Chapter Four

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Central lab

"So what have we got?" Agent Scott asked the people around the table. He was hot, irritable and tired, but most of all he hated the room he was in; he hated how it made him feel. A glance at the wall clock reminded him he had been there for three hours already and he was desperate to get back into the fresh air

Two men were working on the body which was wired up to an assortment of flashing devices. They ignored his question.

Tom Scott wasn't squeamish, which was just as well, considering the nature of his work. He'd seen enough death to last him a lifetime. Damn it, he'd caused enough death too, but somehow, he'd always found the killing easier than dealing with what was left. They all looked and smelt the same. Scott longed for a hot shower where he would scrub his skin clean until it hurt.

"Is there any way you can speed this up?"

Tom Scott was a man known for showing little emotion. On the surface he always appeared lethally in control. If they kept him waiting much longer, that control wasn't going to last long.

Dr Weston, the senior clinician in the room turned a dial and pressed several buttons and the lights on the devices switched off.

"We have nothing," he said and began removing the probes that had been stuck inside Eastman's exposed brain. "He knew exactly were to shove the damn thing. The knife severed the necessary links between the Hypothalamus and frontal lobe. I can't get a read off anything."

Scott could barely contain his frustration.

"Why didn't you take him down when you had the chance?" he challenged Scott, as he struggled to remove the last probe. With a final tug, it exited the brain making a squishy, sucking sound.

The room fell silent and the other technicians who had been supporting Dr Weston looked at each other and scurried out of the room.

"I did as I was ordered," Scott spat. "We wanted to take him alive, unfortunately he had other ideas".

Dr Weston was now at the sink washing his hands. "What about the secretary? Bring him in and I'll download him," the Doctor offered, realising he needed to cool the situation down before Scott took his frustrations out on him.

"No point," replied Scott, "he knows nothing. Eastman was too clever for that."

"What do you want me to do with Eastman now?" Weston asked.

"Burn it," Scott replied, using the term 'it' and not 'him' as it felt more comfortable.

Scott left the room and washed up in the small bathroom outside. Not feeling in the slightest bit clean, he put on his jacket and went into the reception area. Eager to get home and write his report, he approached the lift and pressed the down button. As the car descended, he mulled over the disastrous fourteen-hour shift he had just worked. With a ping, the doors opened and Scott entered the lift.

"Mr Scott, Mr Scott!"

Roused from his thoughts, Scott slapped his hand against the closing door, stopping its transit. He stepped back out into the hall to see who was calling him.

"Mr Scott, General Briggs would like to see you in his office now," the receptionist said from behind her desk.

Scott was a frequent visitor to this floor and had on many occasions flirted with the attractive twenty-something receptionist. Only yesterday he had considered asking her out, but right now he was too tired to even speak to her. He simply nodded to her in response and stepped back into the lift, only this time he was going to have to go up several floors instead of going home.

General Briggs was seated behind a large, hand-carved mahogany desk. In front of him was the note Scott had retrieved earlier that day from Eastman. Twenty files were also in a neat stack, alongside a large tumbler of whisky. Briggs was fifty-two, a former, highly decorated soldier, who having left active service many years ago, still liked to use the term, General. Briggs was a respected but feared leader who had top-level clearance and friends in all the right places. At birth he was a 99.2 and bloody proud of it. A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts and Scott entered the room.

"Well?" Briggs asked.

"The data is lost, sir," Scott replied, waiting for the explosive outburst Briggs was infamous for. Surprisingly, it didn't come.

"Scott" he sighed, removing a second glass and the whisky bottle from the lower desk drawer. "I have been at this game long enough to know the most important; the most crucial things are never easy. Eastman was a clever man; that's why he held that position. He has had years to hide this whole mess and if it wasn't for that piece of scum you erased last week we would be none the wiser. What he did isn't the thing we need to concern ourselves with right now. It's why he did it and more importantly, what now?"

Briggs poured whisky into the second glass and passed it to Scott, motioning to him to take a seat. Scott did as he was instructed, picked up the glass, inhaling the heady fumes of the vintage liquor. Ordinarily, Scott didn't drink, fearing it might reduce his peak physical and mental performance, but today had been the kind of day that demanded a drink. He took a small sip and was assaulted by the strong peaty flavour. Briggs watched him the entire time closely.

"What do you want me to do now?" he asked, trying to quell a cough. His eyes watered a little instead. "Should I upgrade them to the rightful position?"

Briggs considered Scott for a few moments. He thought highly of him as an agent, but he was still very young and too impatient.

"No. For the time being we're going to do nothing at all. You are going to watch them and see if anything out of the ordinary happens?"

"Peters and I can't locate and watch all twenty by ourselves, we will need help," Scott asked reluctantly. It was never a good idea to show Briggs any weakness.

"That won't be a problem, however, I want you to take a personal interest in this young lady," he said, as he handed Scott the file.

"Why her?" Scott asked as he took further sips of the amber liquid.

"Because Tom, Eastman gave little baby Green the lowest SPR of the group and yet when the birth data was retrieved and retested this afternoon, she had an unusually high SPR score."

"How high?", Scott asked, his interest in the case piqued further.

"She scored one-hundred."

This time Scott did choke on the whisky. It burned his throat and eyes and taking a breath was difficult. "That's...that's not possible," he wheezed. "It must be a mistake. Maybe the original data was compromised."

Briggs smiled ruefully. "I thought the same. I had the data checked...repeatedly. Baby Page, or Miss Hannah Green as she is known now, was judged at birth, to be medically and legally defined as 100% Perfect. Answer me this, Tom, how the hell has she managed to live amongst the flawed for seventeen years and go unnoticed?"

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