CHAPTER 21

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TXP Facility

Sarah woke up early the next morning, showered, and dressed in a pair of black slacks and a matching shirt. She wanted to change something about her appearance. Something to help her feel more focused on the task ahead of her. Her hair was a likely candidate. Normally, her locks were wavy with a slight curl at the ends. Not frizzy or excessively curly. Lately, she liked to flat iron her hair for a different look. She felt it gave her a professional or more serious air about her. But, she didn't have a flat iron in her subterranean room, so that was a no go this morning. She'd have to send Wolf out to fetch one for her. Instead, she chose the all black wardrobe, except for the one thing she couldn't change.

She donned a white lab jacket, made her way to subfloor number thirteen, and entered the lab before Dr. Frazier or Wolf had a chance to get out of bed. She skipped breakfast and the morning run that usually got her investigative juices churning. The time was four thirty-eight and the sun wasn't even up yet—not that she could see it from this subterranean lair. But she needed to think and sort out the mystery of unlocking the serum's full benefits, and in order to do that, she needed to be alone, away from distractions like Wolf and his stupid badgering, and Dr. Frazier's incessant staring over her shoulder. Everyone wanted to crack this thing wide open, but it wasn't going to happen without putting in the work.

The most recent events in Sarah's journey of discovery all happened so fast. It was like a blur. The cargo plane trip to Iceland, a tangle with a Greenland shark, and a return flight back to the States. Sarah and Wolf had disembarked from the autopilot plane at an abandoned missile silo somewhere in the Midwest on a flat stretch of farmland growing wheat. Maybe Kansas or Nebraska? Who knew? They took an elevator lift to what amounted to another underground supply station and hitched a ride back to the TXP Facility on The Bullet.

Sarah had three tasks ahead of her: Analyze the tissue sample from the Greenland shark, study the regenerating ability of the immortal jellyfish, and then turn the microscope on herself. She was impatient, but she would make herself focus on that particular order. She didn't need to get ahead of herself. She was a scientist and she needed structure to function.

Extensive study had been performed on great barracudas thanks to the Ocean Blue Corporation. Sarah had witnessed firsthand what their experiments had done to the marine life in the Bahamas, Tahiti, and Australia, including the atrocious effects on the great barracuda, and all the fish those monstrous creatures consumed with their aggressive feeding behavior. Sixty years ago, Ocean Blue's research was deemed classified information by the U.S. and Australian governments, but it was well documented even though it was kept secret. Human growth hormone had altered and enhanced the barracuda's size, strength, and ability to heal from injury and disease. That version of the serum was all it took for Sarah to achieve immortality. But as far as she knew, it didn't accomplish that for everyone else, only strength and healing, which was intended to create a superhuman army for a rogue Chinese general to overthrow his communist government.

Sarah was unique.

Once Admiral Jax discovered her unique abnormality, he had her kidnapped and taken away to the space station, Arcturus, so she could fix the current version of the serum. The Wolf version. The one with monstrous side effects. The same serum they used on Jake to encourage her to work harder. Playing God had its consequences. Something had gone wrong at the genetic level. That's where Sarah came in now. She had to find out what the problem was, and correct it, or at least figure out a way around it.

Sarah dialed in her focus on the three tasks before her.

First, the Greenland shark.

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