This marks the end of Overture of The Fall, and paves the way for what this means. Next up is my first book, which I plan to have out before the end of summer if nothing else happens, (because a broken hand among other broken things kind of puts a shroud over any willpower). Still, I present the finale it it’s entirety. Be sure to read the first five before delving in, which can be found in a link to the side, and enjoy!
It wasn’t uncommon for the guards of the Emmerich Research Facility to intrude on the laboratories throughout the day. Usually it was for the sake of ensuring that none of the ongoing experiments were getting out of control, but Dr. Frank Teufel never expected they’d serve as babysitters as well, because this would mark the second time today they had brought Evan Hamilton back to his team’s lab, though this time he was flanked on all sides like he was a dangerous weapon. Each guard held an M4 carbine and donned their typical black armor with red trim that serve as a reminder that they were not with the official government. Teufel wasn’t a fan of the idea of hired guns watching after them, but it wasn’t like the military was going to supply armed units if they knew of the kinds of experiments being performed here. Each guard had their finger resting on their trigger guards, ready at a moment’s notice to put a bullet into the smaller man at their center. For all that Teufel knew, they were right to be cautious. Security was a crucial part of the system here, seeing as though most of the activities were illegal.
“Is this yours?” the one up front demanded.
“Yes, yes,” Teufel replied with a sigh, swearing in German underneath his breath. Disgruntling as this was, he had to hold back a grin as he noted the anxious state of the other three guards standing around the young man in their captivity. Hamilton didn’t look the least bit worried. In fact, he looked disappointed as he pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose.
“Keep him on a tighter leash!” the lead guard barked, “You all know that you’re restricted to your assigned labs!”
With that, the guard in the back shoved Hamilton forward with the butt of his rifle before they all exited through the airlock. The hissing of air slowly faded out as the pane door slid shut and left the team isolated once more. Teufel stood with his arms crossed and glared at the most troublesome member of his team. Teufel knew he came off as intimidating when he was in a foul mood, but it gave him some comfort to know that no one had seen the face he’d given the two men he’d brutally attacked for killing his wife three years ago. Now that was a face he didn’t want to see looking back at him in a mirror, nor was the subject something he wanted to lament on right now. There were more pressing matters to deal with at the moment.
“Well, what exactly is the excuse this time?” he asked the careless man sternly.
Hamilton grinned, “I just wanted to take a walk and enjoy the scenery.”
Teufel kept the serious expression and nodded, “Was it enthusiastic?”
“I observed two men staring precariously at a bull that they had injected with a foreign substance, right before it attempted to skewer one of the individuals when they expressed disappointment that whatever their theory was appeared to have been disproven. I couldn’t quite deduce the theory myself, but I was more interested in how many guards it took to bring the beast down. That and the state of the man they had to pry from the horn impaled through him. The good news is that I definitely don’t have homophobia.”
“So…very enthusiastic?” Teufel asked again.
“Very much so,” Hamilton replied with a laugh. Teufel smiled, but then quickly remembered that he was supposed to keep this man in check. It was admittedly hard to remain stern when someone like Hamilton was the perfect example of what he wanted in assistants; curious in nature, and dauntless to the consequences. The young man was insane (and had the psych evaluation to prove it), but he was indispensable, “Keep the curiosity in the lab, okay Hamilton?” Teufel scolded, “I’d hate to have to explain to the others that you were mistaken for an experiment and shot on sight. With the way you function, that wouldn’t be hard to believe.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, Dr. Teufel,” Hamilton replied as he stepped around his boss to return to his station.
Teufel laughed to himself and shook his head. Hamilton was insane, but insanity wasn’t a bad thing to have in this environment.
Hamilton himself thought that the security was asinine. Wasn’t the point of coming here to have more freedom? He was promised free reign here. At least at a university he wasn’t under the threat of gunfire for his actions.
Is that not counting the time you carried your Beretta 950 to the lab to test-
“Shut up,” Hamilton muttered to himself. The voice in his head never did give him peace, but at least it couldn’t turn him in for any violations.
Why the hell would I? The stupid things you do that should have landed you in a penitentiary long ago are all the entertainment I get.
“You’re the worst guilty conscience,” Hamilton snarled.
Teufel stood triumphantly before his team and crossed his arms, admiring the view before him, “Finally.”
Over the course of the past three years, Teufel’s life had changed so much. He’d become a man with an idea, a murderer, a manipulator, and now he was leader. With the death of his wife Naomi Teufel at the hands of the two men he had taken upon himself to exact vengeance on, he found a new fire inside, one that continued to feed on the winds of his successes. Now it was an inferno that fueled his ambition like a train engine.
The five members of the research team had gathered in the central lab of the Emmerich Research Facility. All around them in the other rooms of the two-story complex other teams were working on their own projects in what was literally the next most secret research area of the country, only really rivaled by Groom Lake. The facility had been constructed in secrecy over the past three years under the watchful eye of Senator Reginald Loft. Loft was a man who sought to end war through any means, and if it meant going against the Biological Weapons Convention, so be it. It wasn’t like Teufel wanted to play by the rules in the first place, so he could respect the lack of concern with such inane treaties that were about as reinforced as anything else the UN had oversight of. The hired mercs that surrounded the compound and patrolled the inside were answering to someone higher than Loft himself, which had Teufel wondering just who was really funding this project. He had been led to believe that it was Loft himself who emptied his pockets into this facility, but he had his doubts because of the men in red and black with their dragon patches. Still, he ensured his own team that the project was government sponsored, because he was sure some would be hesitant about working on anything illegal. Of course, he wasn’t too worried about any trouble; with the location being far out in the wilderness of Washington, there were no worries of interference. It was Loft’s money and political power that had given Frank the means to accomplish his goal, and accomplish it he would. The others didn’t need to know that Loft was just as shady as any politician who wanted their dreams achieved. In fact, they didn’t need to know anything that Teufel himself deemed irrelevant to the main project.
Teufel looked around at his assistants and smiled. Sitting before him was Dr. Edward Moriarty, genius mathematician and the man who felt he had the most to prove. He’d left his position at Oxford to come to America and participate in this endeavor, and so far he was proving to be a fine choice by Teufel. Though Edward didn’t work well with others, he showed respect to the people of this room…minus Hamilton. Edward was competing against him in a competition for recognition that Hamilton didn’t even know existed. Besides that, Edward was a good man who had the mindset to get the job done.
Behind Edward examining a sample underneath a microscope was Dr. Henry King, the brilliant pathologist who was too kind for his own good. Of course, Teufel welcomed him nonetheless, as he was the one who usually ensured that they were all eating as they worked into the late hours of the night. King was in attendance the night of the seminar three years ago where Teufel’s life was turned around. He was the only person other than Senator Loft and Teufel’s own wife who saw the potential in the project, and that alone would have served as reason enough for his inclusion on the team. King’s knowledge of diseases and bacteria was just the added plus that kept Teufel grateful. Like Edward, King too had left something behind to join the project, but unlike the prideful former, King actually cared about what he left behind. His pregnant wife was still in Texas, waiting patiently for his return. They’d faced their own challenges lately; the hospital King had worked for got rid of him as a scapegoat for a lot of their funding issues, so Teufel felt safe in knowing that he was ensuring a financially stable future for the family of his late wife’s friend.
Standing not too far from King and writing away on his notepad while muttering to himself was the graduate in biology and terror to most, Evan Hamilton. Hamilton was the only member of the team who lacked a doctorate, but his mind (strange as it was) was free of inhibition. The young man was bizarre, but very passionate about his work. That passion had proven him a very literal threat to his peers throughout school (what with the borderline-illegal human experimentation and numerous reports on his permanent record noting his apathy when it came to protocol), but he had a fire inside that wasn’t easily quelled just because someone told him to stop. In fact, if it weren’t for the constant interventions into his experiments, that fire would probably spread into reality. His list of violations at Princeton were enough to have ensured his expulsion, but perhaps it was fear of Hamilton’s unbalanced nature that kept anyone from taking action. Either way, it was nothing Teufel couldn’t handle. As long as you gave him some room and checked to ensure that there wasn’t a high risk of fatality, Hamilton proved more an asset than a liability to their work. The only thing he’d really done so far to incite concern was inquire as to whether or not some of the guards stationed around the facility would like to volunteer for an experiment in which he would inject a strain of measles that, while not inducing any physical symptoms, would shut down their immune systems for an unknown period of time. Though King found it funny, being that he was the one with the idea to alter the DNA of a simple strain to accomplish such a feat, the feelings from the guards weren’t mutual. Hamilton had already broken protocol enough times to demand a response from the director himself, but Teufel’s reputation kept everyone assured that the odd man was a necessary part of the project.
Finally, there was the newest addition to the team, Dr. Julia Shelly Adler. Dr. Adler was a promising young woman whose medical ingenuity seemed to be boundless, and that knowledge allowed her to graduate with a doctorate in biomedical engineering at a young age. It was a shame that Teufel had to implement such tactics to manipulate her into joining, but a prodigy such as Julia was just too much to pass up. There was also the added benefit of being able to finish off the survivor of the duo from the night of his wife’s murder, so the guilt was far from overwhelming. Julia herself was getting along just fine with the others, despite the initial hiccup with Hamilton. As it turned out, Hamilton was human after all, because the mannerisms he tried to express when he first met the young lady’s acquaintance were so humorous it hurt. Even the most abnormal of human beings could be stricken dumb by affection, and it appeared to Teufel and King right away that Hamilton had taken an interest in the young doctor. In a way, it reminded Teufel of his initial meeting with his late wife Naomi, but he was sure he was much more confident than the blundering shell of insanity incarnate that couldn’t even form three words towards the woman that had actually managed to steal his attention. He chuckled as he looked from Julia to Hamilton. This would be an interesting project in more than one way after all.
In the three years since he’d first set out to accomplish his dream of starting this project, Teufel had brushed up on his biological engineering studies. It would take a lot of work to manipulate any one of the candidate viruses such as the ones he had chosen. For starters, they needed one that would make the transmission to an individual fairly simple. One choice was a recommendation by Hamilton known as chikungunya, the mosquito-borne disease that causes fever and joint pains. The virus itself was rather difficult to cultivate, and keeping a collection of infected mosquitoes was bound to create a problem if even one escaped containment. His worst fear was that he’d be forced to purge the lab over a breach, but there were some protocols that the team couldn’t abandon. The next choice was infectious mononucleosis, but Teufel honestly wasn’t a fan of something as simple as the “kissing disease” being used as the catalyst for his grand scheme. Much to his relief, King and Julia had already proven that they could alter the DNA of the measles virus to remove the skin rash symptom, so at least he knew his team was capable of what he expected of them despite the choice. The objective was to make the virus hard to detect until it was too late, and find a way to minimize the infectivity to prevent an epidemic in exchange for controlled cases. That was the tricky part that he needed to discuss with King and Moriarty today. Their practices were far from the paragon, but none of that really mattered to Teufel. The controversial practices that someone such as Hamilton and himself would utilize was welcome here, and they could expect no repercussions. In fact, Teufel encouraged the wicked behavior of these people, even if Julia was more reluctant to engage in it. Still, she was valuable as a biomedical engineer, as his own knowledge of manipulating the DNA of bacteria and viruses admittedly paled in comparison. Before the rest had come along, Teufel and King had only produced one vial of a green substance that contained his work so far, and all the mixture was able to accomplish was to produce a quick death in one of the lab mice. While that was a successful step one, step two would require much more effort, and that was the very step that Dr. Adler had her doubts over. He couldn’t really blame her; who had ever heard of reanimating a lifeless vessel for only mere moments just to serve as psychological warfare? Of course, her concerns were aimed more towards morality rather than the practicality.
The door behind Teufel opened once more, filling the room with the faint hissing of the airlock as another guard entered the lab. He recognized Mark Westbrook, the young man who actually used reason unlike the other members of the guards around the facility. Teufel placed his hand over his eyes and sighed, knowing all too well what the circumstances of yet another visit like this meant “What else did he do today?”
Westbrook didn’t show mercy in informing the doctor that Hamilton was making the staff throughout the rest of the facility uncomfortable. Apparently he had been doing more than just wandering around over the past few days; three members of the guard team had reported that Hamilton had asked each of them for some assistance in an experiment separate from Teufel’s own. Westbrook wasn’t familiar with scientific terms, but he knew it had something to do with testing their body armor against various types of chemicals that he had retrieved from the hazardous containment room. Terrifying as the thought was, Teufel had to admire Hamilton’s tenacity. That, and he was surprised no one had shot the man on the spot for such ideas.
“What do you propose we do about him?” Teufel asked, “I’m not going to remove him from my team.”
“Doctor, if you don’t do something about his disturbances, then the director may have no choice but to-”
“The director and I have an understanding,” Teufel shot back, “and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to bother such a busy man just to prove my point.”
Westbrook wasn’t having shit from anyone, “If you’re trying to bluff me, doctor, then I’m afraid this will impede anything you’re trying to do here far more than your renegade pet there.”
“All right, all right!” Teufel exclaimed, “Verdammt noch mal!” He paced back and forth in front of Westbrook before coming to a stop with his back to him, his eyes scanning the room before him. Hamilton was in the middle of assisting King with a detailed drawing of the structure of their draft of the virus on a whiteboard, seemingly tame at the moment. With something to keep him occupied, Hamilton appeared as orderly as the rest of the team. The only problems in the lab occurred when he and Edward clashed. Between Edward’s ego and Hamilton’s apathy towards others trying to interfere with his work, the two butted heads like bucks competing over dominance, and the funny part was that Julia wasn’t even their concern. At least his men had their priorities right.
Westbrook began to tap his fingers on his carbine, drawing Teufel’s attention, “How about I make you an offer, doctor?”
Teufel raised a brow, his arms still crossed, “Go on?”
“We have a new vacancy on the other side of the facility that we can relocate him to,” Westbrook explained, “There was an incident a short while ago that involved a team being dismissed from the facility, and there are no plans to replace them anytime soon.”
Teufel assumed he knew which incident he was referring to, “So you’re insinuating that I move one of my assistants to another room, secluded from the rest of us?”
“I can allocate a guard to monitor his station at all times. Truth be told, doctor, he is the only challenge we’ve really faced here since the facility was built. The director is shoveling too many resources into this place as is, but before Mr. Hamilton here we didn’t really have a reason to do our jobs. Hell, between him and that incident with the cow earlier that’s the most action we’ve really seen, so I think having someone…”
“Babysit?” Teufel interjected with the correct word. Westbrook chuckled.
“Yeah, having someone babysit the crazy bastard shouldn’t be a problem. The guard can even escort him back here to the main lab whenever he’s needed.”
“Dr. Teufel,” Edward uttered quietly as he looked up from his projections of their most recent sample, having overheard the discussion, “are you sure about the insane imbecile?”
“You’ve asked me this time and time again, Dr. Moriarty,” Teufel reminded him, “and the answer is still the same; yes.”
Edward grumbled something incoherent underneath his breath as Teufel smiled back at Westbrook, “If it can be done, I’d certainly appreciate it.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Westbrook replied as he turned to leave them in peace once more…though peace was only a matter of the time between bouts involving Edward and Hamilton. The hissing sounds of the airlock faded, but the sound didn’t necessarily stop. It was coming from Edward’s words.
“Hamilton’s too much of a burden.”
“And you’re too hot-tempered,” Teufel fired back with a smirk. Edward shook his head and went back to crunching numbers while Teufel grunted to clear his throat, “I feel that I need to remind you all, thanks to the push from Washington’s Senator Loft, we’re all here to embark on a grand journey to discover a true end to the conflicts in the Middle East.”
“Loft?” Julia asked under her breath as Teufel stepped over to pull Hamilton aside towards the back of the room. Hamilton glanced over at Julia at the sound of her voice as he and Teufel passed, causing her to forget the topic altogether as she turned her head to avoid his gaze.
“He’s a prime Republican candidate for the 2008 election,” King replied, “and a proprietor for peace.”
“And a man who shares my vision,” Teufel added from the back, “which is why I’m grateful to him,” he finished, patting Hamilton on the shoulder before walking over to a table setup full of his chemistry glassware.
Edward squinted at the papers before him as a thought crossed his mind, “Don’t you find it a little odd that a promising candidate such as Senator Loft would risk his reputation with the public by being involved in something like this?”
“He shares something we all have,” Teufel responded as he grabbed a test tube of green liquid from a rack.
“A tendency to cause problems with others?” Edward remarked mockingly. Hamilton just smiled as he approached his own station and began gathering his things.
At first, I thought you just didn’t like the guy because he was British, but now I have to agree; he’s a fucking prick.
Teufel leered at the two of them before addressing Edward, “Dr. Moriarty, find solace in the fact that I’m having you and Evan separated, because I’m honestly fed up with the two of you harassing each other when progress could be made.”
“Yet having him harass the guards is worth keeping him around?” Edward argued.
“If anything,” Hamilton remarked from the back corner of the lab where he was sweeping his desk of his files and necessities, “my harassing will keep them at bay so they’ll leave us be.”
King laughed, “Sounds like a legitimate strategy if you’re counting on them giving up eventually. You know, like the boy who cried wolf?”
“That’s an optimistic thought,” Hamilton replied as he turned away from the desk, his arms straining to hold everything in his grasp as a can of energy drink fell to the floor and burst, shooting across the floor of the lab and leaving a citrusy smell in its wake.
“What are you doing?” King asked. Hamilton shrugged at the mess and approached the front with an armful of folders and three more cans of energy drinks.
“I’m moving into my new station on the other side of the facility.”
King’s attention was stolen from the whiteboard as he streaked a black line across his model of their ideal hybrid virus, “What?!”
Edward snapped his fingers at him, “King!” he hissed, “Belt up!” King gave him a puzzled look, and Edward had to remember that he was in America, after all, “King, don’t ruin the chance of being rid of that barmy todger!”
“My own lab,” Hamilton repeated, ignoring the noise from Edward, “Did Dr. Teufel not inform you?”
Before King or Edward could say anything in response Teufel inserted himself into the conversation to maintain some level of order, “Hamilton, you just found out yourself.”
Hamilton shrugged, “It was bound to happen sooner or later.”
Considering you tampered with that experiment by swapping the syringe with one full of steroids, yeah, a violent bull was bound to happen. Plus you got a guy seriously injured in the process. Bravo, Hamilton.
“Please quiet down,” Hamilton muttered to himself.
“So, Hamilton is being reassigned?” Julia asked. Teufel waved a hand.
“He’s merely being relocated. He’ll have plenty of space to…”
“Be Hamilton?” Edward added. Teufel was about to scold him, but there wasn’t really an argument to be had; Edward was right. Still, he had to say something.
“I just thought that someone like Hamilton could use some free space to work in his own little world,” he looked to Hamilton, “No offense to you, Evan.”
“No, no, it’s quite all right,” Hamilton assured him.
“In any case,” Teufel continued, “it would be much more convenient if the guards were bursting into his lab every few hours rather than in here, wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Moriarty?”
Edward readied another retort, but the grin on Teufel’s face spoke of the consideration that went into the decision, and Edward relaxed, “Of course.”
“Well,” Hamilton said, looking around at the inhabitants of the lab as he hoisted up his belongings, “I’ll be on my way. I’ll return for one of the mice momentarily, as I’d like to see how the modified measles virus actually binds to the cells of a living subject, and since none of the fine men and women of the staff around here would like to volunteer, I’ll have to make do with what I can.”
“Nonsense,” Teufel replied, “Dr. Adler can carry one to save you a trip.” Edward mouthed the words “thank you” to their project lead as Julia jumped at the sound of her name. Teufel beamed, “Will you be so kind as to assist him, doctor?”
“Yes sir,” Julia answered, walking over to the cage of mice on one of the tables to the side and retrieving one. She held it cupped in her hands and smiled at it as she approached Hamilton’s side. His eyes lit up as they locked in on the innocent creature.
“That one will do nicely.”
Julia peered over and caught the mischievous look in Hamilton’s eyes before the overhead light put a glare in his glasses. He was incredibly creepy.
“Oh, and Hamilton?” Edward called out. Hamilton stopped before the door to the airlock and looked back over his shoulder. Edward was wearing the most bogus smile about his face as he gloated at Hamilton, “I hope you enjoy your new quarters.”
“Of course,” Hamilton replied as the pane door slid open and the holes in the walls began to hiss, “todger.”
Julia and Hamilton stepped inside of the airlock and awaited the blast of air as Edward tried to comprehend whether or not he had heard Hamilton correctly. The door slid shut as Hamilton turned his back, a wicked grin peeling across his face.
King went back to his drawing on the whiteboard and swore when he realized his mistake, hastily scrubbing the stray mark away. Edward grunted and let Hamilton’s last comment go, opting to focus on the matter at hand instead, “So doctor, have you decided on which other virus we should utilize?”
Teufel placed the test tube in the centrifuge with three other samples and started the device before stepping over to the computer monitor next to it and pulling up some of the models Edward had prepared, “Infectious mononucleosis would be my preference. It would be easier to engineer, what with it being a virus we have plenty of information on.”
King had doubt, “Wouldn’t that make it easier to identify? The second someone from the WHO or CDC realize it’s a modified virus, they’ll start investigating into the likelihood of biological warfare. Then your best friend Senator Loft will have to answer to a lot of questions if it’s traced back to us.”
Edward and King weren’t prepared for what happened next. Teufel cackled maniacally, and it sent chills down both of their spines. While both men were preoccupied by the odd behavior of their team lead, he stole a glance at the enclosed balcony above. Unbeknownst to the other two doctors, a shady figure was watching over the project from behind the tinted glass above them, and was excited to see where the work was going. The director was a careful man, so Teufel wasn’t worried about any mistakes. Besides, the director wouldn’t allow mistakes, and neither would Teufel.
“So, Evan,” Julia began nervously, “you were a student at Princeton?”
Evan refrained from answering. It wasn’t so much that he hated the idea of small talk, but when it came to Julia, he really didn’t know what to say, and this walk was awkward enough already. His former colleague Hal Hoo from Princeton would be enjoying Hamilton’s torture, because he’d always wondered what the socially awkward (and disturbing) man would do when stuck with a woman who actually interested him. Hamilton shook his head at the thought. He wasn’t interested in Dr. Adler.
Keep telling yourself that, buddy. I’ll be up here enjoying the sight of you burning in shame.
Sure, she was the same age as him and very intelligent…and kind of cute. In fact, Hamilton felt the same kind of comfort with her that he did when Hal was around, only unlike Hal, the thought of tricking her into participating in any of his small social experiments seemed…cruel.
Answer her question, you fucking idiot!
“Hm?” he blinked rapidly before turning his gaze to her, “Princeton! Yes…I…” his mind locked up. There was another reason he was excited to be out of the lab; Hamilton’s mind was always considered unstable, but with Julia around he somehow found it harder to focus. In fact, he tried to think straightforward about what to say to her in passing.
Holy shit, you’re attracted to this woman. Stop overthinking it!
“I…I attended the university for a time before joining the project. Why do you ask?”
Julia kept her eyes to the floor as she stroked the back of the mouse in her grasp, “I was just curious. The others haven’t said much about you, so I assumed you just open yourself up to others personally.”
The only things this guy tries to open up are usually very reluctant.
Hamilton growled quietly before attempting a genuine smile, and even that would have scared anyone, “No, I just don’t normally talk about anything unrelated to our work, unless it’s to stir trouble with Moriarty.”
“Wait, you know you agitate him?”
“I get bored, and he’s easy to trigger,” Hamilton replied honestly.
To be fair, that’s about the only thing you do that I completely condone. Arrogant bastard needs a challenge, so why not give him one?
Hamilton grinned at that one, “Well, what about you, Dr. Adler? You seem very smart to have already received your doctorate at your age. You seem to be an…” Hamilton swallowed a knot in his throat, “interesting person.”
His eyes were facing forward, so he didn’t see Julia blushing, “I graduated high school early and made it into Johns Hopkins at sixteen. It made having a social life impossible because I spent all of my adolescence studying.”
“Ah, the idea of a normal teenage life. Being a rebel, letting your hair grow out, and dating a different person week to week when you’re bored. Are those the qualities you missed?”
Julia cringed at the words, “Some of those things I don’t think I particularly regret missing out on.” She thought about it more and turned her eyes to him, “What about you?”
“Did you get to enjoy those things?”
Control yourself and leave the unnecessary parts out, okay Hamilton?
“I had…a normal life, I suppose.”
Playing the mysterious guy? This should be interesting.
“Judging from what the others have said, I find that hard to believe.”
Hamilton laughed. She was no bullshitter, “Well, from a young age I’ve been interested in how things work, both mechanical and biological. That led to many small experiments when I was a kid.”
That captivated her, “Small experiments?”
“Well, for starters, I had a dog once.”
Julia’s eyes twinkled “Aw, what was its name?”
“He was Ivan, after Pavlov,” Hamilton actually smiled at the memories, “Good dog, but maybe testing Pavlov’s theories on the little guy wasn’t the best idea.”
Another can of energy drink fell from Hamilton’s arms and exploded at his feet, spinning around and spraying its contents at their feet. Julia leapt backwards and glared at the ruptured can in disgust, but Hamilton was still on the former topic, “To answer your question, something like that.”
Julia was stunned, “I…I don’t-”
“Not as bad as the mailman,” Hamilton continued, “That was rather unfortunate, and I was only six at the time,” he laughed dementedly at the thought, “we were the only family in the neighborhood that had to get our mail at the post office.”
Julia didn’t know what to say. She was between intrigued and mortified, but still, it was better than the usual awkward silence the two shared in passing, “You really must’ve given your parents a hard time.”
“Those bastards?” Hamilton spat crossly, “They disowned me when I was eight.”
Julia gasped, “That’s awful!”
“It’s what happens when you have two religious parents who fail to see the point in expanding knowledge beyond the realms of whatever restrictions they believe some divine being has placed upon mankind. That and trying to dissect the neighbor’s son probably didn’t help.”
Surprised the lawsuit stopped at a restraining order…
“I see,” Julia uttered, feeling pity for the man walking beside her, “So what happened after that?”
“I was placed into foster care.”
Julia breathed a sigh of relief, “So you found others who cared?”
Hamilton chuckled, “The first family tried, but then I burned the house down. Then the second family from when I was ten…well, I actually liked my foster father from that one. He took me hunting and perked my interest in firearms.”
Julia beamed, “Sounds like that one worked out for you.”
“Until I shot my foster brother, yes.” Involuntarily, Julia began to fall back. Hamilton hadn’t noticed as he carried on, “The third family I was placed with were a kind and loving group of people, but they too were religious, and when I proclaimed that I wanted to delve into a career in the field of science after high school, they didn’t take it lightly.”
“Really?” Julia asked in disbelief, “They didn’t bother to support what you wanted?”
“What I’ve wanted has never been anyone else’s concern, only my own. Besides, not many would agree with what I want.”
They stopped before the door to room 135, where a team was still inside decontaminating the lab. Hamilton closed his eyes.
That bull did some damage. Judging from the blood, I’d say the scientist survived…then again, you lack a guilty conscience. Right. Also, that woman is talking to you again.
“I asked what happened with that family.” Julia repeated. Hamilton could only shrug as he observed the biohazard team doing their job, “They had a problem with my mouth over their beliefs. Apparently trying to disprove one’s religious views is the fastest way to be disowned.
Two months to be exact. That has to be yet another record you’ve set.
“So…how did you get through school?”
“My way,” was Hamilton’s reply. Julia was getting tired of the ambiguity. Turning her head to face him, she scowled and spoke in a more menacing voice.
“Tell me, or I’ll grab one of those cans and bash it over your head. That, or I’ll inject you with the experimental measles.”
That was new to Hamilton. The quiet young woman he’d been afraid to talk to had a morbid side. Rather than be afraid, he beamed like an idiot.
Smart, cute, and willing to put up with your wicked side? I like her.
“Go on?” he pushed. That was rewarded with a foxy smirk.
“No, you’ve yet to answer me.”
“Fine,” Hamilton sighed. He didn’t know how to deal with women anyway, “I was sent back to the foster home. I got into trouble there too, of course. The others made fun of me because I was the only person to ever have been sent back, let alone three times. Of course, the teasing didn’t last long. Amazing how people leave you alone once you’ve gotten your hands on a copy of the “Anarchist Cookbook,” and what’s more amazing still is what you can do with the knowledge from it.”
“The what book?” Julia asked.
“I’d tell you to look it up, but that would probably get you into about as much trouble as you would be for participating in this project. Anyhow, I attended a charter school and excelled in my academics, but failed socially. In the end I managed to acquire a full scholarship to Princeton, so to hell with the past. Now I’m here where I can do as I please, at least to an extent. It’s still better than what I had to put up with in school.”
“I’m sorry…it must’ve been hard without others supporting you.”
The words didn’t faze Hamilton, “I’ve never cared for others. They’ve always been afraid of me and my projects, or in the case of those who were supposed to be my family, they’ve abandoned me. It’s not like I’m alone though.”
“Why’s that?” Julia questioned, growing more curious about this insane being. She was amazed at his human side, and at the fact that he was actually willing to talk about his life so easily.
Do you really want to try explaining me to this nice girl? Stop while you’re ahead. She’ll learn in due time, like Hal did. Then if she’s normal after all, she’ll ditch you like the rest.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Julia opened her mouth to retort, but the door slid open as the biohazard team exited the room with their equipment. Hamilton wasted no time in entering his new lab, much to the surprise of one of the cleanup guys still inside.
“Sir, it’s not safe to enter yet.”
“Perfect,” Hamilton responded, “You may leave now. I have a lot of work to do.”
Hamilton shot the man a look so fierce that the air seemed to feel with his evil intent, “If you’d like to stay, I have an idea of an experiment you could help me with.”
Not another word was said as the man made his quick exit, leaving Julia and Hamilton alone in the lab. It was quite smaller than the main one they’d been working in, and housed a containment cage on the right wall. Hamilton had no use for such a thing…at the moment.
“I like it,” Julia commented as she glanced around, “if anything, I can lock you up in that cage if you get too out of control.”
“Is that a threat?” Hamilton retorted as he set his supplies down on a desk in the back corner of the lab. He had to turn around when he heard laughter. No, it was giggling. The light from above hid her eyes with a bright glare on her red-rimmed glasses.
“It’s a promise, now be a good boy in here, okay?”
Hamilton said nothing, opting to just take the mouse from her and return to the desk. Julia made her way to the door, proud of her accomplishment in getting the recluse to actually open up.
Julia turned back to see Hamilton facing her from across the lab, a smile on his face. This one wasn’t as disturbing as his usual demeanor. In fact, it seemed like he had a very warming thought on his mind, “Yes?”
“I didn’t really take the chance to say it before, but…” she swore that he was actually blushing, “I look forward to working with you.”
Julia stood at the entrance and placed a hand on the doorway as the glass pane slide open, returning the smile in earnest.
Teufel had been mulling over the plans for the project for ten minutes, and a thought occurred to him, “King, how difficult would it be to engineer a virus to mutate uncontrollably?”
“Wait,” King stuck a finger in his ear and twisted it back and forth, “Come again?”
“I want the virus to mutate with each unique host.”
It was Edward’s turn to scrutinize, “But the plan is to distribute the finished product to those mercenaries in the form of ballistic syringes to be fired at the victims, correct?”
King nodded in agreement, “So why would we need a mutating virus if we’re planning on removing the infectious traits of both mono and the measles?”
Teufel placed his hands on the table before him and leaned forward, eyes glued to the computer monitor while his mind was focused on the doubt expressed by his colleagues. That was the problem with intellects; too many questions.
“Gentlemen, I can assure you both that I’m not deviating from the plan, but if you’re so worried about the virus being easily identified, then why not engineer the virus so that the strain is altered in each host?”
“Is…” King weighed the idea heavily in his mind before really questioning their leader, “Is that even possible?”
“Between Dr. Adler and myself, I believe so.”
Edward cocked an eye, “That’s very ambitious.”
“Ambitious?” Teufel repeated, “Dr. Moriarty, let me ask you a question; why are you here?”
Edward wasn’t prepared for the question, “Well doctor…I-”
“Let me tell you why,” Teufel interrupted, “Dr. Moriarty, you’re here because you want to feel challenged by powerful minds instead of powerful constraints.” Teufel then turned away from the monitor and glared at King, “Dr. King, you’re here because you want to support your family, and you were wronged by the people above you who needed a sacrifice to keep their own positions secure.” More laughter erupted from his lungs, and it was as if it filled the air with an eerie static that made the hair on the arms of both King and Moriarty stand up, “Even Dr. Adler came to us with the hopes of reducing the loss of life all around her in this godforsaken world.”
“What about Evan?” King asked, noting the lack of mention of the deranged individual. Teufel snorted.
“Mr. Hamilton? Well, he’s…” Teufel tapped his finger on the table, “He’s just along for the ride, and wants some room to breathe.”
“More like room to destroy,” Edward remarked, “Say what you want, Dr. Teufel, but I will never trust the bloke.”
“That’s enough, Edward!” Teufel snapped, “Hamilton will prove beneficial as long as he’s occupied, and I’ll be sure to keep him piled with work. The young man never sleeps, after all.”
“Considering his constant caffeine intake,” King commented as he pored over the list of traits Teufel wanted the team to implement into the engineered virus, “I’m sure you’re next problem with him will be something along the lines of heart failure.”
“Only if I’m lucky,” Edward muttered. Teufel disregarded the utterance and instead pulled up the display from his computer monitor on the large one mounted on the wall at the front of the room. The screen mimicked Teufel’s model of the DNA of infectious mononucleosis and their already altered measles sample combining as traits of both were discarded or combined to form a whole new specimen as even more proteins were changed. Teufel crossed his arms as he beheld the results of the predictions made by the five of them. Virtual simulations and real experiments were two different things, but it was comforting to see Point B from Point A.
“Delirium, psychosis, and comatose are the most serious symptoms projected right now,” King announced.
“Other than the risen dead?” Edward jested. Teufel only nodded in acknowledgement as he scoped the screen.
“Total organ failure should occur due to complications with the immune system, allowing the virus to ravage the entire body of the infected, and anaerobic respiration should allow the brain cells to live on past the state of death for just a little while,” King continued, “which means the only real issue is determining the incubation period of the virus once introduced, since we’ll need to work on that as well.”
“And we’ll need a human experiment for accuracy…” Edward stated dully, knowing well that such a request would have the project shut down faster than anything even Hamilton could manage.
“I wouldn’t rule out any options just yet, gentlemen,” Teufel replied, turning away from the giant monitor and facing his colleagues, “Remember, we have less restrictions here, and as long as we produce results we’ll remain secure.”
King was beginning to sweat at the mere concept of risking human experimentation, “Would the director allow such a thing?”
“If it betters our chances of reaching our goal,” Teufel began as his eyes rolled up to the skybox to note the director’s absence, “then I’m sure there are no limits to our work except for our own human restraints.”
“Such as morals and a guilty conscience?” Edward inquired. Teufel winked and faced the large monitor with his hands behind his back.
“My greatest dream is to abolish the violence of the world, and to do so we must utilize the weapon man has always used to deter the threat of more violence in the past; fear. The only difference is that our method will be rather unorthodox. First it was conventional weaponry, then nuclear warfare, but now it’s time for a new strategy, one that will stop extremists in their tracks. Such a deterrence would bring anyone to their knees.” He thought back to the naming process of the project. Every scientific project in history utilized a code name when referred to, and theirs was no exception. Of all people, it was Hamilton’s morbid outlook that settled the matter. He said that through their work, the potential of destroying the will of their enemies to fight by making them think that their god has forsaken them reminded him of the concept of the original fall of man. Since those that died due to the virus would rise again, it was like their creator would be denying their salvation in the afterlife. It was this observation that led to the project’s label, and Teufel himself had to admit that it was fitting. On that thought he grinned at the screen, “I will stop at nothing to achieve my dream through Project Second Fall.” He clenched his hands into fists until his knuckles turned white, “Nothing.”