It was warm inside, and she searched for the source. Tables and shelves of test tubes, syringes, GPS devices, jars of pills, ah, a little electric heater. That would explain the solar panels. Propane would be too dangerous in a lab setting. Besides all the mad scientist junk, there was a man peering into a microscope. Jeez, what a stereotype, she thought. He turned, though not right away, a priority she wouldn't have held. If someone walked into a room she made immediate note of it, regardless of current preoccupation. The scientist smiled, bursting his stereotyped bubble with a completely open grin shining out of his red beard. Scientists could smile, but weren't they supposed to be clean shaven with glasses?
"Ms. Johnson, this is Brian Quinn, Brian, Sarah Johnson, the spy the government sent us." For a moment she was shocked. How did he know? Then she realized he was just being catty. Most people thought that was reserved for women but apparently, despite their truce, he still felt like his toes were being stepped on.
"Just here to protect our investment," Vivian clarified, shaking Brian's hand, who'd stood. He was shorter than her, but his blue eyes seemed to meet her brown ones perfectly. She dropped his hand.
"Nice to meetcha. I'll be happy to answer any Q's yah got," he said, smiling the whole time.
It was hard not to smile back, and she did. "Thanks."
"Are you going to poke around in here for awhile?" Cohelan asked. "no touching," He amended.
"Yes." She was betting she could get more out of Brian with less work.
Cohelan must have thought otherwise. "Fine. When you're done, Brian will show you the rest." He left, and she set her bags down.
"Care for a drink?" Brian asked, holding out a flask.
"No thanks. I don't drink on the job."
"Hey, no problem," Mr. Never-ending smile said. "I don't drink enough to get sloppy, it's just the only way I seem to be able to stay warm. Well, there is another way," he teased, wiggling his eyebrows.
She shook her head, changed the subject. "So, the serum's working?"
"Yeah, check it out", he motioned to the microscope, and she leaned over to peer in. "That's a sample white cell, from the Alpha male. We call him Edward." She nodded. She wasn't a biologist, but she knew the basics. A pipette pulled into her circle of vision. "I'm adding some bacteria," some nasty wiggly things oozed onto the slide from the thin glass tube. "Now watch."
The white cell, as was it's job, attacked the nearest nasty. It enveloped the whole thing, and then instead of breaking it down, it seemed to spit it out. The bacteria looked different, wounded maybe, but it still moved. It fled from it's captor back to it's gang. And then, quit obviously, it started attacking it's fellows, ripping cilia off left and right.
"What-" Vivian said. The white cell didn't even need to help the rogue, it just hovered in the background until, against the odds, the traitor bacteria annihilated it's fellows. "Now what?" Vivian unbent from the microscope.
"Now it'll hang out to defend until it dies." Brian grinned proudly.
"But I thought the project goal was intelligence enhancement. This is far more, and incredible at that. Even with the required years of testing, this could be a miracle drug." It was an amazing developemnt, one that hadn't been in any of the reports.
"That was, and is, the goal. This is some kind of accidental mutational side effect. You should see the progress we've made on purpose."
Well, penicillin had been an accident. "Got another sample?"
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