Prologue

The short stalky General sat waiting in a beat up Dodge Caravan near an abandoned warehouse on the south side of Atlanta.  Next to him was his second in command.  Behind the two men sat their chief medical officer on the first bench seat.  The second bench seat had been removed in order to house a portable biocontainment unit, the contents of which sent a chill up the General’s spine.

“Is this them,” asked the chief medical officer as she pointed to an approaching vehicle.  Her voice quavered in a show of nerve.

“Relax,” said the second in command.  “We are about to be done with this and then we can start the real work once and for all.”

“I am just not sure we should be going through with this,” the medical officer replied.  “The modifications to the RNA they requested seem to have changed the stability of the disease.  There is no telling what kind of variations they can make in its current state.  I really should run more tests before we….”

“These are our only interested buyers,” interrupted the General.  “I have been able to get no traction from Middle East factions.  If we are to succeed in our plans, these are the people to which we must sell to.  And the infusion of cash will help launch stage two of our plan.  We are in financial ruin and we must act now if we are to succeed.”

The passengers of the van fell silent as the approaching box truck stopped thirty yards from the van and flashed its lights slowly three times.  The General flashed the van’s headlights three times in response.

The box truck slowly closed the gap, pulled past the van, and backed up behind the them.

The General watched through his side view mirror as two men in army surplus fatigues got out of the cab and walked to the back of the box truck.  In his rear view mirror, he saw the men unlatch the roll-up door and open the box truck.

Three men and one woman, all wearing black cloaks and trying their best to appear stoic, stood waiting at the entrance to the truck bed.  The General could see another man towards the back of the truck standing motionless in the shadows.

The two men in army fatigues pulled out the loading ramp to allow the four cloaked passengers out of the truck.

“This is it,” said the General.  “Remember, no one says a word unless directed by myself.  And if you believe in a god, now would be a good time to ask his forgiveness.”

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