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Old 01-24-2018, 02:03 PM   #210
Icelander
 
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Safe as Houses

Dr. Anderson blinks his eyes. The armed, silvery-white apparition is still standing there, still saying his name in a low, respectful, but insistent voice. Anderson answers gravely.

Dr. Anderson: “I am he.”
Voice: “My apologies for disturbing your rest, Dr. Anderson. I’m Lieutenant Oubre, United States Coast Guard. We’ve arranged quarters for you. You’ll also want to go through decontamination and medical.”
Anderson: “Quite all right, Lt. Oubre. Yes, I should like a shower.”
Lt. Oubre: “We’ll guide you to the decontamination area. You’ll be met there by people who have been assigned to take care of you. I have been informed that Homeland Security have sent off for clothing for you to wear, according to sizes they have on file, but if there is anything specific you require to be sent from the mainland, do not hesitate to mention it. We are going to be here for a while, but the Incident Commander specifically wants to avoid any inconvenience for you.”
Anderson: “That is very agreeable of him. Do I know him?”
Oubre: “His name is Curtis Ford. He is from the Office of Operations Cooperation, but he seems to be here as part of some highly classified task force with a remit for dealing with this specific kind of chemical or biological threat. Frankly, it sounds as you are likely to know more about it than I am, Doctor.”
Anderson: “I suppose I can neither confirm nor deny anything until I have spoken to my superiors.”
Oubre: “I’ve got a Top Secret clearance and am supposed to be specifically read in on all NBC warfare threats to CONUS and our emergency preparation for bio-attacks. And your answer sounds exactly like what I’ve been hearing from everybody in charge this morning.”
Anderson: “To be honest, they had me sign so many official-looking documents with non-disclosure clauses that I am terrified of telling you any more than my name, and possibly my date of birth, lest I be hauled off to some military prison for espionage.”
Oubre: “That’s rather the effect they’re hoping for, Doctor. It would be much easier to keep secrets if everyone took them as seriously as you do.

Upon arising, Dr. Anderson can see that what looked silvery in the flashlight beams from the black guns that the figures carry are white hazmat suits. The figures are also wearing rebreathing equipment, blue gloves and yellow boots. Lt. Oubre does not introduce the two men with him, but Anderson guesses they must be enlisted men or sailors from the Coast Guard.

As they escort him through the medical facility and outside, Dr. Anderson wonders whether it is necessary for them to wear full-body protection. Lt. Oubre assures Dr. Anderson that no evidence of an airborne pathogen or hazardous chemical has been found on Jewell Island and the full hazmat suits are a mere precaution, insisted upon by the mysterious task force in command.

As if to underscore his words, they can see that the courtyard of Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane has been almost entirely occupied by tents, vehicles, trailers, containers, helicopters and an organised chaos of dozens of people working toward disparate tasks.

Dr. Anderson recognises decontamination tents, but another large tent, closer to the main complex, catches his attention. It has a mobile generator and what looks like highly advanced computers, sensors, and scientific devices being set up inside it. From what Dr. Anderson can tell, there is an outer tent area and an inner sanctum behind an airlock. Most intriguing at all, there are people walking inside it wearing the kind of extreme spacesuit protection that you’d wear in a bioweapon laboratory.

Dr. Anderson: “What is in that tent?”
Lt. Oubre: “More of your closed-mouthed kind. If you find out what’s going on in there; they clearly trust you better than they do us.”

Nodding tolerantly, Dr. Anderson makes a silent determination to find out exactly what kind of research is going on in that tent. Onyx Rain is not going to succeed in keeping any aspect of this fascinating mystery secret from him. After all, he’s the one who truly understands it.

On arrival to the decontamination facility, Dr. Anderson is passed on to the capable and practised staff there. There is a line of orderlies and staff from Manhanock Asylum being processed at the same time and the three-step program is completed in a matter of minutes. After being undressed, showered, dried and provided with disposable clothing, Dr. Anderson is informed that he’ll find more suitable clothing in his quarters.

Dr. Anderson’s contaminated clothes and personal items are bagged, but not tagged into evidence as the effects of others are. The burly USCG medical technician on duty passes the parcels to a goofy looking long-haired boy wearing some kind of tactical camouflage outfit and armed with a very high-tech looking black gun hanging off him. A similarly dressed, exotically handsome black man smiles winningly at Dr. Anderson.

LCDR Dao: “Mack there will carry your stuff to your quarters for you. I’m Lieutenant Commander Wendell and we’ve been assigned to take care of you. Maybe you’ll remember me, we met in Washington last week.”
Anderson: “Of course. You are with… ah.”
Dao: “That’s right. So you go on and relax. You’re as safe as you can be now.”

Anderson certainly remembers Wendell Dao from Homeland Security headquarters in DC. Dao is a personable young man whose educated diction doesn’t diminish his strong New Orleans accent. Much like the majority of the Special Forces soldiers Dr. Anderson remembers from Project Jade Serenity, he is athletic, confident and outgoing. Unlike most of them, however, who were about as ethnically diverse as an Amish picnic, Wendell Dao has black skin and features that suggest Southeast Asia.

From what he told Dr. Anderson, Dao is second-generation Vietnamese-American, born in New Orleans. Dao’s specific duties with Onyx Rain are something military. He commands the operational force assigned to Onyx Rain from something called the Joint Special Operations Command. As far as Dr. Anderson could make out, it meant he was in charge of a squad or platoon of Navy SEALs and intelligence specialists to support them.

And from the questions Dao asked over the few days Dr. Anderson and Chase Taylor spent in DC, he seemed to be very interested in the personalities and capabilities of the former Project Jade Serenity commandos who followed Colonel Alejandro Ortiz to Mexico. While Taylor had much more information on them, having served with them all for years after the Project, Dr. Anderson had been able to elaborate somewhat on the psychological evaluations he had done on them during the 1999-2000 Project.

Taylor and Dao had established an immediate and strong rapport in DC; being both warm, friendly man-boys with a similar psychological makeup, gregarious, courageous, active and inclined to self-sacrifice, or in other words, perfect fodder for the armed forces. They had also bonded over shared hobbies like wrestling other grown men for an oval ball, with Taylor even recognising Dao immediately due to him having apparently played some ‘quarterback’ position for the Louisiana State University before joining the Navy.

Dr. Anderson: “Yes, certainly. Thank you… Lieutenant? Commander?”
Dao: “Wendell will do, doc.”

Accompanied by the wild-haired ‘Mack’, Dao and Dr. Anderson set out for their destination, which the Navy SEAL officer informs Anderson is a cottage in the woods northeast of Manhanock Asylum. Formerly the homes of senior staff, the drawdown had left several units unused. This one had been recently vacated and was being prepared for several Homeland Security personnel, as well as a security team for them.

Dr. Anderson: “What about the people who were with me? Will they be staying there as well?”
Dao: “Col. Burr and Special Agent Banks are in medical care now. They’ll be transferred to a mainland hospital as soon as we get clearance to break quarantine containment for them. I hear they’re considering flying them direct to a facility where Onyx Rain has an isolation ward, but you didn’t hear it from me. Looks like they’ll both live, though. As will the patients you treated, doc, damn good job on that, by the way.”
Anderson: “Thank you. What about Taylor? Bell? O’Toole? Townsend, I suppose?”
Dao: “Townsend and O’Toole were both dinged up and had some bad shocks. Wouldn’t surprise me if they were still with the medics. Wouldn’t surprise me if Townsend flies out with the first casualty evac we get cleared, come to think of it. The Director will want to debrief him personally, in any case. O’Toole is quartered with us, if he’s well enough not to be in a hospital bed.”
Anderson: “You seem to have some reluctance to answer regarding the other two, Wendell.”
Dao: “Look, doc, you know as well as I do that they aren’t just DHS consultants. They have a special status. Officially, Ms. Bell is still on the books here as a patient. And, Chase, well, he’s still a prisoner in the DoD system. And, well, they were both involved in fatal shootings last night. Look, I’m not saying it’s fair or anything, but it’s still the way it is.”
Anderson: “Are you saying that they are under arrest?”
Dao: “I’m saying that I don’t know. Nobody is telling me anything about Homeland law enforcement issues, joint task force or not. I was ordered to provide secure quarters for six, in addition to my people, and I’ve only got names for three of them; you, O’Toole and Townsend.”
Anderson: “I am going to want to talk to them.”
Dao: “I can relay the request, doc, but that’s it.”
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Last edited by Icelander; 01-24-2018 at 02:07 PM.
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