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Friday, July 24

Evil Stars: Part 2 – Zymvotek

The biotechnology firm Zymvotek was a five-minute drive away. The agents pulled into a new industrial park, one of those campus-like affairs, with freshly-dyed grass and newly-purchased trees. They stopped before a silver-and-black, block-long building with a twelve -foot-high orange “Z” looming beside the main entrance.

The guards directed them to a loading dock, where they were greeted by two people in white lab coats, far down the side of the building. They passed out visitor passes to everyone.

“Oh great,” said Hammer. “It’s your girlfriend.”

“Not. My. Girlfriend,” said Jim-Bean through gritted teeth.

Dr. Lisa Howell had improved her looks since they last met, changing her haircut and even putting on makeup. She was cute, in a geek girl sort of way.

She smiled at Jim-Bean as the other lab assistant trundled the thing out of the back of the van. It began squealing again.

“So you got transferred, huh?” asked Jim-Bean, trying to make polite conversation and get Howell to stop smiling at him.

He was being polite; Howell was running a virtual reality server on a crystal matrix AI. It had nearly cost Howell her life. The saving grace was that the entire server system had been destroyed by the FRACTAL GODS virus, so there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Still, Majestic-12 punished any failure, including being in the wrong place at the right time. Her transfer to the opposite coast was a mild slap on the wrist.

Howell nodded. “At Zymvotek, we mostly study the commercial possibilities of bacteria—as food for humans, of course, and that's how the company began, but also as oil-eaters, selenium-fixers, mineral-concentrators, that sort of thing. Until a few weeks ago we had a division dedicated to cosmetics tests on animals. Everyone was glad to halt those tests, and the facilities are still intact: Corporate doesn’t know what to do with them until next year’s budget plan is complete. We can use this area for several months without interference: I've already gotten the space allocation."

They entered a large room, silent and empty except for lab benches, utility connections, and stacked rows of gleaming stainless steel cages numbering in the hundreds.

Howell’s chatter ended abruptly when the assistant removed the tarpaulin and she actually saw the creature in the cylinder. Her jaw dropped in delight.

"Sprague said this was something special, but I could never have dreamed of this! This is no recombinant product, gentlemen." she chuckled happily to herself, and began to make plans. Jim-Bean was abruptly forgotten.

“Have fun,” said Hammer. “In the mean time, we need to track down that biker gang. They somehow knew what we had in the truck. That means there’s a leak.”

Archive nodded. “I looked it up. Those bikers were members of Satan’s Sadists. They’re also security for God’s Lost Children—“

“GLC?” asked Jim-Bean. “One of those guys was wearing a shirt with GLC on it.”

Archive nodded. “God’s Lost Children. Harking back to such elaborate ’70s rock acts as KISS, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper, God’s Lost Children is as much a visual tour de force as an act of pure sonic aggression — which is exactly why their handlers at Grandeur Records have pumped millions of dollars into making the band one of the top acts in the world. Through constant media exposure, the whole process has taken less than six months.”

“I remember them,” said Hammer. “We played their record backwards…”

“Secrets of N’Kai,” said Archive, nodding along with Hammer. “That’s how we defeated that statue of Tsathoggua—“

“Sorry, what?” asked Jim-Bean.

“You weren’t there,” they said in unison.

Jim-Bean shrugged. “Oh.” [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:29 AM


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