Chapter 1: Thirty Days After Initial Infection - Dr. Brooklyn Martin's First Washington Briefing of the Specter Strain

The conference room's symmetry suffered no indiscretion, as its table and chairs remained unoccupied.  Dr. Brooklyn Martin and Senator Carl Weathers stood slightly right of the room's only entrance and exit.  The senator had summoned the doctor in order to grasp the situation to the fullest extent.  Senator Weathers thumbed through one of the freshly-printed, collated lab reports that the doctor had provided for the committee.  A copy lay in front of each of the twelve seats upon the extended table designated for the meeting.  The senator continued to skim over the report as he spoke.

"Doctor Martin, I would just like to say first and foremost that the United States government fully appreciates your long hours of service in the last month.  This situation has grown substantially and your team has done phenomenal work in the field of identifying this virus and its characteristics.  However, you've managed to leave out a very important detail in your report..." The senator raised his eyes from the binder resting on his open palms to meet a quizzical gaze from the doctor before continuing to speak, "How fucked are we?"

Doctor Martin's confusion disappeared as she displayed a more confident demeanor, "Well Senator, if Operation: Red Storm fails, we could quite possibly be looking at the beginning of the end."  The Senator nodded slowly before pressing his thumb to the "page" button on the conference room's phone, "Send them in".

The members of the Washington-dubbed "Weathers Committee" filled the room with dull murmurs as each of the men in suits explored their individual copies of the initial virus report.  The doctor assumed her position to the left of the room's projector screen in preparation of the presentation.  The Senator stood before extending his hand to the doctor as he addressed the committee, "Gentlemen, I believe Doctor Martin is ready to begin her presentation."  The room fell silent, the lights dimmed, and the projector screen rolled downward with a mechanical hum.  The projector flickered before illuminating the room with the posting of the words, "The Specter Strain."
The doctor began her monologue as she clicked the projector's remote, summoning the next frame of her report in brilliant color, "Gentlemen, this is the virus that we have codenamed, 'Specter'.  My team has given the virus this particular moniker because it does just that; it creates specters."  Another push of her thumb, and the next frame displayed a full-color picture of a red blood cell, post-infection, "The virus attaches itself to red blood cells.  From here, it piggy-backs to the heart of the host in an attempt to fully-integrate itself into the organ.  This process takes anywhere from ten minutes to one hour, depending on the host.  Once Specter has assumed control of the heart, it has what can only be called a feast of red blood cells.  This cell deterioration leads to an extreme thinning and mutation of the host's blood, and eventually integrates itself into the brain," The doctor continued her thumb's clicking with each new change of subject, providing the committee with details of the virus's methods, "Once Specter has taken the brain, it targets the pleasure center of the brain by completely inhibiting the production of serotonin and endorphins.  This leads to the blind aggression we've seen in Specter's hosts.  Motor skills become limited, communication and reasoning skills are nearly non-existent, and memory recall is seemingly impossible.  The hosts do not understand who they are, where they are, or what they are... All they know is that they must kill anything in front of them with an uninfected heartbeat."  Doctor Martin selected the next frame, the picture of a man on an operational table, postmortem, "The photos that we are about to look at were e-mailed to us from Geneva County Medical Center within Ground Zero, five days after initial infection.  This man has been dubbed, 'Subject Alpha'.  Subject Alpha was admitted to GCMC after the glass-bomb incident at Ground Zero.  Subject Alpha suffered three gunshot wounds from a .45 caliber pistol; two shots to the center mass of the chest, and one shot to the forehead.  I've included in your copies of my team's report, a police report from officer who shot the subject.  This report says, and I quote," Doctor Martin referred to the page number containing the report, before reading a highlighted passage.
"I approached the suspect as he attacked a nurse on the third floor of GCMC.  After ordering the suspect to stop, I applied physical force.  The suspect bit me on the right arm and began to punch me repeatedly.  I fell to the ground as he continued to attack me.  I managed to grab my weapon and I fired two shots to the suspect's chest.  He collapsed immediately.  I checked the suspect for vitals but they were negative.  A nurse on the third level also confirmed the vitals were negative.  About five minutes later, the suspect attacked one of the male nurses who was attempting to move the suspect.  I approached the suspect and fired one more shot in his forehead.  He stayed down."
The men of the committee murmured again, this time in obvious concern and doubt of the virus's capabilities.  Doctor Martin raised her voice in an attempt to silence the light uproar of the committee, "This Virus is not natural.  It is, in my professional opinion, and the unanimous opinions of my colleagues, that this virus was manufactured, bred, and evolved by group of extremely gifted and well-funded scientists.  It's way too sophisticated to be an accident, gentlemen."  With that statement came the final click of the remote.  The projector screen retracted, and the conference room lights returned to their full illumination, "Any questions?"
The first and only response was to be expected, "How far are we from a vaccine?" The doctor maintained her tone, "We have no idea.  We're just beginning to understand the methods of this virus.  It is extremely fast and capable of things we've never seen before.  While attempting a vaccine is always necessary, I think that our best means of containing the spread of this virus lies in containment.  I'd like to request that my team be briefed on the details of Operation: Red Storm, so that we may..." She was blatantly interrupted by Gerald Gordon, a high-ranking CIA Agent and second-in-command of the Weathers Committee.
"Doctor Martin, you do not have and will not receive a security clearance which permits you access to Operation: Red Storm." He was dressed uncharacteristically for the meeting, in a polo shirt and khakis, in opposition of the suit-and-tie approach. "Red Storm is a need-to-know operation, and everyone who needs to know, knows." He offered a closed-mouth grin before standing.  "If we're finished here, I have to attend a meeting regarding Red Storm in less than an hour..." He checked his watch as he made his final statement, Dr. Martin simply nodded her approval.  As he made his exit, Gordon made his parting statement, "Let me know when you find out something useful."  With that, the door was closed behind him, and the murmurs began once again.

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