quickly threw on a jacket and baseball cap and made his way to the door, his mind racing afresh now, wondering what had happened.
Had she been compromised?
Was she in immediate danger?
Drew made his way to the prearranged meeting spot in the park as quickly as he could, keeping his head down so as not to make eye contact with anybody.
He’d put together in advance a small back pack with some items that Rae might need in case she felt she was being followed; a change of clothes, sunglasses and a hat.
As he rounded the corner and approached the playground area, he was concerned to see the she had not arrived before him.
He casually strolled over to a bench and sat down, pretending to study his phone which was of course powered off so that he’d leave no digital footprint.
As he sat, he watched a woman pushing her young son on the swing set. The giggles and laughter made him feel uncommonly nostalgic about his own carefree youth, which seemed so far away.
Now thanks to OBK, he existed in a permanent state of mistrust, cynicism and a life lacking in any fun or laughter.
Except when he was with Rae of course.
He was so deep in his own thoughts that he almost failed to recognize Peter.
‘Hey,’ the older man said by way of acknowledgement as he walked up and sat down next to him on the bench.
‘What are you doing here? Where’s Rae?’ Drew was confused by Peter’s unexpected presence but also deeply concerned by Rae’s absence.
‘Something’s happened…it’s Rae, she’s not well.’
‘Not well, what does that mean? Where is she? And how did you manage to contact me?’ Fresh questions raced through his brain as quickly as he could relay them.
‘She contacted you just before she collapsed; I was with her. She told me the time and place before she…’
‘Before she what?’
Peter ran his fingers through his hair and massaged the back of his head.
‘Look, it was bad. She passed out. I did my best to revive her but …’
‘Revive her?’ Drew sprang to his feet, no longer caring about keeping a low profile.
‘Calm down, let me talk,’ Peter said glancing nervously around. ‘I called the medics and they came and used a defibrillator on her. Only after I had a stand up argument with them about her having received Lifelong and that her DOD wasn't today.’ He shook his head. ‘She came to then, and was taken to hospital. I’m only here so you know what was going on since she’d activated your exit plan.’
‘I don’t believe this. So you’re telling me if you hadn't been there to call for help Rae might be dead?’
Peter nodded. ‘That’s not even the full story. She was called in for assessment this morning by the docs themselves. Said she was told there was a problem with her implant and they gave her, in their own words, ‘something to fix it.'
‘And what the hell was that?’
‘I don’t know. But whatever it was had Rae believing they were trying to kill her. I was the one who got her back to her apartment after she collapsed; that’s why I was with her when it happened again.’
‘I don’t beli
‘You can’t. You know that. She’s being cared for now anyway. I’m heading back and will keep you updated. I’ll … keep things going until she’s better.’
With this, Peter surreptitiously took the device Rae had given him out of his pocket to show him that he had it.
‘They’ll pay for this…’
‘Just don’t do anything rash, kid. We have to be smart here. Keep our eyes on the prize.’
‘Maybe. But now we need to move up the schedule. No more waiting around. Help me get that thing as high up the clearance chain as possible OK?’ He explained to the older man how he would covertly give him word when the timing was right.
Peter nodded uncertainly. ‘I’ll try.’
‘We’re so close to the truth now; I’m certain of it. And as soon as Rae is in the clear, it’s time for action.'
Rae felt suspended deep underwater; pressure building around her in the darkness. She was aware of her name being spoken, interspersed with whirling and beeping sounds.
Voices swirled round her consciousness, talking louder now, one voice in particular amongst the others causing her to feel uneasy.
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