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WARNING: This story contains graphic content such as sex, violence, death, and derogatory slang.  

Imprisoned - 6. The Order

One thing was for sure, something wasn’t right with the situation we had walked into. The lab was deserted, no guards, no scientists except for Dr. Grimm who had just tried to attack me and lay on the floor before me after getting his ass handed to him.

I lowered my gun slowly and the man stood up, regaining his composure. He looked as if he had run an obstacle course, his back hair was disheveled and he was missing his glasses. He had a rocker sort of style with his black Metallica tee, which hung close to his lean frame, and his long legs were clad in a pair of slim jeans which were tucked into a pair of black combat boots.

“Why did you attack me?” I asked in a stern voice.

“I thought you were with those… people.” Dr. Grimm winced as he stood upright.

“What people?” I asked. The rest of the team stood near the doorway in silence, Riley and Ryan had their sights set on Dr. Grimm. He looked at me curiously and turned his head sideways slightly.

“What exactly are you doing here?” Dr. Grimm asked.

“I’m the one asking the question.” I growled, staring him down. Dr. Grimm cowered slightly at that. He repositioned himself on his feet awkwardly, he was hiding something.

“People, they came in and took the other scientists.” He had a panicked tone in his voice. “I didn’t know what to do so I hid in my panic room.” He gestured at the closet, where a thick and heavy door sat slightly ajar.

“What people?” Riley asked. Ryan and him had lowered their weapons and were now holding them at the ready in front of them.

“People from the outside.” Dr. Grimm responded.

“Were they military, like us?” Boomer asked, there was a hint of hope in his voice and I knew where that hope was heading.

“No.. they were dressed like civilians.. But their clothing looked old, and worn.” Dr. Grimm explained. I kept trying to wrap my head around the fact that there were people here. People who were abandoned. By our government.

“Maybe the government didn’t know there were people still here.” I tried to reassure myself. But even that sounded unbelievable to me.

“How long ago was this?” I asked.

“Three-wait-maybe four days?” Dr. Grimm scrunched his face together in confusion, which led me to believe that he had been in there for quite some time.

“Elliott.” I turned around and Ryan flipped his head over in a come here motion. I stepped closer to Ryan, just out of earshot from Dr. Grimm. “How much of this do you believe?” He asked me in a hushed tone. I looked over at Dr. Grimm, who was now being examined by Cody.

“I don’t know. But he seems pretty spooked.” I couldn’t get past the thought that he was hiding something from us. “I think we should keep an eye on him for sure.” I decided.

“Riley, Boomer?” Riley and Boomer turned their gazes toward me. “You two and Ryan secure the floor, whoever those people are we don’t want them getting back in.” I commanded. They nodded their heads in agreement and made their way out of the room.

“Do you want me to go with them?” Alex asked. I turned to her with my hands on my hips.

“No, I have another job for you. Follow me.” I responded, turning around heading out of the room. Leaving Cody with Dr. Grimm.

“Normally I wouldn’t ask so many questions, but what is this other job?” Alex trotted behind me. She had a hopeful tone in her voice. We stepped into the brightly lit hallway, lined with all the labs.

“How good is your hacking?” I asked, hoping to hear anything but “piss poor” come out of her mouth.

“Well, I went to MIT and dabbled in computer science if that answer’s your question.” She stated matter of factly. I grinned and made my way over to the BSL-1 lab I was in earlier and pulled the door open.

“Perfect.” I responded shortly. I approached Dr. Grimm’s desk at the other end of the lab and rested my hand on the monitor of the computer. It felt warm to the touch and I could feel the mechanical vibrations contained within. “We need to get into this computer, whatever Dr. Grimm and his fellow scientists were working on pissed the locals off out of hiding. We need to know what it is.” I explained.

Alex stepped behind the desk, she grinned and her eyes glinted slightly. I could see her mechanically inclined brain start to turn and work through its processes. “It might take me an hour or so, but I think I can crack it.” She said, undoing her vest to reveal a maroon tank top. She undid her hair from the tight bun it was in and her red hair fell to her pale white shoulders. I understood why Cody had a thing for her, she had brains and beauty, the perfect combo.

“Just let me know when you're done.” I gave her a slight nod and grin. She didn’t respond, which is how Alex got when she was in her zone. I stepped out of the lab and into the hallway where I was greeted by Ryan, Riley and Boomer.

“Floor’s secure.” Boomer said shortly.

“Excellent.” I checked my watch “1202”, I grabbed the front of my vest and let my arms relax there. “Evac isn’t till 0700. So this is our base of operations until we leave for the evac point.” I explained.

“Guess we're getting comfortable then.” Riley sighed, “I’ll take the first shift of guard duty.” He raised his hand slightly, volunteering himself for the job.

“Ryan you take the second shift, Boomer you got last.” I said.

“Got it Ell.” Boomer said, and with that he walked off in the direction of the living room alcove.

“I’m gonna see if Cody needs help.” Ryan said as he walked off in the direction of the hallway that contained the living quarters. I looked over my shoulder and through the glass wall of the lab, watching Alex as she concentrated all of her efforts on her work.

I reached into my bag and pulled out the files I had found on Dr. Grimm’s desk. The rough brown cardboard felt heavy in my hands and I was eager to see what they contained. With the files in hand I crossed the hall to the little living alcove we were in earlier. It wasn’t anything special, a large maroon couch, which Boomer was stretched out on, with two matching overstuffed armchairs sat around a glass coffee table. There was a landscape picture above the couch of the San Francisco skyline prior to the earthquake.

I removed my vest and plopped down in one of the oversized armchairs, draping my right leg over the arm and resting my back against the opposite arm. I flipped open one of the files and began to read some of Dr. Grimm’s notes. Most of it was dry, scientific, and I almost nodded off a couple of times. A cure for cancer seemed like it would be more interesting than this.

It talked about the Northern Flu virus and it’s RNA sequence, and how they could use that RNA sequence to then splice it with the DNA of another virus. I studied the notes more carefully and came across a gene sequence, the words “Zaire e.” were scrawled untidily underneath it.

“Zaire e.? Zaire e.? Where have I heard that before?” I racked my brain thinking back through medical school, microbiology, anything. But I couldn’t think of it. I rubbed my face and looked at my watch. “1450”.

I sighed and continued pouring over the notes again.

“You need to take a break or you’re gonna fry that genius brain of yours.” James laughed, setting a cup of coffee in front of me.

“I can’t, I need to pass my Intern exams, or I’m not gonna get that residency position at Harborview.” I replied, my eyes drooped and I had a tired expression on my face.

“You’ll pass them.” James reassured me, rubbing my shoulders. I leaned back into his touch and groaned.

“Some of us don’t have an eidetic memory.” I joked.

“It’s both a blessing and a curse. Trust me.” James chuckled.

The smell of coffee lifted me out of my memory of James and I. A coffee cup appeared out of my peripherals and I followed the gloved hand up to meet Ryan’s gaze. It was crazy how he could smile at me with just his eyes.

“Thought you could use a pick me up.” Ryan said, handing me the mug of black liquid. I took the cup in my hands gladly and took a drink. Whatever the brand was, was a little bitter for my liking but I was appreciative nonetheless.

“Thanks, I don’t know why I’m so tired.” I set the coffee mug on the glass coffee table and continued flipping through Dr. Grimm’s notes.

“One reason comes to mind.” Ryan raised his eyebrows at me. I shook my head and grinned. As much as I wanted to flirt with him, kiss him, maybe even take him to one of those back rooms and have a little fun with him. The mission came first, and I needed my head on straight.

“We can’t bring that up right now. It’s too distracting.” I replied gruffly. There was a twinge in my pants at the mere thought of our amazing sex last night.

Ryan lifted his hands in defeat. “I know, I know. We need to concentrate on the mission.” He replied with a smile. “What you got there?” He motioned towards Dr. Grimm’s notes.

“The good doctor's notes. I’m trying to find out what exactly they were working on here. Maybe it will give us a clue as to why those people came in here and took them.” I explained.

“Does it bother you that there’s people living here on the island still?” Ryan questioned.

“I would be lying if I said it didn’t.” I closed the file and tossed it on the coffee table. “I mean they could be from the outside and just traveled across the bay or the Daly Canal, looking for a home. They could also be natives, we don’t know. That’s what bothers me the most. I don’t want to walk into a Rager situation. Or worse.” Yes, there were worse things than Ragers, at least Ragers were out of their mind and more or less just had a one track mind. Other people though, they could be ruthless and sadistic, killing you slowly, and painfully.

“Ragers, ruined cities, shady scientists. Man I miss Texas.” Ryan sighed and took a drink of his coffee.

“You don’t ever really talk about home.” I stated. I needed a break from the notes for a few minutes, re-charge my batteries slightly before I dove into them again.

Ryan settled into the armchair opposite me, leaning forward and resting his arms on his knees. He had a distant look in his eyes as he recalled his home. I could tell that he missed it, I missed my home too.

“It’s awesome. Swimming at Lake Travis during the summer, getting BBQ ribs from Freedman’s, even the humidity. It’s like life before the Northern Flu pandemic.” Ryan spoke as if he was talking about heaven.

I crinkled my face and scoffed. “You lost me at humidity.”

Ryan chuckled and took another drink of his coffee. “You get used to it.”

“I don’t know about that.” I rebutted with a grin.

One thing Ryan had said stuck with me.

“Life before the Northern Flu pandemic.”

Sure I could remember life before everything went to hell, it was just hard to imagine a future where that life became a reality again. But would it be the same as before? No it wouldn’t. For one he wouldn’t have James, and second he would be working as an ER Physician in Seattle versus as a Trauma Physician in the Army.

“You okay?” Ryan pulled me out of my thoughts and I looked across at him. His blue eyes looked at me with a knowing expression, like he knew I was going down the rabbit hole of life before.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I lied, taking a sip of coffee to hide the fact. I could tell Ryan could see right through the lie but he didn’t press it further.

“What about your home?” Ryan asked.

“It’s not that exciting.” I waved the question off. Ryan cocked an eyebrow at me. “No, really. It’s nothing to write home about.” I stated.

“I’m still curious.” Ryan stared at me with his blue eyes and I instantly caved.

Damn those eyes.

“I’m from a town in Idaho called Kuna. Ever heard of it?” I asked. Ryan shook his head in response. “That’s okay, no one ever has.” I laughed. “It’s a small town, lots of farms and open fields. My parents own a ranch, my Dad breeds horses, breaks ‘em in for riding and then they turn around and sell ‘em for profit.” Ryan hung onto my every word, as if my past were a best selling novel. “I… I haven’t seen or heard from them since before the outbreak.” I glanced down into my coffee mug, swirling the dark liquid around.

Ryan furrowed his brows and gave a questioning look. “Why?”

“Well… after I met James they didn’t take so kindly to having a gay son.” My chest clenched slightly at the pain that still hung there.

“Oh… I’m sorry.” Ryan’s tone was apologetic and soft.

I shook my head, my eyes beginning to burn slightly as I pushed back tears. “Don’t be. It’s practically ancient history.” Even though that was a lie. I often thought about my parents, wondered how they were doing. But I could never get around to calling them, as I wasn’t ready to face the rejection that would follow soon after.

“Hey Lone Star, you’re up!” Riley walked into the lounge, making us both jump.

“Lone Star?” I gave Riley a confused look.

“Yeah, you know… because he’s from Texas… the Lone Star State.” Riley replied.

“That’s a horrible nickname.” I chuckled and took a drink of my coffee.

“I’d like to see you come up with something better.” Riley folded his arms across his chest.

“How about, oh I don’t know… Riggs?” I asked.

Riley stared at me and then scoffed trying to hide the fact that my nickname was better. “That’s a horrible nickname.” And with that Riley strode off in the direction of the living quarters. Ryan, Boomer and I all laughed. Boomer’s laugh made me jump slightly, this entire time I thought he was sleeping.

“So sensitive.” Boomer spoke with his eyes closed.

“Boomer, have you been awake this whole time?” I asked, turning my gaze towards him.

“If I say no, would you believe me?” Boomer smirked.

“No.” I responded flatly.

“Well then yes, I have been awake this whole time.” Boomer still had his eyes closed.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Ryan asked from the door frame.

“Because… I’m trying to take a nap, duh.” There was a hint of sarcasm in Boomer’s voice. I shook my head and grinned. Ryan let out a chuckle and turned around walking toward the elevator bank confidently. I stood up from my chair and stretched, deciding that I should go check on Cody and Dr. Grimm. I made my way towards Dr. Grimm’s living quarters, glancing in the lab where Alex was still working away in full concentration mode. I could hear Cody’s voice from the hallway as I rounded the corner and stepped through the doorway. Cody was sitting at the desk pouring over a genetics textbook and Dr. Grimm was flipping through his tablet, no doubt looking through his research.

“What’s going on here?” I leaned my broad shoulder against the doorframe and crossed my arms.

“Oh hey Dr. Pierce!” Cody looked up from the textbook, his bright brown eyes shining at the sight of me. “Dr. Grimm was just answering some questions about genetics.” He finished. Dr. Grimm grinned at me from above his tablet.

“You like Genetics huh?” I walked towards Cody and held my hand out, Cody gingerly handed me the textbook and the weight of it surprised me.

“Yeah, it’s fascinating stuff. Dr. Grimm even said that if I was interested I should consider a fellowship in Genetics.” Cody had an excited tone in his voice which made my heart drop slightly. I didn’t want Cody to think about leaving, as selfish as that made me. He was the little brother I wish I had, his bright demeanor made my days better.

I smiled at Cody and handed the textbook back to him. “If it’s something you really enjoy you should go for it.”

What? No. You should be convincing him to stay. My thoughts rang out, but I squashed them down immediately. I turned my attention to Dr. Grimm who was trying, poorly I might add, to not eavesdrop on our conversation.

“I actually had a question for you Dr. Grimm.” I motioned for Cody to give us the room, which he obliged. He went to put the textbook back in the bookcase but Dr. Grimm shook his head.

“No, take it with you, please. You’ll have better use for it then I will.” Dr. Grimm smiled.

“Thank you.” Cody said nervously and left the room, closing the door behind him. I sat in the now unoccupied chair that Cody was sitting in and faced Dr. Grimm.

“I was reading through you notes-”

“You were reading through my research?” Dr. Grimm cut him off. There was a sense of annoyance in his voice and his expression was almost taken aback, like I had violated some Doctor creed I wasn’t aware of.

“Yes.” I nodded my head. “The best way to figure out what you guys were working on up here is to go right to the source.” I stated.

“Which is why we're having this conversation.” Dr. Grimm pieced together. I nodded my head sharply before continuing.

“In your notes, there’s a certain genome sequence of Zaire e., but I can’t seem to recall what exactly that is.” Dr. Grimm’s eyes widened slightly at the mention of that, but he shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

“It’s a simple protein I’m using as a catalyst.” He set the tablet down on his bed and crossed his arms. “Why do you ask?”

“It’s just… I mean… If you're really curing cancer up here, it would be awesome to know the brains behind it.” I explained. I knew Dr. Grimm was lying, but whether or not I could get him to spill, or even better slip up, was another story.

“I’m sure that your general told you that we're working on here is classified, and strictly need to know.” Dr. Grimm gave me a knowing expression.

Crap, he knows I’m on to him. I gave him a tight smile and nodded my head. “Very well.” I stood up and began walking towards the door.

“Dr. Pierce?” I turned my head over my shoulder, Dr. Grimm gave me a smirk, there was an evil glint in his eye, one that I didn’t trust and sent a chill down my spine. “Do be careful snooping around. We wouldn’t want anyone to question your allegiance with the Republic.” My fists tightened into balls, my nails digging into my palms, and my body shook slightly with anger. I wanted to punch him in his pretentious face, make him talk but that’s not how this was going to get done. No. I had to beat Dr. Grimm at his own game, and that started with whatever was on the computer in his lab. I stormed out of Dr. Grimms living quarters and made my way to the lab hallway.

“Ooof!” I ran right into a wall of muscle and kevlar that is Ryan, who was making his guard rounds.

“Sorry, Ryan.” I looked at the floor, trying to avoid his eye contact so he couldn’t see how furious I was.

“What’s the matter? I can practically feel the anger rolling off of you.” Ryan asked. Well there goes my plan of trying to hide it.

“It’s that damn Dr. Grimm. He’s hiding something and he knows that I’m on to him, and to top it all off he threatened me.” I could see fire ignite behind Ryan’s eyes as I spoke the last part. I had never seen Ryan angry, his expression was all stoic, his jaw went firm and his southern drawl came out more.

“What do you wanna do?” He asked.

“We just gotta beat him at his own game. Whatever he’s hiding in that computer-” I pointed at the lab where Alex was still working tirelessly away. “-is going to give us our answers.”

I felt a twinge of pain in the palms of my hands and I held one in front of me to observe marks where my nails had dug deep into my palms. The angry red and purple marks were enough to settle my anger slightly. It was physical and I could see it, which made it easier to cope with.

Ryan grabbed my hand in his own meaty, fingerless gloved hand and turned it over to observe the marks. “What did you do?” He had concern behind his eyes.

“Well it was either that or punched him in the face.” I stated matter of factly.

“I would have rather you punched him the face.” Ryan placed his other hand over the palm of my hand. Even though he was wearing gloves, I could feel the warmth and electricity that I felt whenever he laid those hands on me. My mind flashed back to my bedroom last night and all the feelings I felt for Ryan, and I hoped he felt for me. I felt a warmth spread in my chest and my heart seemed to explode with desire, desire to be held, desire to be seen, desire to be loved.

I regretfully pulled my hand back and stared at my feet, if I looked into those eyes it was only a matter of time before Ryan pulled me in for a kiss, and I would let him. But I couldn’t think like that right now, I had to think about the mission, there would be plenty of times for these feelings once we got back to Bakersfield.

“Elliott!” I whipped my head over in the direction of the BSL-1 lab to see Alex poking half her body through the lab door. No one except Ryan ever called me Elliott, unless it was serious and her expression matched the seriousness of her tone. Without question I hurried towards the door, I could feel Ryan’s presence following behind me. I grabbed the lab door from Alex and stepped through following hot on her trail. Her red hair blew gracefully as she hurried along the racks and glass cabinets until we reached Dr. Grimm’s desk.

“You need to see this.” She demanded, sitting in the computer chair. I stood behind her, leaning on the back of the chair and Ryan settled in next to me. It was a video still and Dr. Grimm’s exhausted face stared back at us. Alex hit a button on the keyboard and the video began playing.

“This is Dr. Jason Grimm, date July 2, 2032 time 1620. We have successfully attached the RNA genome sequence of the H2N4 virus to that of Zaire ebolavirus-”

The name Zaire ebolavirus stopped me dead in my tracks and brought me back to Dr. Grimm’s notes.

Zaire e.

My heart stopped at the realization of what was happening. Zaire ebolavirus is the scientific classification for Ebola, a very aggressive and deadly pathogen. They were using it as a catalyst to speed up the effects of the Northern Flu.

“-We have gotten the green light to start human trials.” Dr. Grimm stepped aside to reveal a kid, no older than 20, sedated and strapped to a metal exam table.

My eyes were glued to the monitor, not capable of looking away. Dr. Grimm took a pre-loaded syringe of some substance, which I guessed was the H2N4/Ebola variant and injected the kid with it.

Ryan scoffed in disgust and looked away. I could empathize with him, I wanted to look away, pretend like I had never seen this. But my scientist mind got the better of me and I was determined to know what happened next.

“Within twenty four hours we should see the effects of the variant present themselves. This is Dr. Grimm signing off.” The screen went dark and then Dr. Grimm appeared again, this time in a white hazmat suit.

“This is Dr. Jason Grimm, date July 4, 2032 time 1920. The H2N4/Ebola virus variant has been successful. Symptoms began to present themselves as little as seventeen hours post exposure, seizures, hemorrhaging, respiratory failure and then death all presented themselves at an alarming rate. Despite the subject's excellent immune system he expired July 4th, 2032 at 1830.”

“Shut it off.” I growled through gritted teeth. Alex clicked another button on the keyboard and the recording stopped. My blood began to boil, my hands shaking as I gripped the back of Alex’s chair.

“Subject?” This was a human being. Not some lab rat that could be used for experimentation. The answer that I had been searching for in Dr. Grimm’s files came to light. They took the scientists not because they wanted to out of sheer thrill. They took them because the scientists were abducting and experimenting on them.

“What do we do?” I heard Ryan ask.

What DO we do? Out of all the missions I had been on, this was definitely a first. I had never been faced with something of this caliber before, I was practically in uncharted territory. A part of me wanted to kill Dr. Grimm for torturing innocent people. A part of me also questioned the government I had fought so hard for all these years. Did they know what Dr. Grimm was doing here? Did they know that he was slaughtering people like cattle?

“Elliott?” I could hear Ryan’s voice, but everything was a haze. I was furious and not even Ryan’s husky southern drawl could bring me back to earth, bring me out of this cloud of fury, this fury that needed an outlet and I knew exactly what my target was.

I stepped around the desk and began stomping my way out of the lab.

“Elliott!” I heard Alex shout from behind me, but I didn’t turn around, didn’t acknowledge her. Instead I flung the lab door open and made my way towards the living quarters, towards Dr. Grimm’s living quarters to be more specific.

“Dr. Pierce?” I heard Cody ask nervously. I shot him a look, and whatever that look contained was enough to make Cody clamp his mouth shut and give me a wide eyed look. I walked into Dr. Grimm’s living quarters to see him still sitting in the same place, with his tablet in hand. He looked up at me with an annoyed expression and returned his gaze to his tablet.

“Dr. Pierce, to what do I owe this-” I grabbed Dr. Grimm by the scruff of his neck and jerked him out of the chair. I didn’t know where I got this brute strength from, but I enjoyed it as I watched Dr. Grimm squirm, trying to fight me off.

“What’s this about?!” Dr. Grimm struggled, but my grip on him just tightened.

“Shut up.” I growled, in a voice I myself didn’t quite recognize.

I hauled him into the lab hallway and was met by Boomer, Cody, and Riley all with wide eyed expressions of horror at the sight they were witnessing.

“Ell-” Riley started but I shot him an angry expression.

“Move.” I commanded, and with that the three of them parted quicker than if someone had thrown a live grenade between them.

“Help me-he’s crazy!” Dr. Grimm shouted.

“I told you to shut up.” I said, grabbing the lab door and swinging it open with such force, that I swear if it hadn’t had soft open hinges the glass would have swung against the window and shattered.

I was met with the same expressions of horror from Ryan and Alex as the others as I pulled Dr. Grimm towards the desk. Alex and Ryan backed away as I brought him around the desk and pointed his head towards the computer monitor, a video still of the deceased young man stared back at us.

“Mind explaining this?” I asked, even though it wasn’t meant to be a question.

“I-I don’t know what you're talking about!” Dr. Grimm stammered. I grabbed the back of his head and slammed it into the desk with a loud boom. Dr. Grimm yelped and grabbed at his face.

“Wanna try again?” I growled.

“Ell-” I heard Ryan start, I shot him the same look I shot the others and the look he gave me was a look that made my chest clench, a look that he didn’t recognize the man he was seeing. However, I didn’t let up, I was going to make him talk. One way or another.

“I-I-” Dr. Grimm started but I interrupted him.

“You were experimenting on people, living people, weren’t you?!” I shouted, the rage in my voice echoing off the lab walls.

“No-no!” Dr. Grimm squeaked, which only made me see red even more. I spun him around and brought my fist back, plunging it forward I connected with his nose with a splintering crunch. There was something primal in me as I hit him again, and again, not letting up. Dr. Grimm yelped and howled at the pain but I didn’t care. I wanted him to pay, I wanted him to pay for the pain and suffering he caused.

“Elliott!” Alex shrieked, but I ignored her. I felt two arms loop around me, pinning my arms to my sides. I growled and gave a kick towards Dr. Grimm but it merely connected with the desk and sent me and whoever had me pinned against the opposite wall with a thud, which made the person grunt. I struggled against him, but the more I fought the tighter his grip became.

“Elliott-Elliott-Relax, I got ya.” I heard a southern drawl whisper into my ear.

Ryan, I realized and slowly my brain came back to earth as I sunk into his grip, the rage within me subsiding. It was at that moment I became aware of my surroundings.

Dr. Grimm was leaning against the desk, blood ran down his face and stained his t-shirt. There was a bruise that spread from the bridge of his nose and into his eye sockets. Cody tipped his head back and aided in trying to stop the bleeding, which was coming from his nose. Boomer, Riley, and Alex were looking at me with their mouths agape. They looked at me like I was a monster. Maybe I was.

“C’mon.” Ryan, still holding my arms to my sides led me out of the lab. Boomer held the door open for us, avoiding my eye contact. I let him lead me willingly, my body shaking as the adrenaline that was just coursing through my veins began to subside. Ryan led me to a wall opposite the lab door and spun me around to face him. There was worry, with a touch of fear behind his eyes. Was he scared of me?

I stared at the back of my shaking hands and my knuckles were red, covered in blood, but I didn’t see any cuts. My gut wrenched when I realized the blood didn’t belong to me, it belonged to Dr. Grimm.

What did I do?

I sunk to the floor, bringing my knees up to my chest and resting my arms on them. Ryan followed me down, crouching in front of me. I hung my head low, avoiding Ryan’s gaze. I didn’t want to see that look of fear in his eyes again, that look that the rest of the team had when he led out of the lab.

I felt a firm grip on my forearm, and my body tensed. I couldn’t bring myself to look at Ryan, not yet.

“Elliott...” Ryan had a calm demeanor in his voice. “... look at me.” I felt Ryan’s other hand cup my chin gently with his finger and thumb, slowly lifting my head so our eyes could meet and there it was. The look of fear behind those brilliant blue eyes, the look I never wanted to see again. I might as well just scrap my heart out of my chest with a melon baller.

“Are you okay?” There was concern in his voice.

“I… I don’t know what happened.” I whispered.

“I thought I lost you there for a second.” The look of fear in his eyes was replaced with relief, and that’s when it hit me. He wasn’t scared of me, he was scared for me.

“I can’t believe I lost it like that.” I said bewildered. I had been in plenty of fights, especially since being in the Army. But that was the first time I truly lost it, let the rage take control. I shuddered and let my head fall back into my lap.

Ryan pulled me into him and I rested the top of my head on his chest and took a deep breath in. A woodsy smell mixed with sweat met my nostrils, Ryan’s smell. My sinuses began to burn from the want, no, the need to let the tears out. To let the crash of adrenaline just take me over.

“It’s okay… I got ya.” And he did. I believed the words that came out of his mouth like they were law, like they were straight out of my Gray’s Anatomy medical textbook. I felt safe here, felt safe against Ryan, like nothing could touch me.

I heard a throat clear and we both looked up to see Riley standing in the doorway for the lab. A look of regret on his face from interrupting.

“He’s ready to talk.” Riley stated.

“We’ll be there in a second.” Ryan took the words right out of my mouth. He returned his gaze to me and gave me a searching look.

“Are you ready to go back in there?” He asked.

“I’m gonna have to be.” I replied and Ryan helped me to my feet. I wished I could just hold his hand, keep him nearby. Right now he was my anchor in the shit storm of what this situation was.

“I’ll be right beside you.” Ryan read my mind, giving my hand a squeeze before letting it go and holding the door for the lab open for me to walk through first.

“Hey, you alright?” Riley asked in a low tone as I met up with the rest of the group towards Dr. Grimm’s desk.

“Yeah, yeah I”m fine.” I mumbled. Riley gave me a slight smile and gestured towards the rest of the group, who were standing with their backs to me.

Dr. Grimm was sitting at the desk chair, which had been moved to a more open area of the lab. I took a second to take in the damage I had done, turning my stomach in knots. The bleeding from his nose had finally stopped, which from the looks of it was indeed very broken. He had bruises that radiated from the bridge of his nose to his eye sockets, with his right eye swollen slightly. His eyes got wide as he saw me approach.

“No! No! I don’t want him in here!” Dr. Grimm’s voice pitched with fear.

“Well he’s our team leader, so that’s not gonna happen.” Alex folded her arms across her chest.

Dr. Grimm scoffed, which made Boomer crack his knuckles in a threatening manner.

“Okay, okay!” Dr. Grimm shouted. I could see him staring at me out of the corner of my eye, but I kept my gaze to the floor, arms across my chest, leaning against a lab bench. I could feel Ryan standing close by, just like he said he would. My heart warmed at the realization that he kept his word.

“What are you working on?” Alex pressed.

“An H2N4/Ebola virus variant. It’s meant to speed up the process of H2N4 to kill its host more quickly.” Dr. Grimm had a blank expression on his face, almost apathetic, which sent a chill down my spine.

“Jesus christ.” I said a little too loudly. Everyone turned their gazes on me expectantly. I knew what they had planned for this new killer virus. My stomach twisted in knots at the prospect of the devastation it could cause, the millions of people it could kill.

“It’s a fucking bio-weapon.” I gaped at Dr. Grimm, whose lips curled into an evil grin.

“Why would the government want to create a bio-weapon?” Cody sounded flabbergasted.

“Not the government…” Boomer looked deep in thought. “... a terrorist organization.” He finished.

Dr. Grimm shook his head. “We’re not terrorists… we’re a rebellion, fighting against the fascist Republic that took over our homeland.” He spat.

“Semantics.” Riley muttered, shrugging his shoulders.

Boomer whistled slightly, getting everyone's attention and throwing his head over his shoulder. We all got the message and gathered around the lab bench that I was leaning against. Cody spoke up first.

“Do you think he’s telling the truth?” There was a nervous twinge to his voice.

“Well if he’s lying it’s a pretty elaborate one.” Riley spoke next, his eyebrows were furrowed from deep thought.

We all looked over at Alex who gave us a knowing look. Alex was like a human lie detector, no lie would go unnoticed under her radar. Even Riley couldn’t hide things from her.

“He’s not lying.” She shook her head, her red hair bounced slightly back and forth in its tight ponytail.

“How have we not heard of an underground rebellion until now?” Ryan, still standing next to me, spoke up.

“Maybe releasing this bio-weapon was how they were going to make their mark.... Unless…” Boomer trailed off giving me a look that I knew all too well. There had been rumors around Bakersfield about an underground terrorist cell. But it was always dismissed as rumor and a way to freak the newbies out. Maybe it wasn’t such a rumor after all.

“No… there’s no way.” I rejected in a confident tone.

“What?” Ryan asked, turning his gaze to me. I met his gaze and placed my hands on the cool surface of the lab bench. I didn’t want to say the words, because then saying the words would make them real, and would disintegrate everything I knew.

I swallowed hard and then spoke in a calm, even tone. “Boomer is suggesting that this… rebellion… is working from the inside.” Riley scoffed and everyone else shifted uncomfortably on their feet.

“That’s ridiculous.” Riley shook his head adamantly.

“I’ve heard rumors...” Alex spoke up. “... that there are soldiers, even generals, in the army that have… wavering, allegiances.”

Ryan let out a low groan and stared up at the ceiling tiles. “I miss Texas.”

“If they’re making a bio-weapon we need to stop them before they release it.” Boomer spoke in an urgent tone. A chuckle erupted behind them, it sent chills up and down my body, making the hairs on my arms stand on end. We all turned our attention to Dr. Grimm, who had a wide grin splitting across his bruised and battered face.

He shook his head and continued to laugh. “You’re too late, you know.”

Riley stalked over to him, an angry expression spreading across his face. “What the hell are you going on about?”

“The weapon…” Dr. Grimm said between chuckles. “... It’s already en-route to its destination.”

My palms began to sweat and my stomach dropped after he spoke those words. People were going to die, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Or maybe there was. I took a step forward and I swear everyone’s breath hitched as they thought I was going to pummel him again. I had to admit the thought had crossed my mind.

“What’s the target?” I growled.

Dr. Grimm shook his head and smiled. “You will never be able to find it… at least not in time anyway.” The rage, that same rage that I had felt before, began to bubble to the surface. I squeezed my eyes shut and tampened it down to a dark place within me.

I heard a slight yelp followed by a whimper and opened my eyes to see Ryan face to face with Dr. Grimm. He had a hold of the front of Dr. Grimm’s blood stained t-shirt by the fistfull. There was a serious expression on his face which made Dr. Grimm’s eyes widen with fear. The sight made me smile to myself.

When Ryan spoke his voice was a growl, calm and even, his southern accent more pronounced. “Listen here you little weasel. If you don’t start talking my friend here is gonna pummel you to a pulp, only this time… I won’t pull him off of you.”

Was it wrong that I was turned on by this strong, dominant side of Ryan? Maybe. But I would have to save those feelings for later.

“Do whatever you want with me, I’m not talking.” Dr. Grimm replied.

Ryan gave a threatening growl, gripping his shirt harder. His fist clenched and I could practically feel the anger radiating off of him. I gave a firm grip on his shoulder which forced him to turn his head slightly over his shoulder in my direction.

It’s not worth it. I tried willing to him with just my thoughts. Ryan seemed to understand as he gave me a nod and released Dr. Grimm, who exhaled sharply in relief. That’s when it hit me, I knew how to play this game with Dr. Grimm. I knew exactly what would make him talk.

“Cody?” I turned my attention towards him. I pulled a pad of paper and a pencil out of the front pouch on my vest and scribbled something on it. I then handed it to Cody, who cocked his head to the side slightly, giving me a confused look. I just gave him a stiff nod and with that he turned around hurried out of the lab, disappearing down the hall.

Ryan gave me a confused look and I looked back at him.

I’ve got a plan, just trust me. I tried to communicate with my eyes.

Ryan nodded, signaling that he understood. The lab door opened and Cody walked up to me briskly handing over what I sent for him to retrieve.

“Thank you Cody.” I had a more chipper tone to my voice, putting on an act for Dr. Grimm. He nodded and settled next to Alex who shot a confused look between the two of us.

I turned my attention to Dr. Grimm, who sat there with the smuggest of expressions on his face. “I’m gonna ask you one more time…” I took a step closer until there was a foot between the two of us. “... What is the target?”

“I’m not tal-ahhhh!” I stuck the needle into Dr. Grimms neck, injecting the liquid into him. I gave him a smirk and took a step back. He looked at me with a wild expression, rubbing the spot on his neck. “What the fuck was that!” He shouted.

“Well in about forty eight hours you’ll find out.” I said apathetically, handing the needle and syringe back to Cody.

“You mother fucker!” Dr. Grimm screamed.

I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. “I know you have an antidote. You would be an idiot if you didn’t…” I leaned against the lab bench and folded my arms across my chest. “... tell me what I need to know, and you’ll get it.” I was vaguely aware of the looks I was getting from the rest of the team. They would understand soon enough.

Dr. Grimm seemed to be in deep thought, his breath huffing from anger at being backed into the corner that he couldn’t escape from. He went to speak but the words got caught in his chest, I stared at him expectantly. Waiting for a response.

“The Order will kill me if I say.” Dr. Grimm looked torn, like he couldn’t decide whether living or dying would be better. This rebellion, The Order as he called it, must not be a force to be reckoned with if someone was battling that decision.

“If you don’t say, then you're gonna die either way.” Riley had an annoyed tone in his voice. “So why don’t you just cut the bullshit and tell us what we want to hear.”

There were so many things running through my mind. Would he talk? If he did talk what would that mean for us? How would we stop a terrorist plot from all the way here in San Francisco? I guess they could phone back to base and let the General know, then they could take it from there.

“Well?” Alex placed her hands on her hips impatiently.

Dr. Grimm hung his head somberly and muttered something incoherently under his breath.

“Speak up for the rest of the class.” Riley demanded.

Dr. Grimm lifted his head, he had a guilty expression on his face. No doubt from betraying his precious rebellion.

“Los Angeles.”

Copyright © 2020 zanoGreen; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for reading! Please comment below and let me know where you would like to see the story go or what your favorite parts are so far. Please note that this story does not revolve around a killer virus, that's just what sets up the events that lead to the story.

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Well, you sort of have to believe that the General that sent them on this mission is on the rebellion.  Never an easy thing to start up a new country or split an old one.  Writing is good and the flow to the story has been excellent so far.  Background information is always a bonus, helps to flesh out the characters and how we feel about them.

You would have to think that maybe at least one of this team is in on the rebellion as well; something this important would want to have a finger in the pie so to speak.

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