Story 17 - Aquarius in Ice.
"But not as a depopulation weapon," I added.
"Depopulation?" Leslie repeated and shook her head.
Ten minutes later we dumped the pod back into the icy grave where we took it from and covered it over exactly as we had found it. "In a month the viruses will be dead," suggested Leslie. Hopefully, no one else will come here looking for it. We even raked the surface and threw some fresh power
on it from a nearby drift.
With this part of the mission completed we hurried back to the satellite station, hoping now for bad weather as we drove off into the unfolding night.
To our relief, it began to snow heavily that
night, just as we had wished. Oh, how we welcomed the fresh snow. The entire site would be covered over by morning, including our tracks as if we had never been there. Unfortunately, we made deeper tracks in the soft new snow the closer we came to the station.
Well, this couldn't be helped.
We didn't get back to the station until late the next evening. It turned out to be rather difficult to drive in bad weather, especially driving after dark without our headlights
on, with only the GPS to guide us.
After that we slept.
Anton and I woke late the next morning. Surprisingly, life had become normal again. Things proceeded once more in the same unhurried manner in which everything normally unfolded in this ice covered world in the north. After all, we had plenty of time now. We had four days left before the major would fetch us back. From this point on, Anton and I had nothing to do but to make the meals for our scientists and watch them work in the biology lab. The lab was as fully equipped as the size of the building allowed it to be.
"I suppose this wasn't built just for reindeer research," I commented to Anton when we saw the station's lab that morning.
The others laughed, "Is this what you had believed? You didn't really believe in all honesty that the entire complex is just a reindeer research station. That's our cover. Outsiders are supposed to think that, and we don't disappoint them. We play the role. In reality this place is part of a network of emergency response centers in case there is a biological attack against the northern cruise missile bases. The bases are dug deep into the mountains so that they can't be knocked out with a nuclear attack. Still, they could be vulnerable to biological weapons."
Leslie told us that every single one of the cruise missile installations had been fully staffed at one time, until the funding stopped. Even the four satellite emergency response stations had been manned around the clock. She pointed to her partner and said that they were the only two people left at the center who are fully trained to deal with any kind of a biological emergency. "Our mission once included supplying or rescuing people from
the underground operations centers and depots in this area, should they become trapped during a biological attack.
Leslie explained to me that their task covered everything that was even remotely related to a biological attack, even to the point of creating emergency treatments when required. "The irony is, that most of us were educated in the U.S.A.," she said to me. "We received advanced degrees in biological engineering in your country, before we completed our training in Novosibirsk."
Leslie and her partner assured us, that before we would leave, they would be able to tell us precisely how deadly the virus is and what can be done to counteract it, to stop it in its tracks. "We might even be able to tell you which lab in the U.S., or elsewhere, created the virus." She said that they feared that our virus may have been created by one of their previous comrades who were thrown onto the scrap heap when the funding ran out, who were then eagerly scooped up by the labs in the West.