Director of the Office of Bio-crisis Management, was a powerful man. Confidant
to the President, he was in charge of hundreds of scientists working on
teams in a dozen countries. Yet, for all of his vaunted power there
was one man in Washington whom Rheinhart feared. That man was seated
across from him now.
Daniel Cassian, a biological/chemical disaster expert, was one man Rheinhart
never wanted to cross. Rumors had him tied to the NSA, CIA, FBI and
dozens of other agencies that made up the alphabet soup that was the federal
government. Two years ago a meeting of high level governmental officials
had decided to revamp the Office Of Bio-Crisis Management. They felt
that the agency's resources were too widely dispersed to offer a speedy
defense in what they had begun to refer to as the "coming plague wars".
Like the CDC and other government response teams, it took time for the
OBM to recall and redirect resources to deal with perceived treats to public
safety. The council concluded that a small highly skilled team of
trouble-shooters would better serve the public's interest. To that
end they brought in Dr. Cassian to organize and spearhead this elite force.
of dollars were diverted to the OBM for constructing new state-of-the-art
facilities in the nation's major cities. Rheinhart and his staff
were under direct orders from the President himself to cooperate with Cassian
in every way. Surprisingly, things had gone smoothly and the last
of the facilities had been finished on schedule. Still, a visit from
Cassian always filled Rheinhart with dread. It was no telling what
the man wanted this time.
Dr. Cassian what can I do for you today?"
afraid our time table has been moved up. I've selected the last two
members for the team. I need them on board in the next two days."
you doctor, it's not only possible but imperative. It seems our Andromeda
Strain may have found us sooner than expected. I need these people
on board ASAP."
Rheinhart turned his attention to the folders that Cassian placed on his
desk. "We have an outbreak? Where? Why wasn't I informed?"
doctor I believe I just did. Besides nothing has been confirmed.
That's why we need the team."
up the first folder, Rheinhart gave it a quick scan. "Dr. Shiroma's,
a good choice. But I don't see the WHO letting her go without a fight."
already spoken to the Director-General, any request from you will be received
with favor. Dr. Shiroma is currently in Washington attending a conference.
As soon as he receives your request she will be reassigned to the OBM.
She should be able to report for duty in 24 hours."
a few notes on Shiroma's folder, Rheinhart put it aside and picked up the
second one. Glancing at the name he looked up at Cassian in shock.
gave a slight smile at Rheinhart’s confusion. "I need a team of shall
we say unconventional thinkers. From what I hear Marcase qualifies."
the man is brilliant if a bit unorthodox. But you'll have a hard
time getting Edward out of the jungle. He's strictly a front line
player and he has little use for secret covert groups. He won't be
easy to convince."
is my understanding that Marcase works for you. Where he goes and
what he does is up to your discretion. Recall him from the field
and reassign him. Once he's here I seriously doubt he will turn his
back on a crisis. That's not his style."
won't be very happy about being yanked out of the
get him here, we'll deal with likes and dislikes after the crisis is over.
If he survives that is. How soon can you get him on board?"
take a few days. He's in the outer reaches of Nepal. It'll
take time to track him down then at least a day for him to get back to
can't wait that long. I suggest you and Dr. Shiroma start without
him. You can bring him up to speed when he arrives."
What do you mean, it was my understanding that this was your operation."
I have a prior commitment elsewhere. My plane leaves in an hour.
You are going to have to run things in my absence. Look Rheinhart,
I know this isn't according to the plan but we have little choice here.
We could be facing a major disaster, it can't wait for me to return and
my business is critical. Marcase and Shiroma are the best in their
fields; all you have to do is let them do their jobs. Mr. Hailey
will handle security and coordinate with USAMRIID. The Mansion is
up and running. I've prepared detailed specs on the facility, most
of which you are already familiar with. Mr. Hailey is fully briefed;
he can help you with anything else you might need to know. I've also
provided you with everything we know about our possible outbreak, which
isn't much at this point. We transferred our patient zero to The
Mansion and Mr. Hailey is standing guard. The sooner you and Shiroma
get started the better."
With a resigned
sigh Rheinhart met Cassian's gaze and nodded. "All right Cassian
I'll try to hold the fort while you're gone. I hope this is just
a false alarm."
do I but we can't take any chances."
the dossiers again, Rheinhart couldn't help seeing the humor in an otherwise
serious situation. Looking up he gave Cassian a smile. "Are
you sure you're not leaving the country to avoid the fireworks?"
and Marcase, those two are going to get along like oil and water.
Are you sure you're not just trying to escape the headaches those two are
going to cause?"
I'd let you break them in for me." Cassian couldn't quite restrain
a lot. Just remember you owe me big time for this one."
try to remember that. Well, I have a plane to catch."
from his chair, Cassian gathered his belongings and shook hands with the
Director. "Good luck, doctor, I'll be in touch."
A few moments later
Rheinhart was alone in the office. Studying the folders on his desk,
he tried to figure out where to start. After rereading all of the
material twice, he reached out and buzzed his secretary. "Ms. Sheffield,
get me the Director-General of the WHO, please and try to locate the exact
whereabouts of Dr. Edward Marcase. Also, I'll need you to take some
the folders he leaned back in his chair and waited while his secretary
carried out his instructions. May God help them all.