Dual Strain Industries

20:38 Hrs, August 9th

Laboratory Grid Hydra

Hundreds of cryostasis tanks lined the lab in perfect rows and columns, each being occupied by a unique, yet grossly mutated life form. Small tables sat next to each glass cylinder, complete with every common scientific tool imaginable, a sleek laptop computer, and notebooks filled with a seemingly endless supply of arithmetic jargon. A few scientific engineers huddled over tables scattered across the vast room, but most were bustling through the catacombs of the facility looking for signatures, raises, favors, and all sorts of authorization for their various projects.

Among the swirl of standard white lab coats two men stood out. One of them wore a black suit with the usual businessman getup. The other trailed behind with a suitcase in one hand and a clipboard in the other. This man wore an expensive black trench coat and was slowly taking in everything he saw as he was led through Laboratory Grid Hydra. In front of what appeared to be an empty tank he stopped.

"What's this guy doing?" He set his suitcase and got the clipboard ready to jot down notes. A scientist sat before him, hunched over in a world of complete focus, unknowing of the watchful eyes set upon him.

The man in the suit paused wearily, then backtracked to the tank. "Why do you want to know Mr. Klien? I thought you were only sent to inspect our security protocol."

"I'm just curious, that's all." Mr. Klien began to scribble on the clipboard. "You aren't withholding information from the department of health and human services, are you?"

Worry drifted across the businessman's face. "No, no. I don't mind at all. Vladimir…Vladimir!" He tapped the desk next to the stasis tank sharply to grab the engineer's attention.

Vladimir's eyes snapped away from a battered notebook, as if he had just broken free from some complex hypnosis. "Hmmm? What? What is it?" His eyes locked onto Mr. Klien and was immediately suspicious of the stranger. "Who is this guy?"

"This is Mr. Klien and he would like to know what you're working on."

"I'm sorry Mr. Silverton but the project is highly confidential. I could tell you…but not him."

"This man has level four security clearance so tell him what you're working on."

Vladimir looked back at Mr. Klien. "So, you work for the government? How'd you guys find our facility? Those Cytogen bastards told you didn't they?"

He blinked. "Cytogen? What's that?"

"Just a rival genetics facility. Doesn't matter. You wanted to know what I'm working on, right?"

"Yeah, that's kind of what I've been waiting for." Mr. Klien started writing on the pad again.

Vladimir pointed at the empty tank. "You can't see them but there's trillions of microscopic parasitic organisms inside the tank. They used to be Ebola bacteria, but with the element Theronite that research team bravo discovered I was able to mutate the species into something entirely different."

The scribbling increased to what seemed like involuntary spasms. "What do they do?"

"Well that's what I'm trying to figure out now. I know that it divides rapidly and adapts faster than anything on the planet. I'm afraid that if the specimens got out into the atmosphere they would die, so I'm restrained to observing them in this airtight container."

Mr. Silverton rubbed his eyes. "It's late. We should probably wrap this inspection up."

Mr. Klien ignored the statement. "But Vladimir, if they're so adaptable wouldn't they just adapt to the air?"

The scientist looked uncertainly at his boss. "Ummm, like he said, it is late."

"Okay, I won't bother much longer. Just answer me this. Are they worth anything?"

"What the hell does that have to do with anything?' Vladimir accused, his suspicion reignited.

Mr. Silverton shot him a warning glare.

"Just answer it and I'll be on my way."

"Fine. They're worth a fortune. With this single parasitic strain we can finally shut down Cytogen facilities. Nothing they can create can match up to this. Now if you don't mind, I need to get back to work."

"No, I don't mind at all. I think it's time I wrapped up the inspection anyways." He placed the clipboard on the table and reached inside his suitcase. He pulled out a machine gun and aimed it at the two Dual Strain employees. "I guess I should claim it for Cytogen then. Nobody move!"

A small uproar arose as scientists began running and yelling and hiding. The noise died away when the Cytogen spy fired a burst of gunfire at the ceiling.

"Hey, Vlada-whatever your name is, open the stasis tank."

The scientist had his hands up and shifted his position slightly. "I can't, they'll die."

"Then put your entire supply of parasites into a vacuum valve or something. I know there's a way to get those damn things out, now open it!"

"No."

"Don't make me shoot you."

"No."

The gun tilted over to the man in the suit. "Tell him to get the specimens out or everyone dies."

"Don't do it Mr. Silverton." Vladimir warned.

In his mind Mr. Silverton panned out his options. Is the Dual Strain security going to come? Surely someone has alerted them…right? I mean…I can't say no or we all die. There's no other choice. "Do it." He said without expression.

Vladimir almost protested but decided against it. Only his face expressed what he wanted to say so badly. Silently he went to work at the base of the cryostasis tank, switching valves and attaching glass containers.

Mr. Silverton knew that no matter what they did they would all die but, deep inside the vast expansion of thought, he held hope that the security would arrive before it was too late.

Mr. Klien was beginning to get agitated. "Hurry it up! I don't have all day!"

Vladimir fumbled slightly, almost dropping a glass container. He regained stability and worked at a slightly faster pace.

Out of the corner of his eye Mr. Silverton saw his reinforcements, heavily armed and armored, concealed in a doorway at the far left corner of the grid. One of them made a hand signal asking for permission to shoot.

Silverton gave the slightest of nods.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

The spy caught the nod and the direction of the gaze and whipped the machine gun around, a moment too late. His body jerked back as each bullet smashed through muscle and bone. Several seconds passed and the gunfire ceased.

By some miracle the dead spy was still standing. Then, as Mr. Klien fell in a pool of his own accumulating blood, his hand involuntarily squeezed the handle of the gun, the barrel pointing straight at Mr. Silverton and Vladimir.

The two men fell to the ground in a spray of glass. There was a moment of complete silence as all three men lay motionless at the base of the shattered stasis tank. The security personnel rushed forward to help their boss and the scientist. Vladimir was dead, but Silverton sat up slowly, only his legs were injured. "Get out! Hurry, before--."

"Containment breach confirmed. Quarantine protocol initiated for Laboratory Grid Hydra." A prerecorded voice echoed through the room. Instantly all the vents were sealed, the doors were shut, locked, and barricaded, and power to the grid was cut off.

"Wh--What's going on?" One of the guards asked, his voice echoing through the darkness. The scientists began to gather around as well.

"We're being quarantined, as the intercom said." Silverton answered glumly.

"For how long?"

"Until the Hydra's main computer registers that life signs in the room are at zero."

After a moment the guard realized the implication. He raced over to the doorway. "There's no way I'm dying in this damned place." Light cut through the facility as the man shot at the door, putting numerous holes in it.

"You idiot!" Mr. Silverton screamed. "Those doors are magnetically locked. There's no way to open them. All you did was cause the quarantine to increase to the entire Hydra wing of Dual Strain Industries."

"But…someone will save us…right boss? I mean…your father wouldn't let you die…right?"

"I don't know. I just—I don't know. But for all our sakes, I hope you're right."

Silence engulfed the room as each man accepted his fate with grim recognition in the pitch darkness.