8.6: Part One
Southern Front Range,
The labs were like a prison to him – a place that
he was familiar with, but no longer belonged.
He looked down
with glazed eyes at the bloodied white coat he wore. The
coat was meant to symbolize something to him, but he couldn’t
In fact, he couldn’t
remember much at all beyond the primal need to kill or
be killed, to be the hunter, not the prey.
The lights around
him were muted and dull, and a throbbing red glow seemed
to fill the entire complex.
Red – the
color of blood – why did he suddenly enjoy the sight
of it so much?
There were footsteps
in the adjacent corridor and he paused, wondering if “the
others” had caught up with him?
In the beginning,
there had been many of them, but he had greatly reduced
their numbers with his newfound skills.
He was more alert,
more agile, and his strength grew with every heartbeat
– with every cell division within him.
followed the footsteps, and he knew it was time to do
something again he had once abhorred.
He ducked into
a locker room and forced his back against the wall, waiting
for them to come in.
On the wall opposite
was a mirror, and what he saw in it made him flinch. Strange
lesions and growths covered the flesh on his face and
hands, and his eyes glowed with an almost yellow tinge
that reminded him of a wolf.
He liked that
to stalk their enemies, and they liked to tear them to
pieces once the hunt was over.
trickled down his chin, and he realized he was drooling
at the idea of taking the life of another human being.
his skull, a tiny voice asked “wasn’t that
He shook his
head and grinned, clenching and unclenching his fists
locker room door swung gently open, as if the person outside
was wary of what was within.
The muzzle of
a rifle tentatively moved through the opening, followed
by its owner.
wore a lab coat too, a thin individual with a wiry frame
and terrified eyes that suggested he wasn’t familiar
with this kind of situation.
hands shook as he held the weapon, and perspiration covered
his skin until it glistened in the scarlet hue that was
the only filtered light in the facility.
He moved closer,
until he was just a few feet away.
And then, the
short-lived battle commenced.
The rifle was
quickly snatched from the lab technician’s hands
before he could even fire a shot.
He yelped and
tried to draw back from the “thing” –
the man that was attacking him, but it was no use.
Both men tumbled
to the floor in a pile of flaying limbs.
It was over as
quickly as it had begun.
lay at an odd angle, his neck skewed to one side where
the vertebrae inside had been snapped.
His eyes stared
out hollowly into nothing, and his legs twitched from
some reaction in his already dead nervous system.
The killer sighed.
The death had
been too easy, too boring.
He wanted a more
suitable adversary, and somewhere in his warped and altered
psyche, he knew the government would send one, and soon…
* * *
Sam was sitting
in the tiny row boat with a scowl on his face, a fishing
rod gripped loosely in his hands as he stared aimlessly
into the horizon.
he took a deep sigh, set the rod down, and looked at his
dad with an air of apology that suggested the tedium had
finally gotten to him.
again why we’ve been sitting here for the past three
hours?” Sam bemoaned.
Mac smiled. “Food?
You know that stuff you like to eat so much? And no additives,
strange numbers or colorings. Not to mention, it’s
a great way to relax.” As he spoke, something caught
on his line and he began to gently reel it in.
convinced. “It’s so much easier to go down
to the store! Actually, it’s easier to stay in L.A.
and just go for a burger…”
you know you are what you eat?” MacGyver smiled
as he unhooked his “catch.”
guess I’m a very greasy burger with fries…”
Mac nodded. Teaching
Sam that guns were a bad idea had been easy compared to
trying to convince him to eat healthily.
Still, that hadn’t
really been the point of bringing him out here to the
cabin. No, that had been all about learning more about
his roots, and about being at one with nature sometimes,
rather than always living the city life.
So far, Sam hadn’t
been impressed, but then this was only their second day.
I really take him into the wilderness MacGyverland style,
Mac inwardly chuckled.
Sam sensed his
dad’s amusement and rolled his eyes. “You’re
enjoying this, aren’t you?”
maybe just a little.”
well wait ‘til I try cooking that thing.”
Sam gestured to the fish as if it were an alien object.
“Then you’ll really wish you’d gone
for the burger!” He opened his mouth to say more,
but the sound of a helicopter’s rotors cut him short.
The noise instantly
grabbed MacGyver’s attention too. It wasn’t
very often chopper’s flew over as low as this one
was – there simply wasn’t any reason for it
in this neck of the woods.
Mac put a hand
to his eyes to shield them from the morning sun, and eventually
picked out the shape of a Bell JetRanger coming in low
from the south.
focusing on the logo on the tail until he realized it
was Phoenix Foundation property. That probably meant it
was Pete Thornton.
And to come out
here like this, it also meant something must be gravely
wrong. He would never ruin Mac’s “downtime,”
especially not with Sam, unless it was an all-out emergency.
flyin’ pretty low?” Sam observed. “I’m
guessing this is for you?”
banked, disappearing behind a line of trees as it made
its descent. It looked like the pilot was trying to get
as close to the cabin as possible.
out a breath. He’d wanted to enjoy some time in
the boonies with his son, especially after the Hawaii
escapade with Penny, but it looked like that was about
to be put on hold.
I have a feeling its Pete, and it’s something real
bad…” Without saying more, the troubleshooter
picked up the oars and began to row to the shoreline.
* * *
By the time Mac
and Sam reached the cabin, Pete Thornton was already seated
at the meager table that sat at its center. Any hint of
his usually jovial features was hidden behind a mask of
unease which instantly set MacGyver’s senses tingling.
what brings you up here?” It was a stock question,
because Mac already knew it wasn’t a social call.
his cheeks tinged with just enough of a red glow to say
his blood pressure was up – he was spooked by something.
“Mac, I hate to say this, but I need to speak to
you in private.”
security then, Mac instantly guessed.
He glanced at
Sam, who shrugged and headed back for the door.
go get the fish from the boat,” Sam offered, apparently
realizing this wasn’t for his ears.
Before Mac could
argue, he was halfway down the path heading back to the
Pete seemed to
sense his distance, and began to hurriedly talk. If MacGyver
was honest, he’d never seen his old friend so flustered.
sorry to drop on you like this but…we have a problem.
A big one.” Pete paused, apparently expecting to
be chewed out for ruining his friend’s weekend.
When it didn’t happen, he carried on. “A few
months ago, a Russian scientist named Gregor Mitrovich
decided to defect to the U.S. It was a relatively easy
affair compared to the old pre-Glasnost days…”
sensing a problem?” MacGyver intervened.
fidgeting with his white cane. “Mitrovich is a specialist
in nanotechnology – we’re talking cutting
edge stuff. He’d been forced to use his research
for military purposes when he originally only wanted to
do medical studies.”
his old bosses weren’t too happy about him leaving
and handing us all his work?” MacGyver was expecting
to be told Mitrovich had been grabbed back by the “opposition”
and he was required to plan some kind of rescue mission.
What came next
was a surprise.
on his seat. “We don’t exactly know what’s
happening,” he admitted. “Mitrovich went to
work in one of our top medical research facilities in
Colorado. All he wanted to do was use the nanites he’d
designed to target certain cells in sick people –
like cancer for instance. The problem is the lab he was
working at has gone quiet. It’s a grade “A”
facility built into a mountain range, and we haven’t
heard from them for two days.”
a brow. “And nobody’s tried to gain entry?”
Pete licked his
lips. “When the blackout began, the military sent
a Special Forces unit in, just in case the soviets were
trying to steal Mitrovich back. We haven’t heard
from them since they entered the mountain.”
Mac took in what
he was being told, his brain already working on possible
scenarios. None of them ended well. “Why me?”
He eventually asked.
thinks you’re singularly well qualified to go in
there alone. After all, you do have experience entering
labs with shall we say, issues.”
well aware of what Pete was talking about. Some eight
years ago he’d stopped an acid leak at a lab that
had been sabotaged and subsequently exploded. And then
there was the affair at the Strategic Research Development
Administration when the lab’s computer, named Sandy
had gone just a little nuts.
Those kinds of
situations usually had strings attached too – like
time limits before the military tended to take out the
dour expression, Mac was expecting much the same with
the catch? Apart from the obvious?”
of nanotechnology we’re talking about is unprecedented.
Mitrovich was twenty years ahead of the U.S. with his
work. That, coupled with the fact that the Special Forces
unit haven’t returned, has forced the military to
add a time limit to any rescue mission. Anyone entering
the mountain has twenty-four hours, and then the lab will
be targeted with missiles and destroyed.”
There was a stony
silence as MacGyver took in all the information. It was
what he’d expected, but it was still a lot to process.
Yes, he’d dealt with these situations in the past,
but nothing like this in years.
And while he
wasn’t exactly dumb when it came to technology,
he’d also had no clue that nanotechnology had progressed
far enough to be useful, let alone dangerous.
Pete, you know how to drop in on a guy!” He paused
for thought, needing more answers. “I’ve read
Drexler’s stuff on this back in the eighties, but
seriously? Mitrovich has made it work?”
Pete nodded soberly.
“Trust me, I’ve read all the files with my
very own fingertips,” he referred to his newfound
skills with Braille. “It’s scary stuff, MacGyver.
That’s why we need you to go in and find out what’s
to say no.
He wanted to
finish his time out here with Sam without worrying about
what mankind might inadvertently do to itself.
But he couldn’t,
because that wasn’t in his nature.
gone wrong, and he was needed to help fix it, for his
country, for everyone.
we leave?” As the words left Mac’s mouth,
Sam returned with the fish they’d caught hanging
from a hook. From his expression, he’d overheard
his dad’s last sentence. “Sam…I’m
to go. I get it.” Sam smiled wanly. “I guess
I’ll just wait here and try and fend for myself.
I just hope we have lots of canned food hidden somewhere,
because I have no clue how to gut a fish…”
He dropped the catch on the table and slumped onto a chair,
making his dad instantly feel guilty.
It was the first
time MacGyver would feel accountable for his actions on
the assignment, but it wouldn’t be the last.
* * *
Southern Front Range,
sure what he’d expected to find at Peckwash, but
the entrance to the facility was on a lonely outcrop of
land in the Southern Front Range, and it was currently
being guarded by more U.S. soldiers than the he’d
thought possible on such a small area of land.
As the chopper
he was on finally touched down, he took a second to survey
the landscape before exiting.
to be only one way in or out to the facility, via a heavily
guarded door cut into the rocky outface of the mountain.
This doorway was currently surrounded by troops, their
rifles pointed unreservedly at the entrance.
More troops were
stationed further back, at what Mac could only assume
was the so called “command center” of the
from the Huey’s doorway and headed for the large
olive drab tent, but before he reached it a rather portly
officer emerged along with Pete.
The officer offered
up a hand as he approached. “General Eastman, and
you must be MacGyver?”
Mac nodded and
shook the general’s hand. “Yes, sir.”
He glanced over his shoulder towards Peckwash, shouting
over the noise of the retreating helicopter’s engine.
“Any change in there?”
his head. “Still no contact. We’ve established
the place is in primary lockdown mode, but communications
are still up. If anyone is alive in there, they’re
not getting in contact because they choose not
or someone is stopping them,” Mac pointed out. “So
can you get me inside, or is that something I need to
figure out too?”
the group back to the command center. He had people inside
working at consoles that were obviously linked to the
mountain facilities computers.
some limited control,” the officer confirmed. “We
can get you inside, but then you’re on your own.
I take it Mr. Thornton already briefed you on the twenty-four
“Yeah, just make sure your watch isn’t fast,
see the humor and grunted. “Just make sure you’re
as good as they all say, and I won’t have to…”
* * *
dark and deathly quiet as MacGyver entered through the
main atrium. It was like the place had been closed down
The fact that
he wore a HAZMAT suit, just in case there was some biological
issue wasn’t helping. Mac hated the dang things
because they impaired not only his vision but also his
just had to “feel” a situation, and that was
pretty hard to do with a thick layer of material and a
visor between you and the outside world.
Given the facilities
research subject, it made sense to wear one, though, until
they knew what was going down inside.
Mac reached the
secured entry zone and scanned the area with his flashlight.
It was like standing in a dark metal box that glowed with
a spooky red tint.
To his left was
a desk that would have usually been manned, and a state
of the art console with swipe card reader.
in the satchel he’d brought, struggling with the
cumbersome gloves he was forced to wear and retrieved
a security card. He slid it through the reader, waited
for a green light and then tapped in another code on the
After a tense
few seconds, the Peckwash computer accepted his credentials,
and the metal blast door behind the desk whooshed open.
Mac pointed his
light down the long, foreboding corridor that lead into
the heart of the mountain. It was narrower than he’d
expected – perfect for an ambush, in fact.
pushed that thought away and began the long descent down
into the labs. He could hear the sound of his own heartbeat
inside the suit and the noise of his rubber boots squeaking
on the polished stone flooring.
Both made him
want to cringe.
The silence was
too much, like he was walking in a cemetery at night.
But then, maybe all that was left here was the dead?
He pushed on,
thinking about how he’d left Sam behind, and how
this was just another job to deal with, and then he could
return to the cabin.
people here, lives on the line…
caught in the beam of his flashlight, and he redirected
it to the source. There was a crumpled heap at the end
of the tunnel that could be a pile of clothes –
or a splayed out body.
up his pace until he reached the thing that had once been
human. He clumsily hunkered down in the suit and examined
At a guess, he’d
been dead a few hours, and no virus or biological entity
had been the cause. No, this person had been beaten to
death. It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t make
Even if the Russians
had come back for their man, they’d have used guns,
Mac moved on
further into the complex, waving his light to and fro
to try and pick out any more clues. It wasn’t long
before he found another body.
And this one
had come to a violent end too.
It was a petite
blonde woman whose nametag suggested she was a scientist
here, and someone had broken her neck.
at the sight, but there was nothing he could do for her.
He put a gloved-hand
back into his satchel and plucked out a small monitor
that detected foreign substances in the atmosphere. There
was a whole lot it couldn’t scan for, but what it
could was coming back clean.
to take a risk, and pulled off the heavy HAZMAT helmet.
In his head, he already knew what was happening here wasn’t
airborne, and losing the bulky protective suit would give
him much more freedom of movement.
He set the bright
yellow garb down on a desk and retrieved his light and
satchel before moving into the next area.
The place looked
like it had once been a locker room for the staff, but
now the carnage within had turned it into some blood-soaked
arena swathed with corpses.
And all of them
had been killed in some gruesome manner that appeared
more animal instinct than murder.
Mac turned away
from the doorway and had to put a hand to his mouth.
anything like what he was used to, and it certainly wasn’t
what he’d expected.
So if it’s
not a virus, then who is doing this? Why? And where the
heck are the Special Forces guys?
The list of questions
was a growing one, but he had yet to find one answer.
Mac moved back
into the main hallway and tried to picture the schematic
of the facility Eastman had showed him during his briefing.
The main lab should be down the corridor, first on the
left. Maybe there would be something on the computers
there that would shed some light on what was going on?
He moved on in
that direction, away from the bodies and gut-wrenching
scene of butchery.
The main lab
was exactly where he’d remembered it, and as he
pushed on the door, Mac soon realized that it too held
A young technician’s
body lay sprawled against the doorframe, and Mac had to
lunge at it with his shoulder to gain entry.
contact with the mangled corpse, he headed straight for
the row of computer consoles that adorned the right side
of the room. They were still booted up, and someone had
left them logged on.
Mac moved to
pull out a chair, and then paused when he finally heard
a sound – the first sound since he’d
entered the complex.
The noise was
from deeper in the bowels of the facility, and had he
not known better, MacGyver could have sworn it was some
kind of guttural howl from an animal.
The hairs on
the back of his neck bristled and he felt his stomach
whatever it held, was spooking him out, and that didn’t
happen all too often.
sensation that he was being stalked, Mac dropped down
onto the chair and began to call up any files the console
allowed him access to.
Every few seconds,
he couldn’t help but look up at the only doorway
into the lab, some inner voice saying he should have barricaded
you stop with the freakin’ out already, Mac, what
would Sam think? The inner-chiding didn’t work.
His senses still screamed that he was being watched, appraised…hunted.
on, drawing up a file that Gregor Mitrovich had been working
on. Surprisingly, any passwords had already been bypassed.
He read the contents,
trying to understand some of the scientific jargon that
was beyond even his skills.
The crux of it
all was that Mitrovich had designed a nanite that would
travel via blood and replicate itself once inside the
human body. The thing was programmable to attack different
cells, including the likes of cancer.
could make it work, it would change history.
Mac paused as
he thought about it. This was something so huge that any
nation in the world would definitely kill to get hold
of it. But, it still didn’t explain why all the
bodies had been torn up. Military units and spies didn’t
tend to operate that way, they used guns, poison gases
even, not their bare hands like some feral creature.
He checked more
of the files and realized that some had either been corrupted,
While that meant
no immediate access, it didn’t mean the end of the
road in Mac’s search. Retrieving lost files was
one of his specialties, and he quickly set to work on
The bigger task
at hand might be how to understand them once he’d
recovered them. Nanotechnology was purely science fiction,
not fact to most, and Mitrovich had broken the mould in
that department with his discoveries.
on regardless, his thirst for the truth dulling his instincts
for self-preservation just enough for him not to hear
muted footsteps in the corridor outside.
He tapped away
at the keyboard, oblivious that someone had stealthily
slipped into the room, using the low-key lighting to their
finally popped into view on the screen in front of him,
and he paused, pinching his nose and closing his eyes
to take a second to deliberate.
It was then that
he finally heard the shallow, rapid breathing behind him.
that it might startle whoever, or whatever he shared the
lab with, Mac whirled around on his seat, his imagination
doing overtime until he expected to see some crazed monster
staring back at him.
Instead, he saw
a petrified woman in a lab coat, who he guessed was probably
in her late thirties. She had her hair tied back, and
wore dark-rimmed glasses that made her look terribly serious.
her expression that worried him, however, it was the automatic
Beretta that shook violently in her grasp.
Was the weapon
from the Special Forces unit?
Mac looked her
over mentally, locking on the nametag that said Dr. Sharon
a scientist – more likely to be able to get through
to her, if she’ll just listen…
was beyond scared, her whole body was shaking, and her
eyes were so wide they looked like they were about to
pop out of their sockets.
started to rise from his chair, putting his hands in the
air as he moved away from the desk. It was a neutral move,
but one that was too much for Millward.
She closed her
eyes in fear, and pulled back on the automatic’s
trigger without even aiming.
But then, at
this range, she really didn’t have to.