Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:03 am

Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER 4: Finding a 'Cause' and a Treatment (1994)

As time went on Jared and Marie began to realize more and more that the veterans, at least a rather large subset of them, were suffering from biological exposures, such as chronic infections, and chemical exposures. The McNichols had been receiving blood from veterans of the Gulf War, and they had begun to analyze the blood samples for infections. Word had gotten around the Airborne and Special Forces units that a research group in Austin, Texas had helped some officers from the Gulf War with their 'undiagnosed illnesses.' Since the veterans didn't seem to be getting much help from the Medical Corps, as a last resort they began to contact the Mc ichols to get some possible help for their problems. For the most part these were professional soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines, not youngsters that had never seen combat before or saw it for the first time in the Gulf War. They had been there before and didn't have problems after the combat ended like they had now. For these combat-tested veterans their post-war illnesses were something new. And they were particularly disdainful of the liberal use of PTSD to describe their clinical problems. If they didn't have PTSD after other wars, why should they have it now? What was so different about the Gulf War? Had we become a nation of people who were prone to psychological problems? Or was something else involved, something that no one wanted to acknowledge or recognize?

Jared McNichols had been compiling a list of Gulf War veterans' health complaints and asking for their medical records, if they could get them. Since military medical records and especially shot records were disappearing or being classified at astonishing rates, these records would not be available for analysis. That in itself was very suspicious. The Gulf War was the first conflict in history where veterans' shot records were lost, hidden or classified, possibly to prevent scrutiny of the vaccines that were given during deployment. The rationale that the DoD was giving out to reporters who dared to question their wisdom on the classification of Gulf War era shot records was that they did not want our potential enemies to find out what vaccines were given to individuals before or during deployment so that they would not know what countermeasures were taken against biological weapons. Most veterans that contacted the McNichols, however, were sarcastic about this rationale and doubted if Saddam had access to or was even interested in their individual shot records. The McNichols were convinced more than ever that many if not most of these veterans had chronic infections that either caused their illnesses or at least exacerbated their illnesses, and one possible source for infections was the military vaccines that were so liberally given to personnel during deployment When a small number of shot records surfaced, usually because the veteran made a copy or hid the records, there were unidentified vaccines listed on the records. Were these unidentified vaccines experimental vaccines? Why was the information on the Gulf War era shot records so important that these records had to be classified as secret and hidden away from public scrutiny, and why were so many lost, over 500,000 by some estimates? Unfortunately, the saga of the lost or classified shot records has never been resolved.

One of the well-known problems in the manufacturing of commercial vaccines was biological contamination, and this was usually contamination by bacteria that can enter the vaccines at a number of points in the manufacturing process. Usually such contamination can be identified before the vaccine lots are released, especially if the contamination was via rapidly growing, commonly found bacteria, the most common type of contamination in commercial biological preparations. Possible contamination of vaccine lots was usually ruled out by incubating samples from various vaccine lots at body temperatures for varying times to see if bacteria grow out in the samples. Alternatively, samples of the vaccines can be inoculated into broth cultures containing medium that support the growth of most bacteria. However, not all contaminating bacteria will grow under these conditions, especially slow-growing bacteria and other possible contaminants such as viruses. Also, low-levels of contamination may not be identifiable in such analyses.

Returning to the possibility that biological exposures were important in Gulf War Illnesses, as they were now calling the Gulf War Syndrome, Jared made a list of most commonly found chronic infections that could be causing much of the problem. The list of signs and symptoms that Jared compiled was mainly from bacterial infections and included: Brucella species, the bacteria that causes brucellosis, mainly a veterinary illness that is endemic in the Middle East and elsewhere; Mycoplasma species, the small bacteria that lack a rigid cell wall and are responsible for many if not most infection-based asthma, bronchitis and genitourinary cases; Coxiella burnetti, the bacteria that causes Q-Fever, a chronic disease marked by undulating fevers and respiratory distress; plague caused by Yersinia pestis, an insect-borne bacillus-type bacteria that causes high fevers and pneumonia; and tularemia caused by Francisella tularensis, a small bacillus-type bacteria that causes pneumonia and swollen lymph nodes. Other than bacteria, the list is short and includes: leishmaniasis, an insect-borne disease caused by a systemic parasite that causes fever, cough, stomach pain and distortion and diarrhea. Most of these infectious agents have also been developed as incapacitating Biological Warfare agents by various countries, and certainly by the United States in its Biodefense programs. Jared moved to the large white board in his office and made a new table.  

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The table was not complete, but a rough picture began to form. Since most of the veterans did not experience symptoms until 3-6 months to over a year after they returned, most of the more acute infectious diseases were unlikely but not ruled out entirely. For example, low-level exposures might require longer to present than acute exposures. Some of the veterans were diagnosed with leishmania, a parasitic infection usually spread by the bite of a sand fly. There was a test for this parasite, but less than 100 cases were found in the Gulf War veterans, according to the U. S. Army Institute of Pathology Research.

Thus the McNichols were left with two infections that fit the signs and symptom profiles better than the others. They were also more likely than the rest because their natural history or pathogenesis was more consistent with the time of onset of symptoms: Brucella species and Mycoplasma species. These types of infections were not well known by civilian physicians. In fact, one of the problems that Jared and Marie would later face was the almost complete lack of simple knowledge of the average physician about many types of chronic infections. And these types of infections would be difficult to find in clinical samples or even more difficult to find in commercial vaccines.

Most physicians have been trained to recognize the presence of acute bacterial infections, because such infections if they progress to systemic or system wide infections can cause sepsis if not diagnosed early on. In this condition the rapidly growing bacteria flood every organ and tissue with rapidly dividing microorganisms, and their release of bacterial toxins poisons virtually every tissue in the body, a situation that can be fatal. Our immune systems usually recognize these rapidly growing bacteria, but the rapid proliferation of a microorganism can outstrip the ability of our immune systems to identify and destroy the invaders. By sheer numbers alone the microorganism invaders can overwhelm the immune system and its ability to destroy them. However, the slow-growing Brucella and Mycoplasma species proliferate so slowly and hide inside cells and tissues that they are not so readily apparent as their fast-growing relatives. These slow-growing bacteria can be much more insidious. They hide from the immune system rather than attempting to overwhelm it by rapid proliferation, and they take their time to slowly destroy tissues and cells that they colonize, and almost like parasites, they slowly take over their host.

The slow-growing pathogenic bacteria usually begin their infectious invasion by gaining access to the tissues, entering cells and interfering with their metabolism. They can also slowly attack the energy systems of the cell, such as the mitochondria, the little batteries in our cells that provide most of the energy that our cells need to function. This was why infected patients experience chronic fatigue and loss of energy-their energy generating systems are slowly being destroyed. The slow-growing intracellular bacterial infections can also cause genetic changes in cells, because some of the substances that they release are toxic to our DNA and the genes that make up our genetic apparatus. Slowly our genes can be modified in subtle ways that eventually can cause problems, such as genetic deletions or mutations. Many of the symptoms caused by such infections occur when specific tissues and glands are invaded. For example, if the thyroid gland is colonized by the microorganisms, changes in the production of thyroid hormones can occur. Sometimes the production of thyroid hormones can be reduced, sometimes it can be elevated, or the overall levels of thyroid hormones can even remain within the normal range or slightly out of normal range while fluctuating or cycling. Other problems occur when our bodies attempt to circumvent the infection, and this can result in the release of chemical substances that mimic some of the steps that occur during an immune response, resulting in intermittent fevers and malaise.

Very simple in genetic terms, Brucellas and Mycoplasmas need the cellular metabolism of a host cell to provide them with the building blocks for their synthetic machinery. During their evolution they lost the ability to make many of the things that they need to survive and grow, so they had to evolve as cellular thieves that steal what they need from their colonized host cells. They also evolved as experts in circumventing our immune systems. In the process of infection they can release substances that slowly circumvent host responses that begin to identify them as foreign and react against them. For example, they are masters at fooling the immune systems into seeing their exteriors as normal host structures, and they can actually release chemical substances that paralyze host immune responses so they won't be stopped from their slow infection process. They can also remove host membrane structures and incorporate them into their own bacterial membranes. For example, this can happen when the intracellular bacteria leave cells to infect other cells. In the process of escaping from the host cell, they often pull out small pieces of host cell membranes and escape with the normal host structures incorporated in their own bacterial membrane. Although this sounds innocuous, it can set up an autoimmune response if the host incorrectly identifies its own antigens as belonging to the bacterial invader. Instead of mounting an immune response that neutralizes the bacteria, the host inadvertently mounts an immune response against itself, an autoimmune response, resulting in host cell and tissue destruction. Such inappropriate immune responses are important in rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Interestingly, one of the more common complaints of the veterans was joint pain and loss of joint mobility, similar to the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Most rheumatoid arthritis patients have similar types of chronic intracellular infections in their synovium, the tissues in the joints that separate bone.

In the process of colonizing virtually every tissue and organ system, the slow-growing intracellular bacteria can cause multiple signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, none of these were distinctive enough to warn physicians as to what might be the cause. Not just any species of Brucella or Mycoplasma can cause all of the signs and symptoms that were seen in the veterans, but now the range of likely infections could be narrowed considerably. There were other infections that would have to be considered, such as Rickettesial and other slow-growing bacteria and some parasite infections, but this was a good place for the McNichols' laboratory to start looking.

Since Marie had suffered from a mycoplasmal infection that almost killed her, Jared decided that they should investigate the possibility of infection by Mycoplasmas before anything else. First, they needed to decide which species of Mycoplasmas that they should investigate. There were approximately 50 different species of Mycoplasma that had been identified and had appeared in one publication or another, and they wanted to do a general as well as a specific search. Narrowing the number to those species that had been identified in humans, the number dropped to about a dozen. Then narrowing the search even more to those species identified as pathogenic in humans or suspected of causing chronic illnesses similar to Gulf War Illnesses, the number dropped again to about six.

At this point the McNichols research team could focus on any type of bacteria, a specific class of bacteria or on a specific species of bacteria. They decided to concentrate on a class of Mycoplasmas first because that seemed to be a good place to start. In order to approach the problem they had to devise a general approach for detecting essentially all species of Mycoplasmas and a more specific approach to detect certain species of Mycoplasma that were already associated with chronic human illnesses. Since they did not expect every case of Gulf War Illness to be caused by chronic bacterial or other infections, they would have to link any laboratory findings with the signs and symptoms of individual patients.

If the McNichols research team did not find any evidence for Mycoplasmas in the veterans' blood, then they could go down the list starting next with Brucella species. Certain Brucella species were already known to produce a chronic disease in man, brucellosis, and the signs and symptoms of the veterans were also similar to brucellosis. Brucellosis is an endemic infectious disease caused by a known infection that was found in the Middle East and associated with domestic animal herds like catlle and sheep where the infection can be fatal. Moreover, in countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait brucellosis was not an uncommon disease. It was not present in epidemic proportions, but hundreds of cases had been reported each year in these countries. Since the veterans were exposed to a variety of environmental toxins, such as chemicals, smoke, among other contaminants, their immune systems may not have prevented them from being infected by natural bacterial invaders already present in the Middle East. On the other hand, they might be dealing with something much more sophisticated, such as Biological Warfare agents. The fear was that if they found evidence for Mycoplasma or Brucella species, that these would be modified microorganisms, not the usual fairly benign species associated with some isolated chronic infections or animal diseases. Since the microorganisms that the McNichols' laboratory were looking for were slow-growing bacteria that caused chronic illnesses, it was unlikely that they were dealing with anthrax or other more rapidly growing bacteria. If these turned out to be modified agents, then they were looking for 'incapacitating agents' not 'lethal agents' designed to quickly kill their host.

The data indicate an infection in the Gulf War veterans

Now that the Gulf War Illness Research Team, as Jared was calling it, had settled on an overall approach to rule in or rule out chronic infections in the Gulf War Illnesses, Jared searched the medical and scientific literature for anything that he could find on Mycoplasmas and human illnesses. He was struck by the research of the U.S. Army Institute for Pathology Research on Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus published by Dr. Ming Lon. Was Dr. Lon the same researcher that Marie had spoken to when she was dying of some unknown infection? The publications indicated that Dr. Lon first thought that the Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus was a virus because of its small size and small genetic content, but he later found that it was a very small bacterium that had invaded cells just like a virus.

What had confused Dr. Lon was that the Mycoplasmafermentans incognitus or Mfi did not have a rigid cell wall like most bacteria, and it had considerably less genetic information than common bacteria. In fact, when Dr. Lon reported on the structure of Mfi, the description was so devoid of notable features that no wonder it remained an elusive, 'silent' infection for so long. Usually one can use the techniques of immunology to determine if an infection has occurred, because most bacteria elicited a strong immune response in their host. But in the case of Mfi, there was little evidence to suggest that it stimulated a strong immune response. If they used the presence of antibodies against Mfi to find infections, they could be completely fooled. In fact, Dr. Lon had already indicated that he could not find antibodies against Mfi in Gulf War veterans, a result that indicated to Jared that there were others who were also thinking along the same lines that chronic bacterial infections might cause some of the illnesses in the veterans. Thus their idea may not be so far-fetched after all.

To get around the problem that Mycoplasmas like Mfi were not likely to elicit a strong immune response, Jared decided that they would have to use another approach to find out whether Mfi or other Mycoplasmas might be present in Gulf War Illness cases. One approach that was not dependent on host immune response or on finding unusual antigens on the surface of the bacteria was to use the unique genetics of the bacteria to find it. For this approach Jared and Marie would have to use the genetic information available in scientific publications-mainly from the Army and other civilian researchers to probe for Mfi and other Mycoplasmas in the veterans' blood. Because they wanted a fast, reproducible approach that could be adapted to other infectious agents as well, they decided on using the same type of genetic assay for any of the bacteria that they thought might be involved.

Since every living thing must have the appropriate genetic information to reproduce, survive and grow, or in the case of viruses the genetic information to reproduce and circumvent or usurp host metabolism to grow and be assembled, the presence of an infectious agent can be determined by finding its specific genetic or DNA signature. Each species of microorganism had unique DNA (or RNA) sequences that could be used to positively identify that particular species. Once the specific DNA sequence was known, one only had to look for this unique sequence in a sea of DNA sequences from the host genetic information and from the genetic sequences of other bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses. The bad news was that it was extremely difficult to find small amounts of anything in a sea of similar molecules.

The first thing that Jared and Marie had to do was decide which unique genes or genetic sequences of the genes that they should look for in the clinical samples. Jared eventually settled on two types of target genes-the genes that had been found to be the same in all Mycoplasma species and the genes that were unique to different Mycoplasma species. Fortunately, bacteriologists had been researching the differences in genetics of various bacteria for decades, and some information was already available from the literature that pointed to certain genes as common and certain genes as unique. Also, the techniques of molecular biology had already been developed to probe for differences in the genes of bacteria in various types of infections, so the McNichols team would not have to start from scratch in their quest to determine if veterans had any type of disease-causing bacteria in their systems.

Jared scanned the genetic database available on-line at the NIH and found DNA sequence information on a few genes of interest to the group. First was a general group of genes found in all bacteria that had some genetic variations and differences, depending on the path of their evolution over millions of years. This would prove useful as a starting point, but it could not be used by itself to identify a particular species of bacteria. Other genes would have to be identified to positively tell if a particular species of bacteria was present. To identify the unique gene differences they were looking for, they settled on two approaches. First, they would use the Gene Tracking technique that Marie had developed at Belford College of Medicine. Using this technique the bacterial DNA bound to proteins called nucleoproteins would be isolated and the bound genes would be probed using complimentary DNA sequences, usually about 20 or more of the DNA building blocks arrayed in a specific sequence that will bind tightly to the target DNA sequences in the bacterial gene.

This is like a lock and key reaction, and the specific complimentary structure of DNA in each and every living organism makes this possible. Since the key or probe to be used to bind to the species-specific DNA sequence was radioactive, they would be able to find the gene they were looking for after separating the nucleoproteins from the remainder of the cells' components by its radioactive signal. Once the radioactive probe bound to the unique DNA sequence, the complex of lock and key emits a radioactive signal. Second, they would use a technique that actually amplifies a small segment of the target gene sequence and makes millions of DNA copies of the gene sequence that then can be probed or even sequenced to prove the identity of the gene segment. This technique is called Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR because it uses an enzyme reaction to replicate the small pieces of unique genetic information or sequence of DNA that can then be identified. Because this technique is so powerful, the scientist that developed this technique won the Nobel Prize for his contribution.

Various controls would also have to be devised to control for contamination, reaction specificity, fidelity of the reaction product, presence of interfering materials and other controls for the assays that they would use to make sure of their results. This all took tremendous time, effort and funds for equipment, supplies and personnel. Funds for this effort were in short supply, and the only funds available that Jared could use were from his endowed chair. None of the grant and contract funding that Jared had in ample supply could be used. Even with the resources, it seemed a slow and laborious process that took months to accomplish, but finally they were ready to run the tests on the veterans' blood samples.

The first tests that Marie and Jared's technician Bob Sonan ran in the laboratory indicated the presence of bacteria in the blood in most of the samples, but they could not identify the particular species. This was very disappointing, because no one would believe their results unless they could identify a particular type or species of bacteria. And the type of bacteria that they identified would have to be a known pathogen; otherwise no one would believe that it was responsible for causing illness in the patients. In these preliminary tests the unknown bacteria was found in the cellular fraction of the blood not in the blood plasma, the cell-free portion of the blood. In the cellular fraction of the blood were the red blood cells that carry the oxygen to the tissues, various white blood cells that were primarily used to fight infections and the platelet fraction involved in blood clotting. The evidence for bacteria was only found in the white blood cell fraction. The bacteria were likely inside some of the white blood cells that were in the blood.

Finally they would make the adjustments in methodology so that Marie's Gene Tracking technique worked with the clinical samples. After months of labor and refining their procedures to meet the challenge of finding a few bacteria in the white blood cell fraction of patients' blood, they finally had a useful but still time-consuming laboratory technique. It would still take more time to get the polymerase chain reaction or PCR procedure to work, but it was a start. As a first step, a gene common to bacteria but with unique genus and species sequences differences was used to generate a 'general' and also some unique 'species-specific' probes to the common and unique DNA sequences in genes found in all species of Mycoplasmas or to specific species of Mycoplasmas. respectively. The first tests that were positive did not indicate that the veterans had the more common or usual types of Mycoplasmas, such as Mycoplasma penumoniae, a common respiratory infection that had been already found in military recruits suffering from a type of pneumonia.

The negative results were disappointing and unexpected, since it was actually reported in a military medical journal that military recruits came down with chronic illnesses like a type of 'community' or infectious pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. This airborne infection can spread rapidly in over-crowded conditions. The Mc ichols group next decided to try for other Mycoplasma species, including the one that Dr. Lon had reported, Mycoplasma jermentans incognitus or Mfi, and for the first time they were able to identify a unique Mycoplasma species in the samples. In fact, 80% of the preliminary tests revealed Mfi as the type of Mycoplasma found in the blood samples when they found any evidence for a bacterial infection. The next most common species found was even less expected, Mycoplasma genitalium, a mycoplasmal infection usually associated with urinary tract infections not system-wide infections that caused multiple signs and symptoms.

Not every blood sample examined showed evidence of a Mycoplasma or even bacteria of unknown type, but almost half did, indicating that there were other infections to consider or other potential causes of the Gulf War Illnesses. This was also reasonable, since Jared did not expect to see the same infection in every blood sample or even in a high percentage of samples, just as they did not expect to find the same cause of Gulf War Illness in each patient. These were obviously heterogeneous illnesses, and only the American press would expect everything to be explained by 'one' cause, such as PTSD, probably just to make their job easier and make their press reports more succinct. At this time very few researchers were looking for infections in the Desert Storm veterans, except for one physician in New Orleans who had found remnants of bacterial cell walls in the urine of veterans and possibly Dr. Lon at the U. S. Army Institute for Pathology Research.

Most researchers who were not psychiatrists assumed that complex chemical exposures were 'the cause' of the Gulf War Illnesses, and in fact Jared and Marie would face determined competition from a medical research group in Dallas who thought that the McNichols' research was completely wrong and that the veterans with Gulf War Illnesses had come down with their illnesses due solely to exposures to chemicals, such as organophosphates like insecticides and nerve agents. Jared in particular thought that this was quite narrow thinking, to imagine that it was solely chemical exposures that caused all the veterans' illnesses. The Dallas group did not identify any chemicals but they did find that the brain scans of the veterans were unusual in that they showed areas of damage that could have been caused by chemicals or other toxins. Unfortunately, this same type of damage could also have been caused by infectious agents that penetrated into the brain and released bacterial toxins that can cause the same kind of damage, but the Dallas group never considered this before attacking Jared and Marie for suggesting that many of the ill veterans may have system-wide or systemic infections, including brain infections.

Thus Jared and Marie would get their first taste of Gulf War Illness politics. Because they didn't use press releases or press agents to defend their unpublished research, they would be immediately attacked if they spoke out about their results, especially in public. No one wanted to hear that infections might be involved in Gulf War Illnesses, especially the military physicians who were trying to promote PTSD as 'the cause.' Actually it would turn out that both Texas research groups were probably correct, although they both had many detractors, especially at the Pentagon. The fact that the researchers were apparently fighting among themselves actually played into the hands of the Pentagon. Finally, a scientific gadfly in Oakland, California at a small for-profit biotechnology company claimed that the veteran's illness were due to chromosomal damage that he found in about one-half of a group of veterans' blood samples. Of course, Jared and Marie and even Dr. Lon knew that intracellular infections like Mfi caused the same type of chromosomal damage along with chemicals, so this result could also have been due to infections like Mfi, chemical exposures or both.

The elusive Mfi and how does it fit with Gulf War Illnesses?

Within one week Jared, Marie and Bob Sonan had some preliminary results that they obtained in Jared's laboratory at The D. O. Madison. They then met in Jared's office to discuss the data on about 70 patients who served in Desert Storm. Jared was now very curious about the conversations that Marie had years ago with Dr. Lon of the U. S. Army Institute of Pathology Research. The lab results on the veterans indicated that the type of Mycoplasma was not the one that Jared expected, it was a type that was considered at the time relatively uncommon, Mycoplasmaftrmentans incognitus or Mfi.

Marie filled in some information for Bob Sonan who was attending the meeting. "When I was sick, I think that I had the same type of mycoplasma infection that Dr. Lon reported on, and when I did speak to him, he also thought that I might have Mfi. He said that I was very lucky to be alive from his experience. At the time he indicated that he had found evidence for Mfi in the Gulf War veterans, but when I tried to talk to him later about his comments to me, he denied it completely and said all of the tests on the Gulf War veterans were negative. I found this a bit disconcerting." Jared was skeptical and said, "Why would he tell you that they were positive and then change the whole story later on? Did he say that his preliminary experiments had been wrong or that they had contamination or something else that could explain the mistake?" Marie responded, "No, not at all. In fact, he almost seemed reluctant to even discuss his experiments, as if he was instructed not to talk about it, and he said they were probably all false-positives." Jared was skeptical, "That's pretty fishy! You would think that a scientist like Dr. Lon would have gone into a detailed explanation on what went wrong and why they could not repeat their initial results."

The McNichols had been frustrated by the way other researchers acted when they discussed their results on Gulf War Illnesses. Bob Sonan related to them, "Now I know why you want us to look for mycoplasmas in the Gulf War veterans. But even if we find them, they don't want to admit it." Jared smiled, "It sure looks that way. They don't want to admit anything, except PTSD. The whole thing is very suspicious. As I recall the Army pathologist, Dr. Lon, told Marie that we couldn't use antibody-based assays to detect the Mfi, and he's right, you wouldn't expect Mfi to produce much of an antibody reaction because it's mostly inside cells." Marie added, "Actually, Dr. Lon told me that he couldn't detect Mfi by antibody tests but he could find it with other tests, but it was difficult." Jared asked, "By any chance did Lon say what those other tests were?" Marie answered, "He did say that he was having a hard time correlating his molecular biology testing for Mfi with his other results." Jared added, "It's also very hard to find any information on Mfi in the medical literature. There were only a few publications on Mfi, and almost all of them were from Dr. Lon, who now denies that the Gulf War veterans have any infections."
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:04 am

Part 2 of 2

Jared thought for a moment and continued the conversation. "Incidentally, there are only a couple of experts on this type of infection here in the U. S., one at NIH and one in San Antonio. Also, there is a professor Ricin in Israel who is an expert, and the Iraqis also appear to have some experts in this area. One professor in Baghdad has a very large lab that has been working on Mycoplasmas for years now. Marie and I have been discussing this problem amongst ourselves, and we would like to concentrate on screening for Mycoplasmas in general and Mfi in particular in the blood of the veterans." Bob Sonan asked, "Are we going to use the antibody tests from the Army to confirm our results?" Jared smiled, "I don't think that we can get any help from this Dr. Lon. From what I hear from Marie, this guy seems to speak in riddles, so I don't know what to make of him. The whole thing is very suspicious." Marie added, "He's very smart and appears to know what he's doing, but we have to conclude that we probably can't trust him since he works for the Army." Jared added, "The Department of Defense has already decided on its official position, and it's not Mfi!" Bob Sonan asked, "That's it?" Jared answered, "That's it. The vets don't have any infections. They all have PTSD! This Dr. Lon even holds a just-issued U.S. patent on Mfi, and in the patent it states that Mfi is probably involved in various chronic illnesses. So I listed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome along with the veterans' and Marie's signs and symptoms, and I bet that we will find mycoplasmal infections in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients." Marie asked, "Do you think we can trust the Army at this point to give us any good reagents or blood samples?" Jared smiled, "No, I really don't trust them at all. Apparently they have too much to hide. Officially, they first said that Gulf War Syndrome didn't exist, now it's a psychological condition, so they might want to hide any results on some bacteria found in the veterans' blood. Think about it. If we find that the vets are infected with bacteria that could cause their illnesses, there goes their psycho-mumbo-jumbo post-traumatic stress as the cause. And what if we found that not only did they have some bacteria in their systems, they are infected with Mfi? How are they going to explain that the Army knew about this all along and that they hold the patent on Mfi?" The group just stood there and absorbed what Jared had told them.

Jared explained to Bob and Marie that the U. S. Army probably knew all about the Mfi infections in Gulf War Illnesses. The Army patent was applied for in 1987, years before the Gulf War. And the inventor of record was none other than Dr. Ming Lon. "No, I don't think we can realistically expect any help from the DoD or Dr. Lon." Bob Sonan asked, "If we find the Mfi in the white blood cells of the veterans, what can they do to treat the infection?" Jared smiled, "Probably the same thing that we used with Marie, the antibiotic doxycycline. And by the way, this is the same antibiotic that the military used to treat cases of Mfi in their troops, according to one of their own publications." Marie added, "Only in my case it took over a year to begin to recover. It was horrible." Jared said, "This will be the difficult part. Most physicians don't know anything about Mycoplasmas and will only prescribe an antibiotic to treat such an infection for a couple of weeks, but that would be unlikely to put a dent this bug. We never did get a straight answer from this Dr. Lon about treating Marie with doxy." Marie, "When I talked to Dr. Lon, he told me that 1 was lucky to be alive. He said that most people who get to my advanced state usually die. This was years before the Gulf War, and he was very interested in how we were going to treat the infection." Jared replied, "Yah, he knew all along how to treat the infection. He just didn't bother to tell you!"

Jared paced around and then pointed to the board that they were standing in front of. "Marie, Bob my best guess is that the signs and symptoms fit with the laboratory results on Mfi infections, but that does not prove that the Mfi is causing Gulf War Illnesses. The vets were exposed to a number of things in the war, especially chemicals, and some of them may have been exposed to depleted uranium. The chemicals, such as organophosphates, could have caused some of the signs and symptoms that they're reporting to us, but I doubt that they can cause them all, especially the fevers, joint pain and diarrhea-these are usually caused by infections not chemicals. And not every veteran has the same constellation of signs and symptoms. So we need to concentrate on the vets that have the signs and symptoms that we'd expect from an infection." Marie added, "I don't think 1 was exposed to any chemicals, but I did become very chemically sensitive during the illness." Jared gestured, "That's the curious thing about this illness. We just don't know how the chemical exposures fit into the picture, unless some of the veterans have their illness primarily due to chemicals or even radiologicals, mainly depleted uranium, and some due to infections or combinations of two or all three types of exposures. Jared turned to the board and started making a new table.

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"This is my best guess at the moment," stated Jared. "Biological exposures or infections seem to be the best fit, but this doesn't mean that the other exposures weren't involved or even the most important in some patients. I am not sure how something like radioactive depleted Uranium or DU fits with all of the problems mentioned by the veterans. But if you consider that DU could easily cause immune suppression by attacking the bone marrow, then opportunistic infections could occur as a secondary event. The same is true with chemical exposures. The most likely chemicals are organophosphates like insecticides, anti-nerve agents and nerve agents but also solvents and other stuff, even organophosphate herbicides. These exposures could also end up causing opportunistic infections, so the groups are probably not mutually exclusive. We should be able to sort this out eventually, but the problem is that it is now years after the war and any toxic exposures will be hard to trace."

The advantage of looking for infection(s) was that infectious agents were alive and should still be around if they were the culprits. Chemicals on the other hand, may have caused damage, and if they are still present they would probably be found in very low concentrations, and they would be hard to find. Jared continued, "In the case of DU, if they want to find it, they should be able to detect it, since it's radioactive. Basically we'll be looking for a subset of patients with chronic infections, and the illnesses of the other vets who don't have infections were probably caused by something else." Bob Sonan asked, "How did they get exposed to DU? Isn't that in the tank shells?" Jared, "Yes, Bob, during the Gulf War they used hundreds of tons of DU rounds on Iraqi tanks, bunkers and armored personnel carriers. The Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles had D U munitions, and the Air Force used DU 30-millimeter rounds in the A-1O Thunderbolt GAU-8A cannons." Bob Sonan asked, "What is it about DU that they would make it into weapons?" Jared explained, "DU can be made into an incredibly dense metal with tungsten, and when this metal hits a target at high velocity it actually vaporizes and burns its way through the armor. The problem is that when it vaporizes, it forms uranium oxide powder that settles all over everything. This dense powder can be inhaled deep into the lungs if the particles are small enough, and they usually are. Eventually it's absorbed in the lungs, but over the long term it ends up mostly in the bones where the DU can irradiate the bone marrow."

Bob then asked Jared pointing to the board, "Do chemicals cause all those problems?" Jared said, "They apparently could cause most of the signs and symptoms on the board, especially if you were exposed to low doses of chemical mixtures that by themselves don't cause much of a problem. We know that the exposures had to be low enough in concentration to have caused delayed effects. There is a group at Duke in North Carolina and a USDA scientist in Florida that are studying this and finding interesting results with certain low-dose combinations of organophosphates. Remember, there were not a lot of obvious immediate effects, or so we were told by the press and the DoD. If soldiers were exposed to nerve agents at lethal doses, they would not have made it back, but after the war munitions were blown up at places like Khamisiyah, and this could have resulted in a cloud of low levels of nerve agents and other chemicals that spread for hundreds of miles over Southern Iraq and Kuwait."

Jared continued the conversation, "The Dod claims that nerve agents were never used in the Gulf War. However, the truth is that over 14,000 chemical alarms sounded during but not before or after the war, indicating that it was very likely that there were chemical agents released during the war. Of course, the Pentagon claimed that all of these were false alarms!" Bob Sonan questioned, "They must really think that the American public is pretty stupid." Jared replied, "Indeed they do!" Marie added, "They've always taken the American public for big stupid dupes." Jared continued, "Unfortunately, not enough is known about the effects of multiple low-level chemical exposures, but this professor that I mentioned at Duke has done research on this and also the guy in Florida at an agriculture station who used mixtures of chemicals at low concentrations to cause all kinds of neurological effects in insects. When he started talking about his experiments in the context of Gulf War Syndrome, he was fired." Bob Sonan stated, "I hope that doesn't happen to you!" Jared smiled, "So do I! And I hope that it's not that obvious." But it was obvious that the McNichols had raised the anger of the D. O. Madison administration and its President, Dr. Masters, in particular.

Bob Sonan and Marie realized that Jared's position was in jeopardy. If the government came down on the D. O. Madison for the research on Gulf War Illnesses, they might just use that as an excuse to fire Jared, even though he was a tenured faculty member. Jared became more reflective, "I don't know if our D. O. Madison administration has enough moral fiber to withstand the pressure of the Dod, especially when the government starts to come down on them for our findings. And on that note, I don't expect that we are going to solve this problem today, but I do want to thank you all for participating in today's discussion. I think that this will be the first of many on the subject."

The Navy SEALs make contact

One of the more interesting groups to contact the McNichols were the U.S. Navy SEALs. Jared and Marie had been discussing the problem of chronic illnesses in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions with their picture framer 'Rocko' Dejon, who was in the process of framing some pictures for Marie, when he related to them that his brother was one of the commanding officers in a Navy SEAL team that served in the Gulf War. He indicated that many of them were now sick from the war. In fact, his brother's SEAL Team had seen extensive combat in Panama and elsewhere, so the unit was mainly made up of war-tested veterans who had tasted combat before. By virtue of their selection, training and experience Navy SEALs are not prone to psychological problems from war experiences. Rocko had related to the McNichols that his brother who was a Lt. Commander was losing his vision, he had lost 60 pounds during the last few months and had severe headaches, stomach cramps, night sweats and joint pain. "When I discussed it with him, he had been to every physician possible in the Navy with what he said were 'zero answers and zero results'."

When Lt. Commander Dale Dejon made contact with the McNichols, they had not yet completed their laboratory studies with the veterans' blood samples. When Marie heard about Dale's symptoms, she told Dale to get some doxycycline because that is what they had used to overcome the infection in other veterans. Jared, however, was more conservative, as usual, and warned Dale of the consequences if they were wrong about the infection causing his problem.

Eventually Dale proved to be positive for Mfi, he took the doxycycline and made a complete recovery. This turned out to be fortuitous, because Dale was high enough in the command structure in the joint Special Operations Units at Fort Bragg to have a major impact on how the other SEALs and Army Special Forces were treated. Also, the SEALs like other Special Forces units that the McNichols worked with had their own physicians who often went into combat with them. These physicians were not under the heavy thumb of the Navy Medical Corps, so they could do things that a Navy doctor could not hope to do without being brought up on charges of disobeying orders.

At the time the existence of Gulf War Illnesses was officially being denied, except for psychological disorders like PTSD that the SEALs were unlikely to have from their make-up, training and prior combat experience. SEAL candidates who might be prone to psychological problems were quickly identified and moved out of the SEAL units. Unit cohesiveness and effectiveness depended on the utmost in psychological stability under fire, and the SEAL units prided themselves for their mental toughness.

Eventually their work with the U. S. Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs proved important, and Jared and Marie would be made honorary full Colonels in the Special Forces, and the first honorary SEALs in the U.S. Navy. Both Jared and Marie were especially proud that they earned the honor of being the only honorary SEALs in the history of the U. S. Navy, but Marie would tell them that Jared was the diver in the family, and she could not stand to put on a facemask and even look underwater. Jared had earned his way through college as a professional diver, and he had previously worked for the U. S. Air Force training astronauts and performing experiments in mock space capsules underwater before the days of NASA, so Marie felt that he should be the SEAL, but the SEALs wouldn't hear of it. They wanted to adopt Marie as their mascot.

Title 50, Section 1520, U.S. Federal Annotated Code

The Administration at the D. O. Madison Cancer Center found out from Jared's faculty that Jared was still working on veterans' illnesses. In particular, one of Jared's faculty informed the Vice President for Research that Jared was working with his wife Marie, and they found that a subset of patients with Gulf War Illnesses were presenting with complaints that are more consistent with chronic infections than with chemical or radiological exposures, and they were even less consistent with psychological explanations for their illnesses. They also reported that the McNichols found infections in the veterans' blood, and in particular a very unusual infection called Mfi.

The Cancer Center was concerned with the McNichols work on chronic infections and, in particular, their work on mycoplasmal infections. The reason for this was that the D. O. Madison had something to hide concerning some questionable experiments with Belford College of Medicine in the Texas prison system. In one series of experiments in the prison system these esteemed institutions actually exposed prisoners to mycoplasmas and viruses in aerosols to test vaccines and treatment approaches against the infections. In order to do this, the prisoners had to be infected with very dangerous airborne agents that resulted in chronic diseases that could progress to terminal, lethal illnesses. In order to perform these questionable experiments special rooms, wards and even prison blocks were modified so that the air coming in could be specifically contaminated with viruses or bacteria. The prisoners would then be watched very carefully for the onset of illnesses. When the prisoners got ill, they were taken to the prison hospital or in more extreme cases to special wards in the Austin Medical Center run by Belford College of Medicine.

In the past, no one would have thought much about using prisoners for all kinds of dangerous experiments. The history of using American prisoners in horrific experiments, such as the Tuskegee prison experiments on syphilis, were more common place than the general public knew. In fact, during the Cold War the U. S. Congress passed a law that in the Federal Annotated Code was called Title 50, Section 1520. This section allowed experimentation on the American public without their specific knowledge or consent, all in the interests of 'National Security.' Such laws only required notification of an official in local government before experiments were conducted by government agencies on the general public.

The prison systems were a popular place to conduct dangerous experiments, because complaints were rare, even when fatalities occurred. Although hotly denied at the time, Belford College of Medicine and D. O. Madison Cancer Center were collaborating with the Federal Government on the prison experiments in Texas, and they weren't the only institutions involved. Various other state prison systems were also being used under Title 50 to conduct horrific experiments without appropriate review, oversight, or proper public or patient informed consent required for testing new procedures on human subjects. Few of the faculty or staff at Belford or D. O. Madison knew anything about the prison experiments, except for some of the faculty members of Marie's old department at Belford, the Microbiology Department, headed by Dr. Virgil Rook, an expert at using prisoners as experimental subjects to test new medical theories. In fact, Dr. Rook had even published journal reviews on the use of prisoners for experiments that would not pass the smell test if they attempted to do them in the community.

Prisoners were ideal subjects, because they rarely knew what the experiments were about or the risks and dangers involved in the experiments. In fact, most of the prisoners didn't even care. For their services, the prisoners were given some small amounts of money or special privileges. All they wanted was some money to buy cigarettes or candy, and they eagerly wanted extra privileges. For some prisoners, this was the only way that they could get certain things that they coveted, even if it meant cooperation with some nerds from the Medical Center. Most of these prisoners were poorly educated, so they didn't understand anything that was told to them by the scientist and physician nerds who only wanted willing subjects for their experiments. This also suited the institutions, because they did not want patients complaining if something went wrong. Of course, they would be offered complete medical care if anything went wrong, and it often did. In fact, that was part of the plan to get the maximum amount of information from the prisoners.

If prisoners got sick or even died, and many did during these experiments, so what? Who was going to care about some poor, uneducated prisoners who got deathly sick or died while in captivity? Dr. Rook took advantage of this situation to perform experiments that he could never do with medical students or civilian volunteers. Marie and Jared had no way of knowing that the experiments in the prison system mirrored the experiments that were being conducted on military recruits, the other large group of guinea pigs available for government research on chemical and biological weapons.

The only problem in using military recruits for experiments was that the some of the services complained bitterly that their recruit pool was being depleted by the zealots running the experiments. In fact, some of the services, such as the U.S. Air Force, would restrict the use of their recruits for such experiments. Of course, there were always the Army and Marine Corps, and eventually some of these ex-guinea pigs found their way to Marie and Jared for assistance with their health problems, usually years after they were medically discharged from the Armed Services.

The common thread in these government testing programs was that the subjects rarely knew anything about the experiments that they were involved in, especially any information on the possible medical risks and side effects of the experiments. They were usually denied further medical assistance for their medical conditions, just like the Tuskegee experiments, and they were almost always denied access to their medical records. Thus they continued to be guinea pigs long after their direct role in the experiments ended.

Departmental problems with the McNichols research

Since they were concerned about the loyalty of their own faculty, the D. O. Madison administration made secret arrangements for some of Jared's faculty members to monitor the research that the McNichols were conducting with the Gulf War Illness patients in his department on the ninth floor of the Research Building. The D. O. Madison administration was very interested in the McNichols' research, especially when one of Jared's faculty members reported to the Vice President for Research, Dr. Francis Belcher, that the McNichols were investigating the possibility that mycoplasmas might be involved in Gulf War Illnesses. Unknown to Marie and Jared at the time, the D. O. Madison had been conducting their own research on biowarfare agents with Belford College of Medicine and Dr. Rook. However, this research was conducted away from the main hospital complex in an isolated research facility called the M. K. Black Building. The director of the Black Building was none other than Dr. Isaac Geldter.

For years the D. O. Madison had been supplying immunological expertise for the Belford prison experiments, mainly at the Black Building using Issac Geldter and Amy Krappner, who already had experience with such kind of work while employed at the U.S. Army's Fort Detrick. In fact, their prior relationship with Fort Detrick was a positive selling point when they were both recruited to the D. O. Madison in Austin. Even though Drs. Geldter and Krappner were civilian scientists working on cancer research projects and were physically located in different sections at Fort Detrick, they were heavily involved in assisting the Army's biowarfare research program by providing immunological expertise to the Army infectious disease specialists. In fact, Issac Geldter was very proud of his theory to load immune suppressor molecules into biowarfare mixtures so that exposed victims could not mount immune responses against Biological Warfare agents. He openly bragged to some of the D. O. Madison staff about his role in Army Biological Warfare research while at Fort Detrick. just because Biowarfare research was not being conducted in Jared's department or, in fact, in most departments at the D. O. Madison, this did not mean that certain faculty members in Jared's department were not immune to being recruited to assist in the Belford-D. O. Madison germ warfare testing program. Obviously most recruits could not openly conduct biological warfare-type experimentation without drawing attention to themselves in Jared's department, but the administration had other plans for these recruits. They would be used to monitor other faculty and report back to the administration. Jared had heard about Geldter's work with Dr. Rook at Belford and about the classified section of Geldter's department, and he made it very clear that his own faculty would have nothing to do with what he considered the unethical behavior of some of his colleagues. His attitude and the mycoplasma tests on veterans would be reported back to the administration, and this would eventually make Jared a marked man at the D. O. Madison.

To help in the process of examining the McNichols' research to determine if it met the criteria or priority of research that was to be included in the future plans of the institution, certain faculty members were recruited to carefully monitor the McNichols as they slowly made their way through the minefield of Gulf War Illnesses. These faculty rats willingly spied on the McNichols to gain favor with the D. O. Madison administration and especially for promised future promotions, salary increases and other favors. Although in some cases these faculty members had known and worked with Jared for decades, this did not stop them from quickly turning on him to advance their own careers.

The two faculty members that were almost openly spying on Marie and Jared for the D. O. Madison Administration were Drs. Thomas Domasovitch and Dr. Judah Nosan. Jared expected Dr. Domasovitch, who in fact was Jared's deputy but only an average scientist with limited abilities, of being a rat for the administration, but he had no idea that Dr. Nosan would stoop that low. Dr. Nosan did not need to be a rat to get ahead at the institution. Dr. Nosan was born in Poland and educated in Russia, so he may have had a different perspective on the research that Jared and Marie were conducting. Dr. Nosan, however, coveted another job at the D. O. Madison, and it was in his best interests to monitor Jared for the administration. On the other hand, Dr. Domasovitch was in a dead end position, and he was unlikely to be promoted from his present position of Associate Professor. He actually came to the D. O. Madison as an Associate Professor from Iowa State University, and he hadn't been able to climb any higher up the academic ladder. Therefore, he was always readily available for additional administrative assignments, but he was useful in department teaching and administration. Dr. Domasovitch was also quite fond of 'hanging around' the McNichols lab and was quite eager to speak to the technicians and students. Dr. Domasovitch with his light hair and thick glasses was a natural schmoozer. From his mid-Western farm background no one would have thought that he could have been so easily been manipulated to do unethical things by the administration, but Jared and Marie were to learn a bitter lesson, in that many of the people that they assumed had principles in reality did not. They were easily and cheaply recruited by the D. O. Madison administration, who in turn, were easily recruited by Las Vegas organized crime financial interests as well as their international armaments companies, to perform illegal and unethical acts against the McNichols.

Although relatively unknown to the general public, Las Vegas organized crime interests had long been involved in the financing of companies that manufactured unconventional weapons of mass destruction. It would take the McNichols nearly two decades to uncover this, a fact that directly impacted upon Marie and her inheritance and birth identity. The harshness of academic life under Dr. Masters' administration would turn out to be a smokescreen for the motivation behind the attacks on the McNichols, which would eventually surface as an ironic twist between Marie's research interests and her true identity as the heiress to the same Las Vegas empire that was funding the organizations that were attacking the McNichols.

One day a smiling Dr. Domasovitch met Marie in the hall just outside Jared's laboratories. jared's laboratories were down the hall from the departmental offices, and Dr. Domasovitch often passed Jared's labs on his way to his own laboratory. On this occasion he stopped Marie coming out of the laboratory and said, "I hear that you are finding Mycoplasma fermentans in the Desert Storm veterans?" Marie, who had little time for such antics and considered Dr. Domasovitch little more than a lackey answered, "Yes, Dr. Domasovitch, we are finding it in about 45% of the veterans that we have tested. Dr. Domasovitch then asked in a sarcastic way, "How do you know that the results are not just false-positives?" At this point Jared came down the hall and saw what was happening, and he interrupted the conversation, "Well, for starters, Thomas, we have run controls on specificity and sensitivity to insure that the results are real." Dr. Domasovitch turned from Jared to face Marie and said, "That doesn't prove anything." Jared moved closer to Dr. Domasovitch until he was between him and Marie, "It's a good start. We aren't done yet, but I believe that we have an explanation as to why the veterans are still sick years after the war and why their spouses are now getting sick." Dr. Domasovitch was skeptical, "I don't believe it." Marie just looked back at Jared, shook her head, turned and entered the lab where she went back to work. It was a waste of time talking to Dr. Domasovitch, who Marie considered a complete hack who had never produced anything of note in his entire career. In fact, she would constantly ask Jared why he ever hired Domasovitch in the first place, and then why did he support his career for so many years. Jared received very little in return for his loyalty and support of faculty members like Dr. Domasovitch. It was a weakness of Jared's, and Marie hated it and reminded him often of it.

When the topic of Dr. Domasovitch came up in prior conversations, Jared had assured Marie that Dr. Domasovitch's initial research at the D. O. Madison was acceptable if not exceptional. From what she had seen, Marie did not believe the story, even though Dr. Domasovitch previously had a grant from the NIH. However, once he received tenure, he lost his NIH grant and his grant applications were no longer of high enough priority to be funded. His research was considered average at best, but his teaching ability was good and he took an active interest in the graduate courses taught through the graduate school. Jared had used Dr. Domasovitch to run the Department's educational programs and to help Jared administratively, and this was apparently where Thomas had kept himself useful. Now that he had a chance to further his career, even at Jared's expense, he did not hesitate to jump at the possibility of gaining some future favors from the D. O. Madison administration.

Marie was sure that Dr. Domasovitch along with Dr. Nosan were reporting what the McNichols found in the lab directly to Dr. Belcher. She did not like Thomas and made no bones about it. With Marie back at work in the lab, Jared continued the conversation in the hall with Dr. Domasovitch by saying, "We have looked at quite a few possible types of infections, and a mycoplasma is the one that keeps coming up positive. Dr. Domasovitch turned serious and told Jared, "I know you are a careful scientist, and I have always respected what you have done in your career, but I just don't understand why you are pursuing this line of research. It's just going to hurt you and the Department, and we are all going to pay for what you are doing." Jared just stared at Thomas but then Dr. Domasovitch continued, "I am really concerned about you." Jared sarcastically replied, "I am sure you are, Thomas ... " Dr. Domasovitch lowered his voice and became very serious, "You have got to stop this line of investigation and start thinking more about your career and the Department." Jared knew that Dr. Domasovitch and some of the other faculty were just thinking of their own skins, so he politely told Thomas, "I will carefully consider your position, but you in particular, as a Vietnam veteran, should see the value in what we are doing and understand exactly why we are involved in helping the veterans. And please don't tell me again that you are concerned about me." Dr. Domasovitch replied, "I am concerned about you, and I think I understand why you feel that you need to do this. What I don't understand is why you continue along this line of investigation when you know that the administration does not want this research conducted at our institution." Jared finally told Dr. Domasovitch, "You know, Thomas, this comes down to a major difference between our philosophies. Marie and I are not involved with the veterans to advance our careers or make the newspapers; we don't give a damn about that. We are trying to assist the veterans because no one else will help them. Maybe you were lucky when you came back from Vietnam. You didn't have a problem with Agent Orange. If you had been exposed to Agent Orange and later became sick and no one would acknowledge your illness or help you, then you might be able to see our point of view." Jared turned quickly on his heal and left Dr. Domasovitch standing in the hall. He never looked back to see if Thomas was still standing outside his laboratory.

There would always be some that didn't care about anything but themselves and their own careers. But it was particularly saddening to see veterans who thought that just because they escaped war without a health problem, the rest of those suckers brought it upon themselves and were just out of luck. This type of thinking was actually more prevalent than anyone expected in the Armed Forces, and there was little sympathy around the Pentagon for the veterans who became sick after the war. With the active help of the DoD, the sick veterans were called malingerers, malcontents and psycho cases, and there was little room for their complaints in the New Armed Forces.
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:04 am

Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER 5: The Prisons Have a Problem (1994)

The prison guards ask for help


Marie had just entered Jared's offices, which were also the Cancer Biology Department's offices, and she began talking to Jane South, Jared's secretary, about Jared's stepdaughter and her illness from the Gulf War and the interesting results they found with the veterans' blood samples. The office was a typical institutional office. There was one picture on the wall and lots of file cabinets. There were two secretaries and an office manager stationed in the main area. Jared's office was in the back behind Jane's desk.

Marie said as she walked up to Jane's desk, "Hi, Jane!" Jane South looked up at Marie puzzled. Marie continued, "If you haven't yet noticed, I'm in a bitchy mood today!" Jane answered, "Is it that time again?" Marie answered, "Almost!" The other office workers looked at Marie behind her back with a mixture of false smiles and trepidation. Dr. Judah Nosan, who had just entered the office, said to Marie in a friendly tone, "How's the Desert Storm project going?" Marie answered, "Slowly!" Dr. Nosan continued, "Well, I asked my relatives in Israel if anyone was sick, and they said no one seemed to be affected." Marie asked, "Does that mean you don't believe that there is a problem?" Dr. Nosan shrugged his shoulders. "Well, Dr. Nosan I predict that illnesses will crop up in Israel over the next couple of years, but it will be the Israelis' stoicism that will preclude any help with the problems. And I don't think they are going to talk about it or let anyone know if it happens." She continued, "By the way, how do you account for the unusual cases of meningitis going around in Israel?" Nosan answered, 'Just a coincidence. I don't think that there is anything to it." Marie, "I admire your skepticism, but there is no such thing as coincidence or randomness in our universe. There are always patterns. Recognizing the pattern is the key."

Dr. Nosan changed his demeanor, and he became a bit more sarcastic. He said, "Why do you continue to be a scientist? No one here understands or respects your research. Why would you and Jared go into this line of investigation, anyway? This is just going to hurl his career. There is already talk about this hurting our department. Furthermore, I hear that you are going to inherit a lot of money some day. Why would you care about some veterans?" Marie replied, "Dr. Nosan "I find your line of questioning to be most derogatory and intrusive. I continue to be a scientist, because I trained for years in the hard sciences, training which you seem to lack. Furthermore, I do not derive my happiness from other professional's opinions, and quite frankly, the extreme negativity towards me seems to be an opinion primarily concentrated in certain administrative circles at the D. O. Madison, which I believe is 20 years out of date in its direction of research .... And how do you know about my so-called inheritance. I don't ever remember discussing this with you."

Dr. Nosan then became defensive. He quickly stated, "That's not true! I don't know of anyone here that is 20 years behind, and I thought you told me about your inheritance." Marie continued, "Forget about the inheritance for one moment. I am sick and tired of everyone's resentment about some inheritance." She paused for a moment. "So you can dish it out, but you can't take il!" Dr. Nosan's face was beginning to redden, and he was obviously becoming mad at Marie. But Marie continued, "Dr. Nosan, with all due respect, treating cancer cells with vitamins or irradiating cancer cells in an attempt to induce the formation of tumor-specific antibodies has been shown to be ineffective ages ago, and heating tumors to make them go away just isn't working."

Dr. Nosan looked puzzled at Marie and still did not answer. He was not expecting such a strong response. Marie continued the discussion but she noticed that Dr. Nosan was not bothering to pay attention or answer her. "O.K. Let's take the unrelated donor program for the bone marrow transplant unit. This is just another form of human torture with stupidity as the basic logic behind the project. I can hear them saying-all we have to do is trick the body to recognize a foreign tissue as its own! They even admit that they can't get a complete donor match. When you go into the unit, all you see are dying patients. But now they can have a horrible death from graft-versus-host disease." Marie was referring to the disease caused when a cancer patient starts responding immunologically to itself and begins attacking its own tissues. This occurs after a course of lethal therapy to destroy cancer cells that is so toxic that it wipes out the patient's bone marrow, the source of the body's immune cells. The patient is then given a dose of precursor immune cells from a donor's bone marrow. If the donated bone marrow cells are not a complete immunological match with the patient's cells, as the donated bone marrow cells populate the patient and begin responding, they eventually could attack normal cells and tissues that they recognize as foreign. When this happens, the outcome is usually fatal.

Marie continued her sparring, "Dr. Nosan do you know that biochemistry is the chemistry of subtlety? It usually means that those proteins in low abundance, sometimes labeled as 'minor components,' are often the critical elements in one's metabolism." Dr. Nosan asked, "So what?" She continued, "The majority of scientists at this institution have no deep training in physics and chemistry, so they do not have the background to ask certain basic questions, and therefore they continue to repeat and derivatize each other's results. Hardly breakthrough thinking here! Finally, I do not know where all this hearsay about my inheriting a lot of money started in the illustrious D. O. Madison grapevine, but frankly I hardly think that my future financial status has any bearing on whether I should be a scientist or what I produce as a scientist. Do I ask you about your money?"

Dr. Nonsan looked dumbstruck; he was not expecting the barrage from Marie. He turned from her and did not answer. Marie continued, "You know Dr. Nosan, I am aware that I am disliked here at D. O. Madison, and at this point in time I am tired of having to prove myself to a bunch of people that I consider unwinables. I hope you never have to experience the horror of a whisper campaign about your integrity and whether or not you are entitled or not to inherit anything. It is not very pleasant!" Marie then said in a tone that indicated that she was dismissing him as he walked out of the office, "I have a great deal of work to do, and I am sure you do too." Dr. Nosan didn't hear her, as he was already in the hall and out of range. Marie then turned her attention to Jane, "Well Jane, let's do something productive today. Sparring with Dr. Nosan is a lost cause. All he cares about is his own paycheck, anyway. After all that Jared has done for him, he would turn on Jared in a heartbeat." Jane commented, "I can't believe you took on Dr. Nosan and actually stated that you are aware of how disliked you are by some of the faculty in the Department. Does this have something to do with the research you and Dr. McNichols are conducting on the Desert Storm veterans?" Marie, "Believe it! They don't want to hear the truth. They are afraid of retaliation from Washington. You know Jane, this inheritance thing that keeps cropping up .... Sometimes I wonder if the inheritance is connected somehow to our research. You know, what if the inheritance is financing in some way the biological weapons program?" Marie quickly dismissed the thought, but it would resurface years later and turn out to be completely true.

Jane picked up a piece of chocolate to munch on. "You know there was an article on the front page of the 'Wallsville News' about a mystery illness that is affecting many of the employees at the Wallsville Correctional Facility. The employees even formed a support group. I know about this because we have a home in Wallsville, and I brought a copy of the local newspaper back with me. I have the paper with me right now." Jane reached into her purse and pulled out a newspaper. It was not a large paper, but more like the kind you see given out free at the supermarket. "Here it is. 'Mystery Illness Strikes Wallsville.' The support group leader, a Sandra Maitland, describes a mystery illness that affected her entire family, particularly her daughter." She continued as she scanned the paper, "This Sandra Maitland says that over 300 families in Wallsville have some form of this mystery illness, and they want some answers."

Jane pointed out the article as she read from it. "The article states that some individuals are experiencing a wide array of symptoms, and there have been 26 diagnosed cases of Lou Gehrig's Disease along with 63 cases of Multiple Sclerosis in the community. Six of the Lou Gehrig's Disease cases were in Sandy's neighborhood, and four of these were on one block alone. Isn't that disease supposed to be kind of rare?" Marie answered, "I'd say very rare." Jane then asked, "You know, I was cleaning up Dr. McNichols' office, and I couldn't help but notice the list of symptoms of the Gulf War veterans. It sure looked like what Sandy Maitland was describing in the Wallsville News. Maybe they have the same kind of illness as the Gulf War vets? Maybe you and Dr. McNichols could help them?" Marie looked at the article, ''It would be virtually impossible to have so many people diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in the same area. That's a rare genetic disease." Jane said, "I thought so!" Marie interjected, "And all these cases of Multiple Sclerosis! You don't have to be a genius to conclude that something is wrong for this unusual disease cluster to appear in this small town."

Marie thought for a moment and asked jokingly, "You know what, Jane? I'll bet my old mentor Dr. Virgil Rook had something to do with this. When I was at Belford in the Micro Department, they were actually conducting some sort of vaccine experiments at one of the prisons in Wallsville. I wonder if this is the result of some sort of testing program at the prison?" Marie chastised herself, "You know, I must have been some kind of idiot to have thought that Dr. Rook was going to the prison system to take care of the sick prisoners. I used to think he was so noble. I think we should get this Sandra Maitland on the phone and ask if she and her family would be willing to be tested. We could look for some of the unusual infections like we found in the Desert Storm veterans and their families. They are also showing an unusual array of symptoms. And you know, Jane, it sounds like these neurological illnesses that are in Wallsville are very similar to the illness I suffered several years ago. Sooner or later Jared and I are going to get to the bottom of this mess!"

Marie hesitated but then added, "I know that some colleagues of mine were not very happy to see me recover. And just like some of the people around here, they had strong feelings against me. Jane, am I that obnoxious?" Jane replied, "Only a little." Marie laughed, "At least you are honest. People really love me or they hate me, and at times I am ostracized for no apparent reason." Jane said, "Now, don't go paranoid on me, Marie." Marie replied, "You're right. But I tell you there must be some explanation. Everyone tells me that I am an heiress, but I have never benefited from it in any way. I have always worked very hard for everything." Marie sighed and continued, "And The D. O. Madison has treated me abominably! If Jared were not on the faculty here, I would have been long gone!"

Marie turned to leave and said, "I find it very difficult to pander to the egos of petty bureaucrats that have absolutely no talent. It's hard enough to be respectful to some of the scientists who are actually excellent in their fields but jerks as people. Do you know what it is like to suck up to a combination of a jerk and scientific idiot?" Jane answered, "You always said politics were not your strong suit." Marie answered back as she glanced at the newspaper article again, "Please call Mrs. Maitland. I think that she would be interested to talk to Jared and me about the Mystery Illness of Wallsville."

The phone call from Sandra Maitland

Jared and Marie were going over some laboratory data the next day in his office when a call came in from Sandra Maitland. Jane picked up the phone and signaled Jared that Mrs. Maitland was on the line. Jared answered the phone and placed it on the speakerphone so that Marie could hear as well. Jared said, "Good afternoon Mrs. Maitland, this is Professor Jared McNichols, and Dr. Marie McNichols is here with me. I want to thank you for returning our call." Sandy said, "Well, ya'all are so busy that I was very surprised when Jane called and said that you wanted to speak with us over here in Wallsville. We are in the middle of nowhere, East Texas, and it's a real pleasure to find someone in Austin that wants to help us. Usually they run the other way! And call me Sandy." Jared replied, "Which is exactly why we called, Sandy, to find out about the Mystery Illness in Wallsville and see if there was anything that we could do to help." Marie added, "Hi Sandy, this is Marie McNichols. Jane read me the article in the Wallsville News about the unusual cases of chronic and autoimmune illnesses that you are experiencing in your area. Can you tell us something about them?" Sandy replied, "It's also a pleasure to talk to Mrs. Dr. McNichols, if I can call you that, girl?" Marie laughed, "Yes, you can, but you can also call me Marie." Sandy, "That's a nice name-You both have such nice names-I think that I trust you already." Jared laughed, "Well, you shouldn't go that far until you find out if we can help you!" Sandy replied, "Hell, no one has ever tried to help us, so you have already made it into my heart."

Jared turned serious and stated, 'Jane and Marie here think that the signs and symptoms of the Wallsville Mystery Illness are very similar to what we have found in the veterans with Gulf War Illnesses." Sandy replied, "I don't know about that, but I can sure give you an earful about our problems. Our friends and neighbors here are all sick with all kinds of problems, but we are worried most about the ones who have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease and MS. These people, including our own daughter, are afraid that they are going to die, and many have already. A man down the block dropped dead last month, right in his house. They didn't find him right away. On one block alone there are four cases of ALS. My daughter who just turned eighteen was examined by the neurologists at Belford College of Medicine, and they said that she has Lou Gehrig's Disease and may not live to her 20th birthday. We are very afraid of the future in this community."

Jared thought about what Sandy had said, "There is something very wrong for there to be so many cases of ALS in your community. What is the population of Wallsville?" Sandy replied, "About 35,000." Jared said, "I thought so. That's an incidence rate way out of proportion to the size of your community. Tell me, was there anything unusual about any of these cases of ALS? Where there multiple cases in the same family?" Sandy answered, "Not that I know of." Jared asked, "Do you recall if any of the ALS cases were called 'atypical'?" Sandy thought, "That rings a bell. That's what they told us at Belford College of Medicine about Jenny, our daughter." Jared continued, "If any of the cases are atyptical ALS, then they might be a neurodegenerative disease caused by a central nervous system infection that mimics ALS by killing certain nerve cells in the central brain. Does your daughter have some of the same signs and symptoms that you and your husband had that were listed in the local newspaper, such as low-grade fevers, stomach pain, memory loss, skin rashes, diarrhea?" Sandy perked up, "Why, Yes! They never asked us about that when we took her to the Neurology Clinic at Belford." Marie added, "They never seem to think about other diseases, only neurological diseases. That's so typical of neurologists."

Jared asked Sandy, "I think that your daughter should come in for some tests here, or can we get a fresh sample of her blood sent over to us here in Austin?" Sandy replied, "Considering the number of times that she has been stuck with needles with no answers or even a by-ya-leave, I don't think that's asking too much." Jared continued, "At the same time I would also appreciate a sample of blood from you and your husband." Sandy replied, "I think that can be arranged. Our family doctor here is at his wits end. He doesn't know what to do about all the illnesses." Marie continued, "Once we get the blood sample, we can test it to see if Jenny has an infection. We are particularly interested in an infection caused by mycoplasmas." Sandy asked, "O.K. What ever that is? What did you call it?" Marie replied, "A mycoplasma is a small bacteria that doesn't have a cell wall and lives inside our cells." Jared added, "The type of mycoplasma that we are going to test for is known to penetrate into the central nervous system, and it may cause nerve cell degeneration. If this occurs in the right area, it could mimic ALS." Sandy said, "This is getting interesting. The Health Department keeps telling us that there is nothing in the Trinity water system." Jared looked at Marie, "Why would they test the water system?" Sandy answered, "I don't know. They said it must be in the water if there is anything in the area, but the water tested out O.K., so they dismissed our problem." Marie asked, "Why would they just test the water system? And what did they test for?" Sandy answered, "I have no idea. They just told us that everything was just fine, A-O.K., but no one believes them."

Jared responded sarcastically, "I can see why no one has any confidence in the Health Department!" Marie asked, "They aren't doing anything about the autoimmune illnesses?" Sandy replied, No. They keep telling us that it's all within expected values, what ever that means." Jared was sarcastic, "Expected values-Who are they kidding?" Sandy added, "That's exactly what we thought!" Jared continued, "One last question, Mrs. Maitland, what kinds of work do you and your husband do?" Sandy said, "Why he is the Assistant Warden at the Wallsville State Prison. I'm just a housewife."

Jared looked at Marie and then returned to Sandy Maitland on the phone. "Were there any other 'Mystery Illness' patients who worked at the prison?" Sandy spoke up, "You betcha! Most of the people who died worked at the prison, and a lot of the people who were sick worked at the prison, or their family members were prison employees. In fact, it was so bad that we specifically asked the prison doctor if there was any relationship between the illnesses in the community and what was happening in the prison." Marie asked, "And what did he tell you?" Sandy said, "He wouldn't tell us anything! That made me very suspicious." Jared asked, "Can you tell us anything about the prison infirmary?" Sandy continued, "I can sure tell you from my husband that there are a hell of a lot of sick patients in there, and not all of them are walking out." Marie asked, "Do you mean that they are no longer sick or are they dying in the prison?" Sandy said sadly, "Lot's of them are dying. My husband told me that at one point they were losing a few inmates per week, and they were told to keep quiet about it. He has to be careful, because everyone has been warned not to discuss anything that is going on in the prison. They could all lose their jobs." Jared responded, "It sounds like they could lose much more than their jobs." Sandy replied in her East Texas accent, "You got that right, dear!"

Jared tried to reassure Sandy. "We want to help you and your family, but to be candid with you, we are under a lot of pressure to stop our studies in the area of chronic infections." Sandy stated, "That sounds familiar! Are you going to help us or run the other way?" Marie smiled, "Yes, we are going to help, but as Dr. McNichols said, he has to be careful. Me, on the other hand, I am in so much trouble that it probably doesn't matter." Jared said, "We are going to help you, but for the moment we have to keep this among ourselves." Sandy emphatically, "You got that straight! I think that one of the mistakes I made was going to the local government officials and trying to tell them something was wrong. All they did was call the police to have us investigated. But it turns out my husband works with the local police on a number of security issues, so that didn't work." Jared reminded Sandy, "We still need those blood samples. I can send you the information on how to draw and ship them to us." Sandy asked, "I would rather bring them to you, if that's O.K.?" Jared said, "Certainly. You can bring them on ice to us here in Austin or you can come here and we will have someone draw the blood." Basically the conversation was over, and the McNichols did not give it much thought until approximately one week later.

The Maitlands come back to Austin

At least a week had elapsed since Mrs. Maitland's call to Jared and Marie. Marie had asked Jane to make arrangements for lunch with Sandy Maitland and her family on the day that they arrived in Austin. The arrangements were made, and one week later the Maitlands came back to Austin.

Marie walked into Jared's department office on that morning, "Good morning, Jane!" Jane, "Have I imagined that, or did you just say good morning." Marie replied, "You know I'm a night owl! Mornings are not my best time of the day. Jared on the otherhand loves to get up early. I hate him!" Marie finally became serious and asked, "Well Jane, what do you have for me today?" Jane looked at her notes, "After your weekly lab meeting, you are scheduled to go to lunch with Jared and the Maitland family." Marie asked, "The victims of the 'Wallsville Mystery disease'?" Jane said, "That's right! They are desperate for some answers." Jane paused and then told Marie, "They're in the conference room now if you want to talk to them." Marie said, "Thanks, Jane. I believe I will."

Marie walked out of the office and headed for the small conference room adjoining the department office. She still had her lab coat on. Upon entry into the conference room Marie said, "Hi, In case you don't remember, I'm Dr. Marie McNichols." With her East Texas accent, Sandy was the first to speak, "I remember you, girl. I'm Sandy Maitland, and this is my husband Clayman and my daughter Jenny." Marie held out her hand, "I'm glad you could all come to Austin, and I hope we can help you."

The visitors all smiled, sat down and then Marie said softly to the Maitlands, "We are in the middle of a spiritual war here, and I believe that your family's illnesses and the Gulf War veterans' illnesses may be a manifestation of that war." Sandy broke out into a smile, "I can tell right now that you're my kind of girl, Marie!" Clayman said, "We would like to take you and Professor McNichols to lunch. The people in the lab were nice enough to take our blood, so I don't think we can help them any further. We filled out all of the illness forms for Professor McNichols." Clayton and Sandy handed the forms to Marie. Sandy said, "Come on, let's go to lunch and talk. Where's your husband, Dr. McNichols?" Marie responded, "We made arrangements for lunch, and we are going to meet my husband at the restaurant. He has been off campus at a meeting, and it's easier for him to join us there." Sandy stood up and said, "Lead the way!"

Marie led the Maitlands down the hallway with the various departmental laboratories on each side. As they walked Marie said, "I know just the place, and we can even talk there without someone looking over our shoulders." Bob Sonan came out of one of the laboratories, and Marie said, "Wait, I want you to meet Bob, my right-hand man. I couldn't do anything without him. We've worked together for years and have never had a fight ... " Marie paused and chuckled, "which is a major achievement in view of my short-fused temper! When I was getting over my near-fatal illness, Bob would do things for me in the lab before I had a chance, because he realized better than I did that I was not up to doing anything."

They all stopped in the hall and greeted Bob Sonan. Marie introduced them, "Bob, these are the Maitlands from Wallsville. They are suffering from some peculiar illnesses involving neurological symptoms that Jared and I think might be related to the Desert Storm Illness and that killer illness I had several years ago. Everyone said "Hi!" to Bob, and Marie continued, "Bob does all the gene tracking and polymerase chain reaction studies on the veterans. This pilot study is just a small part of our research program. My husband Jared is the chairman of this Department, which he founded. He oversees the research of over 150 employees here." Sandy said, "I don't know what it all means, but it's impressive!" Marie asked Bob, "Could you please show the Maitlands what a gene tracking study looks like."

Bob retrieved his lab book and showed the Maitlands an autoradiogram, which was really an X-ray film. He then said, "We radiolabel a specific sequence of DNA to act as a probe." Marie added, "The probe is like a key, only in this case it is radioactive. If it matches a particular lock, which in this case is a DNA or gene sequence from an infectious agent called Mycoplasma [ermentans incognitus, the probe will attach itself to the DNA that has been affixed to this special Nytran paper."

Bob then held up an autoradiogram. "We develop this film which we place on the special paper that contains the person's nuclear fractions that we have separated from his white blood cells." Marie then carefully pointed with her finger, "If we see a band, like this one, it means that the infectious agent's DNA is present!" Sandy said, "That's really interesting! You mean to tell me that you can tell from those little spots on the 'whatever you call it' that I might have some infection?" Marie responded, "Yes. The reason we are able to find these infections is that we do not discard the portion of the cell where the infectious agent attacks. Other techniques that are used routinely involve purification steps that may prevent the chance of picking up these DNA sequences. You can think of the DNA in this case as a hidden lock or target. There seems to be some controversy about the technique and these invasive microorganisms. However, "I have over 25 publications on the technique, and it is summarized in an article written by my husband and I that was published recently in Methods in Molecular Genetics."

Sandy thought for a moment and then asked, "That's impressive work, but I have two questions. Can you use that technique with our blood samples? And why are people attacking you and Professor McNichols?" Marie answered, "Ah, you've been talking to Jane in the office. In answer to your first question, yes, we can test you, but it will take some time as we are a small operation, and we are swamped with requests. In answer to your second question, I really do not have a reasonable explanation as to why we have been attacked. My husband is one of the most cited scientists in the world, and he is the co-discoverer of the cell membrane structure. He is in all the basic biology and medical school textbooks." Marie continued, "Perhaps we have stumbled upon something that a lot of powerful people want to keep secret for a variety of reasons."

Clayman then asked a very important question. "What's the real reason?" Marie smiled, "If you ask me, I believe we are fighting a spiritual battle involving evil forces that for reasons unclear to me loathe whatever we are doing and want to keep it secret." Sandy perked up, "Believe it or not, I do know what you mean." Clayman then turned to Bob, "Thanks Bob, for showing us the film, what did you call it, the autoradiogram?" Bob replied, "Yes, that's exactly what it is. It's my pleasure. I hope our tests will provide you with some answers." Clayman and Jenny also thanked Bob, and the group continued down the long hall to the elevator.

As Marie and the Maitlands walked down the hallway to the elevator, Marie gave cursory greetings to some of the individuals who passed her in the hall. Marie turned to the Maitlands while they were walking and asked, "Do you feel the undercurrents here?" Sandy responded, "Yes, I sure do!" Marie continued, "It has been like this for quite sometime, and it has escalated ever since we voiced our concerns about the possible involvement of a biological weapon in the Desert Storm veterans." Clayman then responded, "That's awful. These people don't even try to hide their animosity." Marie replied, "I know. We have to live with it. They have never cracked a smile to me in the several years that I have been here. I was pretty arrogant when I graduated from the Institute of Biophysics, but I don't think I was any worse than anyone else. It's just that these people and the scientific community in general are devoid of a minimal display of enthusiasm for their work. I think that my personality really favors that of the opera singer, which was my other choice of a profession, and yet I have the head of a physicist."

They took the elevator to the ground floor. Marie continued the conversation after a chuckle, "I believe my colleagues can't handle this combination, or as Jared says, he believes their hatred stems more from something in my background .... which I am trying to find out about!" Sandy asked, "Why do you continue?" Marie responded, "Because I have a direct order from the higher power!" Clayman then spoke out, "That's good enough for me!" Marie said, "Remember, scientists are the last people to admit to the spiritual." Marie continued talking to the guests as they walked outside the hospital past the rose garden and to the visitors' parking lot. "I believe they are all in for a rude awakening some day." Marie turned suddenly to the Maitlands and asked, "I hope you like Italian food?" Jenny then laughed, "Sure do!" Marie asked, "I hope that you don't mind if we all pile into your vehicle, a great little Italian restaurant is just down the street, and Jared is planning to meet us there. Then he can drive me back to the hospital." Sandy said, "Let's go!" Sandy drove a big Chevy Suburban to Austin, so there was ample room for the group. She liked to drive, and since Clayman hated to drive the Suburban, Sandy did most of long-range driving chores for the Maitland family.

Lunch at an Italian restaurant

It was only a few blocks to the little Italian restaurant, and before they could settle in, they were there. Marie with the Maitlands in tow entered the little ethnic restaurant to find Jared waiting for them in the corner. He was seated at a round table that the five of them could comfortably fit around. A single classical guitarist was strumming on the guitar and was playing 'Aldi la.' As the Maitlands and Marie were shown to the table, Jared stood to meet the Maitlands. The owner of the restaurant came over to give Marie and Jared a special greeting. "Bonjourno!" Marie turned and answered, "Bonjourno to you, too, Mario! I hope you have my favorite?" Mario replied, "We do!" He paused, "The chicken cuttoletta with marinara." Marie said to the Maitlands, "I highly recommend it. It's a true taste of Sicily!" Even Jared agreed with Marie on this point, and they sat down and all ordered the same entree.

As the waiter began to fill their glasses with water, Sandy said to Jared, "We've been having some strange incidents up in Wallsville." Jared asked, "What kind of incidents?" Sandy replied, "All of us believe that we have been human guinea pigs!" The guitarist started to play a tune as Jared spoke to the Maitlands, "You know, I don't doubt you from what I have seen in your local paper." Marie continued, "We have seen this before. When we suggested that some of the Desert Storm veterans might be suffering from invasive mycoplasmal infections, you wouldn't have believed the hostile treatment we have received from our administration." Sandy asked, "What's that again?" Jared answered this time, "Mycoplasma. It is a very small, primitive bacterium that has lost its outer covering or cell wall, and it must invade cells to survive and replicate. When it invades cells it starts interfering with the cell's metabolism, and in some cases it can cause the cells to go into programmed cell death and eventually die." Marie added, "When we found this type of bacteria in the Desert Storm veterans' blood, we suggested that the common antibiotic doxycycline should be useful." Jared said, "Although this was basically a pretty standard approach, it was still empirical, since we didn't have antibiotic sensitivity data." Marie continued, "What were we supposed to do? Let our stepdaughter remain sick? If you had an answer to ease the suffering of your family, wouldn't you try?" Sandy replied firmly, "You bet your boots, girl!"

Jared then began the story of his stepdaughter Suzanne. "My stepdaughter and her roommate who is also a veteran of the Gulf War have completely recovered from their illness that they developed after their return. They were in the 101st Airborne but were never as sick as most of the patients that contact us. But we now have more data from other units that served, including the Special Forces and Navy SEALs." Marie added, "I, myself, almost died from a similar disease that involved the central nervous system and appeared to be similar to the Desert Storm Illnesses. Without doxycycline, I don't think that I would have recovered." Jared continued, "We don't think that we have a permanent solution to the problem, but the treatment is effective in allowing the veterans to recover -- at least those that have this particular infection. We certainly do not have the entire puzzle solved. Not by a long shot. But we're making progress." Marie added, "In short, we have a lot more research to do. As I said, we came forward as concerned citizens first, not necessarily as scientists. Now, we have to prove or disprove our hypothesis or modify it to include other factors as well." Sandy stated, "I'm with the both of you!" Clayman now became agitated, "You know, I'm a veteran, and we're all real proud to know both of you folks." Jared responded, "Thanks for your support. It has not been easy, that's for sure."

Jared continued the discussion. "All we can tell you is every time we mention the term Mycoplasma, a wall comes up." Sandy asked, "What's so special about this Mycoplasma bug?" Jared answered, "Normally mycoplasmas do not affect healthy people, although sometimes they might cause a bronchial or urogenital tract infection; however, the type of Mycoplasma that we found in the veterans seems to be very invasive and opportunistic. It's what we call a highly pathogenic Mycoplasma, in that it can cause severe disease." Marie added, "It appears to attack an individual's weak points." Jared continued, "We think that one particular species, Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus, may have been modified or made more pathogenic. In the military this is called 'weaponizing.' This means that it may have been modified to make it more survivable, more resistant to the elements, such as heat and dryness, and more invasive and more capable of causing disease. As it turns out, the Army knows quite a bit about this particular bug, and they have published extensively on it but they have never admitted that it has been modified."

Jared then related to the Maitlands the political problems that they have encountered. "Finding this mycoplasma in the Gulf War veterans has really gotten us into a lot of trouble. Every time we even mention the term Mycoplasma, it's as if we hit upon some raw nerve." Marie joked, "You know, something that is worse than a root canal or an impacted wisdom tooth!" Clayman answered, "I know what you mean!" Marie continued, "I even had one VA scientist tell me that there was no such thing as mycoplasmas in the Middle East." Jared laughed and told the Maitlands, "That's so stupid that you can't even imagine! It's like saying that there are no bacteria in the Middle East." Marie laughed, "In short, the response of certain individuals has been completely out of whack." Sandy added, "You mean like 'thou protestest too much'!" Marie chuckled, "Precisely!"

Jared was about to continue the conversation, when the lunch arrived. "After lunch we can go back to the hospital, and I can have some blood drawn for the test." Clayman responded, "We had that done already." Jared said, "Good! Did you fill out the Illness Survey Forms?" Clayman answered, "We certainly did! That's a lot of information!" Marie added, 'Jared assembled that Survey Form. Unfortunately, it will take us several weeks to get you a result on the tests." Jared continued, "I have to apologize. We are very jammed up at the moment, and I promised some Special Forces units that we would get out their results first." Clayman replied, "No apology necessary. That's fine with us. We have waited this long to get an answer, we can wait a little more." Marie continued, "But time is still of the utmost importance, particularly for Jenny." She looked at Jenny, "If I were you, I'd try to get a prescription for doxycycline, just in case." Sandy said, "I have a sympathetic doctor who has just thrown his hands up in the air saying he has no idea how to help Jenny. He might help." Clayman added, "If not, we'll just go down to Mexico and get the stuff." Sandy added, "The good Lord helps those who help themselves!" Marie concurred, "Amen to that!"

As they ate lunch Jared asked, "Let me know if you start the doxycycline, and above all else, if you do start Jenny on an antibiotic, let me know how it works, especially if she has problems. I am trying to keep a running log of patients and their progress on doxycycline. Most patients actually feel worse at first. This is due to what is called the Herxheimer Reaction." Sandy asked, "The what reaction?" Jared continued, "It's just a die-off reaction where the bacteria that are being killed or suppressed by the antibiotics release chemical substances that cause all sorts of short-term problems. Usually the signs and symptoms become temporarily worse for a while, then there is slow improvement. To be safe you might wait for the lab results." Marie added, "I know that this has been rough on you all, but we think that this antibiotic might help. It saved my life." Sandy said, "Girl, I just believe you two are the answer to our prayers!" Jared countered, "I don't think Washington or the Pentagon would agree with that assessment."

After lunch, Marie continued the conversation. "Oh, by the way I am giving a seminar here at The D. O. Madison in month or so. You are all welcome to come if you want." Sandy responded, "We'll bring Cassie Mayer, the eyewitness news reporter. She has been following our plight!" Marie said, "That would be great!" But Jared had to warn them about inviting a reporter to the Cancer Center. "I am afraid that we may have to think this over first, Marie. You could find yourself in a bind by inviting a reporter to your seminar." Sandy sarcastically, "Fun!" Marie said, "They're almost too anxious for me to do something so they can attack Jared. I say we do it anyway!" Sandy agreed, "I hear ya!" Clayman turned serious and said to Jared, "Depending on what you find in our blood, I have a long list of guards that need testing. Do you think that you can do it?" Jared replied, "I think that we can help you, but I don't know about the long run. I am under increasing pressure to stop what we are doing with the veterans. You are an employee of the State prison system, and I am not sure how the State is going to react if you turn up positive." Clayman said, "You don't have to say another word!" The group became silent for a moment while they finished their coffee, except for Marie and Jenny who don't drink coffee. The hardy lunch made everyone feel a bit better, even though the McNichols realized again that they were in for a rough time over the next few months.
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:05 am

Part 2 of 2

The harassment of the McNichols begins

A meeting was called by Dr. Francis Belcher, the Vice President for Research, at his office with some of his underlings. They were plotting a strategy to disrupt Marie's upcoming seminar in the Cancer Biology Department and to publicly humiliate and demoralize Dr. Jared McNichols. Dr. Belcher was a rather short, thin man in his early 60s with a white goatee and gray-white hair. He had big eyes that bulged out as if he had a thyroid problem. He was a rather witty hematologist from the Bronx but he trained upstate in Buffalo. He liked to drop names and act very political, but his accent was strictly New York City, which did not go down well in Texas. He called upon his employees: Dr. Martin Italiano, a short, salt and pepper-haired molecular geneticist with course features and a small beard who was educated in Kentucky but was originally from Staten Island; Dr. Roland Auchenhower, a tall, thin microbiologist of non-descript appearance from Pennsylvania; Dr. Laura Graham, a young semi-cute immunologist from Florida who had an over-inflated ego; and her husband, Dr. James Ross, a rather passive-aggressive oral surgeon of small stature originally from Missouri. Drs. Graham and Ross came to The D. O. Madison recently from faculty positions at the University of Virginia Medical School. Dr. Edwin Moore, a virologist, was also present. They were not very physically attractive people, except for Dr. Laura Graham, who thought that she was a very attractive queen bee like Amy Krappner. The assembled faculty members were carefully chosen, because they were easily manipulated by authority. Their common bond was that they would do just about anything and use just about anybody to get ahead of their colleagues on the promotion ladder, and although an outsider would never know it from their public pronouncements and image, they were known to be less concerned with ethics and moral principles than their faculty colleagues at the Medical Center.

The faculty members were seated at Dr. Belcher's conference table. Dr. Belcher was standing and opened the meeting with his usual superior demeanor. His tactic was to begin with an amusing mono log, almost like a late night comedy show. He usually stood during meetings in his office, because he was so short compared to some of the participants that he felt in a more superior position if he was standing while they were all seated. He paced back and forth in front of his conference table and finally opened the meeting by saying, "Dr. Italiano, Dr. Auchenhower, Dr. Ross, Dr. Moore and of course, Dr. Graham, thank you for attending this meeting on such short notice. If anyone would like a cup of coffee and a doughnut, just help yourself. I have just returned from Madrid, and you will be the first to know that I have been elected to the prestigious European Academy of Science. Madrid was delightful. The food in Spain was excellent, and I had some of the finest wines that I have ever tasted. I would like to say that I was treated like royalty. The culture of Madrid reminds me a bit of New York, and I could go on for hours about Spain, but unfortunately, we have other duties here this morning."

As Dr. Belcher was finishing his usual opening diatribe, people at the meeting were involved in a variety of activities of settling themselves down for the meeting with their coffee and doughnuts. They knew Dr. Belcher only too well for his egotistical opening mono logs, and some of them were waiting for him to finish so that the real meeting could start. Dr. Belcher finally ended the introduction, "I have some urgent and critical business to discuss with you. Dr. Masters has asked me to speak to you personally, and what I am about to relate to you must not be mentioned outside this office. Nor is my office to ever be mentioned in the context of this discussion. As far as you are concerned, I never spoke to you, and this meeting never took place. Do you understand Dr. Italiano? You are not to talk about it to anyone." Dr. Italiano had been making faces but eventually became serious and asked, "Why the secrecy? I think I know what you are going to tell us, Dr. Belcher." Dr. Belcher ignored the comment and continued, "You have each been chosen by Dr. Masters for a special assignment. It's quite a simple assignment, but it involves the utmost secrecy and confidentiality." Dr. Belcher paused for effect, "And just so you all should know the seriousness of the matter, I'd like to volunteer to you that what we do has the blessing of none other than our government."

Dr. Italiano diplomatically tried to change the subject. "Dr. Belcher, I am very pleased that you enjoyed your trip to Spain but the memo about this meeting peaked my curiosity. What kind of project would involve the likes of us and be so important and confidential that Austin or Washington would request our help?" Dr. Belcher replied, "That is a good question, and I will address that in due time. It has to do with a certain problem that we have been entrusted with." Dr. Auchenhower, who could be just as arrogant as his boss, "Dr. Belcher, I apologize, but I have to lecture in a few minutes. Could you please get to the point of the meeting." Dr. Graham, who was a bit of an airhead that advanced in her career mainly because of whom she knew and could schmooze, and because she was a woman then said, "The suspense is getting to us Dr. Belcher." Still standing, Dr. Belcher waved his hand and said, "All right! Now be quiet and listen. And don't interrupt me!" Dr. Moore whispered quietly to his colleague Dr. Italiano, "God forbid anyone should get a word in edgewise." Dr. James Ross, a more serious surgeon who was invited to the meeting because of his contacts with a faction in the CIA was irritated and said, "Let's hear what Dr. Belcher has to say." Dr. Belcher continued, "Well, it seems we have a dangerous couple amongst us! By dangerous, I mean that the two of them have stumbled into some very dangerous research that may have to be restricted. And what's worse is they are clever enough to keep their work going, and they have been extremely resilient. In other words, they keep coming back like a bad penny, only in this case the use of the word penny hardly applies."

Dr. Italiano was the first to ask, "For heaven's sake, Dr. Belcher, who are we talking about and why is this so important?" Dr. Belcher leaned on the table and stated, "Marie and Jared McNichols." Dr. Moore who has seen this behavior before and knew what was coming spoke first, "You've got to be kidding, Francis. Jared is one of our most recognized faculty members. He is in all of the biology and medical textbooks for his work with the cell membrane. Hardly any problems there. I've known Marie since she came here from her physics Ph.D. program. She has never struck me as a problem or anyone from a threatening background. She arrived in a beat-up Ford Pinto that barely made the trip from Florida." Dr. Belcher continued, "Apparently, Marie comes from a very secretive, dangerous and shadowy European family. For reasons that are not at all clear, her true family has been anything but supportive of her in her current endeavors. In any event, our sources have disclosed that her wealthy family is not pleased about her academic interests, and this family is not looked upon favorably by our government." Dr. Moore interrupted again, "So what! Is this what the meeting is about? This is ridiculous! We should be courting these people." Dr. Belcher answered, "As I've already stated, nothing appears to make sense in this case. But when Dr. Masters gives me a direct order, I have to give him my utmost cooperation, and you should as well. And I must remind you that we all serve at his pleasure, including you Dr. Moore." Dr. Belcher stared at Dr. Moore, who now realized that the meeting was about to get serious. Dr. Belcher continued, "Dr. Masters has ordered me to organize a program, let's say, to convince Marie and Jared to leave us as quickly as possible." Dr. Ross asked, "Why would you want to get rid of someone who is one of the most cited scientists that we have on staff? Dr. Italiano quipped, "If Isaac Geldter was here, he would be interrupting and telling us that he is the most famous scientist on our staff." Everyone chuckled around the room, because they knew Dr. Geldter was a blowhard and egomaniac. They also wondered why Drs. Geldter and Krappner were not at the meeting. They were the obvious choices for Dr. Masters' little games with the faculty, because either one of them would slit their mother's neck to please Dr. Masters. Dr. Italiano said, "We could probably get rid of the McNichols, and hardly anyone might even complain, especially about Marie McNichols." Dr. Ross ignoring Dr. Italiano, "I don't think so. I really don't know much about Marie, but I think that she does have some science that looks interesting, and really that should be all that matters. Didn't she recover from a near fatal illness a few years back?" Dr. Belcher growing impatient, "Dr. Ross, that illness you refer to was probably the result of a highly unusual infection she contracted while attending a Meyerhoff conference. She was very lucky to have survived." The scientists all looked at Dr. Belcher with an incredulous expression. Dr. Italiano finally asked, "Are you suggesting that there have been actual attempts on Marie McNichols life?" Dr. Belcher growing irritated, "Martin, haven't you been listening to anything I've said?" Dr. Italiano responded, "You have to admit, Francis, this is difficult to comprehend in our normal environment."

Dr. Belcher started to become evasive to indicate that he had nothing to do with the incident. "In response to your question and to the best of my knowledge, I must answer in the affirmative." He paused, and Dr. Italiano asked again, "You mean ... " Dr. Belcher interjected, "Yes, there have been attempts on her life, and I presume this was partly because of her heiress status but that may not be the only reason." Dr. Auchenhower who has been listening with interest complained, "I don't know, Francis, I did not become a scientist with the goal of becoming involved in some sort of questionable intrigue, let alone some illegal activities for the administration. The fact that we are discussing an attempted murder of another scientist is not something I am particularly proud of. Furthermore, I get the feeling that somehow you are going to ask us to participate in something unethical or illegal. And if this is true, I find this unconscionable! I don't like it one bit!"

Dr. Belcher was becoming nervous but he needed to quickly respond to Dr. Auchenhower. "Now, Roland! You're jumping to conclusions! Who mentioned anything about illegal activities? We'll leave that to the legal experts! We are only faculty members here. Your role is to raise certain character and professional questions about Jared and Marie McNichols and the research that they have been doing with the Gulf War veterans. I have been told that you, in particular, are to ridicule Marie personally and professionally with the object of driving her to despair. You are also to assist in the evaluation of the McNichols research on Gulf War Syndrome. As you may know, they are making statements that some type of infection is involved, and the Administration is not supportive of this type of research. It goes against everything that we stand for here in the Medical Center."

Dr. Belcher continued, "Dr. Masters has decided that the type of research being conducted in Jared McNichols' laboratory is not in the mission of our institution, and it must be stopped as soon as possible. Also, I am told by a faculty member in Jared's department that the research is questionable and not in the best interests of our institution, and others have also suggested that their research on the veterans is not being conducted in a careful and prudent manner." Dr. Italiano ignored the comments on Gulf War research in the McNichols' laboratory. In fact, most of the assembled faculty really didn't care about the kind of research the McNichols were involved in; they really only cared about their own research and their own careers. He said, "The fact is that there are some rumors to the effect that Marie has already had attempts on her life while she was on the faculty at Belford. This could put us in a situation where we could be suspected of being accessories to these acts. I don't know much about their work with the veterans, but I don't see how this could be so important to the Administration. In fact, if they come up with anything, it could be very positive for our public relations program. Isn't the institution trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Dr. Masters' building program?" Dr. Belcher responded, "Don't question and over-extrapolate what Dr. Masters has asked you to do. He has not asked you to do anything illegal." Dr. Italiano quickly countered, "No! He is just asking us to do something unethical, and it might be illegal or at the very least against the University Regents' Rules and Regulations. Why doesn't he just do this himself? He certainly has the authority to just step in and fire Jared and shut down his laboratory."

But in fact, Dr. Masters did not have the authority to fire a tenured member of the faculty for conducting unpopular research that simply displeased or embarrassed the administration, unless he could show that the research was unsafe, unethical or fabricated. The lawyers on his staff always seemed to bring up issues that he felt were irrelevant to his authority. He must now use another approach. In fact, he was furious with the University attorneys when they prevented him last month from initiating termination proceedings against Dr. McNichols for conducting the Gulf War Illness research without his written permission. Dr. Masters had used this tactic before, however, and it had resulted in a multi-million dollar judgment against the University. There was nothing in the University Rules and Regulations that specified that the President had to approve research projects in writing before they were initiated.

Belcher was now a bit more nervous in bringing this subject up to his faculty, because it appeared to circumvent or even break the rules and regulations of the University. So he appealed to the faculty's sense of patriotism instead, and he would try to convince them that the University would be behind them in their efforts. "You will be acting in a patriotic sense with the blessing of the University Administration." Dr. Graham, who usually didn't have much to say smiled, "I don't feel completely right about this. You are asking us do things that we could be fired for, if anyone ever found out about it. Mind you, I really don't care about these people, but I do care about my job and my career!" Dr. Belcher responded quickly, "Let me put this to you another way. As Dr. Masters told me, if you do not participate and do as you are told, you might find that your positions are not in the strategic plans of the institution, and therefore expendable in our upcoming budget hearings." Dr. Italiano then became indignant, "You can't do that! That would be brought up to the Faculty Senate so fast it would make your head spin. You can't force us to do this by threatening us with losing our jobs, especially if it breaks University rules." He continued and in a self-righteous tone, "This is blackmail!"

Dr. Belcher quickly backtracked. "No, no! You have it all wrong." He thought for a moment for the correct spin. "Dr. Masters is not going to threaten you with termination if you don't perform this task for him. On the contrary, Dr. Masters is going to reward you for a job well done! I know each and everyone of you will be enthusiastic about this duty that he has chosen for you. The rewards could be considerable, you see, promotions, salary increases, research space, and so on." Dr. Italiano smiled and looked at his colleagues, "That's more like what I wanted to hear. Now, what does Dr. Masters want us to do? And by the way, I won't do anything without something in writing that I am acting directly on behalf of you and Dr. Masters. I don't want to be left holding the bag if you or Dr. Masters decides in the future that you didn't order me to do this little task for you."

Dr. Belcher was now a bit more irritated and nervous. "My office is not to be involved in any way in this task. I am simply following the instructions of Dr. Masters and relating his wishes to you. But if you want, I will make a request to that effect to Dr. Masters. However, I must tell you that Dr. Masters will not put anything in writing to me, and I am only acting on his behalf. Let me state very clearly that I must not be directly involved. I am simply relating to you Dr. Masters' wishes. I am not to be involved directly, and I am going to deny ever speaking to you about this. Dr. Masters has requested that I tell you to begin by making a concerted effort to question Marie's upcoming seminar and the way that Jared conducts research in his department." Dr. Auchenhower asked, "What about Jared's research? He's the Chairman of that department, and he built it from nothing. Do you think that he is going to sit back while we destroy his wife in front of his own department and then question his own research?" Dr. Belcher, "I think the first issue will take care of itself, and I want you to concentrate on the research conducted by the McNichols here at our institution. I am sure that you will find something if you look hard enough."

Dr. Masters has asked me to have a plan for Jared McNichols. If he had any brains he would divorce his wife and leave this institution." Dr. Italiano added, "Isaac Geldter and Amy Krappner have been telling everyone that she's nothing more than a mad woman, and their research on Gulf War Syndrome is nothing but bullshit." Dr. Belcher said, "That's a good start, but we all know that Isaac covets Jared's department, so it could be interpreted as a bit self-serving. This is why Dr. Masters wanted other faculty members to join Dr. Geldter in his efforts." Dr. Ross who had been listening intensely finally spoke out, "How can you, Geldter or Krappner conclude that Marie McNichols is completely mad or that their research is bullshit?" Dr. Moore added, "On the other hand, it is common knowledge that she does not fit the academic mold. In any respect, her thinking, her dress, her dramatic tendencies are not exactly politically correct. But I do not think she is mad, just different, perhaps. By the way, why don't you get Isaac Geldter and Amy Krappner to do this dirty little job? They do it all the time, anyway, and you don't even have to threaten them. They would love to do it for the rewards."

Dr. Belcher was now growing impatient. "You are not as clever as you think you are, Dr. Moore. The point is that we are to collectively make sure that everyone here thinks that Marie is of questionable sanity and that Jared has gone over the edge in his Gulf War Syndrome research. Since we all know that Isaac and Amy have been, shall I say, extremely critical of the McNichols, among others at our institution, it can't be seen as some sort of vendetta against the McNichols by Isaac to take over his department. Also, it will be easier for Dr. Masters to say that the entire faculty wants these individuals removed from their positions."

Still pacing back and forth, Dr. Belcher continued, "You all probably have heard that Dr. Geldter has made a formal request to Dr. Masters to take over Jared's department and merge it into his own department. We don't want it to appear that this is just about a little take-over by another department chairman. Everything must appear very natural, including our criticisms, and it must come from a variety of sources at our institution. Your job is to question their credibility, their integrity, their character. And you are to make it appear as if they are not being ethical with their data on the veterans. Furthermore, Dr. Masters wants you to all make a concerted effort to block their peer-reviewed publications, bar them from invitations to any prestigious conferences, make certain they are not invited to lecture at any significant places and block any pending grant support. The NIH peer-review system makes it very easy to insure that Jared's grants are not funded. You all know people on the review committees, and Dr. Masters expects you to use these contacts. We also have some people in Jared's department who will inform us when he submits papers for publication, grant applications, and so on. You will let my office know of anything significant; otherwise I don't want to hear about it."

Dr. Belcher finally stopped pacing the floor. He looked directly at the participants. "These are Dr. Masters' orders. He wants a full-court blackball. You are to exert so much pressure on them that they will gladly leave the Cancer Center." Dr. Auchenhower responded first, "I don't like this, Dr. Belcher. How do we know that what we are doing has the government's or the University's backing?" Dr. Belcher in a fatherly tone, "Do you want a meeting with Dr. Masters? I could check with Clement, and tell him that you have to meet with him, because you do not believe in his directives. Is that it? Do you think that this is just something personal, or some kind of stupid academic game? Come on, I don't think that this is really a problem with any of you. And don't try to tell me that any of you actually have a conscience and wouldn't be involved in such activities if there were certain advantages that would be provided to each one of you. Be realistic! There is a good reason why you were each asked to be here today. Do you really think that the reason that you are in your present positions is solely because of your academic talents. The fact of the matter is, none of you are exceptionally talented. But you are all very good at what you do, and that is exactly what Dr. Masters is asking of you, to use your best academic talents when he requests them."

Dr. Italiano swung his head around and was now indignant. "I didn't come here to be insulted!" Dr. Belcher responded, "Don't be so smug, Dr. Italiano. It's not like you haven't done this before for Dr. Masters. Why is it that each time Dr. Masters makes a simple request, you act this way. Remember, I know you each very well, and I want you all to get on with Dr. Master's program, as he requested. After all, you are just following Dr. Masters' directives. You can think of the McNichols as potential threats to our National Security." Dr. Italiano interrupted again, "I don't give a damn about this so called 'National Security' angle! National Security? The last time I looked at my paycheck it didn't say some federal agency involved in 'National Security.' You have got to give us a lot more than some phony 'National Security' crap before I'm going to be involved. This is a clear breach of ethics and University policy, and we could each be liable for being involved in protecting the interests of some quasi-legal, unethical programs that are being run by Dr. Geldter out of the Black Building. We have heard rumors about the secret, classified experiments he is conducting over there in the special locked area and his involvement with Belford in the prison experiments."

Dr. Belcher ignored the comments of Dr. Italiano. "O.K.! Consider this. Dr. Masters does not like to be told that you strongly disagree with him and his directives, and you are turning down his offer to receive adjustments to your salaries and future considerations for promotion within his administration." The assembled academics looked at each other without speaking until Dr. Italiano came forward, "All right. All right. Why didn't you say so in the first place? I could overlook a lot for an above scale adjustment in my salary and some more research space. And I need a larger office." Dr. Belcher, "That's more like the academicians that I know! Let's see. Our immediate agenda is to disrupt Marie's seminar tomorrow in the Cancer Biology Department. Dr. Masters has arranged for Jared McNichols to be away for the time period of the seminar. I want each of you to find out in your own way exactly what they are doing with the Gulf War Syndrome project they started. Dr. Masters wants to know exactly what we can do to quickly stop this from continuing to embarrass the institution.

Dr. Belcher rallied his troops. "Now what's it going to be? Are you going to follow the directives of Dr. Masters or not? If not, and if you ever speak about this meeting to anyone, I think you will find that the Administration will be very unforgiving." Dr. Belcher paused for effect, "And instead of Jared and Marie being in the hot seat, you may find yourself there instead!"

Exasperated sighs were heard around the room, but some of the participants nodded their heads in approval. Dr. Auchenhower finally said, "O.K., Dr. Belcher, I believe that you have made your point." Dr. Belcher responded, "You mean Dr. Masters' point. They are his directives, not mine. I am only following his orders. It's only my job to relate his concerns to you, and I cannot be involved in this project in any way. I want to be very clear about that, and I want your understanding as to where these directives come from. They are not my directives; they are Dr. Masters' directives." Dr. Italiano asked, "So you want us to do the dirty work for you, is that it?" Dr. Belcher answered, "Not at all. I am following my orders, and you're going to follow yours! I must not be directly involved." Dr. Italiano quipped sarcastically, "And we'll take the rap if anything goes wrong." Dr. Belcher tried to smooth over the ill feelings, "Wrong? Nothing is going to go wrong. You are simply going to follow Dr. Masters' directives. Is that clear?" Dr. Italiano said, "O.K., I'll do my part for Dr. Masters and his directives. But, I still would like to be briefed by Dr. Masters about the so-called National Security aspects of the directives." Dr. Auchenhower added, "I feel the same, Francis. This is not some stupid game." Dr. Ross finally decided to speak out, "So do I, Dr. Belcher. What you are asking us to do has important implications." Dr. Belcher looked at Dr. Graham, "What about you Laura?" Dr. Graham responded, "I have no problem with what Dr. Masters is asking, but I would like to hear it from him. I would also like to know more about the increases in salary and other benefits that the Administration would like to bestow on us." Dr. Belcher did not know how to respond to - Dr. Graham, so he decided not to respond at all.

Dr. Belcher finally told the assembled faculty members, "I'll try to arrange a meeting with Dr. Masters so that you will be able to hear it directly from the source. And to show you just how cooperative the administration can be, I will make sure that each of you has a chance to talk with our distinguished visitor who is coming next month from Jerusalem, Dr. Schlomo Ricin, the scientist who is coordinating with Dr. Geldter." Dr. Auchenhower stated, "That would certainly help. You have to understand, Dr. Belcher, this whole thing would seem fantastic to an outsider." Dr. Belcher quipped, "I know, I know! And if worse comes to worse, all we are doing is simply discouraging one over-inflated young scientist from joining our ranks and suggesting that another leave our great institution. It's not like we haven't done things like this before. Dr. Geldter summed it up himself by stating that Marie McNichols is just another lightweight scientist. And he seems to think that Jared's department would be better off if he administered it from the Black Building." Dr. Auchenhower added, "I'm sorry, Dr. Belcher, I am not convinced of that. Marie really has not been given the opportunity to test her scientific mettle, and as far as stripping one of our senior faculty of his position, I have grave reservations about the procedures and approaches that you, correction, Dr. Masters has advanced to remove Jared McNichols. This could happen without recourse to any faculty member at our institution."

Dr. Belcher had not thought that the meeting would be this difficult. He responded, "Dr. Auchenhower, I didn't know that nobility of character was one of your attributes." Dr. Auchenhower acted a bit disgusted at the prospect of ruining a fellow faculty member's career. After all, the same thing could happen to him if he crossed Dr. Masters, and he knew it. But he would go along with the directives, if only because he had put quite a bit of time into building his research programs at the D. O. Madison, and he didn't want to to relocate or move to another institution where he might not have the same benefits.

Dr. Belcher continued his comments, "Marie McNichols is just one of many young scientists who are looking for positions, and so it will make little difference if her career does not mature at our institution. Jared and Marie can just take positions elsewhere." Dr. Italiano interjected sarcastically, "Come on guys, they are just targets. Not persons! Targets! Get it?" Dr. Belcher, who had been standing and pacing in front of the table in his office during the entire gathering, signaled the end of the meeting by waving his arms, "Remember, this is what Dr. Masters wants, and I for one do not want to be the one to tell him he can't have what he wants. Is that clear to all of you! I hope so. Now remember, I must not be directly involved in any way. My office will remain silent about this. As far as anyone is concerned, I know nothing about this, understand?"

The participants looked at each other as they left Dr. Belcher's office. Once they were out in the hall Dr. Italiano turned to Dr. Auchenhower, "I don't like this. They are asking us to do things that could get us into a lot of trouble. And what if the System Administration is not as hot for this as Dr. Belcher indicates. They could eventually come after our jobs!" Dr. Auchenhower added, "I have known Dr. Masters for some time, and I have never known him not to get what he wants. The man has an insatiable ego, and I for one would not want to be in his way once he has made up his mind. I will go along with what he wants, but I don't like it. We could be left holding the bag if it blows up, and he and that little pimp Francis Belcher could deny everything. I think that we're going to have to be very careful about this whole approach."

The aftermath of a disastrous seminar

The next day Marie delivered her seminar to the department with constant harassment from faculty members and even students. Drs. Auchenhower and Italiano were present from different departments, and they harassed Marie constantly during her presentation. It was unusual for other faculty members from outside a department to actually show up at another department's internal seminar and bring their students, unless they were invited by the seminar speaker. In this case, that was unlikely. Jared could not help Marie, because he was called away by the Administration to another meeting that he couldn't get out of. Marie could not determine who can attend the seminar and who cannot. She was trapped. In Jared's absence Marie was left to fend off the attacks of Drs. Auchenhower, Italiano and Nosan. These three faculty members constantly interrupted her seminar with aggressive and sometimes derogatory questions, and they didn't let her complete her presentation.

Some of Jared's faculty did come to Marie's defense, such as Dr. Hong, a brilliant young molecular biology faculty member originally from Taiwan that Jared believed could go far at the D. O. Madison and Dr. Gollman, a young faculty member that Jared had picked for early academic advancement, but they couldn't stop the constant sarcastic interruptions. The students in the audience were frightened; they had rarely seen this side of the faculty. Some of the outside participants even threw spitballs at Marie in an effort to humiliate her and cause her to lose her temper during the seminar. She did not lose her temper, but she was incredibly mad by the end of the hour.

After the seminar was over, Marie was waiting outside the seminar room for Jared to arrive. The members of Jared's department passed Marie on the way out of the seminar hall. Some were sympathetic but most were not. When faculty bothered to show up from other departments and heckle a speaker in a department seminar, it was a bad sign. It usually indicated that there was some official organization to the harassment. They were sending a message from the Administration to Marie and Jared, and it was received loud and clear.

Since Jared and Marie started working on subjects like veterans' and prison guards' health problems, they had not made many friends among the faculty. Most sensed that the Administration was dead against their research, or they had heard it directly from the Administration. Unfortunately most of the faculty at the Madison were morally weak and usually lined up to curry favor from their superiors. In fact, some may have felt that by openly opposing Jared and Marie they could move to the front of the line for promotions, more space and salary raises, and little was done to dissuade them from this illusion. The Administration could not simply call Dr. McNichols on the phone or send him a memo and tell him to stop conducting research in certain areas. That would have seemed astonishingly like censorship, and it could result in some bad press reports or even another lawsuit. If there was one thing that the D. O. Madison Administration had historically prided itself on, it was manipulating the local press to support them no matter what unethical or even illegal acts they were involved in. Instead, the Administration used more subtle approaches like the use of peer pressure and economics to get what they wanted. To thoroughly committed and ethical faculty members such tactics could make life difficult for the Administration. Thus the direct 'hammer them' approach was not especially practical in some situations.

To the McNichols' advantage, the D. O. Madison was already feeling the burden of too many faculty lawsuits and a press that was less under control than at any time in the recent past. And the institution had even been warned by the System Administration that it was not good public relations to have so many lawsuits in court at the same time. They also read the local Austin papers. Against this background the D. O. Madison Administration decided to use more stealth and less bluster in dealing with one of its professors and his wife that they now considered a threat. They would let their faculty surrogates do the job for them, while they stayed for the most part completely aloof and even quasi-supportive, at least to the press. In this way it would seem like an internal squabble, a matter of a difference in academic opinion among the faculty. Then the Administration could then sit back and wait for the desired results, or it could step in to mediate the differences between faculty members. If the faculty decided that certain sanctions were necessary, the Administration could act upon these recommendations from the faculty without it appearing like they were directly involved in the first place.

Jared arrives too late to help Marie

Jared finally arrived after Marie's seminar to find Marie mad and alone outside the seminar room. She was pacing back and forth. Marie was also mad at Jared and wanted to go home immediately, but Jared couldn't leave the institution just yet. He could tell from Marie's demeanor that things went badly at the seminar, and he did not want to ask her just yet about the details. Marie told Jared in an agitated voice bordering on anger, "Where were you, and why didn't you help me exercise even a modicum of control over your faculty? After all, it's your department!" Marie then rambled on, "I tell you, these people hate me. I do not even know them. I don't understand why." Jared asked, "I saw Italiano and Auchenhower going down the hall. What were they doing at our departmental seminar, anyway?" Marie not answering, "I had no choice but to stop the seminar early. It had degenerated to a point of absurdity ... They actually threw spitballs at me!" Jared asked, "Who?" Marie answered, "One of Italiano's people!" Jared asked, "Why did they do that?" Marie said, "Why don't you ask him?" She continued, "And I am sure that I have no chance of a position here, nor would I want one. Part of me wants to go to the faculty club and show them that they will not break me. Stronger people have tried and failed. But part of me wants to get the hell out of here and never return, Life is too short to put up with this kind of shit. To hell with the goddamn Ph.D. and this stupid institution." Jared, "Now listen, Babe, I missed your presentation, but I am as devastated as you, and I really cannot believe what happened. In all my years, I have never heard of anything like this."

Jared told Marie, "Look, I know you want to get out of this place but I can't go home just yet. I have some important meetings this afternoon. Let's compromise and go offsite for lunch. I'll take you home later to recuperate from your obviously unpleasant experience." Marie snapped at Jared, "Thanks. I'm hungry!" Jared trying to make Marie lighten up, "You're always hungry!" Then Jared in a gentler tone, "Don't let them prevent you from doing your work. Remember, it is your published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals that will be remembered. The rest is all bullshit." Marie said, "That's what you always say!"

The McNichols gathered Marie's seminar materials and slides as they conversed. Both were still in lab coats, as they walked through the hospital's hallways on their way out to the parking lot. Marie put on her sunglasses as they exited the building, and she was still trying to hold on to her emotions. The shock of the humiliating seminar experience was just sinking in, and she was on the verge of tears. They reached Jared's pick-up truck in the parking structure, and he helped her into the passenger side. Marie was a petite lady, and the big truck that Jared drove required her to practically jump up or mount it like a horse to get into the cab. Once Jared got behind the wheel, the 'dam of tears burst' just as they left the parking lot. Jared turned right onto the boulevard and was driving to a restaurant a mile or so from the Medical Center.

Marie was now free from holding her emotions in. She cried out loud and asked why so many people hated her and trashed her science. Her tears were flowing freely, and she was wiping her eyes. Jared softly told her, "Please don't cry, Marie, they're not worth it. Those people are just workmen scientists who are not very creative. They don't have your cross-disciplinary training, nor the depth of your scientific comprehension," Marie responded, "Well, you know what I think. It was a total waste of time for me to bust my ass to get that physics training. I thought it would distinguish me from the run-of-the-mill scientists. But instead it has been a damn curse." Jared tried to be supportive, "I will help you professionalize your slides and seminars so that even your complex physics analyses will be understandable to a scientific idiot." Marie responded between sobs, "That's all well and good. But you don't understand! This has been happening to me for years now. I know I am not imagining it! And I know that my illness was no accident. I feel someone wants me dead .... Perhaps more than one person wants me dead." Jared was pleading, "Please, Marie, stop! You're just very upset! Don't get paranoid on me!" Marie responded, "You do not have my instincts about subterfuge and people, Jared. My God, haven't you noticed that certain people, our so-called colleagues, look at me as if they have seen a ghost! Come on, you had to notice their looks. They are not happy to see me. It's as if they wanted me dead!" Jared responded, "O.K., I have noticed the strange behavior, but I don't really understand it. Now it's happening to me as well but not at the same scale."

Marie continued to explain the history of her torment. "I have always been singled out for ridicule and unusually cruel behavior by people around me throughout my life. It happened after my parents divorced when I was nine. The entire neighborhood ostracized me. I thought it was because they thought the divorce made me emotionally maladjusted and therefore a bad influence on their children. I went to every parent in the neighborhood to ask them if they would let me play with their children again. I told them that my parents' divorce did not make me emotionally unbalanced, and that I had played with their children for years. But they were unreasonable, and so I told them that if they continued in their behavior I would give them a reason to hate me. I would break the class curve and make it so their precious little children would never be number one as long as I was present." Jared responded, "Listen to me, Marie." But Marie impatiently interrupted, "No, you listen for once. When I was a sophomore in high school one day I walked into the cafeteria with 200 noisy kids and suddenly everyone went silent. You could hear a pin drop. I continued to walk in with my head held as high as I could. I could not understand it; I had done nothing. It was as if someone had spread some vicious rumors about me. I never did find out what the rumors were as I was abruptly moved to Florida my junior year. Then it happened again at college. The professors would mark me wrong on my tests, even though they knew that I had answered the questions correctly. When I confronted the professors, they said we know you answered the test questions correctly, but we just don't feel like marking a person of your background correctly. I would ask, 'What do you mean by a person of my background?' They would always be evasive, and when I appealed to the Honor Commission at the University, the answer would be invariably there is nothing that they could do. I even got accused of cheating when I had a perfect average in biochemistry. But I didn't cheal! I took the exams again and still got a perfect score with the professor sitting right next to me. It seems there has always been some secret kangaroo court against me. It happened in graduate school. One day I walked into the institute, and it was deserted! I went into my laboratory where my major professor, who truly was harassing me sexually and threatening that if I didn't go to bed with him he would withhold my Ph.D., and some administrator raked me over the coals for three hours. They accused me of all sorts of things; my major professor wanted everyone to believe I was having an affair with him! I guess it was some ego trip. They even tried to dissect my friendly behavior and put other connotations on it by interviewing all the men in my program and asking them if I flirted with them. I have always been an extrovert, and I was very enthusiastic about my work but not about my professor in any romantic sense. You know I might as well have had an affair with him, as everyone was convinced that I did." Marie sarcastically, "The way I handled the situation was to just stop talking to everyone, and eventually the Director of the Institute asked me why I refused to interact, and I explained that my major professor had mistaken my enthusiasm for science for him."

Marie continued her mono log. "Ultimately I got my Ph.D. because the director of the Institute ascertained from my exams that I was being graded unfairly. He even apologized to me, and said his faculty had failed me." Marie paused and looked pensive, "And then he said something that really did not make any sense at the time. He told me that I was the most talented young scientist that he had ever worked with in his 45 years in science. And he said that it just did not seem fair that after we worked you so much and you completed our special program that we would never be able to enjoy the fruits of all that hard work. So I asked him, "We? Who is we?" He ignored me and went on saying, "We had so hoped that you would be able to develop the new math system that would be a logical extension of some of the Dirac systems. And now that is not possible." I asked him, "Why not, sir? You just said I was a talented student, and I completed the program!" He then said, "Marie, are you holding back from me?" And I replied, "What do you mean?" Then he said, "Who are you, Marie?" I was really taken aback, and I answered, "I'm me! I'm the same person." He then continued, "Well, we'll see, Marie. It's been an honor to teach you, but I guess we'll have to send you to the trenches with the ordinary scientists." He then said, "Who knows, maybe God will intervene, and this will all turn out well after all."

Marie looked at Jared who was beginning to slow down to enter a parking lot, "You know, I remember that scene as if it were yesterday. I looked at him and said, 'I promise you sir, I will not fail you. I will do what you ask and more!' He then just patted me on the shoulder and said he was throwing a small party in honor of the completion of my degree, and then I had to sign papers saying that I would not take my talents to a hostile government and that I promised to spend at least seven years in science." Jared remarked, "I've never heard of such papers. That's ridiculous." Marie continued as Jared parked the truck, "I thought all scientists signed papers like the ones I signed after their Ph.D. training." Jared turned to Marie, "No, that's not the case! I have trained over twenty doctoral students and none of them ever had to sign any papers, nor did I. Marie, very odd things always seem to happen to you!" Marie responded, "I know!"

Marie continued the discussion as they walked toward the restaurant. "The same weird stuff happened when I was hired for my first faculty position at Belford. I was getting along very well with the chairman of the department, and then all of a sudden he turned on me overnight. I asked a technician that I really respected if I had changed significantly in 24 hours, and he said no. But he then pointed out that he noticed the 180-degree turnaround of the Chairman and the other faculty members in the department. And from that time on the Chairman tried everything to publicly humiliate me. What was even more strange was that the Chairman's wife who taught me laboratory procedures suddenly sought me out with an attitude of extreme fear, and asked me if I was going to have her husband hurt. I thought she was bonkers and could not understand why she would ask me such a ridiculous question. I told her that the only one who would probably hurt her husband was her husband himself, because he was his own worst enemy. I then asked her why on earth she would even think I would hurt her husband?" She looked at me quizzically. I then answered her by saying that I did not understand her husband's change in altitude towards me, as I had the highest respect for his science and teaching excellence. I did add, however, that I felt her husband and I had similar personalities and we were prone to strong opinions and that this was why we probably clashed. She then just nodded her head."

They entered the restaurant and were immediately seated in a small booth. Marie paused for a moment as they settled in, "It's happening again! The whispers, people looking at me as if I am the worst criminal on the planet, accusing me of being a whore, and worse. They look at me as if I'm crazy, and they constantly gossip about me. And I do not even know these people. I can see it in their eyes, at the seminar too. It's as if there was some sort of a trial, and I was already tried and convicted of some unknown crime. The bottom line is I just don't fit with these people!" Jared said, "Don't go paranoid on me, Marie! I am sure your past bad experiences have nothing to do with the present situation." Marie replied, "Oh, no? I think they have everything to do with this continual character assassination and harassment that I have been going through for years now. And one day, I tell you, I will get to the bottom of it. I told you that I felt there was something weird associated with me. You know, I have tried to subdue that part of me that is more direct and gregarious than the average science personality. But I can't change my entire self to suit some personality profile that does well with my scientific peers."

Jared responded to Marie. "There is nothing wrong with you or your personality! You are not that much different than other young scientists at your level. But I must agree, someone or something is definitely tampering with your career and besmirching your integrity." Marie, "Let's not forget that the FBI called you when you started dating me and asked if you knew anything about my family." Jared replied, "That was weird." Marie asked, 'Jared, why in the world would the FBI be interested in my family? My mother is a real estate broker and my grandfather is a retired small businessman. My grandmother is a homemaker, and my father is a retired physician whom I haven't seen for years. There is nothing abnormal about them." Jared asked, "Are you sure they're your real family?" Marie responding, "What do you mean? Of course they are my real family!" Jared stated, "From my observations you do not look or act like any of them." Marie asked, "Are you suggesting that I am adopted?" Jared continued, "I don't know. But something just does not add up. You told me about your experiences growing up. Ordinary people just do not have these kinds of unusual experiences. And you can't tell me that a 65 ct sapphire belongs to some ordinary person." Marie said, "But my family barely could make ends meet after my father flew the coop. But now that you mention it, there always seems to be unusual intrusions in my life by people that have some kind of background of wealth or power, but I never see it directly." Marie looked pensive, "Like the time I wound up with Prince Charles' suite at a hotel in London and everyone else wound up in the basement. I just thought I was unusually lucky! And by the way, I had no idea the sapphire was real. I used to wear it with my Halloween costumes. Jared agreed, "But that jeweler flipped out when he saw it." Marie added, "And I was just as shocked to find out it was real. So, you are ready to admit that someone or something is interfering in my life, and even today's disgusting episode may have been orchestrated for some unknown reason?"

Jared thought a moment and said, "Yes. Now I am certain that you are being interfered with. But I think it is more related to the work that we are doing with the veterans and prison guards and their families." Marie asked, "But you said I was just being paranoid." Jared responded, "You have to understand, I was frustrated. What with everything else that is going on, but I know that you are right, Baby, something is going on. My advice is to just be consistent in your behavior, but be persistent as you have always been." Marie said, "I guess it is pointless for me to meet with Augustus Blair about my application for a faculty appointment in the Pediatrics Division. No way will I get the appointment after today's debacle!" Jared advised her, "Marie, you have to keep that appointment just to prove to them that you are a professional." Marie agreed, "O.K., I know. But it's not going to be fun. And I have to face this meeting back-to-back with today's episode!" Jared was trying to reassure Marie, "It's not going to be that bad. You can do it!" Marie's mood lightened a bit, "You know what I hope? That my guardian angel will see me through this ordeal tomorrow." Jared asked, "What do you mean by your guardian angel?" He looked puzzled, "Like in the Bible?" Marie indicated, "Something like that, but not quite. It's funny, but I always told my mother that I feel as if someone or something is always there to bail me out of trouble at the last second." Jared agreed, "Yeah, like me!" Marie laughed and Jared wiped the tears from her cheek, "I know, you're right. But I mean before I met you. There seemed to be a presence. Perhaps it's just my imagination."

Jared looked at Marie pensively. "I think, Marie, as strange as it seems, you may be on to something! Think? Did anyone ever use that term for you in your past? Was there anything that you might suspect may hold a key to your real identity?" Marie pondered a moment, 'Jared, I just remembered it. Yes! A long time ago, a man gave me Lucky Lucius." Jared puzzled, "What?" Marie said, "You know, Jared, my lucky stuffed elephant that I held when I was sick. It's always been my good luck charm. I know you think it's silly for a scientist to be superstitious, but I've always had Lucky with me during every crisis in my life. When I asked my grandmother who the man was all those years ago in my bedroom at night, she said he was 'Charley', my guardian angel. At the time I was about four years old. My grandmother emphasized that I was his baby, and he was my special guardian angel." Jared asked, "Did you ever see Charley again?" Marie, "I can't remember, but when I told my mother that I always felt someone was watching over me, she said "One day he will reveal himself I asked her how do you know it's a man'" She said, "I just know!"

Marie finally chuckled as they looked at the menu in the restaurant. "You know, I always felt I had a guardian angel. Lately, people in my family, particularly my long lost father whom I see occasionally, told me that I actually have a godfather who is mysterious and powerful. But I don't remember meeting such a person. Furthermore, I was raised Jewish, and we didn't have godfathers, or so I thought. It just does not make any sense!" Marie was now laughing slightly, "I sure hope that this godfather, the elusive guardian angel, will come and save me."

Jared looked at Marie. He was in deep thought. He was ready to say something but decided not to and instead shook his head. "That's the spirit! How 'bout we get a fabulous meal and plan what we are going to do after we finish our duties at the Cambridge meeting?" Marie now changed into a more positive altitude and excitedly asked, "Can we go to Stonehenge? Maybe Scotland?" Jared replied, "Why not?" He said this as he signaled the waiter at the restaurant that they were finally ready to order. He knew that they would both be in for a rough time over the next few weeks.

Jared thought to himself as Marie ordered that he will seek advise from one of the only senior administrators at the D. O. Madison that he could trust, Dr. Frank Cannon. Dr. Cannon had been a strong supporter of the McNichols' research on Gulf War Illnesses. He was a retired Air Force Colonel, and he was currently the chief physician of the hospital and the Vice President for Patient Care. Dr. Cannon knew that there was a major cover-up going on with the Gulf War veterans, and he did not believe in the DoD's explanation of PTSD. He also seemed to know quite a bit about some of the military's classified programs on Biological Weapons. Although he had not told Jared anything specific about what he thought may be causing Gulf War Illnesses, he had been urging Jared to continue on his and Marie's current line of investigation. Frank Cannon was an easy man to speak to. He was almost a father figure to some of the faculty, and he was very well-respected by the University system administration. Jared concluded that Dr. Cannon was the one person who could help him. In fact, he was probably the number one choice to eventually replace Dr. Masters when he retired. His advice would mean a lot to Jared in these troubled times.
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:05 am

Part 1 of 3

CHAPTER 6: The Emperor Strikes Back (1995)

A murder in the house


On a fateful Thursday morning Jared was parking his pick-up truck on the ground floor in the parking structure that was almost directly in front of the D. O. Madison Cancer Center. As he got out of his truck a light-blue sporty Japanese coupe drove into the spot next to him. Quickly Dr. Frank Cannon jumped out of his car. He was somewhat agitated but he was a high-energy type individual, so Jared didn't think anything of it. It was just 6:00 AM and the parking lot was mostly empty, a very good time to arrive at work before parking became a major problem. This lot was reserved for faculty and administration of the D. O. Madison and the nearby Belford College of Medicine and its hospital. As was the case for almost every parking structure in the Medical Center, there were more subscribers than parking spaces due to some pinhead administrator's calculation that at any one time a few of the faculty and administrators would be out of town and not using their spaces. So additional cars could be assigned to the same area making for a messy scene later in the morning.

It was Dr. Cannon who always arrived at his office before 6:15 AM to get a start on the day's problems before the bulk of the morning shift arrived at about 7 AM. Dr. Cannon smiled and spoke first, "Good morning, Dr. McNichols." He wanted to have a word with Jared anyway, and this was good because they could talk privately while they both headed into the Cancer Center through a side door on the ground floor of the hospital. Jared smiled and returned the salutation, "Good morning, Dr. Cannon." Dr. Cannon said as he grabbed his briefcase and locked his car, 'Jared, I need to have a brief word with you. Can you walk with me to my office?" Jared replied, "Certainly. I wanted to make an appointment to speak with you."

Dr. Cannon spoke first as they walked to the door of the building, "I need to talk to you about your work with the Gulf War veterans and find out what I can do to assist you in your efforts." Dr. Cannon did not have to explain to Jared his interest since as a retired U. S. Air Force Colonel, he was especially interested in the research that Jared and Marie were conducting on the Gulf War veterans. As it turned out, Dr. Cannon had friends and colleagues that were veterans of the War and came back with unknown illnesses, and although this was not his area as a hospital administrator in the Air Force, he knew the military and some of its secrets, and he was keenly interested in helping Jared and Marie in any way possible.

Frank Cannon also knew from the Pentagon's response to what the press was calling Gulf War Syndrome that something was very, very wrong. Dr. Cannon asked, 'Jared, tell me what you found with the blood samples that you have been receiving from the Special Forces?" Jared stopped and looked at Dr. Cannon and replied, "How did you know about that?" Dr. Cannon smiled, "It's all over the Administration, and I have to say, it has caused quite a stir." Jared responded, "Why would the Administration care about one little pilot research project?" Dr. Cannon did not answer but asked, "Tell me what you have found, and then I'll tell you what I know." Jared replied back to Dr. Cannon, "O.K., we found that just under one-half of the blood samples show evidence of a blood infection that could explain the problem." Dr. Cannon, "Tell me exactly what you found." Jared replied, "We found Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus, an unusual intracellular bacterial infection in the blood samples. This is the same organism that the U. S. Army Institute for Pathology Research has done a lot of work on. They just had a patent issued titled 'Pathogenic Mycoplasma.'" At this point Dr. Cannon's eyebrows went up, and he stopped and looked directly at Jared for a moment. He then responded, "Do you have any idea where they could have gotten this infection?" Jared answered, "No. But there are a number of possibilities, including the multiple vaccines that were given during deployment."

Dr. Cannon sighed and then quietly told Jared in a rather fatherly way as they were walking, 'Jared, I know that you and your wife are trying to do the right thing with this problem, and I fully support what you are doing, but there are some in the Administration that don't want you to find anything, especially Mfi. Do you understand?" Jared stopped and quickly responded, "You know about Mfi?" Dr. Cannon replied, "If you are high up enough in the military ladder like I was, you know about it but you don't talk about it. I really can't tell you that much because it's still classified, and I can't discuss it, but I want you to continue your work. For your own good, though, I don't want you to talk about it to anyone. If I can, I will help you publish what you have found and disseminate the information to the appropriate places. At the right time, please come to me. I may even be able to find some minor funds to help with some supplies, but this will have to be done through me personally. We will have to be fairly quiet about what we're doing and try not to aggravate the situation. I have been trying to cover for you upstairs but I have to be honest with you, this is going to be a war."

Jared was completely taken aback and almost shaken by Dr. Cannon's use of the term 'war.' The connotation was that there were going to be casualties, and Jared did not want to be the first one. This was an entirely new slant on their research. It was usually difficult enough actually doing the research and finding the money to support the research without one's own institution going to war against a faculty member for conducting research that should be considered a completely worthwhile project. How could the Administration know and care so much about this one little pilot project, and why would they even get so involved. They didn't care about any of the other projects that he and his department were involved in, even those that resulted in awards. They only seemed to care if they could use the research for PR or fund-raising events.

Jared decided to ask Frank Cannon for more information. "Dr. Cannon, have they been following my research on this for some time?" Dr. Cannon replied, "Yes they have, and to be honest with you, they are not particularly pleased with your results. You're going to have to be very careful from this point on. I would not speak openly on this subject to any of the faculty in your department." Jared asked, "Why, are they ratting on me to the Administration?" Dr. Cannon, "Some of them were told to find out what you are up to. The Administration knows just about everything that you are doing .... and who you're talking to." Jared asked, "Who in the Administration?" Dr. Cannon just smiled, "This goes right to the top." Jared asked again, "Why don't they just ask me directly? I've got nothing to hide!" Dr. Cannon looked at Jared, "There is a lot that you don't know about what's going on in the Medical Center, and some of it is very bad. It's bad for the institutions, it's bad for the State and it's bad for the American public." Jared asked, "Can't you give me hint about what's going on?"

Dr. Cannon stopped, smiled and continued the conversation. "I just returned from the System Administration, and they are very concerned about what's going on in our institutions here in the Medical Center, from the moral, legal and public relations perspectives. I have to be honest with you, there are going to be some major changes in the Administration here at the Madison, and this may be occurring rather quickly." Jared stated, "That's interesting! And this has something to do with our research?" Dr. Cannon, "Not directly. But it has to do with a number of the classified research projects that the Medical Center has been involved in for several years. Many feel that these projects are not in the best interests of our Medical Center, even though they have brought in a significant amount of dollars into our research programs. Now that I am a civilian again, I don't want us to get involved in classified projects that do not have our Armed Forces best interests in mind. We need to be doing positive things that have a positive impact on society. That's about all I can really tell you at the moment, but I am sure that it will all be very clear to you when it happens."

Dr. Cannon's comments stimulated Jared's curiosity. "What I want you to do is continue your research, but keep it low key, and be sure to avoid the press for the moment. There is nothing that incites the Administration more than press reports that they can't control." j ared responded defensively, "We really have no control over the press and what they write, but I see your point. Some people have told us that the press may actually help protect what we are doing by bringing it out into the open." Dr. Cannon replied, "I understand what you say, but I have to warn you that the press has their own agenda, and they really don't give a damn about the consequences of what they write about you and your wife." Jared agreed, "I will keep that in mind, Dr. Cannon."

Jared reflected a moment about what Dr. Cannon had told him. "You know, when I took over the old Virology Department and merged it into my department, there were a lot of rumors about the research that was going on before the Chairman suddenly died. Many of the projects involved testing viral and bacterial isolates, and some of older employees suggested to me that this was done using human volunteers. Does some of this have to with the prison system?" Dr. Cannon smiled and said as he turned to go into his office, "You're on the right track. I'm sure you will figure it out." Jared just stood there as Dr. Cannon continued into his office. As he turned he told Jared, "Remember, Jared, be very careful and keep any new information to yourself. Keep me informed, and I will try to defuse this at the upper levels."

A fateful morning

As Dr. Cannon entered his outer office and said good morning to his secretary and other staff that always arrived just before him, he hesitated for a moment, checked his mail and went directly to his private office. Dr. Cannon always started his workday with military efficiency, probably just like he had for the last 25 years. Jared turned and continued through the building. From the ground floor he had to circumnavigate a maze of halls, go up one floor so that he could access the Research Building, and then take an elevator to the ninth floor. Meanwhile, back in Dr. Cannon's office a non-descript man in his mid-to late-thirties entered the office and told Dr. Cannon's secretary that he had an appointment with Dr. Cannon. The secretary looked at her daily calendar but by the time she looked up he had already entered Dr. Cannon's office.

Dr. Cannon often worked at a large table in the middle of his office in the morning. In this way he could spread out his work and organize it for the day's duties. The dark-haired man asked for Dr. Cannon as he entered the office. As Dr. Cannon began to turn around in his chair, he was immediately struck with the first bullet. It hit him right in the back of the neck. He was paralyzed from the impact, and before he could do anything the second, third, forth and fifth bullets hit him in the back of the head and shoulder. A sixth bullet wasn't necessary but exploded in the back of his head anyway. It didn't sound like much. In the case of Dr. Cannon's homicide, a 25-caliber automatic with half-loaded dum-dum bullets was used. They don't make much more sound than a pop because of the reduced loads, but at close range they were very lethal, in fact even more lethal than full loads because they don't just go through their intended target and out the other side. They did a maximum amount of internal damage.

The dark-haired professional was only a foot or two away from Dr. Cannon's head, and the bullets exploded inside his skull and neck. Dr. Frank Cannon was dead before his head hit his table. His blood covered the paperwork that Frank expected to complete that morning before the usual staff meetings at 7 AM. As he turned to leave, the dark-haired man dropped the weapon and then told the secretary in a calm voice, "I think you'd better call a doctor."

The perpetrator then continued out the office outer door, down the hall, around the corner and through the maze of halls into the cafeteria. From the cafeteria he entered the kitchen, walked calmly by the employees who thought nothing of the dark-haired, casually dressed man, and he exited out through a back loading dock. In the entire process from entry to exit, the dark-haired man avoided every security camera that had been placed on each and every entry and exit at the hospital to prevent theft. It was a well planned and executed professional assassination.

The homicide would never be solved, and it would not be the last unexplained death at the D. O. Madison. Jared had lost a good friend and strong ally in Dr. Cannon, and it was humbling, considering the last conversation that he had with Frank minutes before his murder. In fact, Jared would be the last person to speak at any length with Frank before his death. Since no one knew of the conversation, Jared reluctantly decided to keep their meeting that morning secret and not tell the police. He had a very bad feeling about going to the police, and to reveal what had taken place before Dr. Cannon entered his office would have probably just resulted in another murder at the Cancer Center-this time Jared's-and it would not have helped the police solve the crime. Besides, the University Police worked for Dr. Masters. They reported directly to him, and in this case Dr. Masters wanted to know everything that the police knew about the murder of his deputy right in Dr. Masters' own institution.

Jared had no way of proving who was behind the murder, but he had his suspicions, and contrary to the Administration that was quietly blaming an Iranian family who had a mother with terminal cancer that was not admitted to the hospital earlier that week by Dr. Cannon, Jared felt that the top 'perp' was Dr. Masters himself. After all, it was Dr. Cannon that said he was just back from the System Administration and that there were going to be some major changes at the top of The Madison.

The buck stopped with Dr. Clement Masters, the 'esteemed' President of the Cancer Center. Jared would discuss his conversation with no one except Marie, who completely agreed with him that it was probably Dr. Masters who had Dr. Cannon killed because he was a direct threat to Master's position. They had no proof whatsoever for their suspicions but they were sure about who was behind the hit. This was all the motive that Dr. Masters needed, and Jared and Marie would try not to give him a motive to murder them as well. From that time on Jared had a completely different feeling about the famous D. O. Madison Cancer Center. Marie already hated the place, but now Jared would reluctantly come to the same decision. The question was what to do about it while trying to survive at the same time.

An anguished Administration

The outpouring of grief for Dr. Frank Cannon was truly genuine, at least for most of the faculty and all of Frank's close colleagues, for Dr. Cannon was very well liked, and in fact, he was much more liked by the faculty than Dr. Masters himself. Dr. Masters would pull out all of the stops to demonstrate his 'anguish' over the death of one of his top deputies, right in the hospital on a day in which Dr. Masters was conveniently out of town. There was extensive press coverage of the incident, and it brought so much attention to the Cancer Center that the University System Administration was concerned, especially in light of the meetings that Dr. Cannon had just had with the System.

Although Dr. Masters acted like an emperor who had lost a valuable underling, the System Administration actually came down hard on Dr. Masters, which was actually good for Jared and Marie who were also at risk to succumb to the same fate as Dr. Cannon. In response to the murder of Dr. Frank Cannon, Dr. Masters directed The D. O. Madison to undergo a series of very public but entirely cosmetic changes. After beefing up security, something that Dr. Masters had wanted to do anyway, there were some changes in procedures to make the Cancer Center 'safer' for faculty and staff. There were even meetings with the faculty and separately with staff on how to improve security and prevent anything like this from every happening again. However, behind the scenes Dr. Masters made sure that there was nothing done to continue the System Administration's movement to remove him and some of his key deputies. He had pulled it off with a minimum of collateral damage.

With his political pull, Dr. Masters had fought off the challenge from Dr. Cannon's supporters in the System Administration, and few would ever suspect at the Cancer Center that the real murderer was still among them and was just as dangerous as ever. Dr. Masters also used the murder of Dr. Cannon to increase the surveillance on certain faculty members who he considered a threat to the Administration, and among these were the McNichols. The McNichols were not the only employees on the 'hit list,' and there would be other 'unexplained deaths' at The D. O. Madison that would never be tied to Dr. Masters or his henchmen. They were very good at covering their tracks, and they knew the weaknesses of their targets. They also knew that no one would ever actually believe that anything like this could happen at a major academic institution in America. They were counting on that to deflect any suspicions that might arise from the families of the assassinated employees. The Madison had become a very dangerous place for certain faculty members, especially Jared and Marie, and as it turned out, some of their close colleagues.

The D. O. Madison Administration is on the attack

Now that a major detractor of Dr. Masters had been removed from the equation, he was free to continue consolidating his power and removing anyone else who might be a threat. However, Dr. Masters did not expect the outpouring of concern for Dr. Cannon or for the incident itself. He would have to be more careful in the future. A different approach would be absolutely necessary for any future threats.

After a brief respite to let the smoke settle, Dr. Masters decided to continue his program to remove Dr. Jared McNichols from his position and therefore Dr. Marie McNichols as well. In order to do this a meeting was called to discuss the McNichols problem in his office at the D. O. Madison Cancer Center administration building. As the participants arrived at the President's Office, Mrs. Broderick buzzed Dr. Masters, "Dr. Masters, Drs. Belcher and Geldter are ready to meet with you now." Dr. Masters replied into the intercom, "Thank you, Carol, wait one minute and then send them in."

Dr. Masters' office was that of a top executive, with the furniture and artwork associated with his administrative rank, expensive but not opulent in appearance. There were pictures on the wall of Dr. Masters with former U.S. presidents and governors of Texas, and there was a case with various memorabilia, even a football from a championship State University team. The office also provided a beautiful view of Austin Park and the large Medical Center. Dr. Masters, a tall, painfully thin man with wavy gray hair and steel blue eyes had a somewhat withered look about him, but he was considered very distinguished in appearance. He had the air of someone who was accustomed to getting his way. He insisted at always being the center of attention, except when he was fund-raising, and he thrived on the adulation of his underlings and the general public.

Dr. Masters stood up and walked over to the large window at one end of his office. He stared out the window and began talking to himself. He was actually a closet sociopath who had a quiet disregard for his fellow man, and he was entirely used to getting his way. He did not like dissent or people who might have a different viewpoint from his. However, he was very, very good at hiding his real feelings as any good politician should. Dr. Masters said quietly to himself as he looked out of his window, "Well oldboy, you've come a long way from the back hills of Northern Mississippi. Imagine bullshitting those naive, but filthy rich Texas oil families into believing they had to give over their millions for my very own building program. I will have built the biggest Cancer hospital in the world by the time I retire. And you know what they say about Texas being the biggest and the best. What a legacy. Nobody has been able to do what I have done! I want the biggest cancer hospital in the world to be named after me."

Just then the door opened and Dr. Masters turned to greet his visitors. He was always impeccably dressed, and his gestures and movements were always choreographed to place visitors, colleagues and foes at ease at all times. Dr. Masters had always prided himself on his political savvy and ability to influence important people to his way of thinking. Almost all of his colleagues and even his superiors in the University administration felt that his ego was unbearable, but he was usually clever enough to hide it on most occasions by being very friendly and personal and seeming to be modest and soul searching. In fact, he was quite the opposite, and he prided himself on being able to con even his most ardent detractors and convince them that his way and methods were superior. Over the years this had placed him at odds with the University System Administration, and they had learned not to trust his smooth style. He was actually demoted to his current position from the head of a university system in another state because of charges of misappropriation and improper use of university funds, but the charges were covered-up to prevent the complete embarrassment of the university in the press. Dr. Masters used this to his advantage with subtle hints that he would expose the University to the press unless he was assisted in finding a suitable position instead of being dismissed on the spot as any other employee would have been. Thus Dr. Masters ended up in Austin, Texas, and although he was no longer the top administrator in the university system, he did manage to find a suitable job in the D. O. Madison Cancer Center. Even though the committee that was charged with recommending candidates to his current position passed him over, somehow Dr. Masters bypassed the committee and found support at the state and national level for his appointment. The rest was history.

Dr. Masters was a survivor, and he knew how to use people. He was always aware of how to act in each situation to please his guests, even if he loathed them, and he moved to the door to great his visitors with a large smile on his face, "Good morning gentlemen." Dr. Geldter moved quickly to come in first, since he was a blowhard of a person who just couldn't wait to impress everyone. But his superiors knew him all too well. "Everything is just great Dr. Masters! Amy and I just got back from the cancer meetings, and it was quite a triumph for us as usual. Our presentations dominated the meeting." Dr. Masters smiled and cut Dr. Geldter off as he placed his hand on his shoulder and gently pushed him into his office. He had grown weary of Geldter's attitude, and he didn't like Jews. Once the participants were all in his office, he turned to Dr. Belcher, his Vice President for Research, who was a closet Jew with a witty smile on his face, "Francis, how about you?" Dr. Belcher responded, "Unfortunately, I had to miss the meeting. I had a conflict with my commitments involving our joint research ventures with the European Academy of Sciences. As you know I am going to be elected to the Academy for my superb work, and .... " Dr. Masters interrupted him abruptly, "Francis, Isaac-Please! Sit down."

Dr. Masters pointed to where he wanted his group to sit down, in this case around his coffee table. He must control the situation completely, and he didn't want blowhards like Belcher and Geldter taking the limelight. He actually hated his Vice President for Research almost as much as Dr. Geldter, but he needed Dr. Belcher in particular for East Coast credibility since Dr. Masters grew up and was educated in the back woods of Northern Mississippi, in what most people would describe as 'hillbilly' heaven. He obtained his M.D. degree from a Tennessee university, and Dr. Masters had almost no credibility with the East Coast academic snobs. "I have called you here, because I have some urgent business to discuss with you that is of a highly confidential nature." Dr. Masters continued in a very dictatorial and self-important manner. He signaled Drs. Belcher and Geldter, who were still milling around to sit down around the coffee table in his office.

Dr. Masters waited until everyone was arranged to his liking, and then he started his introduction. "I've just been talking with a very important former government official who is one of the owners of one of the Belford spin-off microbiology companies." Not to be outdone, Dr. Belcher interrupted in an incredulous manner, "Dr. Masters, are we going to know the identity of this 'important' former official? I don't know if we should involve ourselves with some questionable commercial ventures of Belford?" Dr. Masters flashed his eyes toward Dr. Belcher and stated in a superior and sarcastic tone without raising his voice, "That's not important, Francis. He has asked for our assistance on a critical mission. A mission that may impact on the very fabric of our society at the highest levels." Both Drs. Geldter and Belcher scoff at the thought that there might be anyone more important than themselves, but they listen with some intensity even though they know that Masters likes to make even mundane matters seem very dramatic. Dr. Masters continued, "We have a situation that calls for extreme measures. It involves one of our more senior staff members and his wife. It appears that they have stumbled on some of our more classified research programs with Belford and are now a threat to National Security .... so we have been entrusted with, let's say, 'correcting' the situation. Dr. Geldter asked immediately, "You mean, Dr. Masters .... I think I know exactly what you mean, and are we 'correcting' the situation or the persons?"

The entire group became silent for a moment, when Dr. Belcher broke the silence in his whinny voice. "I don't know, Clement, I don't think I want to know about any such classified programs at Belford. I asked you not to involve me in any programs that do not appear in my job description!" Dr. Masters showed subtle signs of losing his patience by staring out his window with his customary blank stare, but he managed to keep a smile on his face, "Oh keep quiet Francis, or I will arrange for you to have a new job description! One that you won't like at all." Dr. Masters face was growing red, and he didn't like to have anyone see him lose his cool during a discussion, particularly one that he initiated. He quickly cooled down and continued with a smile, "It seems that several attempts to 'correct' these individuals have failed .... Even that Russian Doll cocktail that was given at the Meyerhoff Conference a few years ago by our colleagues at Belford."

Everyone in the room perked up at the mention of an attempted murder. Dr. Geldter who was suddenly less arrogant became defensive, gesturing to Dr. Masters, "I do not understand how that happened. I swear to God already; It's not my fault. They blew it. They didn't follow my instructions." Dr. Masters flashed back a look of distain and inteIjected, "Are you saying you were aware of this?" Dr. Geldter now realized that Dr. Masters may not have been aware how intimately involved he was in the failed plot, so his style changed completely, and he reverted back to his usual arrogant self, "Well, I know about some 'rumors' as well as the means."

Drs. Masters and Belcher didn't believe for a minute that Dr. Geldter was not involved in the failed plot, but they let him complain until Dr. Masters interrupted, "Continue, Isaac, but be more specific." Dr. Geldter who was now hoping to avoid this particular discussion, "Pardon, Dr. Masters?" Dr. Geldter suddenly became more polite. Dr. Masters was again on the offensive, "Why do you not understand what I am asking?" Dr. Geldter replied as if to explain why he had completely flip-flopped in his conversation, "Oh, yes. As I was going to say, Dr. Masters, I do not understand why that particular cocktail failed. Dr. Geldter flipped back to his previous style, one that couldn't be stopped when he started expounding on how important his science is to the grand scheme of the universe. "I developed the macrophage inhibitors myself to suppress the immune responses to the agent. It should have been foolproof. Even Shlomo Ricin told me my work was brilliant. He also said that it should have been foolproof."

Dr. Masters was becoming impatient because Dr. Geldter had not answered his question. "Who is this Shlomo Ricin?" Dr. Geldter answered, "My good friend and advisor on several projects at the Black Building. He is a professor at Massada University in Jerusalem and probably the leading expert in these things, except for me, of course. I am the leading authority in this and many other areas." Masters was becoming irritated, "Well, Isaac, stop day dreaming!" Dr. Geldter was taken aback at the rare criticism but responded in style, "I beg your pardon, Dr. Masters."

Dr. Masters was now irritated, and he was also becoming sarcastic. "The cocktail failed, didn't it? So much for your 'leading expert' theory." Dr. Geldter responded to the criticism as if he doesn't believe that it could ever happen to him, so he quickly dismissed the comment and went on the offensive with his usual chutzpah, "I strongly doubt that they used it correctly. According to my studies, it should have been a slam dunk. Who is our current target?" Dr. Masters answered, ':Jared McNichols and someone in his department ... a person named Marie." Dr. Masters was examining a file folder pretending that he did not know Marie, but everyone in his office knew otherwise. Dr. Geldter interrupting said provocatively, "Marie! You mean Marie McNichols." He paused and gesticulated with his arms while his face turned red, "The bitch that Jared McNichols married! Dr. Masters, she's a light-weight scientist who has an over-inflated opinion of herself. Why bother! I was hoping that you would let me go after Jared McNichols again. He has been a pain in my side for some time." Masters responded, "Well, Isaac your job is not to question me but to devise the means .... and preferably this time you'll get it right!"

Dr. Masters thought silently to himself-And I don't want to have to use some crude approach like the one that I had to use on Frank Cannon. Dr. Masters now continued, "We have had someone go to the System Administration with some unproven allegations that the D. O. Madison was involved with Belford in some illegal human experiments using the prison system and local biotechnology companies owned by some very prominent public figures. Now we have an embarrassing situation right in my own hospital. Another homicide may not go down well with the System Administration." The obvious execution-style murder had brought tremendous pressure and public scrutiny of the D. O. Madison Cancer Center, but as usual Dr. Masters had deflected the entire incident as an outrage to humanity by some crazed Iranian terrorists.

Dr. Francis Belcher was looking at his two colleagues with a nervous and stunned expression. He covered his ears in a gesture and told them, "I didn't hear any of this! Don't involve me in any of these questionable activities! I want to go on record as not being for this approach to the problem." Dr. Belcher can easily see himself in the same situation as Dr. Frank Cannon, and he was very nervous but would go along with whatever Dr. Masters decides. After all, Dr. Belcher benefited from Frank Cannon's misfortune, since the rumors at Belford suggested that the System Administration was going to replace all of the top administrators at The Madison. However, the rumors stopped after the loss of Dr. Cannon. Suddenly there was no one at his level to rat on Dr. Masters and his henchmen.

Dr. Masters was growing wary of Dr. Belcher. "Francis, I told you before to watch what you say! You have been involved in this from the start!" Dr. Belcher who was now visibly shaking said, "I don't want to know the details! I was only involved in blocking Marie's and Jared's grant applications, presentations and publications and placing some doubt on their research! You said that you wanted them both out of here as soon as possible. I did exactly what you asked. I didn't question the wisdom of this before." Dr. Belcher did not want to bring up the Frank Cannon incident. He was still afraid that Dr. Masters might some day use that same approach on his Vice President for Research.

At this point in time Dr. Masters was becoming slightly angry with his colleagues. "All right, Francis, all right. Let me explain the intense desire of certain individuals to see a conclusion to this problem, and I am not just referring to their accelerated departure from the Cancer Center. Marie happens to be an heiress, and certain special interest groups in Las Vegas who are involved with major defense contractors through a variety of investments do not want to see her inherit. In addition, the McNichols have found out way too much about our projects with Belford and the prison system." Dr. Belcher suddenly gaped at Dr. Masters, "Are you serious? Marie an heiress? I heard the rumors but I didn't believe it." He then became very pensive and timidly asked Dr. Masters, "Is it Marie's inheritance that is funding certain ... sensitive projects?" Dr. Masters shot back, "Goddamn it Francis, must I repeat myself?" Dr. Belcher asked, "Then shouldn't we be nice to her, and it wouldn't hurt for future donations .... " Dr. Masters interrupted Francis before he could finish. "Haven't you been listening to a word I've been saying Francis? There are some that do not view Marie or Jared McNichols as players on our field." Dr. Belcher asked, "With all due respect, sir, why is Marie viewed as such a threat? She doesn't have any power or position. And if she is this heiress as you say .... "

Dr. Masters impatiently continued his monolog and he muttered, "Not yet, if I have anything to say about it. It's not the concern of anyone here, but her family is a blight on this planet, and their knowledge of our prison research threatens National Security. The last person around here that threatened our 'National Security' interests had an untimely fate!" The others in the room were dumbfounded at Masters' maniacal diatribe, but they were also too weak and effete to do anything except stare at him. Dr. Belcher was thus quickly reminded of the fate of his colleague Dr. Cannon, but he decided to interject again anyway in his whiny voice, "I don't know, Dr. Masters, but I would not like to be a party to this no matter who made the request. No sir, not for some political agenda I do not understand, nor believe to be anywhere near the truth." Dr. Geldter, who knew much more than Dr. Belcher about the prison research programs, was also growing impatient with Francis. "Dr. Masters, if I may interject. Perhaps we need someone like me in a more commanding position here at The Madison. Dr. Masters, I sent you several memos on this subject, and .... " Dr. Masters replied scornfully, "This is not the time to discuss promotions, Isaac!" Dr. Belcher reminded them, "Jared is so well known around the world; this could cause a real PR problem coming after Frank's homicide."
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:05 am

Part 2 of 3

At the word homicide, Dr. Masters smiled as if he knew something that the others didn't. In fact, it was Clement himself that arranged for Dr. Frank Cannon's murder to remove a direct challenge to his position. Dr. Belcher continued, "Marie did an excellent job teaching physical chemistry to our physicians, and her Gene Tracking technology is, in my opinion ... " Dr. Geldter interrupted Dr. Belcher, "That bullshit approach! My graduate students can do better than that!" Dr. Belcher then stated, "Causing any harm to one of our top scientists could be hard to explain but to his wife at the same time .... " Dr. Geldter interrupted, "He is bullshit already, and his department should have been merged under my chairmanship years ago as I have suggested before to you Dr. Masters. In fact, I have sent you several memos .... "

Dr. Masters didn't let Isaac Geldter finish. He held up his hand to cut off Geldter. He was growing increasingly annoyed and turned to Dr. Belcher, "Listen to me carefully, Dr. Belcher, if you want to keep your job and your precious lifestyle, you should get with the program or to put it more bluntly, you're straining our administrative budget." Dr. Geldter interjected again, "Sir, I have no problem with this assignment. Especially since Jared is a competitor and I consider Marie an enemy of Israel. One slip of a little girl and one department chairman should not make a difference in the general scheme of things." Dr. Belcher then tentatively stated, "If she is such an enemy of Israel, why is she an honorary Lieutenant General in the IDF?" Dr. Geldter ignored Dr. Belcher's comment.

Dr. Masters was at first taken aback by Dr. Geldter's reference to Israel, because he hated Israelis and Jews, but he raised both hands, smiled, and addressed the gathering, "I knew I could count on you both." But Dr. Belcher in a whiny voice still disagreed with the plan. "I don't know, Clement, I don't make enough salary for this type of project." Dr. Masters gave a scathing look directly at Dr. Belcher in an attempt to shut him up. But Dr. Belcher asked again, this time more nervous than before, "Are you sure about Marie being an heiress? Let's look at this objectively Clement. If her family is so rich and powerful, why have we been able to successfully block any appointments at your request? And we have been able to do a rather thorough character assassination, again at your request?"

Dr. Masters was irritated again by the constant interruptions, and he turned again to Dr. Belcher. "Damn it Francis, that is none of your business. I have my reasons." Dr. Geldter interrupted again, "I have no problem with this assignment, Dr. Masters, but I should be compensated for my enhanced job description." Dr. Masters ignored Dr. Geldter, who he considered just another blow-hard Jew. But Dr. Masters hid his contempt for Isaac and Francis completely. After all, he needed people like Francis Belcher and Isaac Geldter. Dr. Belcher tentatively asked, "Your motives, Clement, are they entirely based on Marie's and Jared's threat? Clement, did she reject you?" Dr. Belcher was referring to the widely circulated rumor that Dr. Masters himself tried to seduce Marie before she married Jared McNichol.

Dr. Masters was now visibly irritated, and his face turned red. He rarely raised his voice, but this time he replied sharply with a red face. "Dr. Belcher, I have had enough of your disgusting innuendos. You are nothing more that a little prick who is on the verge of being replaced. Do you want to leave this office with Isaac in your position? Now, I will overlook your unbelievable insult only because you have demonstrated in the past your somewhat tarnished but nonetheless loyalty to my administration."

The assembled group was stunned. They had not seen this side of their president, and they didn't dare interrupt Dr. Masters, except for Dr. Geldter, who was now more confident than ever of his new position with Dr. Masters and with Dr. Belcher's future demise. "Sir, I am completely loyal to your administration, and I am ready to do whatever you decide is necessary." Masters said abruptly, "Let's get back on track with my directive and take care of this problem." Dr. Belcher was now more subdued but still combative. "I still don't know why we have to do something so extreme. Jared is an important asset to our research program, and what did his wife ever do to warrant this approach? If she is an heiress, perhaps someday she stands to gain a great deal if she is not out of the picture. Who knows?" Dr. Geldter interrupted laughing, "Who cares? I say, let's get rid of both of them, and good riddance to bad rubbish."

Dr. Masters was trying to regain control of his meeting. "The bottom line is that it is our patriotic duty." Dr. Masters was actually sarcastic when he said the word 'patriotic' because he and everyone in the room knew that this was not true. The only 'duty' that he had was to himself and his self-preservation and avoidance of a future prison sentence. "I am sure there will be monetary and other rewards for us all if we are successful." Dr. Geldter continued in his efforts, "Dr. Masters, I am completely ready for this assignment. Perhaps I should contact some of my friends in the Mossad. You know, I was a decorated Army sniper in the '67 War." Dr. Masters again skeptical, "Good idea, Isaac." But his mood immediately changed. "But you were never a sniper, and you never received any decorations. In fact, you never even served in the '67 War, if you served at all, and I don't believe that you did, so don't inflate your record with me. Remember, ] have your file." Dr. Geldter was slightly embarrassed that anyone knew the truth about his lack of service in the Israeli Defense Forces, but he ignored Dr. Masters' comments. He had managed to fool almost everyone when he inflated his past accomplishments, but he returned to the matter at hand without missing a beat, "I hate these people; they're light-weights, and nobody is going to miss them, already."

Dr. Masters wondered why Dr. Geldter had slipped into almost pigeon English. Was it because of the deflating comments on Dr. Geldter's inflation of his military service? Now he knew how to keep Geldter completely under his control. Dr. Geldter would do exactly what he wants, because he does not want the world to know the complete fabrication of his Israeli military record. He turned to Dr. Belcher. "Well, Francis? Are you a team player?" Dr. Belcher answered, "Apparently I am, Clement, but I cannot be a direct participant in this. However, I am willing to continue the character assassination and professional muggings, as before. As you know, I am now on the NIH Cancer Advisory Board, and I can make sure that Jared's NIH grants will never be funded."

Dr. Geldter had suddenly regained his composure and he interrupted Dr. Belcher. "You can count on me, Dr. Masters, all the way." Dr. Masters said to the group decisively, "Good!" He looked at each of the participants. "I must be assured that this little discussion never gets beyond this door." Drs. Geldter and Belcher in an unsynchronized manner, "You have my word." "O.K., Clement."

Dr. Masters returned to the instructions he intended to give each participant. "Now, let's get down to business. Secret accounts will be established in each of our names at a bank in the Cayman Islands." Dr. Geldter immediately asked, "I need to know what bank and how much will be deposited." Dr. Masters was irritated again, "Not now, Isaac! You both will be reporting directly to me on the progress of our assignment, but not on the details. I have to have complete deniability on this. I don't want to know how you do it or when you do it; I am only interested in the results. You will work out the details among yourselves without involving or contacting me in any way. Is that completely clear?"

Dr. Clement Masters was a master at covering his tracks. Even with the remote chance that someone was caught in the act, he could deny everything and remain completely untouchable. Dr. Masters continued, "Now that's settled. I know that I can count on your complete cooperation. I repeat, I don't want to know any of the details, because my office cannot be involved in any way. You can handle this little project and discuss strategies among yourselves. It would be best if any situations occur while the subjects are out of the country. And I suggest a less messy, less traceable, event that might even look like a suicide. If you are successful at the professional and character assassinations, it might even seem reasonable. You know lhe old story .... A young, talented scientist is driven to despair by the rejection of her peers, and then her new husband is completely distraught over her loss."

Dr. Belcher who was still uncomfortable about the discussion of harming one of his faculty members continued, "Clement, don't make this out to be some Shakespearian drama. We arranged for heckling and interruptions of Marie's departmental lecture. We can make sure that she does not give another presentation in Austin. They are both traveling to Cambridge to some meeting." Dr. Masters said, "Good." Dr. Geldter interjected, "I don't understand why Jared McNichols was asked to give some bullshit lecture at Cambridge. I should be giving that lecture." Dr. Masters decided, "We just might be able to use this trip to our advantage. You could arrange something at the conference." Dr. Geldter added, "I have found out that Marie goes into anaphylactic shock if she eats asparagus." Dr. Masters asked, "How do you know that?" Dr. Geldter replied, "When she and Jared had dinner with us once she actually volunteered the information." Dr. Masters smiled, "Continue, Isaac." Dr. Geldter, "Perhaps we can arrange something for her at one of the meeting banquets. Remember, I am an expert on asparaginase, and I suggest this as a good approach." Dr. Masters replied, "That sounds like a possibility." Dr. Geldter bragging, "I have several publications on the subject."

Asparaginase, an enzyme isolated from asparagus, had been used to fight cancer in laboratory animals, but the approach never panned out in the clinic and was dropped as just another over-hyped research project of Isaac's that had gone by the wayside without any tangible legacy. However, Dr. Masters did not know this, and the others did not want to offer their opinion. "Yes, continue Isaac, but remember I don't want to know any of the details. This office must not be directly involved in any way." Dr. Geldter smiled and became excited, "We could use a macrophage inhibitor to block her ability to fight infection and a combination of microorganisms that we are working on at the Black Building." Masters asked, "I thought that was tried, and it failed." Dr. Geldter said, "But Dr. Masters, we did not include the asapraginase, let alone the bitch's allergy to asparagus."

Dr. Belcher had been listening with his hands over his ears pretending not to hear. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He finally responded in a whiny voice, "We do not know that this approach will work and that the asparaginase will be immunosuppressive in this case. In fact, it could do just the opposite. And I haven't heard that Jared has any allergies." Dr. Geldter ignored the comment and arrogantly replied, "That's ridiculous! Of course the asparaginase will work. Who is the expert on asparaginase here, anyway?" Dr. Belcher responded, "You are assuming that the asparaginase will promote an inflammatory response, and we simply do not know this to be a fact." Dr. Masters finally interjected, "Listen Francis, Isaac has a possible approach to the problem. I like it."

Dr. Masters had been thinking to himself, and he raised his hand to his head. "All right. You should proceed with this approach. But remember, it has to be completely untraceable." Dr. Geldter said, "It will be! I'll contact Dr. Ricin and some of my friends in industry and in the Mossad to get some additional advice on the mixture. But I think that Dr. Ricin must be let in on this operation. We can arrange for some kind of travel award. He has been immensely valuable in his advisory capacity for our classified Army experiments with mycoplasmas and macrophage inhibitors."

Dr. Masters interjected abruptly, "Dammit, Isaac! I told you never to mention our classified Black Building program. If this information ever gets out, we would stand to lose a considerable amount of financial support." Dr. Masters knew that the off-ledger budget that is used to fund unconventional projects at the CIA and Dod that usually involve illegal activities and methods was commonly referred to as the Black Budget. Programs like MKULTRA and Manhattan II, highly questionable groups of projects involving unconventional weapons of mass destruction, were funded by the Black Budget. Dr. Belcher interjected, "As Vice President for Research, I should know the complete information on this line of investigation. Why wasn't my office appraised of this?" Dr. Geldter condescendingly replied, "Remember, you said that you didn't want to know any of the details, Francis! Make up your mind!" Dr. Masters continued, "Don't take it so personal, Francis. I don't even know the details, and I don't want to know them! My office should not be directly involved, and absolute secrecy must be maintained at all costs. If you must know, Francis, this program has been in place since 1973, well before you or I were even at The D. O. Madison. We are now in Phase IV of the Russian Doll Cocktail project directed by Dr. Geldter and Dr. Reichsmann, and they have been in close contact with our colleagues at the Belford as well as pharmaceutical companies and people like Dr. Ricin."

Although Dr. Belcher did not want to involve himself in such programs, he couldn't resist finding out some of the details. Dr. Belcher interrupted, "Russian doll cocktails? Why wasn't I appraised of this sooner? All I knew was that Dr. Geldter was conducting research for the government under our special biologicals program." Dr. Masters admonished Dr. Belcher, "These biological cocktails are analogous to the nested Russian dolls." Dr. Geldter smiling and interrupting, "You know, the doll within a doll and so forth." Dr. Geldter couldn't hold back any longer, "What Dr. Masters is trying to tell you, Francis, is that there are hidden ingredients in the cocktail which only together result in a lethal combination, one that is impossible to detect. It's the hidden ingredients that are the key here, already. They're perfect agents because of their stealth properties."

Dr. Belcher really did not want to hear any more, but he replied in a loud sarcastic tone that Dr. Masters ignored, "How marvelous!" Dr. Masters continued bragging, "In any event, The Madison is now in phase IV of its Russian Doll weaponization program. This phase of the program is perhaps the most crucial of the project because it involves classified clinical trials in our nursing homes outside of San Antonio and in the prison units around Wallsville. This is where we have a problem because some of the Wallsville prison employees have been in contact with the subjects in question."

Dr. Belcher became more and more uncomfortable. "Who in their right mind would agree to such a program?" Dr. Masters turned directly to Dr. Belcher and smiled, "Why you did, Francis! Don't be such an idiot. I have your signature on it. The subjects in our trials have no knowledge that they are being used for 'National Security' purposes. And it is all perfectly legal under Title 50. This also means that we don't have to use placebos or informed consent or have that damned FDA sniffing around. Don't forget, these are extremely important matters, and secrecy must be vigorously protected. We cannot afford to let anyone have the edge over us."

Dr. Belcher thought for a brief moment that Dr. Masters knew much more about these Black Budget programs than he thought. Although he knew vaguely what was going on in the M. K. Black Building under Dr. Geldter, he stayed far away from Dr. Reichsmann and the nursing homes outside of San Antonio. He did not want to know the details of what went on there, because it was not his direct concern. He asked sheepishly, "Has anyone considered the ethics in any of this?" Dr. Geldter sneered, "Ethics? Since when have you ever considered ethics?" Dr. Geldter continued, "It was my family that was wiped out in the Holocaust, while you were protected in that bullshit New York Jewish circle of yours." Dr. Masters quickly interrupted, "Isaac, your family was not wiped out in the Holocaust, so don't pull your Jewish sympathy schtick with me." Dr. Masters, who had taken on a self-important demeanor, had a smirk on his mouth. "However, I do agree with Isaac. Dr. Belcher, we are making very tough decisions here in order to preserve the true America." Dr. Belcher stated rather self righteously, "We are not at war, Clement!" Dr. Masters responded forcefully, "Dr. Belcher, we've always been at war." Dr. Belcher asked, "With all due respect, sir, why am I necessary to the success of this operation?" Dr. Masters sneered at Dr. Belcher, "You are the Vice President for Research, Dr. Belcher .... at least for the moment." Dr. Geldter quickly interjected, "Sir, I believe that I am ready to take on added administrative responsibilities." Dr. Belcher regained his senses and snapped back, "Remember, Dr. Geldter, you are still under me, or have you forgotten? I have the feeling that The D. O. Madison Cancer Center may be in over its head on this one."

Dr. Masters became angry at his subordinates. "Francis! You are promoting a very negative attitude, and you're an idiot if you can't see that we're in a silent war and we have been for the last 50 years." Dr. Belcher asked sarcastically, "With whom may I ask?" Dr. Masters responded, "With everyone and anyone who ever wanted our power and influence." Dr. Masters' demeanor then changed abruptly, and he became reflective, "I believe that we've lost our focus for this meeting, and we are going off on tangents here. Now where were we?" Dr. Geldter continued, "I believe that I was suggesting that we bring Dr. Ricin into our operation as he has demonstrated his usefulness with the operations in our nursing home studies." Dr. Masters slightly confused answered, "Right! That project has been running very smoothly thanks to first-rate organization between you, Dr. Reichsmann and that Ricin chap. We should make an effort to fly him here immediately! But I don't want you to ever speak on the phone about any of this, even in code. And we should routinely have Chief Costa sweep all our offices for any suspicious surveillance." Dr. Geldter then said, "You know, sir, it would not be a bad idea to include Amy in this endeavor. She is excellent at situations that may arise in conjunction with our personnel objective, and she is believable and charming. She'd be very useful with Marie, and she has been helping immensely with the discrediting of Marie and Jared." Dr. Masters responded, "Good idea, Isaac. Let's wrap this up. We do not have much time." Dr. Geldter had a big smile on his face and was basking in his glory.

Then Dr. Belcher recalled an important item. "The McNichols leave for England in a few weeks. I just reluctantly signed Jared's travel papers." Dr. Geldter said, "O.K., I'll contact Ricin immediately and book him on a flight to Austin, but we are going to have to offer him a reward if we are successful. In fact, we should all receive big bonuses for this project. And I will need more contingency support, and by the way, I was going to ask you about my salary this year. I only make one-half of what some of the surgeons around here make, and I feel that my contributions .... " Dr. Masters waved his hand and interrupted Isaac loudly, "Not now, Dr. Geldter!" Dr. Belcher was finally getting with the program, "I will contact some of my friends who are going to the Cambridge meeting and give them excellent reasons for interfering with the McNichols' presentations. I'll present their work as unreliable and a threat to established dogma. I have already been using my position on the Cancer Advisory Board to make sure that Jared's grants will have a very difficult time ever being funded." Dr. Masters with a self-satisfied smile, "Good! I have the utmost confidence in you boys. Let's remember, we are on an important mission, and professionalism must be maintained. Understood?" Dr. Masters stood up from his chair signaling the end of the meeting, "Don't fail me again. A lot is riding on this." Drs. Belcher and Geldter had just risen from their chairs, and they each shook Dr. Masters' hand and left the office smiling. At least Dr. Geldter was smiling, but Dr. Belcher frowned as soon as he turned away to leave the office. Dr. Masters turned, rubbed his hands together and looked out of his window as Drs. Belcher and Geldter exited his office. He thought to himself that this should be all wrapped up in a few weeks.

A visitor to the Texas Hill Country

Dr. Schlomo Ricin had just arrived in Austin, when Drs. Geldter, Belcher and Krappner decided to have a leisurely meeting with Dr. Ricin at a ranch due West of Austin at the edge of the Texas Hill Country where Isaac and Amy boarded their horses. Dr. Ricin was a non-descript-looking man with a gray beard shaped into a rather stubby goatee and was about 5 and one-half feet tall. He was thick-boned and had a strong Israeli accent. A picnic lunch was arranged after an early morning ride. Amy Krappner had just finished a rigorous ride and was showing off her riding ability to the group by jumping her horse. She was a proficient rider and was demonstrating that she could control her horse to clear a moderately difficult jump. Drs. Geldter, Belcher and Ricin were just pacing their horses in a walk after having just completed a vigorous run. After Amy's jump, she directed her horse at a brisk pace to the area where the others were dismounting from their horses.

As they dismounted, the laughing riders were engaged in typical horsy-set mannerisms. Dr. Ricin was patting his horse as was Dr. Belcher, who appeared afraid to get too close, and Dr. Geldter was giving his horse a sugar treat. Everyone was fully enjoying the lovely setting. Dr. Geldter finally spoke, "There's nothing like a good early morning ride to clear the cobwebs." As he patted his horse, Dr. Geldter was admiring it, and he beseechingly said to Drs. Krappner and Ricin, "Isn't she a beauty?" The horse was black with a white star on its face. "She stands 17-hands high! You know she has the Rose of England blood in her! And to think that those stupid Texans with their Polo on the Plains fund raiser actually bought this for my personal use. I call her my veterinary laboratory assistant in my department budget!"

Dr. Belcher was not a natural with horses. He reminded Dr. Geldter, "Isaac, I wouldn't brag if I were you about your department accounting procedures. Some day, someone might just look more carefully into your books. And while I appreciate your infatuation with your equine friend, quite frankly, I am just not so horse-crazy." Dr. Geldter answered, "By the way, Francis, you have a lot more to hide than I do!" Dr. Belcher replied, "You know, Isaac, last week I had a difficult time hiding your special rosewood furniture from the press. It seems they got wind that you spent over $160,000 on your new custom office furniture, and I had to cover for you and pretend that it was all an accounting mistake. Then there was the condo that you placed on your department budget." Dr. Geldter angrily replied, "But we use that so that we can attend those bullshit Monday morning meetings of Dr. Masters. Do you know how long it takes us to drive in each morning? Besides, we use it for department visitors like Schlomo here." Dr. Belcher continued, "Well, it's pretty difficult defending your department budget, and there's the complete furnishing of a condo just for your convenience. However, I convinced them that the whole story was ridiculous, but you had better show me more respect or I just might tell them the truth next time."

Dr. Ricin changed the subject. "Dr. Belcher, it sounds like you didn't have much fun riding!" Dr. Belcher replied, "So-so! I am more the New York theater rather than the horsey type. This is different, but give me 5th Avenue any day. You know, I used to live on 5th Avenue." Dr. Geldter chuckled as if he didn't believe a word of it. "You mean Brooklyn! How about you Schlomo?" Dr. Ricin answered, "Me? I love horses! In Israel I take a brisk ride around the hills above Jerusalem, and there is something breathtaking about riding a horse through the desert around Eilat. It makes me feel like Lawrence of Arabia, minus the camels, of course. By the way, tell me again how do you manage to have your institution pay for these fine horses?" Dr. Geldter guffawed disdainfully, "Those stupid Texans actually raised the money for these horses and their upkeep from their idiotic cancer fund raising campaign, but they will never figure out how we got them to transfer the funding for this!" Dr. Belcher sternly, "I wouldn't go into that if I were you, Isaac!" Dr. Geldter turned to Dr. Belcher, "Dr. Ricin understands how important our work is and that we require certain special rewards. Well, Francis, it seems you are the only non-horse person amongst us." In a sarcastic manner Dr Belcher answered, "Well, bully-bully for me!" Dr. Geldter said, "Don't be so touchy, Francis! You seem to be a bit upset lately. Perhaps you need a long vacation in New York!"

Amy joined in as she rode up and squealed, "Did you see my jump? Did you see it?" Dr. Geldter smiling replied partly in Yiddish, "It was terrific, already, Boobalah!" He didn't see the jump. Dr. Krappner said to Dr. Belcher, "Well, how did you enjoy the ride Dr. Belcher?" Dr. Belcher sarcastically answered, "Immensely!" There was a pause in the conversation, and Dr. Geldter then continued, "We enjoyed the ride, except for Francis. I am afraid he likes New York better." Dr. Belcher replied, "[ did not say I didn't enjoy it. It's just that I'm New York City bred, and I prefer the theater over riding horses all over the Texas countryside." Dr. Krappner smiled, "Well, at least you were game for it! Who knows, if you practice staying on your horse, you may actually begin to enjoy riding it." She then laughed. Dr. Belcher answered sharply, "Don't count on it!"

Dr. Krappner dismounted and announced to everyone, "I've brought a great picnic lunch. Pate fois gras." Dr. Belcher inteIjected in his sarcastic manner, "You mean chopped liver?" Dr. Krappner in a very dry tone, "Ha- Ha!" She continued, "Caviar, Baluga, of course." Belcher, sarcastic again, "Of course." Dr. Ricin added, "It's not as if any of us is kosher." Dr. Krappner continued, "There's fresh fruit, a variety of cheeses, home-made French bread, Coq au vin salad, and for dessert, chilled Creme Brulee au Chocolate." Belcher replied sarcastically, "In other words, we're having yuppie chicken salad and gourmet chocolate pudding." Dr. Krappner giggled and in a slightly flirtatious manner said, "You're incorrigible, Francis."

Amy thought that she was very desirable to the opposite sex, but it was not true at all. In reality she was an ugly person, particularly her inner person but those around her didn't bother to ever tell her, because she wouldn't have believed it anyway. She said, "Oh, I almost forgot we also have an excellent Chablis Blanc and some mineral water to accompany this scrumptious meal." Dr. Ricin quipped sarcastically, "You Texans sure know how to live." Dr. Krappner laughed, "It helps when you're not bogged down by sentimental principles. "Dr. Ricin answered, "I know what you mean. Survival in a harsh world when you are at the top requires some extreme measures at times."

The picnic was laid out on a collapsible table set with silver and crystal right by the Guadalupe River that ran through some of the most picturesque countryside found in South Central Texas. The river had an unusual turquoise-green hue, and it was one of the only rivers in Texas that was not completely mud brown and ugly. Unusual rock formations were visible with a variety of cathedral-type trees situated near the shore. The group slowly sat down to the meal. It was obvious that Amy liked to be a Queen bee. They toasted each other. Dr. Krappner raised her glass, "Here's to our little project. May we all derive great fortune from the fruition of our patriotic mission." Dr. Geldter added, "Le Chayim. Here's to the elimination of Marie and Jared. They have been a pain in my ass for so long." Dr. Ricin now had his chance, "To financial success! May we all achieve what you have done here in Texas! I salute ya'all!" The group laughed at Dr. Ricin's attempt to add a little Texas-talk at the end of his salute.

Suddenly, Dr. Geldter acted like he had a revelation. He started waving his hands, "Wait a minute, already. I heard from my contacts that some Las Vegas organization is actually funding our projects through their defense companies. They own some large defense corporations, like the Cornelyus Group, and they have a lot of ex-Washington people on their boards. Is this some kind of Mafia thing? I heard that they've been trying to kill Marie for the last 25 years." Dr. Belcher was thinking of only himself and added, "Yes! That's apparently correct! I have it on good authority that Marie is the heir to a huge Las Vegas empire, and the local crime bosses never want her to receive a penny of it. But I have to be frank with you, if that's true, aren't we taking a risk? What if she survives?" Dr. Ricin interjected, "Of course there's always some risk with this type of operation. Anything worthwhile involves risk." Dr. Geldter piped in, "I think that Mafia stuff is a lot of horseshit, just some Hollywood bullshit, but I have another concern. I want to be paid a lot more for my efforts. Damnit, Francis, you never supported my salary position with Clement Masters at our last meeting. He can reward us with a lot more than we're taking home, and all he does is tell us they're going to set up some account on some Goddamned island that we can't even easily access. And I should have my salary doubled ... immediately! I am worth a lot more than that bullshit surgeon that you brought in as a Vice President! You don't pay me enough, and I don't give a damn about any so-called Mafia connection. I really don't care who picks up the bill-I just want what I deserve." Dr. Ricin broke in, "Isaac! Let's get back to the point of this gathering. We have been called upon to provide an important service, and I am sure that we will be financially rewarded. Isn't that true Dr. Belcher?" Dr. Belcher indicated that Dr. Geldter should know the answer to that question. But Dr. Geldter was on another thought entirely, "And we can finally add that asshole Jared to the list. I have been trying to bring him down for years now, but he keeps popping up like the Goddamned battery bunny!" Dr. Ricin just looked at Dr. Belcher, who just shrugged his shoulders.

Dr. Belcher, who had been listening intently reverted back to his New York accent because a Mafia-sponsored hit was brought up. "I don't want to know about any of this directly! You have to do this in a way that draws no suspicion to me or my office." Dr. Geldter smiled and turned to Dr. Belcher, "Oh, shut up Francis! You know, I should be in your Goddamned administrative position." Dr. Belcher flashed a resentful look back to Dr. Geldter and whined, "You couldn't handle my position!" Dr. Geldter then indignantly retorted, "You don't seem to be handling this very well, already, Francis." Dr. Ricin interrupted the two, "Friends, Please! I know of a person that is an expert at biological agents that are virtually untraceable."

There was a pause, and everyone turned to Dr. Ricin. Dr. Geldter finally asked, "You mean, like the Russian Doll cocktail concept, ... several components that alone are not lethal, but when hidden in a mixture produce a lethal combination. I know all about that bullshit. Hell, we were working on that when Amy and I were at Fort Detrick. Everyone thought that Nixon converted the place to cancer research." Everyone laughed at the reference to Nixon and the turning over of Fort Detrick to more 'peaceful' efforts to identify and destroy unusual diseases. Dr. Ricin now stated seriously, "This was attempted before, but for the life of me, I cannot understand why the McNichols survived that banquet." Dr. Geldter added indignantly, "Because you didn't do it right like I told you, that's why -- dumkaupf!" Dr. Krappner thought back on Dr. Belcher's comments and then coldly stated, "One point that we have to consider, as Dr. Belcher mentioned, is just how dangerous Marie might become when she comes into her inheritance." But Amy quickly slipped back to her old behavior, "It's not fair! Just by a trick of birth some people inherit so much! Why should she get all that!" In a self-serving and whiny way Dr. Krappner continued, "I worked so hard for my degree and my position, and I did not have some money bags for a father."

Isaac turned to Amy. He was angry. "You moron! With your academic record, you wouldn't even be in your position if it wasn't for me!" Dr. Ricin appealed to the couple, "Stop it! Stop it! We cannot afford petty jealousies; you all seem incapable of clear-sighted judgment." Dr. Belcher agreed, "Good! Finally we have something that we can agree on." Dr. Ricin stated firmly, "Let's focus! I did not make the trip here for petty arguments! I say we call this operation White Rose. I will contact the Mossad, and Isaac I'll give you the contact for the job of preparing the mixture." Dr. Geldter's scornful facial expression became unnaturally smug, and then he changed into his usual false smile. Dr. Belcher changed his tone and turned his head away while covering his ears, "I don't want to hear anything about this, this White Rose!" Dr. Ricin then continued and in a coldly calculating tone said, "I will contact my sources in the Kahane Ch'ai and get all of the information on Marie and Jared McNichols, but I must tell you, we have to avoid the IDF. For some reason the McNichols are held in high regard by the IDF -- They even made Marie an honorary general." Dr. Geldter responded angrily, "I don't believe it! For what reason?" Dr. Ricin then stated, "The IDF considers the McNichols heroes. They claim that they helped them with IDF Special Forces and with the illnesses in Northern Israel after the Gulf War Iraqi missile attacks." Geldter responded, "That's a bunch of bullshit spread by our enemies! How can they be considered heroes by the Kuwaitis and also by the IDF? What kind of crap is this? That can't be right, already!"

Dr. Geldter then reminded the assembled group of the threat that the McNichols posed to the classified program in the M. K. Black Building. "They've been interfering way too much in our prison studies. ow they're involved with the people that live around the prisons where our studies are ongoing, already. Do you know how long it takes to complete one of these studies? Do you have any idea of the amount of time it takes to plan and execute a good clinical trial?" Dr. Ricin leaned over to Dr. Krappner, "Why don't you contact your friends in MIS." Dr. Krappner reacted irritated, "How did you know about MI5?" Dr. Ricin piped in arrogantly, "Because Israeli intelligence is the best. We will use factions in each of these agencies to supply information and operatives, and we will tell them only part of our mission." Dr. Geldter added, "Better let me do the planning here! Dr. Belcher doesn't want to be involved!" Dr. Belcher to Dr. Geldter, "I told you that I should not know the details of this mission! My office can't be involved!" Dr. Geldter replied with a sneer, "You mean our mission, Francis! Don't forget what Dr. Masters told us!" Dr. Ricin to Dr. Geldter, "I will help you with a new weaponized mycoplasma and you, Isaac, will prepare the asparaginase that you told me about." Dr. Belcher questioned the tactic, "I don't think that this particular approach worked the last time. But I still don't want to know about it." Dr. Geldter ignoring Dr. Belcher, "This is very important. I will supply you with the best macrophage inhibitors." Dr. Ricin said, "I hear from Isaac that Jared will be lecturing to a conference at Queens College in Cambridge." Dr. Geldter exploded, "What bullshit! I should be giving that lecture! Why would they invite him!"

Dr. Ricin continued to address the group as if he didn't hear Isaac, "We will random-drop each component to a central operative in Queen's College just before the meeting. This operative will then mix the cocktail and offer it in, say, a special dish or dessert, just for the 'special' American guests. We must be certain that they will eat it, so it has to be something Marie and Jared like." Dr. Geldter smirked, 'Jared will eat anything." Dr. Ricin said, "I am not that worried about Jared McNichols." Dr. Geldter interrupted, "Oh yah, I can't wait to get rid of that sonofabitch! He always seems to be in my way. I would have had a Nobel by now if it wasn't for him!" Dr. Belcher was condescending, "Isaac, you're going to have to spend more productive time in your laboratory if you ever expect to get a Nobel! And you are going to have to stop those technicians and post-docs of yours from claiming that you fudge your data. I had to clean up some messy rumors because of your employees." Dr. Geldter replied angrily, "That's a lie, a lot of crap spread by my enemies! My techs never said that!" Dr. Belcher continued, "You better wake up, Isaac!" Dr. Krappner turned to Dr. Ricin who was trying to change the subject, "Don't listen to those alpha-males, Schlomo. At least I can see that you've done your homework."

Dr. Ricin indicated that an operative in some rogue faction of Israeli intelligence would help with the profiles of the McNichols, their personalities, likes and dislikes, and so on, but he needed some financial support. He was suggesting that he could recruit anyone if he had access to Texas-sized accounts like Isaac and Amy. Dr. Geldter ignored the comment about how much money he had access to and related to Schlomo, "I always tell people Marie's a gypsy." Dr. Ricin shot back, "Apparently not! My contacts have her heritage as Catholic Merrano and his as Scottish Protestant." Dr. Belcher finally added, "I thought that the Merranos were Jews who practiced Catholicism on the surface but Judaism behind closed doors during the Inquisition in Spain." He then almost lost his composure, "But back to the main point, this whole thing is absurd! It's just ridiculous that we should be wasting our time plotting to eliminate, in my opinion, two rather insignificant scientists." Dr. Ricin responded, "By our standards they are anything but insignificant, especially if you consider the Las Vegas assets and the defense corporations that are probably part of Marie's inheritance." Dr. Krappner chewed on her lip nervously and added, "And if they found out about our special projects in the prison system." Dr. Geldter interrupted, "Do you have any idea how much effort we have put into the prison projects, Francis?" But Dr. Belcher did not want to know. Dr. Geldter continued, "You know, Francis, you don't seem to be cut out for this."

Then for no apparent reason Dr. Geldter went on a rampage. "I for one will relish being able to finally piss on their graves. Good riddance to both of them! I'm tired of hearing about the McNichols, already! Jared was even made the Editor of some bullshit cancer journal instead of me, and I want them out of my life forever!" Dr. Ricin tried to calm Isaac down, "Don't worry about that. It will all be taken care of. Listen my friends, this operation must be executed in a professional manner, and I repeat, no one should know why we are delivering the various cocktail components to Cambridge. My contact has already identified an operative who can be called upon for such a delicate operation. He goes by the code name Oozie." Dr. Belcher said again, "I told you I don't want to know any of these details!" He then repeated himself slowly, "I don't wanta know any of this!" Dr. Geldter ignored Dr. Belcher, pompously turned to Dr. Ricin and stated, "Schlomo, I congratulate you for orchestrating this! And, by the way, how did you know that you were being called for just this purpose. I did not mention the real reason when we spoke on the phone?" Dr. Ricin responded, "Like I said, no one is immune to us. Not even you. And besides, my compatriots make it a point to keep track of this situation."

Dr. Belcher was as nervous as ever, and he wanted to be a thousand miles away from this group. "This is so ruthless! I am still not convinced that they are such a threat that we need to ... " Dr. Krappner then interrupted her boss, "Actually, it's a beautiful plan, and the best part is that we don't even have to be directly involved." Dr. Geldter added, "You know, Francis, I don't think you have the stomach for this. You are acting like the weak link in our chain." Dr. Belcher, who was still acting nervous as he thought to himself that he was in the midst of a bunch of sociopaths and he'd better hide his fear replied, "Don't be ridiculous! It's true, I am not in favor of your approach, but I am not stupid. You can count on my silence, but I still would rather stick to the professional character assassinations and ruining their careers. That's more up my alley, and I have certainly been successful at it in the past." Dr. Geldter added, "Yah, you're a real pro, Francis." Dr. Krappner laughed in a smug sort of way, "I can attest to that. I hope, Francis, that you like me, because technically you are my boss."

Amy had changed her tone again. She laughed, and Dr. Belcher managed a brief phony laugh, "Well, Amy you know what they say, all men seem to need a strong mother." Dr. Geldter interjected, "One minor problem, though, is that we are now going to have to put up with that obnoxious new Executive Vice President that Clement has hired, that pissant Clyde Bane." Dr. Geldter continued, "I don't think he knows how to zip his fly without help. He's just a piece of play-dough garbage, a giant idiotic .... " Amy interrupted, "Isaac, we can control him. Let's not get off on Clyde. We can neutralize his influence if we play our cards right. And besides he is small Mississippi potatoes!" Dr. Geldter thought about it and smiled.

Dr. Ricin wanted to get back to a more serious discussion. "Remember, the key to a successful operation of this nature is team-work. The operatives should only be given information on a need-to-know basis. We must be efficient. That Cambridge meeting begins in a few weeks." Dr. Geldter sarcastically added, "And to think that I worked overtime to have Jared McNichols thrown off the program. And now it plays right into our hands. No one would ever suspect me now! "Dr. Krappner added, "Well, let's not try to speculate. I prefer to think of them as some problems that need to be contained." Dr. Geldter turned to Dr. Belcher, "And that asshole Jared is in the way. Francis, once this is over, I want his department merged with mine immediately. Am I clear on that?" Dr. Belcher replied, "Don't try to second guess Dr. Masters, Isaac. You will get your just rewards, I am sure. And stop acting as if I can just increase your salary by 100%." Dr. Geldter was furious, "I bet that you can, if you tried hard enough!" Dr. Belcher replied, "I cannot even get my own salary raised!" Dr. Geldter shot back, "I would settle for 50% for me and 50% for Amy." Dr. Belcher ignored the last comment while Dr. Ricin continued, "It's best not to think of them as persons. Get used to thinking of them as targets, nothing more than a statistic in the universal scheme of things." Dr. Krappner cheerfully added, "Anyone want homemade whipped cream on their Creme Brulee?" Dr. Belcher now began to relax, "How gauche!" Soft chuckles were heard from all. It had been a good day in the Texas Hill Country.
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:06 am

Part 3 of 3

Dr. Masters takes a personal interest

Dr. Masters had arranged a conference call with an ex-government official and some of his close administration and faculty that had been conscripted to orchestrate Marie's and Jared's professional and character assassinations, or worse. The meeting had been called at the request of Dr. Francis Belcher, who had indicated to Dr. Masters that a pep talk was necessary to convince certain faculty members that the underhanded actions against a senior faculty member and his wife were absolutely necessary and in line with Dr. Masters' administrative directives. Attending the meeting were: Drs. Clement Masters, Francis Belcher, Isaac Geldter, Amy Krappner, Martin Italiano, Roland Auchenhower, Laura Graham and James Ross. Dr. Masters also took this opportunity to introduce Dr. Clyde Bane, the new Executive Vice President for Hospital Administration. He was a flaccid looking individual of medium height with a pasty complexion. Although he just arrived at the Cancer Center, he already had detractors on the faculty, such as Dr. Isaac Geldter, who called him the Pillsbury Doughboy. Dr. Geldter was upset because of the salary that Dr. Bane made, and he took every opportunity to tell anyone who would listen that he deserved a higher salary. The meeting took place in Clement Masters' conference room. Dr. Schlomo Ricin, who visited Austin earlier but had not met Dr. Masters was to be connected by telephone to the conference. The atmosphere was very somber, but there was also a low-level exhilaration in the demeanor of some of the faculty who now realized that Dr. Belcher was not lying to them about the plans of the administration and Dr. Masters. They were almost proud to be invited into such an elite power group at the institution.

Dr. Masters came to his door to signal everyone that the meeting was about to start. He was in a jovial mood and wanted to continue the meeting in his own office in more comfortable surroundings rather than in the small conference room where his employees had been waiting. Dr. Masters motioned with his hands, "Come in. Make yourselves comfortable. There's fresh coffee and Eggs Benedict in a warmer over there on the table." Dr. Belcher asked sarcastically, "Am I dreaming. Has The D. O. Madison's kitchen actually gone gourmet?" Dr. Masters forced a chuckle, the kind of false chuckle that he was famous for, "I am afraid not, Francis. In view of the significance of the occasion, I told the office to have a catered breakfast ready." Dr. Italiano uttered in his slight ew York accent, "My, God! Look at this spread." Dr. Geldter tried to be smug to show his colleagues that he does this often with Dr. Masters, "This is my kind of meeting." But Dr. Italiano continued, There's fresh strawberries and cream and even champagne to go with the fresh-squeezed orange juice!"

The faculty members were clearly impressed. They were not used to such amenities. Dr. Masters, who was always proud to show off his power and prestige to the faculty stated, "As I told you all, nothing but the best for my most loyal employees." Dr. Belcher was flabbergasted, because he had never been accorded such honor in the weekly senior administrative meetings with Dr. Masters. Dr. Auchenhower chuckled and then joked to Dr. Masters, "Dr. Masters, you have successfully bribed me with the aroma of that fresh brewed coffee." Dr. Amy Krappner hated early morning meetings, but she had been warned by Dr. Belcher not to miss the meeting. "It's not fair. I can't even think of food at this hour!" Dr. Geldter chided his wife, "Aw, come on Amy, I'm sure you can force down some of that champagne and orange juice and, look boob-a-lah, there's even some smoked salmon and bagels."

Dr. Masters was restless over his faculty fawning over the food instead of himself, and his mood changed. He began by speaking in a low friendly voice. "Dr. Geldter, I appreciate that you are fond of your wife, but let's refrain from the boobalah." Dr. Masters, who hailed from rural Mississippi actually hated Jews, but he had learned to hide it well over the years. Even he knew that academia was dominated by Jewish physicians, scientists and researchers, and he learned early on how to schmooze them into thinking that he actually liked and respected them. In fact, he did not like them-he despised them-but he needed them, and his Machiavellian sense of power required that he make them his allies.

Dr. Masters began pacing before the table in his office that had been set for the occasion, "I want to remind each of you of the significance of this meeting, but first I want to introduce Dr. Clyde Bane, our new Executive Vice President. Most of you already know Dr. Bane, so I don't need to go into a lengthy introduction. Let's just say that The D. O. Madison Cancer Center is blessed with talent, and your addition brings our faculty to a new leve." Drs. Laura Graham and James Ross looked at each other with an expression that was a cross between uncomfortable and smug, as Ross pointedly glanced at the new administrative addition, Dr. Bane. When he thought no one was watching, he whispered to his wife Dr. Graham, "Bane stinks as a surgeon!" Dr. Masters then interjected after he gave Dr. Ross a sharp look of warning, "I want you all to be very supportive of Dr. Bane, since he is our new Executive Vice President for Hospital Administration." Dr. Belcher, who also didn't like to be outdone piped in, "Well, Clyde welcome aboard. Are you pleased to get out of Mississippi?" This was a major faux pas, since Dr. Bane left Mississippi many years ago. Everyone kept reminding Dr. Bane of Mississippi, but he hadn't been back to the state in years. Dr. Krappner then added, "I'm sure you will be a marvelous addition to an already splendid team of leadership." Dr. Masters beamed his approval, "Well put, Dr. Krappner." Dr. Geldter, who hated to be outdone by anyone, especially his wife who he claimed was less than competent without him, chimed in by pouring on the charm, "Welcome, Dr. Bane, I hope that you are finding us as delightful as we find you." Dr. Geldter did this at the same time that he made the effusive gesture of jumping up from his seat and going over to shake Dr. Bane's hand in a most rigorous fashion. Dr. Graham, who had a falsetto tone in her voice when she became nervous, as if years of elocution lessons to correct her speech pattern were of no avail, followed quickly with a large smile on her face, "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Dr. Bane." She had a very insipid and artificial manner about her, and she wanted to shake hands with both of her hands instead of the usual one-handed shake. She was the epitome of insincerity, but she feared that he might have heard her husband's stupid remark. Finally, Dr. Ross found it necessary to add, "Well, at last I will have an opportunity to work with an outstanding surgeon. It's been so frustrating just passing you briefly at the National Surgical Society meetings." Dr. Bane looked at Ross and smiled, but he wouldn't make the same political mistake, especially in front of Dr. Masters, "I certainly know what you mean." He was a quick study in double-speak.

Dr. Bane then looked at everyone as he took his seat and said, "Thank you all so much for making me feel so welcome." There was a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Dr. Masters had not noticed, because he was looking at a note that was just handed to him by his secretary. He finally went to his seat at the head of the table, "I do want to keep this as brief as possible. I have a meeting in the Governor's office, and as you know we have to keep our channels with the Governor as open as possible."

Now that Dr. Masters had everyone's attention, he continued, "Now let's get down to business. We are scheduled to receive an important call to brief you on a vital mission concerning one of our faculty. Dr. Geldter has arranged for Dr. Schlomo Ricin, the premier expert on mycoplasmas to call at the same time." Dr. Masters was then interrupted by a buzz, indicating that a telephone call was coming through to his inner office. Turning, he proceeded to his desk where he faced away from the others to take the call. Meanwhile, Dr. Geldter who did not wait for Dr. Masters to return to the table replied to the group in a knowledgeable some might say, arrogant manner, "My sources indicate that our backers are powerful Las Vegas interests that own some of the largest defense companies in America." Dr. Ross interceded at this point, "May I interrupt and ask a question of Dr. Masters?" But Dr. Masters was still on his phone call, and he was also interrupted by his assistant and didn't hear the conversation. So Dr. Ross then turned to Isaac and asked, "Dr. Geldter, you seem to know more about this than the rest of us. What's this so-called Las Vegas financial group have to do with our meeting, and is there any organized crime element involved?" Dr. Italiano added, "I agree, what does a financial group that may have something to do with Las Vegas casino-organized crime families have to do with The D. O. Madison and our mission?" Dr. Ross spoke quietly, "I must tell you in confidence, Laura and I have done some extremely sensitive work for the CIA, and ... " Dr. Graham interrupted her husband, "That's right. We were just up at Langley for a conference. And they've even sent us to the South of France on critical information procuring missions." Dr. Ross seemed irritated at being interrupted by his wife who was saying too much to the group, "To continue, if this financial group was so important, we would have known about it." Dr. Belcher sarcastically interrupted, "Well, now. The truth comes out, at last! I've been working with a couple of spooks that have risen in their occupations because of some spy-business. I always knew there had to be some explanation for the two of you to have advanced so far in this game. Dr. Graham became very irritated and stated, "How dare you, Dr. Belcher!" Dr. Geldter whispered to his wife Amy, "These two are such mediocrities." Dr. Graham turned directly to Dr. Geldter and continued, "How dare you imply that my work is not superlative!" Dr. Geldter sarcastically interjected, "Why did you think I was referring to you? Look at Amy here. She thinks that she's the best of the best!" Dr. Krappner arrogantly responded to her husband, "I believe that I am the best immunologist here at the D. O. Madison! Dr. Graham sneered at Dr. Krappner; she thought that Amy Krappner was a complete has-been, but she refused to tell her to her face.

Dr. Geldter did not try to change the subject and in a bombastic tone reiterated, "Dr. Belcher, I can't believe that you have the gall to be so self-righteous. You are not exactly a Fred Rosenberg or David Lipschitz!" Dr. Belcher was irritated to be compared to the two famous physician-scientists, "I'll have you know that when I was back in New York, our department was the best of the best!" Dr. Geldter replied, "Yeah, but I am the only one in this room with a citation classic! And I, not you Francis, should have more awards, already, and you should be supporting me more!" The meeting had clearly degenerated before it actually got started.

Dr. Masters, who was now off the phone, had been talking with his administrative assistant, taking notes and ignoring the group. Realizing that the meeting had deteriorated before it had even begun, he now returned to intercede in a fatherly manner. Dr. Masters liked to treat his faculty as if he were a father figure and they were children that needed more discipline. "Now boys, infighting will get us nowhere." Dr. Krappner became indignant and responded. "Sir, there are women here too. With all due respect, I for one would appreciate being properly addressed." Dr. Masters forever the politician replied, "Why yes, we have not forgotten about our esteemed female faculty members."

During the course of the brief meeting Dr. Bane wondered why he took a job with such bickering faculty members-He almost seemed out of place. He just sat back and observed; he did not feel a part of this group, but he considered himself probably the best politician in the room, with the exception of Dr. Masters, of course. Dr. Krappner quickly regained her composure and replied to Dr. Masters in her sweet voice, "I am sure that under your superb leadership we are all going to be given tremendous opportunities. Who knows what the successful completion of our mission will mean to our careers?" Drs. Auchenhower and Italiano had been quietly looking at each other, and the newcomer Dr. Clyde Bane finally broke his silence, "Dr. Masters, if I could interrupt. It seems to me that it serves no useful purpose for this esteemed group to disagree. Remember the old military adage of defeating an enemy by the strategy of divide and conquer. I am sure that under your leadership, we will accomplish whatever tasks you have in mind."

Dr. Clement Masters had turned again to his assistant and never heard the statement by Dr. Bane, but he finished and immediately interrupted without thinking about any of Dr. Bane's comments, or any of the other comments for that matter. "Good point, Dr. Bane! As I was saying, the principal financial backers of our project as well as the overall intelligence source for this delicate operation will for the moment remain anonymous and will only be known by me. Dr. Geldter's good friend Dr. Ricin is, shall I say, coordinating other individuals for our project. I am counting on Drs. Graham and Ross here to keep them informed with their 'sources.' In the rare event that the proposed task fails and certain people find out about it, we, and especially my office, must have full deniability. We do not want even the slightest possibility that certain people might find out about our classified programs with Belford College of Medicine."

Dr. Masters continued in an attempt to explain to the group why they had been convened. "You see, at the highest levels of power there are no loyalties or nationalities. No causes are peculiar to anyone group or individual. Everyone in the power circles knows each other." Dr. Masters talked with authority as if he was a member of the 'power group' but in reality he was just a stooge being used like the rest of them. He continued, "However, this operation will be successful due to careful planning and execution by all of you. I am not going to ask you about the details, because this office must have complete deniability in this matter. I am sure you understand. I know that you will be successful. Dr. Belcher here will brief you, and you will all report to him on the progress, except for you, Dr. Bane, of course." Dr. Italiano finally stated, "I hope you are right, sir." Dr. Auchenhower nodded his head in agreement with Dr. Italiano, and he continued Dr. Italiano's line of dialogue, "Dr. Italiano is just voicing his fears that none of us wants to be identified as part of this operation should, on the outside chance, it fails."

Dr. Masters frowned at the comment. He knew that each one of the participants, except for Dr. Bane, had been briefed by Dr. Belcher. "I do not like to hear such negative comments expressed by my staff, Dr. Auchenhower. You are all involved in this project, and have been from the start, and I suggest that you follow your instructions to the letter." Masters then smiled, looked around the table and said, "And that goes for everyone in this room." Dr. Masters now changed his demeanor to be more cheerful style and said, "Now Dr. Bane needs to be brought up to speed on our project. Dr. Belcher will be assigned to inform Dr. Bane of any necessary details. I should remind each of you that Dr. Bane comes to us with the highest recommendation. We are very fortunate to have him on our team."

Dr. Bane looked around the room at the smiling faces and wondered what he had gotten himself into. He was beginning to look very pale and was starting to act very uncomfortable when Dr. Geldter interceded. "Dr. Masters, I believe we all are aware of our critically important roles." Dr. Masters stated, "If anyone wants out and leaves this meeting now, I can't stop you, but I must warn you that I need to have team players at our institution." Dr. Masters did not like anyone else appearing to take control over the meeting, so he continued, "Dr. Geldter is absolutely correct. I am told by our Las Vegas financial source that he already knows each and everyone of you, where you live and work and how you travel. They're a very well organized group, and they don't like excuses. Do you understand the situation?" Everyone nodded as if they all comprehend the ramifications in unison, but Dr. Bane appeared extremely uncomfortable. Actually he secretly wondered why he left his last position for this tempest.

Dr. Masters was now in complete control. "Good! I believe at last we have unity of purpose." A buzz was heard, and Clement Masters' administrator said through the intercom, "Dr. Masters. Your call is ready." Dr. Masters' countenance was delineated by a beaming smile, and most of the players were now smiling and silent. Dr. Masters began the call by saying, "Good morning, Sir!" The voice that came over the intercom sounded like a politician, "Same to you, Clement! I hope that this call isn't too early in the morning. Is your team assembled there?" Dr. Masters replied, "Assembled and ready, sir!" The former government official who was a National Security Advisor to a former President said, "Very good! Is the other contact on the line?" Schlomo Ricin responded, "Ricin here! Shalom from Jerusalem."

The former government official, Stephen V. Able, talked to Dr. Masters and his assembled co-conspirators over the speakerphone. "Good! I guess we're ready! Clement, could you have everyone introduce themselves." Dr. Masters replied, "With pleasure, Sir!" Dr. Geldter piped in first, "Good morning, Sir. I'm Dr. Isaac Geldter, and J have been working closely with Dr. Ricin on some critical projects. Mr. Able asked, "How are those Russian Dolls coming along?" Dr. Geldter was a bit taken aback but quickly recovered, "Near completion, sir. With my input we have perfected the macrophage inhibition component." Mr. Able said over the phone, "Good! You have been invaluable in helping us to achieve our ultimate goall" Isaac Geldter acted very smug, looked around and smiled to the other participants as if he had scored a major triumph. Dr. Geldter then continued, "Sir, I'd like to introduce Dr. Amy Krappner, who has been essential in helping us design the necessary immunological experiments which complement the Russian Doll project." Dr. Krappner was giggling, "I'm so pleased to finally meet you, sir!" Mr. Able answered, "The feeling is mutual!" One by one Drs. Bane, Belcher, Italiano, Auchenhower, Graham and Ross introduced themselves by simply saying, "Good morning, and then they furnished their names. Even though they had the chance, it was not necessary for them to be so self-promoting in front of Dr. Masters.

Finally the real meeting began. Mr. Able said, "I am so glad that you all have agreed to assist us in this important operation. Before I start, I assume that Clement has cleared you with the secrecy aspects of this operation. Clement, here, has been working with us for some time on some very vital projects, projects that are essential to our 'National Security.' At this point Dr. Belcher muttered to himself so that Dr. Ross heard him, "National Security my ass, more like consummate greed." Dr. Masters, who was not quite within hearing range shot a look at Dr. Belcher and stated in an irritated voice, "Francis, do you have something to say that is so important that you must interrupt this discussion?" Dr. Belcher then answered, "No, sir. I'm sorry." Dr. Masters continued, "Oh just shut up, Francis!"

At this point everyone at the meeting was visibly nervous, but Dr. Masters was too self-absorbed to notice. Dr. Masters then continued in a conciliatory voice to the esteemed individual on the conference call, "I'm sorry, sir. Dr. Belcher here just has never been able to contain himself." Mr. Able just chuckled loud enough so that everyone could hear him to ease the tension and then stated, "That's all right, Dr. Belcher ... I take it that Clement has briefed you on our current objective and explained to you why we consider the subjects to be a major threat to National Security." Dr. Geldter piped in, "Sir, we are all clear on the project and are in agreement on what has to be done. Dr. Masters has informed us that the initial attempts using Russian Doll cocktails failed for some reason, but I do not think that our new mix containing a weaponized Mycoplasma with Brucella and asparginase in combination with macrophage inhibitors will fail. With my extensive expertise in this area I suggested that the cocktail should also contain a component that should completely compromise the immune system. Through my own investigations I have found that one of our targets suffers from a violent allergy to asparagus. Well, it just so happens that I am the world's leading expert on asparaginase, an important enzyme in asparagus, and I have concluded that if we place asparaginase in the same cocktail, the mission will be successful. The immune system will have to contend with the asaparaginase and therefore will have nothing left for the other biologicals." Dr. Geldter sounded so smug during his explanation. He had achieved exactly what he wanted-the chance to completely upstage his colleagues.

Dr. Belcher just looked at Drs. Italiano and Auchenhower skeptically. They were stunned to be talking about murdering two of their colleagues. Dr. Bane was even more stunned. Although he had previously been at a university in Mississippi that was known for its work on biological warfare and testing biowarfare agents, it seemed as if this was completely out of his league. He felt as if he was in a living nightmare. He pondered the situation wondering if he was just imagining the thrust of this so-called executive meeting. Were these would-be criminals really his colleagues? He was beginning to regret his decision to join the D. O. Madison executive staff. Dr. Masters could not stop Dr. Geldter, but his look at the others encompassed a warning for them to keep their mouths shut and not to voice their scientific or moral opinions, which might be just the opposite to Isaac Geldter's.

Mr. Able finally responded to Dr. Geldter's comments. "This is great news, Clement!" Dr. Ricin then interjected, "Sir, my contacts have assembled a group of operatives who will each provide a component of the cocktail to be served to the targets at a conference in Cambridge." Dr. Geldter then piped in again, "Sir, to assure success, the cocktail has been designed so there will be no initial symptoms, and preferably no symptoms for a few days or so. In addition, Drs. Graham and Ross here have also agreed to include the asparaginase cocktail in some appetizers, which will be served at a party in honor of the graduation of one of Dr. Graham's students. Both targets were invited and should attend this party before they leave the U. S. After the targets receive their cocktails in Austin, the combination of the first dose and the stress of travel should prime them for a second more potent dose in Cambridge. The graduation party is scheduled the day before they leave, and they have both accepted the invitation. When the immune system encounters the second dose, the infection should be triggered to take off. And since the biologicals we are using in the second cocktail are slightly different from the first cocktail, they should be extremely susceptible." Dr. Krappner chirped in, even though she was warned not to, "Sir, it's analogous to a flu infection. People may have immunity to one strain, but when another strain appears that their immune system has not seen, they become ill. Even extremely healthy individuals are devastated from new strains of flu if they are first weakened!"

Mr. Able thought for a moment. "I see." In fact, he had no clue, but he did not bother to ask. He had learned over the years to let the doctors and spooks do the talking. If anything went wrong, he could deny everything. Dr. Masters then stated in his usual authoritative manner, "I believe we have everything under control." Mr. Able responded quickly, "I am very pleased to hear that! I would not want you to fail. A lot is depending on this mission. Now, make sure that your team is thorough in their professional activities. It would be better if the illness is perceived as psychological, and then no one will be surprised if a suicide occurs at a later date. We must deflect any suspicion that this was an organized mission and not some accidental occurrence. I know that your team will be successful. Be sure to keep my staff informed of any new information."

Dr. Masters sensed that the conference call was over. "Sir, it's been a pleasure talking to you. I promise we will keep you updated at every step." Mr. Able responded, "Thank you so much for meeting so early in the morning for this briefing. I have the utmost faith that I can count on each of you to make this a successful operation." Dr. Ricin interjected, "Before you sign off, Sir, would you have any objection if the code name for this operation is White Rose." Mr. Able quickly responded, "Good name. I like it. Kinda makes you think of a red rose that has the blood drained from it. You know what I mean. A modern House of York versus House of Tudor. Thanks, for your valuable assistance, Clement. Good luck to you all."

The conference call with the Mr. Able had been terminated, but Dr. Ricin was still on the phone. Dr. Ricin continued, "So, there we have it.just leave the intricacies of the delivery to me. Dr. Geldter will keep me posted at every step of the project as it progresses. This operation must be properly orchestrated so that there is absolutely no room for error." Dr. Geldter replied, "Schlomo, this is Isaac, there won't be any error at this end." Dr. Ricin answered, "You're all an asset to the great state of Texas. Shalom, y'all!" The southern accent pun sounded ludicrous with Dr. Ricin's thick Israeli accent, but this time he got it right.

Chuckles were heard around the room. Dr. Masters even chuckled, and then got up out of his chair, "Well, ladies and gentlemen, I feel we are off to an excellent start. I don't need to remind you how important this project is to me. Don't fail! One final point, we have to infiltrate Jared McNichols' department. Francis, do you have any suggestions as to whom we could recruit in the department. Dr. Belcher proudly related to Dr. Masters, "I have that covered, Clement. Tom Domasovitch has been keeping close track of everything related to the McNichols. Domasovitch even had Jared's computers fixed so that they will make alias files of anything that the McNichols do on their computers. One of Jared's post-docs whom I recruited for the mission even helped with the programming." Dr. Masters asked, "Are they trustworthy?" Dr. Belcher responded, "Domasovitch will do anything to get ahead. These guys would kill their own mothers if it meant extra money or promotions, and, correct me if I'm wrong, Isaac, isn't that other faculty member Judah Nosan close to you." Dr. Geldter answered smiling, "Of course. Nosan looks up to me as an older brother, so he should be very easy to manipulate. I can have him eating out of my hand if I want." Dr. Belcher added, "Domasovitch is our man. He has limited talent as a researcher, and he has little character but I keep him around for certain purposes, under the condition that he be available for certain special jobs. Interestingly, he claims he was a Ranger in Vietnam, but I know differently. He was never a Ranger, and he abandoned his own men to save his own ass. I hold this over him, because I don't think anyone here knows the story." Dr. Krappner chortled, "Be serious, Dr. Belcher! We know the story, but it sounds like he's just the type you want." Dr. Masters was suddenly effusive and enthusiastic. He beamed and said, "Good! Francis, I want you to feel them out, and then, if it looks appropriate, arrange a meeting with the rest of us, so we can decide whether to bring them in on this critical mission."

Dr. Belcher stood up and gave Dr. Masters a mock salute. Dr. Belcher then said, "If you will excuse me, Dr. Masters, I am late for our scheduled meeting with The External Review Board." Dr. Masters then retorted as he did not want Dr. Belcher to think that his meeting was of more significance than the present gathering, "Remember, Francis, there will be extremely unpleasant consequences if you fail." Dr. Belcher replied, "I understand, Clement, but I think that depends on the rest of the group, not me! I am just the person coordinating the reporting for you. You can't expect me to accept any responsibility for the success or failure of this operation. I was not to be involved in any way." Dr. Masters stated firmly, "I expect all of you to accept responsibility for this operation and keep me informed of its progress, but not directly. You will report everything to Dr. Belcher here. I cannot be involved in any way." The rest of the group rose from their chairs and exited the room. Dr. Belcher remained behind to argue with Dr. Masters on who should take the responsibility if something went wrong. Neither of these top administrators wanted to take any responsibility if the mission failed, but they both wanted the accolades if everything worked out as planned.

In the hallway outside Dr. Masters' office Drs. Italiano and Auchenhower turned the corner and began walking to the elevator. Dr. Italiano looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was listening and spoke first, "I don't know about this, Roland. It's very scary." Dr. Auchenhower responded first, "What concerns me is the cold-blooded way our academic colleagues are orchestrating this. I really do not like the Mc ichols, and I don't mind screwing their careers, but I can't help thinking that this group could easily do the same thing to anyone of us if we were in the same situation." Dr. Italiano said, "I find it hard to imagine that Marie McNichols is this heiress. Furthermore, I still don't understand why anyone in the government, if they are in the government, is so thoroughly convinced that Marie and Jared are such a threat to National Security. Someone always brings up some bullshit 'National Security' excuse to justify their actions." Dr. Auchenhower continued, "Dr. Masters did say that our high-level ex-government friend was once the National Security Advisor to the President, so he must have access to information about these two that we don't have." Dr. Italiano asked, "But suppose this ex-government guy has his own agenda? And what about this Las Vegas connection? What kind of bullshit is that? Are we all working for some Mafia-types in Las Vegas? Do you think that this has something to do with the involvement of The Madison in the prison testing that Isaac always brags about? What is this company, the Cornealyis Group, all about? Aren't they the company that was involved in some arms for drugs scandal in South America?"

After exiting the elevator Dr. Italiano mentioned to Dr. Auchenhower, "I hate to admit it, but Marie is developing an important technique for molecular biology." Dr. Auchenhower asked, "If you felt that way, why were you so zealous in your disruption of her seminar?" Dr. Italiano responded, "She's competition, even more than Jared! Come off it, Roland you had no problem heckling her at the seminar." Dr. Auchenhower answered, "I know. But I don't feel good about it; they're good scientists, and he won the faculty teaching award at the Medical School, but you're right. They're eventually competition, and there are just so many resources to go around, and I have to fight for my department." Dr. Italiano asked, "Could the fact that Jared was asked, not you, to take over the Cancer Biology Department have anything to do with your attitude? Weren't you previously in his department?" Dr. Auchenhower replied, "Yes, but I left the institution as he came on board. I only returned because they offered me another department chairmanship. Dr. Italiano then said, "I think I made my point, Roland. Wouldn't you like to merge your department with Jared's and take over all that space and money?" Dr. Auchenhower ignored the direction of the conversation and said, "Don't confuse me with Isaac Geldter!"

Dr. Auchenhower thought for a moment and continued the conversation after he lowered his voice. He did not want anyone to hear him. "By the way, what if this Las Vegas organization has some hidden agenda, and this is all just a smokescreen? I don't mind the ethics stuff and character assassination, but murder is way out of my depth, and I feel trapped. I don't want to go to jail as an accessory to murder. What if the FB I has been following these Las Vegas creeps, and they implicate us in their criminal activities? What's more, it's a very scary thought that Graham and Ross actually worked for some group in the CIA, and Geldter's zealous involvement in some highly questionable germ warfare experiments, not to mention his close relationship with this Ricin character. Well, it just does not sit well with me. This could be dangerous. I don't want to end my career in jail .... or worse."

Dr. Italiano whispered into Dr. Auchenhower's ear to avoid being overheard by the passing staff members. "But what can we do? We couldn't stop this operation even if we wanted to, and neither of us can afford to lose our jobs. Besides, they would just recruit someone else to do the dirty work. Look, they already recruited Domasovitch, and you know he will go along with anything that they want. He would do anything to advance his career. I wonder if they are recruiting someone in my own department to watch me! I don't know what to do. They may even be watching me now!"

Dr. Auchenhower looked back over his shoulder to see if he could recognize anyone from his department watching them in the hallway. They walked together down the hallway, and the two finally parted to go to their respective offices. Before they separated they both shook their heads not knowing how it would all end. They were not worried about the others-they would probably get what they deserved-their only thoughts were for their own careers and livelihoods. The thought of anyone, especially their own family members, finding out about their questionable activities was depressing to them. They had entered academia to pursue a noble cause, the acquisition of knowledge that could some day help people, Now they found themselves in a rat race that demanded for their own survival the very destruction of some of their own colleagues. Ironically, neither of them would ever warn the McNichols of the imminent threat to their health. They would go along with Dr. Masters and his plots.
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:06 am

Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER 7: A Fateful Trip to Cambridge (1994)

The McNichols had to travel to Cambridge, England to attend a scientific conference at Queens' College. Jared had been invited as a major speaker at the conference, and Jared and Marie were both excited about the prospect of escaping from Austin for a week or so. They had been so busy that Marie forgot to contact Laura Graham about the invitation to attend her graduate student's graduation party. Two days before they were to leave she discussed the situation with Jared. "I really don't feel like going to Laura Graham's for this graduation party. If it were my own student, I wouldn't feel that I had a choice, but in this case I barely know the student."  Jared responded, "I don't want to go either. It's just before we leave on a trans-Atlantic flight. Although I know the student, I don't feel responsible for making sure that her party is a success." Marie continued, "I am sick of doing obligatory socializing with the D. O. Madison staff. It's so phony! It's obvious how much the staff at The Madison hates me!" Jared agreed, "It's absurd! What's really ridiculous is the gossip at these social get-togethers. I hate it." Marie added, "I know what you mean!" Jared continued, "It seems everywhere we go people look at us sort of cockeyed. I hate being the subject of the gossip mill." Marie thinking back, "I've had it my entire life, and I still don't understand it!" Jared said after a sigh, "I'll have my secretary call Graham and make our apologies. We'll blame it on the trip." Marie then suggested, "I'll order some flowers, say roses, and send them to her student with a congratulations message." Jared thought about the situation and then agreed, "Good idea! I didn't want to go anyway."

The trip to Cambridge was tiring. Flying overnight from Houston to Gatwick Airport south of London, they then had to make their way to Cambridge north of London. It was not the easiest pathway to their destination but what could they do. They had to take a train to Victoria Station, catch the Underground, which Marie hated, to North Euston Station and then hop a train north to Cambridge. By the time that they arrived, the quiet solitude of the Cambridge University Campus was soothing to Jared and Marie, who had been trying to put in eighteen-hour work days before they left Austin. They arrived by taxi from the rail station and checked into their accommodations at Queens' College. After finding their Spartan room upstairs, they decided to unpack and take a walk through the beautiful gardens near the Campus. The path wound its way along a canal or creek and then over the famous Mathematics Bridge. Jared told Marie that this was as far as he was going with her. After some protesting by Marie, he kissed her and rushed off to the conference site to register for the meeting. He would attend the conference for the both of them. Marie made her way back to the hotel room, but she was unhappy with Jared for just leaving her on the Mathematics Bridge and not bringing her back to the room.

The meeting with Professor Clever

The following day while Jared was attending the conference Marie visited with Professor Abraham Clever, a Nobel Prize winning physicist. She had not bothered to make an appointment because she wanted to confront him with her suspicions that he was blocking her scientific papers from being published. Marie wanted to know why Dr. Clever had taken such a dislike for her research.

Marie walked by herself to Dr. Clever's office. After a brief walk through the historic campus, she arrived at a beautiful old building on the Queens' College quad. The surroundings were so different from the tall, sterile buildings surrounded by concrete of the Austin medical center. She found her way up to Dr. Clever's office and determined that it was a typical office of a senior professor at Cambridge, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Since the secretary that normally manned the empty desk in his outer office was not present, Marie hesitantly knocked on the inner office door. She heard Dr. Clever inside muttering, "Come in, please!" He had a very proper British accent, and his demeanor was even more condescending and uppity than when Marie first met him at the Meyerhoff Conference in Israel. He smacked of someone who would be extremely put out if he had to endure a meeting with a junior scientist.

Marie entered Dr. Clever's office with a smile and carefully studied her surroundings. The walls were covered with awards and mementos of his distinguished career. A photograph was featured behind his desk where he was receiving the Nobel Prize from the King of Sweden. He also had a sterling silver tea service on a small table and a fragment of a tapestry from Belgium. Next to the photograph of his receiving the Noble Prize was a primitive-style print with a theme from the story of King David of the Old Testament.

Dr. Clever's face showed a mixture of shock and disdain as Marie entered the room, as if he was extremely surprised to see her. In fact, he looked like he had seen a ghost. His shock imparted the suspicion that he never suspected to see Marie again. It was clear that Dr. Clever did not like Marie. Marie spoke first, "Professor Clever, I'm so happy to see you again! Do you remember me? I'm Marie McNichols, and I met you at the Meyerhoff Conference." Dr. Clever just nodded his head, probably hoping that Marie would just go away. She idolized Dr. Clever's mind and his distinguished contribution to the field of chromatin structure, and she was not about to be chased away so easily. Marie continued, "Dr. Clever, I want you to know that I have read all your papers, and I cannot express how much you have inspired and influenced me in designing my own experiments." Dr. Clever recovered quickly and impatiently said, "Yes! Yes! Right! Get on with it?" Marie asked, "Get on with what, sir?" Dr. Clever responded, "The reason for your visit, of course."

Dr. Clever continued the conversation in a very rude and abrupt manner. "I am foolishly disrupting my schedule, so get on with it." Marie was taken aback by his rude behavior, "Dr. Clever, I take it you are not as happy to see me as I am to see you?" Dr. Clever, "Frankly, Marie, I have no earthly idea as to why you should wish to see me." Marie responded, "Dr. Clever, I am here because you told me at the Meyerhoff conference that I should stick to my guns in testing my hypothesis on the Nucleoprotein Gene Tracking technique." She paused and looked at him directly, "You also informed me that you would do everything in your power to block my efforts in developing my research. I am here because I have the distinct suspicion that you are blocking my manuscripts that I submitted for publication." Dr. Clever answered in a sarcastic manner, "What a brilliant deduction, Marie!" Marie asked, "Why would a person of your stature take such pains to block the publication of my experiments? You know I find it bizarre that you would want to stop my career. Colleagues of mine have been implying that I shouldn't be allowed to publish and that I am unstable." Dr. Clever responded, "Perhaps you are!"

Marie did not let that comment pass without a fight. "Dr, Clever, quite frankly, I just do not see why individuals such as yourself should feel so threatened by my work that you would stoop to such lowly actions. And why is everyone so interested in me, and why does the interest take on such negative undertones." Dr. Clever responded, "I cannot speak for your colleagues, but you are acting as if you have delusions of grandeur. None of us really gives a damn about you or your career." Marie asked, "If that is the case, then why have certain people told me that you are gunning for me. So, Dr. Clever I am not imagining that you have a peculiar interest in my career." Dr. Clever abruptly and sarcastically responded, "Will you get to the point, Marie. I do not have all day to speculate if you are the victim of some conspiracy. You are, after all, merely a peon in the general scheme of things, and as far as leaving your personal mark on science, in my opinion, that is very unlikely as you obviously do not have the necessary talent."

Marie now became very angry. "How can you make such a blanket statement, sir, without even taking the time to study the manuscripts I have written?" Dr. Clever responded, "I don't want to read your manuscripts, nor do I want anything to do with you in any sense of the word!" Marie a5ked, "Pardon me, sir, but what have I done to you that you should reel such animosity towards me? I have always admired your work, and I cannot understand why you dislike me so when my work is merely an extension of your own. Why should J pose such a threat to you?" Dr. Clever asked, "Why would I be threatened by your work?" Marie responded, "That's what I would like to know! Your response has led me to conclude that you perceive my work to be a threat. From my standpoint, what else could it be?"

Dr. Clever suddenly had an enormous outburst. He jumped up from his seat behind his desk and said loudly at Marie, "I can not handle the fact that you exist! It is impossible for you to exist and yet here you are in apparent good health, standing before my very eyes." Marie was puzzled by his response, "I do not know what's wrong with you, Dr. Clever, and don't know why so many prominent scientists treat me as if I were some sort of ghost. I barely know you, and I cannot understand your irrational behavior and unwillingness to critique my science as you would any other student who coveted your opinion. And don't tell me I am imagining things, and that your rude behavior is not in some way connected to these unreasonable attitudes. I have seen this before."

Dr. Clever was speechless and looked stunned and uncomfortable as if he knew something, but he would not tell Marie. Marie continued, "I am not blind, but I have to be suspicious when my presence here is met with the same sort of scorn that I experienced at the Meyerhoff Conference. I know my work is good, and it's at least worthy of attention from scientists in the field. Granted, the work is in its early phases of development, but many senior scientists have urged me to continue to develop the Nucleoprotein Gene Tracking technique. They told me to ignore the negativity of the average scientist, and they have encouraged me by saying that throughout the history of science new ideas have been met with extreme resistance and ridicule."

Dr. Clever was unusually nervous, and he backed away from Marie and asked, "Why are you here?" Finally Marie had enough and said, "Dr. Clever I am at the end of my patience with you! You may have won the Nobel Prize, and everyone may kowtow to you. And you may be the director of the British Research Association, and a peer of the Order of the British Empire. But I'll tell you what you are not and what you do not have- You completely lack character, and I am younger than you. I will outlive you! No matter what it takes, I will publish my work. one of us is ever one hundred percent right or one hundred percent wrong and that includes you. Knowledge is an extension of the work of many, and if you continue to block my publications and persist in this idiotic blackballing, I can promise you that you will go down in history as a scientific fool. I, for one, will not be intimidated by your abrasive and rude manner, unlike others who you bully with your ridiculously crude tactics. You are not God!"

Marie turned quickly on her heal and headed toward the office door. "Good day, sir!" Marie then walked briskly out of the office. It was obvious that their altercation was overheard by Dr. Clever's administrator who had since arrived and now had a mixture of shock and outrage on her face. In spite of the drama of her encounter with Dr. Clever, Marie looked calmly and passively at Dr. Clever's administrator and said, "And Good day to you too, ma'am!"

The Conference at Queens' College

Marie was spending a lot of time sleeping in the McNichols' room in Queens' College while Jared was attending the conference. Although Jared had his detractors, most of the participants respected Jared and his research. The newer research of the McNichols on chronic illnesses associated with the Gulf War did not come up when he was in conversation with his European colleagues, and when it did come up, they were very supportive. In Europe most scientists and physicians did not trust the military's explanation for Gulf War Illnesses, and in Great Britain they had the same problems with their veterans. The veterans had been mislead so many times before that it had hardened them into not accepting anything that the British Ministry of Defence had to say on the topic, and the other Europeans were even more forthright. They flat out did not believe in what the Pentagon had to say about anything, which was sad indeed. Interestingly, they fully understood the problems in trying to assist the sick veterans of a war that was not popular in Europe, because they widely assumed that the U. S. Department of Defense played a role in starting the war by not restraining Iraq just before it invaded Kuwait. Now the DoD probably had much to hide, which was unfortunately true.

After two days at Queens' College, Marie and Jared were attending a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres party prior to the farewell banquet of the conference. There were about 100 people at the cocktail party engaged in chitchat or conversation relating to the scientific presentations of the meeting. Marie was dressed in a Blue silk evening dress and featured around her neck was a magnificent gold necklace with a large sapphire, a gift from her family. She had finally calmed down over the altercation with Professor Clever and was speaking to Jared about the encounter. She posed the hypothesis that the hostile actions of individuals such as Clever and those at D. O. Madison must have some common thread.

Some of Jared's colleagues then arrived and introduced themselves to Marie while Jared was talking to some young students. It was time to attend the banquet, and they offered to accompany Marie to the festivities. She was not accustomed to such nice treatment. The dining room at Queens' College where the banquet was held was a lovely room indeed. There were beautiful stained glass windows that reflected the early evening sunset light, and there were historical objects d'art placed strategically around the room. A string quartet was playing selections from Handel, Mozart, and Purcell.

 Jared hurried over to the group after leaving the students who were not attending the banquet. He was dressed in a dark blue suit that complemented Marie's dress. Jared was drinking white wine and Marie, who didn't drink alcoholic beverages, was holding a soft drink. Marie was still thinking about her altercation with Professor Clever and said to Jared, "I cannot believe that Clever actually said he could not handle the fact that I exist!" She paused, "And he was incredibly hostile! I tell you Jared that this hostile behavior here in Europe and back in Austin must have been orchestrated. At least at the Meyerhoff conference the scientists completely ignored me, but here they love to play that British 'one-ups-manship' academic game that turned me off in college." Jared said, "Remember, all new ideas or observations are met with extreme resistance in science. At least you are getting some reaction." Marie responded, "I know, I know! My mentor in graduate school told me to throw myself into a controversy, and the controversy would act as a catalyst for my career. And he, too, told me about the extreme resistance to my being graduated. Controversy seems to follow me no matter what I do! But I tell you the attitude of Professor Clever and others is based upon something other than science. I have had to experience this weird and bizarre behavior all my life. I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now." She paused, "And I tell you, Jared, they act as if they wished I were dead, and they even seem surprised that I am alive."

 Jared looked skeptically at Marie, "Are you sure that you're not overreacting?" Marie answered, "Why won't you believe me?" Jared continued, "I do, but I find this frustrating, and I do not know what to make of it." At just this moment Dr. Geoffrey Fence, a senior administrator at a major pharmaceutical company and an old friend of Jared's came up to the McNichols. Dr. Fence, who was about 6 feet 3 inches tall, was a distinguished looking man, with a devilish smile to match his blue eyes.  Jared's face took on a genuine smile, "Geoff! It's good to see you! I completely enjoyed your presentation." As Jared spoke, the two men engaged in a hardy handshake. Geoff was British so he switched to his refined British accent, "Good to see you, old boy. Top flight presentation you gave, Jared." Then with a chuckle he continued, "No matter how good I think my latest studies are, yours always seem to be one step ahead." Jared smiled as if he knew a line when he heard it, "You're exaggerating again, Geoff, but I love it." Dr. Fence then turned his attention to Marie and with a puzzled expression but one full of affectation conveyed to her, "Bonjour, Marie!" Marie replied, "Bonjour to you, too!" Dr. Fence then took Marie's hand and gave it a continental kiss, "You're looking awfully fit and beautiful Marie! How do you feel?" Marie to Dr. Fence, "Quite well, thank you." Dr. Fence continued, "You appear to be completely recovered from that illness." Marie said, "I feel great now. I don't even have jet lag! But to be honest, Geoff, you don't look so well yourself. And you seem to be a bit shocked that I am well." Dr. Fence answered," Now, Marie, that's absurd. It must be your jet lag that has prompted you to imagine such a thing. I happen to be thrilled that you have recovered and your beauty remains intact."

Dr. Fence had heard from his old friend Dr. Geldter about his attempts to kill Marie and Jared, and he did not agree with it. In fact, he rarely spoke to anyone in Austin now, so he was quite out of the loop. He did not know what to make of the hostility that was being directed at Jared and Marie in Austin, but it couldn't be simple academic politics. It had gone way too far for simple academic bickering. He said to Marie, "What a beautiful dress!" Marie replied, "Now, Geoff, you know that flattery will get you nowhere with me! How's Lynette?" Dr. Fence responded, "She's doing quite well. Unfortunately she could not accompany me to this meeting due to her work schedule." Marie said, "That's a shame. I would have loved to see her. Give her my best!" Dr. Fence asked, "Is that large pink sapphire around your neck real?" Marie responded as she held it up so that he could see it more closely, "As far as we know, it is. This is called the Cetta Darma Sapphire, and it is considered quite important to my European family." Dr. Fence exclaimed, "That's incredible! I have never seen a sapphire that size!"

At this point chimes were sounded, and everyone proceeded to file into the banquet room. Both Jared and Marie told Dr. Fence that their presence was required at the head table as Jared was the keynote speaker on that particular day of the meeting. Dr. Fence nodded and made a comment, "As I was saying Jared, you're still on top of your research. Do you wish that Isaac Geldter were here like in the old days?" Jared chuckled in a somewhat sarcastic way, "I didn't know you were nostalgic, Geoff. But no, I really don't want to look back, and I really don't want to see Dr. Geldter either. See you after the banquet."

As Marie and Jared turned and proceeded to the banquet head table, Geoff had a puzzled look on his face. No one noticed in the corner of the large room a man dressed in a black suit who whispered to another man, "Has the final component been combined?" The second man nodded. "Good, I will give it to our contact in the kitchen just before the dessert. Hopefully, it won't alter the taste." The second man said, "Only a person with a trained palette would notice any difference." The first man replied, "Let's hope so! I have to join the banquet now. Good hunting!" He saluted and hurried off to the kitchen.

In the banquet room, the time passed quickly, and the evening meal was enjoyed by the participants and friends alike. At the end of the evening the string quartet that had been playing during the dinner was replaced by a small orchestra that was playing "I'll be loving you always" in a waltz tempo. Marie looked at Jared with tears in her eyes. Jared asked, "What's wrong, baby?" Marie answered, "That's my song-it always chokes me up. It reminds me of my childhood." Jared said, "Maybe the song will trigger more memories that you have somehow blocked out. You know Marie, we will get to the bottom of who you are eventually." Marie replied, "I don't want to think about it! I'm just me!"

At that moment the chairman of the conference tapped on a microphone to get the attention of the audience in order to make a brief speech. "Right! I want to thank you all for being here, and I hope that you enjoyed the setting. This conference, I think you will all agree, has been a splendid success." He continued his brief presentation from a small platform that was installed for the banquet. At the end of his brief speech he said, "And I would like to present today's keynote speaker, Dr.  Jared McNichols, with a small token of our appreciation for his marvelous presentation! Applause was heard and Jared walked up to receive a plaque.

 Jared had to deliver a few comments at the microphone. "Thank you all so very much. My wife Marie and I are most pleased and privileged to be invited to this wonderful conference. We always love visiting the U.K. and especially meeting the young scientists with all their enthusiastic and brilliant ideas. These ideas and certainly the individuals are the future of our field. A meeting such as this is a rare opportunity to combine the enthusiasm of youth with the seasoned experience of some of the experts in our field. This continuity, I believe as your Queen would say, is the heart of promise for the future. Thank you again!" Jared returned to his seat after acknowledging the polite applause. As was usual at such conference banquets, most of the participants were engaged in scientific discussion and barely noticed the formalities. However, there was one person in the audience that was paying attention. Marie said to Jared as he sat down, "I'm so proud of you!"

The final course for the evening meal was being served during the brief presentations, and the tables had been readied for the dessert, Creme Brulee. Finally the waiters made their way to the last of the tables, except for the head table. A waiter offered the desserts to both Jared and Marie, and placed the dessert in front of them. The McNichols did not see the waiter's expression, but he briefly glanced at the man in the dark suit who was seated at a table off to the right of the banquet room. Jared was not particularly fond of Creme Brulee, because it was usually too sweet for his taste, but he took a small bite and told Marie, "I'm sorry, Marie, it's too rich for me! But I believe this is your favorite?" Marie answered, "Right you are!" She took a small bite and looked at Jared and said, "You know, Jared, it doesn't taste quite right." Jared told her, "Well, I didn't like it much either. So don't eat it!"

Marie and Jared continued to be engaged in quiet conversation while the rest of the table was involved in a typically British discussion of local politics. Marie to Jared, "You know, Jared, I know this is going to sound paranoid, but sometimes I think people are trying to hurt us." Jared replied, "That would depend on if we were important enough to harm. I doubt if I am, but to tell you the truth, Marie, the fact that you have the Cetta Dharma pink sapphire tells me that there is some kind of aristocracy or wealth in your background." Marie answered, "You could have fooled me. There were times when we could barely make ends meet." Jared asked, "Do you think you were placed with a family to hide you." Marie asked, "What do you mean?" Jared continued, "I mean that the secret to your identity may have put you at great risk, and someone may have taken great pains to put you in a place where no one would think to look. Furthermore, I think the lack of money in the family that raised you was part of the cover. You know, this sort of thing happened often in Europe during times of revolution and change."

Marie did not want to accept what Jared was saying to her, but in her heart she knew that there was something to it. ' Jared, that's absurd." Jared then countered, "Marie, someday I want you to read the book 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail.' Marie asked, "What is that? I've never heard of it." Jared continued, "You know, you look French or Italian, not Eastern European. And there is something associated with you. I bet that this book will help you in your search. It's about the Merovingian dynasty, the precursor blood-line to all the European royals." Marie who felt that Jared's idea was absurd relented, "All right, I'll read the damn book. But now I'm tired and I want to leave this banquet and go right to bed." Jared smiled because he knew that he had finally made Marie confront what he felt was her aristocratic linage.

 Jared and Marie were engaged in a final brief conversation with the other people at their table, and then they excused themselves and bid their farewells. Before leaving, they looked for the conference organizer to thank him. Jared said, "Thank you again for a such a lovely evening." The Cambridge man asked, "Leaving so soon?" Jared told him, "Marie is very tired, and we have a busy day tomorrow." The conference organizer said with an impish smile on his now rosy face from all the wine he had consumed, "You don't fool me a minute, Jared. You two lovebirds just want some privacy. Oh, by the way, I never did get a chance to congratulate you both." Marie responded, "Thank you very much." Jared said, "We plan to tour the Southeast." Marie added, "I am really excited, because I haven't been there yet." The organizer had a thought, "May I recommend that you drive down to Salisbury and have a look around. Then you should continue to Bournemouth by the sea. If you are lucky you'll have an excellent view of the Isle of Wight where Queen Victoria's beloved Osborne is situated."  Jared agreed, "Great idea!" Jared said to the organizer, "Thank you again for such a wonderful experience!" The organizer replied, "We hope to repeat this success in two years when the meeting will be moved to Edinburgh." Marie added, "I hope you keep us in mind for presentations." The organizer said, "Definitely!" Everyone then said their good-byes, "Good night!"

As Marie and Jared left the banquet room, they noticed Dr. Geoff Fence, who nodded and waved, and then they left. After they were outside the banquet hall, Jared turned to Marie, "You know, Geoff Fence was a lot nicer to us here in Britain than he was at that meeting in Houston. Don't you remember how he and Isaac Geldter were so horrible to us? I haven't forgotten, and I haven't felt quite the same about him since." Marie was quiet, unusual behavior for her, but she said as they left for their room, "I don't feel well, Jared!" Jared said, "I know what you mean, I don't feel especially well myself. Let's get some sleep. Perhaps we'll feel better in the morning."

Although Marie and Jared were given the poison cocktail at the dinner, neither of them ate enough to receive a lethal dose. However, Marie felt sick, and Jared had to get up in the night to vomit, which scared Marie.  Jared also had night sweats and a roaring headache all night long. He had to get up early anyway and get ready for the morning session. Even though his stomach was still bothering him and the lack of sleep the night before was taking its toll, Jared dragged himself to the conference. However, he found it extremely difficult to concentrate when his stomach was still on fire. Marie spent the next day in bed in the room not eating anything and locking out the maids. Jared attended the final session of the conference after a bad night and a slow morning. He returned back to the room and found that Marie had finally risen and was showering. He waited for her so they could go together to the lunchroom in another building.

Marie and Jared finally felt up to eating a light lunch but neither of them felt very strong. On the way to the lunchroom Jared said, "I don't know what we ate last night, but it was pure poison. It did not agree with me at all." Marie added, "I tell you, it was that Creme Brulee. I know there was something wrong with it." Jared agreed, "I know what you mean, I didn't like it either. I had this sickly taste in my mouth the entire night. I hardly got any sleep." Maric asked, "What are we going to do? I think that we were poisoned!" Jared told her, "Don't panic, Marie, if anything was in the Creme Brulee, you didn't eat enough of it to kill you, at least today-I'm only kidding!" Marie abruptly stopped and said in an angry voice, "Stop making jokes about it. I tell you, something was wrong with it; I'm sure of it." Jared said, "Well, we took enough Pepto to thoroughly coat our stomachs-Your standard procedure." Marie continued, "No wonder we didn't feel well after that dessert!" Jared then said, "I think that we should watch it and be more careful but not panic. I still don't think that we had enough of it to do any lasting harm." Marie asked, "But what if you're wrong? What if we did eat enough?" Jared replied jokingly, "First, we're sick! Then we die!" Marie became mad and hit Jared, "Stop it Jared-You're scaring me! Why do you always make jokes about something so serious?"  Jared just shrugged his shoulders. He was just trying to get Marie to lighten up and keep moving. If there was one thing that the McNichols had learned about poisonings, it was that you've got to keep moving so that you can metabolize the poison.

 Jared held Marie's hand as they continued toward the lunchroom. He decided to change the subject. "You look like you're feeling better not worse than yesterday. That's a good sign-l don't think you're going to die. Perhaps this will all pass, and we can go on our merry way." As they found a table and sat down he said, "Here, take some of these immune enhancement products that I brought with me. These are very good at boosting your immune system against infections." Marie asked, "But what if it wasn't a contagion that they gave us?" Jared continued, "First, I don't think that either of us ate enough of anything last night to poison us, unless it was really exotic. If it was in the Creme Brulee, neither of us really consumed much of anything but a small taste. Second, if it was some poison, it would have to be very, very potent after all that Pepto we took. We probably couldn't absorb enough to do us much harm. Look! We're still here! Third, if it was something contagious, then the gastrointestinal route is a poor way to infect someone if they are taking immune enhancers to boost their immune system. And it would need some time to proliferate. We'll know in a few days." Marie was still upset, "What if you're not correct? What if we become really sick!" Jared responded, "Then we'll see in a few days." Marie said, "I don't like this! Why do you always joke about things like this?" Jared answered her. "I don't know. Probably because I have no control over them." But this time Jared was right, and they both would survive the next few days and not become sicker. They may not have felt as chipper as they should, but they were not completely incapacitated, and they continued on their trip about the English countryside.
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

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Part 2 of 2

An after conference trip in Southern England

 Jared decided that they should leave Cambridge and drive to Salisbury and then to Bournemouth on the Southern coast. Since it was still noon, they decided to begin the drive to Salisbury, instead of staying another night in Cambridge. The conference was over, and everyone had to vacate their rooms anyway. Jared went downstairs, ordered up a car and had it delivered to Queens' College. After a good morning rest, Marie was feeling better and making comments about remembering to drive on the "wrong side of the road." Jared didn't appreciate the comments, because he was an old hand at driving in Great Britain.

 Jared and Marie continued their drive South because Marie wanted to see the sea. Jared didn't dare add, " ... see the sea before you die." Marie had grown wary of Jared's constant joking about poison and dying. He was just trying to make light of a bad situation, but Marie was right. Enough was enough.

 Jared's plan was to avoid London. They would surely get caught in heavy traffic, so they took the M25 around London and headed directly south passing Gatwick Airport. Not that the M25 was any picnic-it was probably one of the busiest 'dual carriage ways' in Great Britain. Eventually they did survive the M25, headed South past Gatwick Airport and eventually reached the outskirts of Bournemouth. Marie wanted to see the ocean, so  Jared pressed on, and they arrived quite by chance at a lovely hotel by the sea. Marie was always nagging Jared to make sure that they had reservations, but Jared was becoming ever careful to avoid giving anyone their itinerary. Unknown to Marie, Jared was planning to make sure that no one knew in advance where she would be for the remainder of the trip.

They drove along the sea on a nice boulevard, finding that there were many rather small hotels that might be adequate. Finally, they found what they both wanted. The hotel that Jared was interested in was the Royal Bournemouth Hotel, and it was located right on the boulevard that was on the edge of a slight cliff above a rocky beach. It had an unobstructed view of the sea from most of its rooms. It was now quite late in the evening, and there was a full moon over the Isle of Wight off in the distance. Jared assured Marie that they would have no problem obtaining a room, although privately he was not so sure. There were other hotels by the sea in Bournemouth, perhaps not as grand as the Royal Bournemouth, but still very adequate for a brief stay. Jared parked in front of the hotel, left Marie in the car while he checked in, and he returned to face Marie, who was growing very uneasy waiting in the car alone. He was able to proudly tell Marie that they had a suite with an ocean view. Finally, Marie was excited about the place! They couldn't wait to see the room and the view.

After convincing the hotel night staff that the bumbling Americans who arrived late and missed dinner, were just late and not so bumbling, the staff took pity on Marie and Jared and fixed them tea and sandwiches. Everything seemed just right. They had a beautiful room, a magnificent view and a lovely warm bed. The sandwiches and tea came, and they were both quite happy eating with a magnificent moonlight view of the distant Isle of Wight. They were both exhausted and quickly fell asleep, but at about five in the morning Marie went through a brief episode of illness where all the symptoms she experienced during her long almost lethal illness suddenly appeared but for only a brief time. She woke up Jared to tell him, but he was so groggy that he couldn't concentrate on what she was saying. However, Jared also appeared to be sick, and the bed was wet with his perspiration.

About an hour later Marie woke up, and Jared was dripping in perspiration and had rashes all over his body. After first making sure that  Jared would survive, Marie again speculated that they were poisoned and reiterated the strange behavior of some of the people at the conference. The wave of sickness passed from Marie by eight in the morning but Jared still had a problem, so they had some breakfast sent to their room. By noon  Jared was feeling better, the maids were banging at the door to get in and clean the room, and so they decided to not miss the chance to visit the surrounding region. Jared, who was finally feeling better after a shower, packed up their luggage and told Marie, "I've repacked our stuff and loaded up the car. I can't believe how long that took me. I'm really not up to snuff. Have you finished changing into something more comfortable?" Marie answered, "I'm ready! I am so excited about seeing the South Coast of England! I've wanted to see Stonehenge since I was a little girl!"

While Marie was preparing to vacate the room, Jared hid from Marie and locked himself into the bathroom where he secretly vomited. He was sweating profusely, and he quietly leaned on the washbasin with his hands over his face. Marie finally realized that Jared had been in the bathroom a long time and knocked on the door. ' Jared, are you O.K.? Jared shaking but coherent. "Couldn't be better! I'll be out in a bit. Just let me wash up." Marie knew that Jared had taken a shower only an hour ago, and she wondered what he was up to in the bathroom. "Are you sure that you're O.K." Jared washed his face, gained his composure and straightened up. "Yes I am. Can I have a little privacy here'" He did not want to let Marie know that he still had some problems from the cocktail that they received in Cambridge.

They finally left the room a full hour after check out time and made their way to the car park. As they approached the car, Marie automatically went to the right side of the car. Jared had to again remind Marie, "We're in England now. Remember, the passenger side is on the left and the driver sits to the right." Marie looked at Jared and flashed her eyes, "This is tough to get used to! Are you sure that you're not sick? You don't look right to me." Jared did not answer immediately, "You want to try driving here in England, Marie? You know, everything is reversed including the gear shift and the way it's operated." Jared knew that he'd got her-she wouldn't insist on driving in England.

After they entered the vehicle, Marie still had a worried look on her face. Jared tested the gearshift with the opposite orientation, "I have to really concentrate to get it right. Please don't nag me today." Marie looked at him in horror. She didn't really want to drive, so they had no choice. It was Jared or nothing. At last the couple began their drive along the coast, and Marie was still on the edge of her seat as Jared rushed through the round-abouts with the oncoming traffic. He tried to tell her, "If we don't keep up with the traffic, someone will run into us." Jared had to concentrate on the 'right of way' rules for round-abouts, but everything was just fine. Finally they were off, and they were not on the main M-motorways or even A-roads. She said, ' Jared, I feel like I am plummeting into the side of the road, and it seems like you're going to hit those trees." Jared laughed, "You'll get used to it." Marie screamed, "Oh my God! Here comes a truck!"  Jared reminded her, "That's a lorry here in England."

Even Jared felt a bit uncomfortable as their vehicle crossed over a narrow stone bridge of the type often found on tertiary roads. As the lorry passed to the right of their car Marie let out a tiny scream. When the lorry had passed Marie said, "That was too close for comfort." Jared answered, "I must admit, even I was a little worried, but once we get onto the A-roads, everything will be just fine." Marie said, "You've forgotten that I've always had bad peripheral vision. And since the illness, it's gotten worse."  Jared replied, "You've come a long way since the darkest days of the illness." Marie answered, "I think it was divine intervention that saved me." Jared agreed, "You may be right! It was horrible to see you wasting away before my very eyes, and I could do nothing." Marie added, "But I still feel weak on my left side and occasionally my vision is not quite right."

Marie had overall made a miraculous recovery from her near lethal illness. She related to Jared, "I do believe that I'm finally on the road to recovery, which I thank God for every day. I even have a new perspective on how the terminally ill must feel. Only in my case, by the grace of God, I have been given a second chance. I wonder why I was able to overcome the illness? And now you don't look so good!" Jared ignored the question, "I'm sure that one day, the true meaning of your experience will present itself. Until then, however, let's try to put this behind us and concentrate on happier and more productive pursuits ... Deal?" Marie responded positively, "Deal!"

Marie and Jared spent the better part of the day exploring the little towns along the Southern coast. They were now driving by the sea, and Marie said, ': Jared, it's beautiful here! But where are we going to stay?"  Jared smiled, "It's a surprise! But we're almost there." Marie was not happy, "You know I hate surprises!" Jared pleaded, "It's just a little further." They entered a small town, and Marie felt a bit better about where they were going to stay. At least she had an idea of the town they would be staying in. Now she wanted to know about the accommodations. She asked, "Are we going to stay by the sea?" Jared answered, "That's just where we're headed."

 Jared was turning and racing through the round-abouts like a native. The McNichols drove as far as they could, and eventually they went right up to where the sea met the cliffs. Jared turned left, and almost immediately he pulled into a small parking lot of a rather small hotel. Jared announced, "That was easier than I thought it would be. You wait here, and I'll go check on our reservation." However, Marie was suspicious, and this time she did not want to stay in the car. She knew that Jared couldn't have made a reservation and found the hotel so easily. Jared finally had to tell her, "Look, Marie, I don't know if I can just leave the car here unattended. Just stay in the car for a moment and watch the ocean while I make sure of our reservation." Marie was still suspicious, perhaps because she knew that there was no reservation. However, Jared was confident that he could find a room for them, reservation or no reservation, but he did not want to scare Marie by telling her the truth.

In a few minutes Jared came back out and told Marie, "Guess what? We're in luck! The hotel has even upgraded us to a suite!" Marie acted like she did not suspect a thing but it was just an act. "That's great! Jared, I've just remembered another incident from my early childhood." Jared said, "Good! We will talk about it once we're settled and have some tea."

The Victorian hotel by the sea

The McNichols struggled through the hotel lobby with their bags and into the elevator. They were getting onto the one very small elevator in the entire hotel, when Jared finally spoke. "See, that wasn't so bad?" Marie would not be convinced until she saw the room, however, so they made their way through a series of swinging fire doors and found their suite, which was very luxurious by English standards. It also had a spectacular view of the Isle of Wight. Jared was relieved, because he didn't fancy changing hotels at this point. They were in the Southeastern corner of the hotel. The room was furnished in elegant English country style with lovely antiques. Fragments from a demolished Christopher Wren facade of a building were mounted and featured over the canopied beds. The color scheme of the room was soft peach with emerald green accents. They were suddenly tired and decide to take a nap, which turned into a several hour deep sleep. It was dark when they finally woke up.

Marie and Jared finally got out of the bed, showered and changed into the special robes provided by the hotel. Marie looked out the window and marveled at the view. "Jared, look! The full moon is illuminating the water and the Isle of Wight. It's like a continuous mother of pearl glow accented by stars." Jared responded, "It's beautiful here, even better than the last hotel." They playfully kissed and teased each other, but it was clear from the way Jared was perspiring that something was still wrong. Marie finally said, "I'm hungry!" Jared was waiting for this moment. He knew it was coming. Like clockwork Marie would get hungry, and she had to be fed. This time he didn't argue with her, and he called room service. At least in this hotel he would not have to argue with the management to have some tea and sandwiches brought up to the room.

Later that night Marie woke up with some of the signs and symptoms of her near-fatal illness that she overcame. She turned to Jared, but he was not there. Marie was in a panic. She got up and noticed a light from under the bathroom door. She then heard the vomiting and became very scared. Marie was afraid of vomiting. Marie knocked on the door and called out, "Jared, are you sick?" He answered, "No, just give me a minute." But Marie was not buying his story, "Did you just vomit?" Jared lied to her, "No, go back to sleep." Marie irritated, "You're lying, Jared!" Jared did not answer but said, "Can I get some privacy here? I'll be out in a minute!" Marie quietly returned to the bed with a look of horror on her face, and she then covered herself with a pillow and began to weep. Marie was afraid of the vomiting. It was something from her childhood. She still remembered when her stepfather would go to the bathroom and vomit. It scared her then, and she never got over it. She found her little stuffed elephant 'Lucky' that she brought with her, and she held Lucky very tight against her chest. She did not want to hear the vomiting.

That night the suite in the little Victorian hotel was awash with moonlight, and the gentle breeze was rustling the lace curtains surrounding the window. It had been raining earlier, but the rain had stopped. Marie suddenly got up at four o'clock in the morning, which was very unusual for her. She sat up and shook her head while putting the palm of her hand to her forehead. She felt shaky and slightly nauseated. She nudged Jared awake, ' Jared! I am having one of those spells again. Just like I had during the worst phase of the illness!" Jared was still half asleep, "What's wrong?" Marie was worried, "The illness has come back! I just know it has!"

 Jared rolled over and turned on the light. "Marie, you're shaking." Marie cried, ' Jared, my heart is pounding and I have tremendous pain all over my body! Look! I'm perspiring all over! Look at me!" Jared responded, "Damn, we don't have any antibiotics, and it's unlikely that we'll be able to get some on short notice. All we have is some Tylenol for your fever." Marie became panicky, "At least we have Benedryl and Pepto Bismol! Jared, if I have to take 100 milligrams of Benedryl, I'll be zonked tomorrow." Marie became more agitated, ' Jared, I am sure that they poisoned us again! I told you something was wrong with the Creme Brulee!" Jared replied, "We should have thought about taking the Benedryl and Pepto earlier to prevent uptake." Jared retrieved the Benedryl and Pepto for Marie.

Marie's whole body was beginning to shake, and she had to force down the Benedryl and then the Pepto. After she swallowed the Pepto Bismol, Marie made a face and said, "Yeach! She was still shaking, however. Then she noticed that Jared had been sweating profusely and was beginning to shake just like Marie. Marie in a panic-stricken voice, "I tell you we've been poisoned! Look at you! I know you think I am paranoid, but did you see how Geoff Fence looked at us? When he looked at me, he acted as if he'd seen a ghost? I tell you somebody wants us dead! But why? What have we done? This is ludicrous! Those people are not even in my field. Not to mention the looks in Cambridge! This is very well-organized!"

 Jared wiped off the sweat from his body with a towel. He was also shaking but trying to act stoic and hide his condition from Marie who was near panic. He also took the Benedryl and Pepto. After a few moments  Jared began to speak again. He was obviously in pain but was trying to reassure Marie. He said, "I hate to admit it, Babe, but you're not overreacting. I saw the looks and heard the whispers. Believe me, as much as I love you, if I did not think you had the talent for science, I would have steered you in another direction. But the work is original, and it is not that difficult to see the potential applications." Marie was crying, "They don't want to see it! And they even blocked my non-tenure position!" Jared trying to reassure her said, "I know. And I'm certainly having my problems with the D. O. Madison administration, but let's please not get started on that tonight."

Marie's symptoms had begun to pass but Jared looked worse. After less than an hour Marie finally said, "You know what, Jared? I think it's beginning to pass. How do you feel?" Jared didn't answer. He was trying to hide his symptoms from Marie so as not to scare her. He turned away from Marie and was shaking under the covers, and sweat was flowing down his face. "I'll be fine in the morning."

Marie's shaking began to abate, and she started to calm down. But then she became angry. She was not looking at Jared, so she didn't notice that he was sick too. He was trying to act as if nothing was wrong. Marie finally said, "I don't know why people have always tried to paint me as crazy, ever since I can remember! First it was my grandfather. Then when I was in college, I was contacted by my physician father, if he was my father. He always acted very cold to me, even though he tried to hide it. He was always telling me that he was going to close the book on me, because I was living a lie. Then, for no apparent reason, he called all my professors and told them I was crazy and didn't belong in college. Ultimately, the college took out a restraining order against him, and the head psychiatrist told me that for reasons he could not explain I was relatively well-balanced. He then went on to say that I had to forge a new life for myself due to the irrational behavior of my parents. He told me that he had never given such advice in his 45 years as a practicing psychiatrist. It has always been like this! People have always tried to make it seem like I was unbalanced. It's almost as if someone or something wants to drive me to despair .... and ultimately drive me to suicide!"

 Jared tried to reassure Marie. "I don't know if we can jump to that conclusion, but I have to agree that there is a pattern of character assassination. I have never seen such an extreme attack on a young scientist. And I have been in this academic game for over 25 years." Marie said, "You know what?" Jared was trying to act O.K. "What?" Marie said, "Back at college when I talked to the head psychiatrist, I also told him that I thought I must be a paranoid schizophrenic, because I felt I was being watched and followed. I told him this as we walked across campus. He then told me that I did not fit the profile of a paranoid schizophrenic and that he had noticed that I was not mistaken. He said, "You are being watched! But why?" I told him that I didn't know why. I then asked him if he thought it had anything to do with the fact that I was training with physicists who worked on classified projects. He said he doubted it. It had to be something different."  Jared added, "I've noticed it too! Remember Bryce Canyon? That French couple appeared to be following us. Everywhere we went, there they were." Marie said wearily, "Yes, I remember, but I don't understand why they were following us!" Jared noted, "One thing is clear. We are not going to figure it out tonight. But my guess is that it has to do with who you are. Who are you, Marie?" Marie gave her stock answer, "I'm me!" Jared then said in a much gentler tone, "Babe, I know that, but I'm suggesting that you may have another identity, a different heritage than you imagine. You know, you look and act nothing like anyone in your so-called family. You have none of their traits, and they don't seem to have any of yours. And they don't act like your parents."

Marie yawned. She was tired and wanted to change the subject. Jared asked, "How are you feeling?" Marie responded, "It's passed." Jared answered, "Good! I think we should go back to sleep. We can take our time tomorrow." Marie asked, "How are you feeling?" Jared lied to Marie, "I'm O.K. Maybe a little tired." Marie looking closer, "You don't look O.K. to me! You're sweating all over the place! ... You're shaking! Now it's happening to you! Why is this happening to us? Jared, I'm scared!" Jared paused and tried to reassure Marie, "I'll live. I've been taking enough Benedryl to put an elephant down. The analgesic should break the fever. We can sleep in tomorrow. You wanted to go back to Stonehenge; it's still not that far, if you want to go back there tomorrow."

Marie was finally becoming sleepy, and she lowered her head to the pillow. "Jared, I think I'm immune to whatever was in the Creme Brulee."  Jared trying to reassure Marie, "If there was anything in the Creme Brulee." Marie whined, "Jared!" Marie was still talking in a somewhat whiny manner, as if she was exasperated with him for not enthusiastically supporting her in her suspicions. She was finally beginning to get very sleepy as the high dose of Benedryl took affect. Her voice became weaker and she closed her eyes and said, "Why don't you accept the truth about what is happening?"  Jared quietly responded, "I know, the Creme Brulee didn't taste right! But why do you think it was poisoned?" Marie didn't answer, "I have just had an abbreviated episode .... I had most of the symptoms that I had during the illness. Something had to trigger it Jared, you know that I have very good instincts about these things You'll see .... One day we will find out that we were deliberately poisoned." Jared asked, "Do you think that you had a secondary immune response to something in the Creme Brulee?" Marie didn't answer. She was finally asleep.

As Marie fell asleep from exhaustion, Jared still appeared to be very sick but he had successfully hidden it from Marie. When he knew that Marie was completely asleep, Jared quietly went to the bathroom and kneeled down and put his head in the toilet and vomited. He was shaking all over his body, and sweat was flowing down his arms and chest. Jared quietly to himself, "What's wrong with me? Oh, Marie, you're right. They did it to us!"

On to Stonehenge and beyond

It was a new, rare bright day, and the hotel was bathed in sunlight. Jared and Marie were partaking of the buffet breakfast at the hotel dining room before they set out for Stonehenge. The day was much better than they experienced in the last week, and the sun was coming out strongly and penetrating into the dining room. Marie was feeling better, but Jared was perspiring heavily and was obviously still sick. The hotel restaurant had a typical British breakfast buffet. There was a large selection of eggs, grilled tomatoes, yogurts and fresh fruits accompanied by a centerpiece that was shaped in the form of a swan. The feathered part of the swan was hollowed out and an assortment of breads and muffins were meticulously arranged inside.

The view from the dining room was the ocean, and it was a spectacular day. As Marie and Jared selected their breakfast items from the buffet table  Jared asked Marie, "How do you feel?" Marie answered, "I finally feel great! I have not felt this good in years!" Marie then asked, "But how do you feel?" Jared lied, "I'm O.K., I'll survive." Marie did not believe Jared, but she did not want to discuss the illness. She was afraid of the illness and changed the subject, "I always take 'Lucky Lucius' with me to protect me from bad things." Jared replied, "You're such a baby! I can't believe that you brought that stuffed elephant all this way!" Marie jokingly, "He's not just any stuffed elephant! He's 'Mr. Lucky Lucius.' I had him with me all night long, and you never noticed?" Jared trying to hide his condition, "I guess I was too tired to notice." Marie excited, "Let's hurry, I can't wait to go to Stonehenge!" She looked at Jared and finally said, ' Jared, you do not look so well!" Jared responded, "As I told you, I'll survive."

Stonehenge could not be reached directly from where Jared and Marie were located. Therefore, they had to drive back to Bournemouth and then directly north to Stonehenge. As they were driving North from Bournemouth, Marie couldn't wait to get there. The previous day it was raining on and off and not good for sightseeing, but today was a beautiful bright day. Marie was excited about Stonehenge, and when it finally came into view she adopted a child-like demeanor, which was sometimes part of her personality.

 Jared turned into a parking lot on the opposite side of the highway. Marie wanted to bolt across the highway toward the rock formations, but she was prevented from doing this by Jared and the fence that ran along the road. As he got out of the car, Jared said to Marie, "Hold it! Before you run off, I have to get the camera!" Marie and Jared then hurriedly crossed under the highway to Stonehenge through a pedestrian tunnel. It was a rare crystal blue day in Southern England. They paid the entrance fee and  Jared observed, "The place is empty!" Marie said, "Maybe the tourist economy is bad. It's not a weekend." Jared continued, "But at the height of the season?" Marie said, "Places always seem to be empty when I visit them! Just look at how empty the Hotel was in Vienna at the height of the season, or remember the hotel in Montego Bay in Jamaica?" Jared agreed, "Yes, but I still don't think that all of these empty places have something to do with you!" Marie answered, "Maybe they do!" They both immediately forgot about their conversation, and they began to admire Stonehenge. There was something magical about the place.

Marie and Jared continued their excursion in Southern England for the remainder of the day, and then made their way back to Gatwick Airport where they had to stay overnight at a hotel not too far from the airport. They kept the car just to make their way back to the airport where they could turn it in the next morning. The stay in an airport hotel was uneventful and completely unlike the hotels on the Southern Coast. They were both exhausted and fell asleep without an evening meal. The next morning was difficult but they were both doing better. After a hearty English breakfast, they picked up their car and headed for Gatwick Airport and the car rental drop off. Then to the airport, which always seemed to be teaming with sleepy passengers waiting to board their aircraft for the long flights home or for some well-deserved vacation.

The McNichols overall had a delightful visit in England, except for the possibility of being poisoned in Cambridge, and now they must return to Texas and the troubles that they were in at the D. O. Madison. They were sitting together on the DC-tO to Houston, looking out the window and munching on snacks. In the tourist section there was not much room. Jared still looked sick and was sweating. Marie complained, "This food is not fit for human consumption! God, I hate these long flights. Turning to Jared she said, "You don't look so good!" Jared replied, "My legs are cramping!" Marie suggested, "Let's just get up and walk around!" Jared responded, "Good idea! My legs are killing me." Both Jared and Marie made their way over to the flight attendants' station. Jared asked a flight attendant, "Could I have a cup of coffee, please." The Flight attendant said, "Sure!" Marie asked, "And I'd like a coke!" The flight attendant, "Pepsi O.K.?" Marie nodded her head. The attendant prepared the coffee and handed Marie the Pepsi. Marie said, "Thank you." Marie told Jared, "I'm going back to my seat." Jared still wanted to stand, "At least you're small enough to actually fit in your seal."
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Re: Project Day Lily: An American Biological Warfare Tragedy

Postby admin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:07 am

Part 1 of 3

CHAPTER 8: The Conspiracy Continues (1994)

 Jared and Marie had come back from the Cambridge conference to the hostility of The D. O. Madison Cancer Center administration. Little did they know that they weren't supposed to come back at all. The unknown poison in the Creme Brulee did not work as advertised, and although they were weakened, they survived. When Jared returned to work, he noticed that Dr. Domasovitch was his old self. He had been left in control of the department during Jared's absence, and it almost seemed like he was moving into Jared's office. Not everyone was happy to see the McNichols, but the number of detractors in Jared's department seemed to have grown during his absence. Jared took this to mean that he must work harder to win the confidence of his faculty. On the other hand, Marie felt that it was a lost cause. She mainly stayed away from anyone except Jared's senior technician Bob Sonan, who always seemed to lift Marie's spirits with his expert work in the laboratory.

The D. O. Madison President has his way

President Clement Masters had called a meeting with Drs. Belcher, Krappner, Geldter, Ross and Graham. The meeting had gone over the expected time, and Dr. Bane was waiting in the outer office for the next meeting with Drs. Italiano, Auchenhower and Domasovitch. These latter faculty members were not entirely or completely in on the conspiracy to eliminate two members of the Department of Cancer Biology, but they were about to be roped into doing things that they never expected to do in their careers.

By the end of the first meeting Dr. Masters was on a rampage. He was pacing around his office in front of his desk as he talked on the phone. The cord was tangled, but Dr. Masters did not have the patience to straighten it out. The other people in his office looked sheepish-They didn't dare interrupt him this time. His face was red as he slammed the phone receiver down, turned and said, "Damn it! Why didn't the Russian Doll Cocktail work as advertised! Geldter! This is your fault!" Dr. Geldter who was hardly ever on the defensive said, "I can't understand it! I'm never wrong! I'm sure that adding the new variant strains of mycoplasma with the asparaginase would have done the job! They must have screwed up. It's not my fault, I swear to God, Dr. Masters, it's not my fault!" Dr. Masters was angry, and he didn't like excuses, especially from a blow-hard. He turned to the others in the room. "What about the Ross party?" Drs. Ross and Graham were quiet. Finally, Dr. Gelter answered again. "We were there for the party, already. I took care of that myself. Turning to Drs. Ross and Graham and pointing Isaac almost shouted, "What happened to the McNichols? They should have been there! This is your fault!" Dr. Belcher for once kept his mouth shut. He did not want to share the blame that was being passed out for the Creme Brulee debacle in Cambridge.

Drs. Ross and Graham were shocked to learn that Isaac Geldter blamed them for the no-shows at their student's party just before the McNichols left for Cambridge. Dr. Graham in a nervous, whiny voice responded, "We can't help it that the McNichols didn't show up for the graduation party. I tried very hard to get them there! Marie promised that they would both be there." Dr. Krappner, who adapted her most haughty way and insinuated from every gesture that she knew that she could lord it over the other couple since they had failed, but she wanted to manipulate them to be supportive of her own first wish and ambition, which was to be the next Vice President for Academic Affairs at the D. O. Madison. So she deflected Dr. Masters' criticisms by saying, "Let's not criticize Dr. Ross and Dr. Graham for things they could not control. They could not help it if the McNichols failed to show up to their student's party. In my opinion, Dr. Masters, I feel that we must use the asparaginase approach again. The anaphylaxis is a good sign that immunosuppression is occurring. Therefore, I feel that we must use Isaac's approach again." She was trying to help out her husband, but Dr. Masters was not going to let Geldter off the hook.

Dr. Masters looked at the assembled co-conspirators and shook his head. He could hardly believe what he had just heard from Amy. "What are you talking about? Isn't there anyone here who can do the simple task that was asked of them?" He was disgusted with them all and retorted into his intercom to his administrator, "Get Ricin on the line!" The secretary responded, "Yes, sir!" Dr. Ross, who felt out of his depth in the meeting, "I really do not want to know about this other stuff that you are doing. I'm not involved in that, and it sounds risky from a legal standpoint. Are you sure that the Government will protect us if this all goes South and we're found out?" Dr. Krappner replied in a proud tone, "At least the character assassination is working well. There is not a university on the planet that would offer Marie or Jared McNichols faculty positions or any other jobs for that matter. And we have shed so much doubt on their integrity and honesty that no one will ever believe them again." Dr. Belcher added, "Fortunately, their most powerful ally is so wrapped up in his own esoteric physics research he won't bother to come to their defense."

Dr. Masters was still angry, and nothing that anyone had said this morning could change that. "Let me make one thing clear. The character assassination is worthless!" He was truly ranting, "You were supposed to drive them to suicide! Now, how difficult can that be?" Dr. Belcher finally interrupted in his whiny voice, "I don't know about this approach, Clement. Perhaps Marie McNichols is not the suicidal type. I certainly don't think  Jared would commit suicide. Besides, we had three suicides on our staff during the last year, and none of these people were really suicidal. Especially Fred McCarthy. Nobody seemed to buy his suicide, especially his family. I have heard that they want a formal police inquiry. People are starting to ask questions. The police are even asking why there are so many suicides on our faculty. And why are we involving ourselves in this business? Why doesn't the government take care of this problem? Why do we have to be involved in this at all? This Las Vegas thing smacks of organized crime, and I don't like it! I could be incarcerated for some of the things you've asked me to do! None of us was hired for this type of work!" Finally, Dr. Masters had heard enough, and he responded angrily, "Be quiet, Francis! You are not helping the situation! You don't know what pressures I am under. You are part of my team, and you're acting like just another useless faculty member." As Dr. Masters spit out his final words, he looked around the room at the frightened faculty members assembled in his office. He wondered how he had surrounded himself with such incompetence.

The intercom buzzed and interrupted Dr. Masters' thoughts, and he immediately turned his attention to the phone. The administrator said, "Dr. Ricin is on the line, sir!" Dr. Masters changed his mood completely. "Good! Finally!" He pressed the button on the speakerphone, and Dr. Ricin said, "Shalom!" Dr. Masters ignored his salutation-he didn't like Jews and especially Israelis, but he had learned to use them over the years, and he prided himself in knowing their weak points. Dr. Masters began with Dr. Ricin, "We were just talking here with Drs. Geldter and Krappner about your marvelous ideas." Dr. Ricin replied, "Sir, I don't think that they are my ideas or my plans." Dr. Masters' mood quickly changed as he sensed that Dr. Ricin was not going to take responsibility for the failure in Cambridge, and he angrily said into the speaker phone he had turned on, "Dr. Ricin, your Cocktail was a complete flop! They are apparently not showing anything in the way of symptoms!"

Dr. Ricin responded slowly to Dr. Masters. "Excuse me, Dr. Masters, that was your Cocktail not mine. They must have powerful immune systems to escape the Russian Doll." Dr. Masters replied, "We don't know for sure if they even received it. Now we are going to have to try something else. And Dr. Ross here assured me that the McNichols would be attending a party at their house. Now they too have failed me." Dr. Ross interrupted the conversation, "It wasn't our fault! They did not attend the graduation party, so we could not proceed as planned!" Dr. Belcher added in a whiny voice, "I hate to say I told you so, but I warned you that the addition of the asparaginase may have stimulated an immune response. Now they may have had a strong response to whatever you gave them." Dr. Ricin said, "Dr. Masters, my report is that they only took one small bite each of the material. That may not have been enough."

Dr. Graham, who was very uncomfortable at the dialog and the discussion of an apparent homicide attempt, interrupted in a sweet voice. "Dr. Masters, may I interrupt. I don't think that dwelling upon failure is going to change the situation. I think that we need another positive plan of action." She was so proud of herself. Dr. Graham naively thought that the group would now abandon the homicide approach, one that she and Dr. Ross felt particularly uncomfortable with, even if Drs. Geldter and Krappner were all for it just to please Dr. Masters. Dr. Masters quickly grabbed at the thought, "Yes! That's what we need! A positive plan of action." Most of the attendees finally saw Dr. Masters for what he was, a dangerous, possibly insane, some might say evil buffoon who could not make a decision or plan anything without people around him urging him onward. He could not discern a good plan from a bad plan. He could only make the decision based on the arguments of his underlings. The strongest argument or strongest personality usually won out, even if it was completely absurd.

Dr. Masters got up from his desk and began pacing around his large office, "Yes! We are a can-do Texas institution. We're not going to dwell on failure. We need to have a more positive attitude!" Dr. Graham was so proud of her rare 'insight' that she could barely contain herself. Dr. Krappner was frowning. She couldn't stand to be out maneuvered by the younger female faculty member. Dr. Masters turned to the group in his office and looked directly at Dr. Graham and continued, "Perhaps we need someone of your talents more involved in this project." Dr. Graham became very nervous and said, "Sir, I didn't mean that I should be more involved. I do not do this sort of thing. I just meant that we need to think more positively about any project at our institution." Dr. Masters ignored the last part of her statement and forgot that Dr. Ricin was still on the phone, "Yes, I think that we need your talents and those of Dr. Ross." Dr. Ricin interrupted the group, "Dr. Masters, I believe that my part of your mission is complete. I would be very happy to assist you further, but I will wait for the agreed payment to my account. Shalom." Dr. Ricin was quickly cut off.

Dr. Masters did not bother to answer Dr. Ricin. He wouldn't get any money for such a debacle. Dr. Masters was planning his next move and didn't want to bother with Dr. Ricin, who was just another failure in a long line of failures that Dr. Geldter had introduced into the picture. Dr. Geldter always talked big but he couldn't ever seem to deliver, and Dr. Masters was growing wary of letting the Moroccan-born, ex-Israeli Dr. GeIdter sell him another one of his 'used camels' as he often called Geldter's hair-brained ideas.

At one time several large pharmaceutical companies had courted Dr. Geldter and lavished money on his group to develop what some had called some very questionable science, but Isaac was so good at schmoozing them that they actually believed-or at least they desperately wanted to believe -- his crack-pot theories and his data that appeared to support his proposals. Unfortunately, when they tried to transfer the science to their own facilities, it never worked as advertised. They could never reproduce Geldter's experiments in other laboratories. They should have contacted some of Geldter's competitors first, because it was widely known in the field that Geldter selected his data, taking only the data that he wanted because it confirmed his preconceived notions. Thus no one seemed to be able reproduce his results. Geldter was so good at selling himself that he actually began to believe his own hype and think that he could do anything and everything, but this was rarely the case for any scientist. In Geldter's case, he never credited his brother who was a partner in a major public relations firm as the one that taught Geldter how to be a master self-promoter. Most academics don't know how to hype their work like a Geldter, so they were never showered with money from the major pharmaceutical giants. It took a bombastic self-promoter to catch their attention, or a scientist who actually knew how to conduct first-rate research. One of the reasons that the giant pharmaceutical companies actually supported Geldter was that they knew that he was fully capable of eliminating the McNichols. The McNichols would eventually learn that the pharmaceutical giants had their own reasons for wanting them dead, particularly Marie. In addition to the defense industry, there were also intricate connections between the Las Vegas organized crime interests and their investments in the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Masters knew all too well the weaknesses of Dr. Geldter, especially his ability to over-sell himself, which was why Isaac would never go higher in Dr. Masters' administration. Not that academic excellence had anything to do with promotions in Dr. Masters' administration. Take, for example, Dr. Geldter's wife Dr. Amy Krappner, who was widely regarded as a scientific idiot-barely able to tie her own scientific shoes-but due to her political savvy, connections and a string of political successes she was considered a good bet to advance in Dr. Masters' administration. In addition, she was a woman, and she just happened to be the head of a group that recently hired a lobbyist to promote the hiring of more women in upper administrative positions at the University.

Dr. Masters was looking for something positive. There was nothing that Clement hated worse than failure. It did not matter whether an idea or plan was good or bad, he must win at all costs. He went to his desk and used the intercom to contact his administrator. "Send in Dr. Bane and his colleagues please." The administrator answered, "Yes sir." Dr. Masters was standing as Dr. Clyde Bane, the new Executive Vice President, and Dr. Domasovitch from Jared's Department along with Drs. Italiano and Auchenhower entered Dr. Masters office, which was now crowded with senior staff mostly in their white coats.

Dr. Masters' demeanor changed dramatically in front of the larger group, and he warmly walked over to shake their hands while he cheerfully said, "Good morning gentlemen. Thank you for coming to my office on such short notice. I assume that you know everyone here. Has my staff gotten you any coffee? Can we get you anything else?" Dr. Masters was holding out an open hand to the new participants, which he gently glided around in the air to indicate that the group should sit down in his section of couches, large chairs and tables. Dr. Masters always liked to put on a good show for anyone who entered his spectacular office. This let them immediately know who was in charge.

Dr. Masters had carefully chosen Dr. Bane, a very politically well-connected surgeon as his deputy for a reason. Many on the surgical staff were against the appointment, and in particular Dr. Ross, who firmly believed that Dr. Bane was a dangerous surgeon who shouldn't be practicing, because he didn't spend enough time in surgery to keep up his skills. Dr. Masters, however, needed a political animal like Dr. Bane to handle the academic problems as they came up at the D. O. Madison. Dr. Masters didn't want to be bothered with such trivial pursuits. He needed to be available for more strategic problems, and he prided himself on his connections at the State Capitol and in Washington. He felt that he was a complete political genius-capable of maneuvering around any political problem and turning it to his advantage.

Dr. Bane spoke first. "Dr. Masters, I have been introducing myself to Dr. Domasovitch. He has agreed to help with our project. And as you know, Drs. Italano and Auchenhower did an excellent job at a recent departmental seminar." Dr. Masters responded, "Good! We have to keep the pressure up from all directions!" Drs. Italiano and Auchenhower acted like they were very proud of what they had done. They actually wanted to believe that they were doing some patriotic duty for their country after the pep talk that Dr. Bane had given them, but in reality they knew exactly what was happening, and they were just going with the flow to insure their futures at the institution. Dr. Masters calmly turned to Dr. Bane, "Now Clyde, I also want you to take a more active role in this project." Dr. Bane, who was hesitant to be involved with the others said, "But Dr. Masters, I don't think that I ... " Dr. Masters interrupting and smiling, "Nonsense! You have been brought on my team as my deputy, chosen by me personally, and I expect some excellent things from you. You know, I won't be in this position forever, and I need someone who is willing to take control at the proper time."

Dr. Masters was counting on Dr. Bane's ego and his ambitious streak, but Dr. Bane was actually hesitant to get involved in what he saw as Dr. Masters' potential legal problems. Dr. Bane really didn't believe in the direction that Dr. Masters was taking, probably because he still had a remnant of ethics left inside him. He said, "Dr. Masters, of course [ support you completely, and I want to assist in any way possible, but ... " Dr. Masters wouldn't let him finish and said, "Good!" He then turned to Drs. Italiano and Auchenhower, "What's this about you not fully committing to help Dr. Belcher?"

The two faculty members were becoming very nervous, and they looked at each other. They did not want to believe the story that Dr. Belcher used when he recruited them to harass Jared and Marie and drive them from the institution, but they fully accepted their roles. It's not like they hadn't done this before to remove an unpopular faculty member. But this was clearly something different involving much higher stakes.

Dr. Domasovitch from Jared's department was watching and listening. With the exception of Dr. Graham, he was more junior than the rest of the faculty present at the meeting, and he was feeling very superior to have been invited to an important gathering of such powerful people. He had been warned by Dr. Belcher not to be too assertive about his own ideas in front of Dr. Masters, who must have the first and final word. But Dr. Domasovitch spoke out anyway, "I believe that there must be some misunderstanding. Of course we are committed to assist you in any way possible Dr. Masters." Dr. Domasovitch was a complete scientific hack and was willing to do just about anything that was asked of him to get ahead, because he knew that he couldn't advance on his academic abilities alone. Dr. Masters quickly responded, "Good! It looks like we are finally all on the same page. Now where were we? "Most of the participants were too afraid to let Dr. Masters know that they felt that he must be going a bit daft. He couldn't seem to focus on anything long enough to determine what was real from what was fiction.

Dr. Geldter, who never agreed with the repeated suggestions from Dr. Belcher not to upstage Dr. Masters, finally couldn't contain himself. "Dr. Masters, let me return to the point I was making. In case immunity to the Russian Doll has been established, we need another tactic. I suggest that we try a more traditional approach like cyanide or arsenic?" Dr. Masters didn't want to be quoted as ever suggesting harm to anyone, so he turned to his staff for approval, "Well? What do you think of Dr. Geldter's proposal?" Dr. Belcher, the hematologist from Buffalo, New York, said in a whiny voice, "I don't know about that approach. That would be too easy to trace here in Texas. It would take a very bad pathologist not to recognize that type of poisoning. I don't like it."

The newer academic arrivals to the D. O. Madison, Drs. Graham, Ross and Bane, became very nervous during this discussion. They did not expect to hear what they just heard at a meeting with the President of the institution. Were they actually discussing possible approaches to murdering someone? And not just one person, they were discussing the elimination of an entire family. They had all heard the rumors about Dr. Cannon and the several suicides at the institution, but they never expected to hear what they just heard from Dr. Masters. Actually Dr. Masters was acting a bit desperate, and Dr. Belcher believed that Dr. Masters must be under intense pressure to successfully complete this mission. Drs. Graham and Ross felt that they should first get in touch with their intelligence contacts to determine their course of action.

On the other hand, Dr. Belcher just wanted to finish his career and retire, and he certainly didn't need the prospect of going to jail just to please Dr. Masters' ego. But he was also afraid of Dr. Masters, and he more than anyone else at the meeting knew that Dr. Masters was fully capable of having him murdered, if he became a threat. In fact, Dr. Belcher felt that Dr. Masters could easily order them all killed, if Masters felt it was necessary to protect himself. The better that Dr. Belcher knew Dr. Masters, the more he was sure that Masters was a complete psychopath.

Dr. Masters asked his Vice President, "Francis, are any foreign trips in the plans for Dr. McNichols in the near future?" Dr. Belcher responded, "Not in the immediate future, but I believe that Jared has been invited this year to be a visiting professor at the All Russian Cancer Center in Moscow, but to my knowledge he has not accepted. I have been lecturing him on your new foreign travel directive, and I fully expect that he won't go.

Dr. Masters thought for a moment. "Dr. Bane, didn't you have some contact with this center?" Dr. Bane responded, "Yes, that's true. And I have an idea that might be useful. As a part of my duties r am to go to Moscow to promote scientific and medical exchanges between our Cancer Association and the Russian Cancer Association. We could arrange to have both McNichols there and no one would be the wiser." Dr. Geldter interrupted, "Dr. Masters, r like it! r know a biochemist in Moscow who could be useful." Dr. Masters quickly said, "Good! Now I want Dr. Bane to arrange it."

Dr. Bane was still uncomfortable with Dr. Masters, because he did not want to be involved in such obviously illegal activities. He had to think of a way out. "Dr. Masters, r believe that Dr. Belcher should deal with this. He is Jared's superior." Dr. Masters quickly responded, "Nonsense! I think that you can handle this small task. Perhaps you were not in a position where you would know some details on our financial situation. We need the support of certain Las Vegas financial groups for my building program, and this problem is related to that support." Dr. Masters continued, "And I know that you all are not complete idiots. The Las Vegas financial group is heavily invested in the pharmaceutical industry, so if you expect research support from the pharmaceutical companies you better get with the program." Dr. Bane looked at everyone in the room to see if he could determine if they knew about this latest revelation from Dr. Masters, but their faces remained frozen with expressions that were almost clown-like. He then said in a mumble, "I heard that the surgeon founder of Belford actually operated on the Chicago crime boss Sam Giancanna in the mid-seventies." Dr. Masters, who had heard the comment, became impatient at this remark and barked back with sarcasm, "How well-informed you are Dr. Bane ... but that has nothing to do with my building program."

Dr. Masters was referring to the largest building program in University history-his building program. He was extremely proud of the fact that he had pushed through the University System the unprecedented approval of four new buildings for the Cancer Center. He needed the backing of outside financial interests to complete the program, and the only backers who would touch the D. O. Madison, because it was already over-stretched financially, were Las Vegas organized crime interests. They could step in where conventional lenders would not enter. However, there was a down side to the unorthodox funding plan, and that was that the Las Vegas interests did not give their money cheaply. What Dr. Masters also left out was that Marie McNichols was an heiress to the very same financial empire that had been providing the funding for his building program. Of course, at the time none of this was known to any of the faculty at the D. O. Madison Cancer Center. It had been kept confidential by Dr. Masters and his most trusted associates, not that it would have mattered to most of the participants at the meeting.

The powerful Las Vegas organized crime interests and their investments, including several large defense contractors and the controlling interests in several of the large pharmaceutical corporations, wanted to prevent Marie from ever realizing her inheritance so that they could continue to use the assets of fifteen hotels and casinos left to Marie by her father and also the funds generated by several large international trusts. There was also a rogue faction in the CIA that was financially and politically connected to these powerful interests. In time, Marie would find out that powerful trustees, her trustees, actually controlled her assets, including the Five Star Trust, the Sterling Trust, the Century Trust and the Cetta Dharma Trust, the largest trusts in the world. These were the trusts that funded a major part of the Black Budget that supported the CIA and the Pentagon.

It was no wonder that some major politicians as well as organized crime families wanted Marie to disappear. Even a rogue faction of the CIA had been involved in attempts on Marie, and they played a major role in placing Dr. Ross and Dr. Graham at the D. O. Madison. In fact, Drs. Ross and Graham were considered valuable 'assets.' This rogue CIA faction also wanted Jared, but especially Marie, to disappear from the earth. Thus in addition to the McNichols bumbling onto the D. O. Madison-Belford illegal testing programs in the state prison system and inadvertently uncovering the Gulf War Syndrome fiasco, the other major motive in their demise was that Las Vegas organized crime-related financial interests and some rogue intelligence agents also wanted to see the McNichols gone forever.

Dr. Masters had 'reluctantly' taken on the mission of 'correcting' the problem to insure that his building program would continue unabated and of course to prevent some embarrassing disclosures about the joint clinical programs with Belford in the Texas prison system. These two issues drove Dr. Masters to complete his mission of either ridding the world of the McNichols or at a minimum forcing them to be someone else's problem.

Just as Dr. Masters was about to continue his staff meeting, he had an important call from the University System Administration that required the meeting to be interrupted. Dr. Masters pointed to his private conference room, and he told Dr. Bane to have the group assemble in his conference room. Dr. Bane immediately asked everyone to follow him, but it was obvious where they all should go. As they filed out of the President's office, Dr. Masters had to take yet another important phone call from some University System administrator, politician or shady financial backer. Dr. Domasovitch and some of the others were very proud to have been asked to meet in the President's Office and rub elbows with the elite members of the institution. However, they privately wondered why Dr. Graham had been invited. Contrary to what she thought, the faculty in her own department felt that Dr. Graham was just some affirmative action political appointment that was arranged so that the Cancer Center could recruit her husband, Dr. Ross. They felt that no one would ever appoint such a marginal intellect to the position she received without extreme political pull, and they were completely correct. Dr. Graham made her reputation on discovering a new type of immune cell, but she didn't know that her colleagues knew all along that she actually stole the work from a nerd graduate student who had a crush on her.

Dr. Graham was only to be topped by Dr. Amy Krappner, who was the laughing stock of her entire field for her 'rat tanning salon' lectures. In a weaker moment when she was nominally friends with Marie, she even confessed that she was not well-liked by her peers in the immunology field, and she even shared with Marie a grant review that vilified Amy and placed in print that she tried very hard to get others to do her thinking for her, but it was obvious that Dr. Krappner could not think her way out of a paper bag. Dr. Krappner was barred from reviewing NIH grant applications because of allegations that she stole the ideas of young applicants and then later re-presented them as her own. The senior administrators at the NIH considered her to be a pariah who was dangerously devoid of any ethics, and they did not want her to ruin any more young scientists' careers.

One could easily see why this group had been carefully chosen from the faculty of The D. O. Madison. Their complete willingness to do anything that Dr. Masters asked to get ahead, or in the case of Drs. Bane and Ross for their political or intelligence connections, presented the perfect ruthless combination of ambition and lack of talent to foster criminal actions. When they assembled in the private conference room, Drs. Geldter and Belcher began to have an argument over who was better connected to the Mossad. Dr. Geldter felt that he knew everyone who was important in the Mossad, but Belcher felt just as strongly that Isaac only knew the obvious figureheads that everyone in Israel knew about. He told Geldter that he did not know that a rogue faction of the Mossad was actually controlled by a neo-Nazi group that escaped post-World War II Nuremberg Trials by posing as Jewish prisoners from the death camps, adopting their identities and subsequently immigrating to Israel. Dr. Geldter, who would never be outdone when it came to bragging about Israel said, "That can't be true. We have the best intelligence organization in the world!" Belcher sarcastically replied, "They have no idea that they have been infiltrated at every echelon of leadership." Dr. Geldter angrily responded, "You know, Dr. Belcher, that is just some Hollywood bullshit that you read somewhere!" Dr. Belcher replied, "You are straining my patience, Isaac. I happen to know that it is factual. I have excellent sources in the Spanish Royal family, and they know exactly what's going on!" Dr. Geldter angrily responded, "And what the hell do some Spanish royals have do with this, all ready! Francis, you've really flipped your lid!"

Dr. Bane interrupted the conversation. "Will you both please pay attention for a moment! Let's get back to the problem at hand." Dr. Domasovitch said, "Sir, if I could interrupt. I'd like to report that Marie McNichols has such influence over Jared, that some claim she is virtually running the Department. He is so concerned with her 'treatment' here that he is not acting professionally towards the rest of his faculty. He is demanding to know where we get our information about her, and he is suggesting to us that we are being used by the administration. Since he is suggesting that members of the administration might be involved, perhaps you should replace him with his Deputy." Dr. Belcher was skeptical, "That seems a bit farfetched, Thomas! I don't see any evidence for your statements. Jared has never complained to me that Marie has had unfair treatment, and to say that she is actually running the department. Come now! Could it be that you as Deputy Chairman just want to be the head of his department?" Dr. Domasovitch turned red and did not reply. His obviously self-serving statements were not immediately accepted by Dr. Belcher or anyone else, except for Dr. Geldter, who also wanted to take over Jared's department and make Dr. Domasovitch one of his deputies.

Dr. Geldter then proposed an old idea that he had proposed many times before to Dr. Masters. "Dr. Belcher, I have formally proposed that  Jared Nichol's department be immediately merged into my department, and ... " Dr. Belcher interrupted Isaac before he could finish. "With all the operatives and brilliant scientists and physicians here, I find it very hard to listen to the two of you sit here complaining like little girls about the chairmanship of one basic science department!" Dr. Bane added, "I'm sure that Marie's influence is just a bit distorted." Dr. Belcher continued, "I see no evidence of it." Just then Dr. Masters entered the private conference room.

Dr. Masters phone conversation was over, and he wanted to get back to the issues that were being discussed in his office. "Dr. Bane, Dr. Belcher, Let's get back to the important issues. Clyde, I thought about it, and I like the idea of a more conventional approach in Moscow. Get Jared McNichols on the phone and tell him we want him and that wife of his to represent the D. O. Madison in Moscow. And I want Isaac to contact Ricin again to see if he has any operatives there and inform him of this most crucial mission." Even though Dr. Geldter was in the room, Dr. Masters was addressing Dr. Bane and Dr. Belcher. He did not want to have anyone see him bypassing his deputies, at least to their face. Dr. Masters also wanted to put Dr. Geldter back in his place, because he really didn't like Jews and especially Israelis whom he considered crude and overly aggressive. "I want the rest of you to keep up the campaign and the blocking of Marie's and Jared's publications, grants, whatever! Dr. Domasovitch, I want weekly updates on the situation in your department. I want to know everything that's going on concerning these two individuals, their mail, telephone, email, and anything else that you consider important for us to know, and I don't want to know how you do it." Dr. Domasovitch responded quickly, "Yes, sir!"

Dr. Masters turned to Dr. Geldter and said, "Isaac, I want you to continue to work with Dr. Rook and let him update you on the vital work of our joint clinical programs with Belford." Dr. Belcher whispered to Dr. Bane, "Rook actually believes in the master race." Dr. Masters overheard the whispers of Belcher and turned to him, "Dr. Belcher, would you like to share with us what you just told Clyde?" Dr. Belcher nervously said, "Dr. Masters, I was telling Dr. Bane that I would like to have a comprehensive intelligence analysis of this so that we can once and for all clear up any doubts as to our mission in a global sense," Dr. Masters was visibly upset and said, "Dr. Belcher, I'm tired of your undermining of the leadership here at The D. O. Madison." Dr. Belcher responded, "But Dr. Masters, I am not undermining the leadership. I am just being cautious. After all, there are potential legal liabilities to these plans, and I am trying to protect you and the institution," Dr. Masters angrily told Dr. Belcher, "You are not paid to second guess my team, Dr. Belcher! I'll be the judge of our collaboration with any groups, which, in my opinion, are important to have in D. O. Madison's corner and any liabilities to my staff. Do you appreciate my point, Dr. Belcher?" Dr. Belcher answered in his usual whiny voice, "Of course, Clement."

Dr. Geldter added his own slant to the discussion. "Dr. Masters, these financial and defense groups, even the Las Vegas groups and their trusts don't concern me. I would like to see us get back to how this mission will result in adjustments to our salaries and positions." Dr. Masters replied sharply, "Later, Isaac! I told you not to bring that up now'" Dr. Masters then immediately changed his mood and chuckled, "Francis, I don't think I will ever get used to your sense of humor, and Isaac, as usual you have reduced the global scheme of things to reflect the balance in your bank account."

Dr. Masters paused to reflect on what he had said. "Remember, this is a team, my team, not a majority decision," Dr. Masters then turned his attention to Drs. Graham and Ross, who had been hiding in the corner hoping that Dr. Masters would forget about them. He didn't, and he said in his sweet Southern voice, "Dr. Ross, Dr. Graham, I want you to contact your people at Langley and ask them about a more conventional approach? Find out if they have any suggestions that will help us make this mission a success!" He then turned to Amy and said, "Dr. Krappner, I want you to do the same with your contacts. Once and for all, I expect this mission to be successful! Do not let me down a third time! Remember, all of you were chosen to join the staff here at D. O. Madison because you also had particular talents that we needed for our classified projects." Ors. Auchenhower and Italiano just looked at each other with a look of frustration. They were not involved in the classified projects, and they felt uncomfortable about discussing the murder of a fellow faculty member.

Dr. Masters' mood changed 180-degrees again, and he said, "Dr. Belcher, if you do not get with the program and stop your whining and complaining, I may be forced to look for another Vice President for Research. Do I make myself clear?" Everyone abruptly nodded their heads. Then Dr. Geldter spoke out, "Dr. Masters, I would like to .... " But Dr. Masters interrupted him before he could finish," Not now, Dr. Geldter! I know what you are going to ask, and I think that Dr. Belcher is fully capable and committed to our team. Isn't that correct, Francis?" Dr. Belcher responded, "Clement, I think that we need to think about .... " Dr. Masters interrupted him again, "Now, it is my understanding that Dr. Bane here will be the liaison for this new operation in Moscow and the key man to contact if there are problems." Dr. Bane had tried not to be directly involved in Dr. Masters' scheming, but he was being sucked in by Dr. Masters. "But sir, I don't think that I have been here long enough to actually be involved in these sorts of things." Dr. Masters responded firmly," Nonsense! We welcome your input on the team." Dr. Masters then got up and walked to the door, "I'm sorry, we have to end our little conversation. I have another meeting. You have your instructions. Good luck to you all!"

The faculty and administrators were left sitting in Dr. Masters' conference room just looking at each other, and they began to get up and leave. It was clear that they did not like each other in any way but have been forced to work together by Dr. Masters. Dr. Ross who was the last to go with Dr. Graham told her quietly, "Dr. Masters has gone completely mad. I'm not going to be a part of this and either should you." But Dr. Graham responded, "But you heard what he said. We could be in trouble here if we don't go along with his directives." On the other hand, Dr. Domasovitch was quite proud of his performance. He had been invited into the inner circle of power at the institution, and he felt important and confident of his future. These faculty members would all do what they were told, and actually they would do it with gusto knowing that some future promotion or salary increase would be theirs some day after this little problem or two was finally resolved. Dr. Domasovitch also saw himself at the helm of a department and part of the new administrative blood of the institution. He also disagreed strongly with that pompous ass Isaac Geldter that his department must be merged with Geldter's department at the M. K. Black Building.
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