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More by Michael R. Hicks

The Bag, doctor, Lynch said. Vice President, Jack told him. The FBI has come up empty-handed, as well, despite focusing tremendous resources on the problem. The new FBI Director shot a less-than-kind glance at his predecessor. And no one is really even sure if it existed in the first place. After a brief pause while Jack and Naomi digested that news, Lynch continued. As for your false identities, DHS and FBI will issue a low profile joint press release explaining that both of you had been working undercover and had infiltrated the Earth Defense Society. He gave them a sympathetic look.

The president and I understand what Curtis was trying to do by giving you false identities. But the fact is that President Miller is determined to distance his administration from everything Curtis did with the EDS affair. Better we return you to the mainstream now, with a positive spin, than have you discovered later during an inquiry.

But he also had no doubt that he and Naomi would likely be the focus of unwanted police attention for the rest of their lives. He glanced at Naomi, but she was staring fixedly at Lynch. The skin of her neck and cheeks were a bright red. Jack closed his eyes for a moment, trying to control the sickly sensation of free fall that had threatened to overcome him.

Is anyone going to continue to pursue the possibility that The Bag exists, or is everything just going to be dropped and swept under the rug? Howard Morgan stood at the window that ran along one side of the conference room, looking over the Los Angeles skyline. His eyes, dark as his skin, took in the light of the setting sun reflected from the glass and steel structures much like the one in which he stood. The conference room was on the top floor of the head corporate office of Morgan Pharmaceuticals. Morgan had built the company from the ground up over the course of fifteen years, taking it from a very small pharmaceutical test lab to an industry powerhouse netting three billion dollars in annual profit.

The company had capitalized on its lab experience, of course, but had also branched out into vaccine development and other areas. His oldest son had died of AIDS, and his wife had died two years later, a victim of breast cancer. His two younger children, Alissa and Charles, were both in college. The research arm of the company had two entire divisions focused on breast cancer and AIDS, with three more divisions working against various other communicable diseases.

Season Of The Harvest

Despite several major advances made by his company in disease research, the singular victory he sought, a breakthrough that would leave his mark upon mankind, continued to elude him. He turned away from the expansive view outside to face the twelve members of the board. His apostles, as he sometimes referred to them, sat around the gleaming mahogany table, their attention fixed on him.

Adrian, Morgan said, do you mean to tell me that after nearly a year and an investment of thirty million dollars in research, we essentially have nothing.

He held out his hands, as if in supplication, to Morgan. But the simple fact is that the technology represented by Beta-Three is so advanced that we have no hope of replicating it any time soon. Just that will be a revolution for distributing vaccines and administering inoculations.

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But the Beta-Three payload itself? He threw up his hands in another of his many gestures. Morgan folded his arms and paced around the room, the slow, measured click of his heels on the floor the only sound in the uncomfortable silence. While Morgan considered himself an honorable man, he was also honest enough to recognize the opportunist within him.

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In the high stakes world in which he lived and breathed, honor and opportunity often collided. He sided with honor as much as he could, but was unafraid to set aside his scruples when necessary. The samples to which Kelso referred were the result of such an opportunity that had arisen from a disgruntled employee within the now-defunct New Horizons Corporation, whose assets Morgan Pharmaceuticals had purchased. The deal had been consummated through an intermediary, and the seller had been paid handsomely for a sample of the latest line of genetically engineered corn, then known as Revolutions.

A full pound of them, in a sterile nitrogen-filled container that the employee had somehow smuggled out of the New Horizons plant that had subsequently been destroyed by the Earth Defense Society terrorists. Only two people other than himself knew how Beta-Three had been acquired. Everyone else was bright and loyal enough not to ask questions. If Dr. Kelso had been given his way, an army of thousands would be working on it, with Kelso leading the way.

Morgan would have liked to oblige him, but the situation with Beta-Three had become troublesome. After the New Horizons disaster, the Curtis administration had clamped down, brutally hard, on every application of genetic engineering applied to commercial seed.

The Revolutions seed from New Horizons had been identified as a biological weapon of mass destruction that the Earth Defense Society had somehow engineered and infiltrated into the New Horizons plant. Why the EDS had then destroyed the plant was a bit of a mystery that was still being batted around. But the possibility that the seeds could be a bioweapon had given him pause, just as he was considering both planting some seeds in a test field and feeding some to test animals to analyze the results. With federal investigators rampaging through the genetic engineering community, he had set those ideas aside, judging them too risky.

And so, instead of destroying Beta-Three, he had ordered research to be continued under the auspices of one of the vaccine research divisions, thereby getting it out from under the direct scrutiny of federal investigators keeping watch on the genetics research divisions. They would only conduct analysis of the existing samples under very secure conditions, but analyze it they would.

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Full speed ahead! Those were the words Miller had used in a meeting with corporate executives, including Morgan, from across the industry. Morgan stopped pacing and turned to face Kelso. Kelso flinched. Unlike most of his peers, he actually hated being called doctor , and Morgan only called him that when he was displeased with him. We have in our hands what is probably the most advanced genetic technology in the world. Despite his discomfort, Kelso nodded emphatically.

And I am not about to sit here and wait for years before we even know what it can do! Yes, Karina? It was a clear sign that she had better have something truly earth-shattering to say. The woman was not intimidated. She was as intelligent as she was attractive, and the combination of those traits had served her extremely well in her job.

Season of the Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1)

Sir, this morning I happened to see a press release that may bear on the situation. Holding his gaze with her own ice blue eyes, she continued. The FBI and Homeland Security reported that two individuals who had been in the Earth Defense Society and had been killed in California were working undercover for the government and are very much alive. Their names are Jack Dawson and Naomi Perrault. Naomi Perrault, however, was another matter entirely.

He had tried to recruit her, but New Horizons snatched her away. It was a loss he had always deeply regretted. Petrovsky smiled. As you know, Dr. Perrault was a senior researcher at New Horizons. She worked on the Revolutions project until a year before that product was to be released. While she is apparently in good standing with the government, my sources say that she just lost her job with a think tank that President Curtis had established, but that President Miller has now shut down.

Tilting her head to one side, she asked, Perhaps Dr. Perrault would be interested in continuing her work? Jack, Naomi, Carl Richards, and Dr. Even while he was working as acting Director of the FBI, Richards had refused to move out of the one-bedroom bachelor pad where he had lived for the last twelve years.

Of course, it was no longer a bachelor pad. He now shared it with Renee. Their relationship had been highly discreet, which meant that the entire Bureau knew about it. But that was because the people he and Renee worked with were extremely perceptive, and no one had cause to raise a stink about it. Assigned to work as a liaison at the FBI with the agency headed by Jack and Naomi, Renee had worked closely on a daily basis with Richards. They had also shared the horrors of what had happened at Sutter Buttes.

Impossible as it seemed, a romance had blossomed between the two. The mood around the table now, however, was somber. It was the day after the meeting with the vice president. Pouring another round of wine as they continued to dig into the spaghetti Richards had prepared, Jack said, You look like you need a vacation, Carl.

Looking as if he was going to be sick, Richards set down his fork and rubbed a hand across his face. He had said very little since Jack and Naomi had arrived.