Hekken cleared his throat. Suddenly, all the hours he had
spent listening to tedious explanations from dull scientists seemed worthwhile.
He was glad he had done his homework.
Experiments have shown that the human blood system
provides the virus with the perfect breeding environment. The virus invades
human cells by injecting its own DNA through its tail into them and making
copies of itself. By doing so it rapidly increases in number and quickly
overwhelms even the strongest immune system. Death follows in a matter of
Odoursins eyes lit up. Go on.
But the problem has always been with its delivery. How
are we to ensure maximum infection of humans in the most efficient manner?
I hope you are going to enlighten us, General Hekken.
The only viable way of spreading the virus quickly is by
using mosquitoes, Hekken continued. However, we discovered that when the
virus is injected into the gut of a female mosquito, it releases an enzyme which
dissolves the lining. The gut bursts, killing both the mosquito and the
A rather podgy, overweight man with small, sunken eyes
struggled to his feet. Hekken recognized him as Martock and his pulse quickened.
Forgive me, General Hekken, but if this is good news
then I live in fear of the occasion when you bring bad news to the Council.
There were murmurs of agreement and Hekken held up his
hands to ward off further criticism. He noticed that Martock was enjoying his
discomfort and forced himself to remain calm.
Let me assure the Council that even as we speak there
are teams of our best people working on the problem. They are carrying out
trials using a new chemical that combines with the lining of the mosquitos
gut and protects it. If it works, it will enable the mosquito to carry the virus
to humans on Earth.
There was a pause as everyone worked through the
implications of Hekkens words. Odoursins eyes narrowed into suspicious
slits. If it works, you say?
It will work, Hekken reassured him. He thought of the
nervous man in the white coat and his little family. Theyre very keen to
make it work down there, he added. Very keen indeed. Its simply a
matter of time.
Odoursin nodded, then turned to Martock.
I think there is something else you should know, Your
Odoursin blinked, moistened his dry, papery lips and stared
Martock glanced briefly across at Hekken before continuing.
Last night, he announced, we tracked down the Dreamwalker.
Odoursins voice quivered with barely suppressed rage. He
turned to Hekken. Were you aware of this, General?
Hekken gave Martock a look which indicated his anger at
being upstaged. That was his piece of news. Martock smiled back: a smug,
I was about to inform the Council when I was
Odoursin glared furiously at Hekken. Why was I not told
of this earlier? I made it clear that I wanted to be informed immediately she
Her appearances were only intermittent at first,
Hekken explained hurriedly, trying to ignore the sweat that was now running down
his back. Its been very difficult to pinpoint her exact position. But
yesterday we successfully followed her back to Earth. And we made a discovery
which I know will be of great interest to Your Excellency.
What did you discover? asked Odoursin, his voice a
She has a son, replied Hekken.
There was silence in the room as the implications of this
news began to dawn on each and every member of the Council. One by one they
turned to look at Odoursin, uncertain of how he would react. But his expression
gave nothing away. He simply nodded slowly, as if this was something he had been
expecting for a long, long time.
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