Publish Novellas 27 October 2021
EPISODE 7 – LIFE OR DEATH
There is little hope for the amateur spy. A federal agent then tries to turn a Genyologen employee into an asset.
When the programmer arrives home, agent Maggie Jones takes Mega Hertz in for questioning.
“I don’t understand. What did I do? Why am I being arrested?” asks Ms Hertz.
At the station, agent Jones begins the interrogation. “You are not under arrest, yet. Depending on your level of cooperation, you could be facing charges of conspiracy murder.”
“I want to call my lawyer,” says Mega.
“We all want things. As I said, you are not under arrest. You are just here for questioning. But if we determine you are an enemy of the State, no lawyer can help you,” threatens agent Jones.
“Is someone dead?” asks Mega.
“Should someone be?” asks agent Jones.
“I don’t know. You said I could be facing conspiracy murder charges,” says Mega.
“Miss Hertz, this evasiveness is exactly the type of behavior that suggests conspiracy. If you are aware of any criminal activity and try to conceal it, then you are a conspirator. Do you understand?” asks Jones.
“Yes. What information do I have?” Mega asks.
“I’m asking the questions!” shouts Jones. “Are you are lead programmer at Genyologen Pharmaceuticals?”
“Yes,” says Mega.
“Do you know Ray Dyent?” asks Jones. After a long pause, Mega begins quivering. Agent Jones presses further, “It’s a simple question, Ms Hertz.”
“Yes,” Mega replies.
“We understand that the company you work for poisoned Dr. Dyent. Furthermore, you are in charge of hiding the cure. Is that right Ms Hertz?” asks agent Jones.
“I have nothing to do with his poisoning,” Mega says as she begins crying.
“You can’t pick and choose which questions to answer. Are you hiding the cure?” demands Jones.
Mega begins babbling. “I’m just a programmer. I had no idea…”
“Ms Hertz! Answer the question! Do you have the antidote?” Jones interrupts.
“I might. I mean there is a rhinovirus serum but I don’t know how or with what Dr. Dyent has been poisoned,” Mega replies.
“Here’s what you are going to do, Ms Hertz. You are going to walk out that door. How does that sound?” asks agent Jones.
“Yes, I’d like to go,” says Mega.
“But first, I need a promise from you. I need you to get me that antidote or the formula, either one. Can you do that?” asks Jones.
“I don’t know…” Mega stays while sniffling.
“Wrong answer!” Jones shouts while slamming her hand on the table.
Mega reveals her concern. “If I access company records, my career is over.”
Sensing potential cooperation, agent Jones softens her voice and offers assurance. “That is a valid concern. You are a young girl with a long career ahead of you. No commercial company will hire you with an unfavorable termination from the largest pharma-tech company in the world.”
“That’s right,” Mega replies.
“This is why, in exchange for your cooperation I can offer you a position as a government analyst. You will still be programming and have the protection of the federal agency surrounding you. I really don’t think you want to hurt any more people. It is up to you to prove me wrong,” offers agent Jones.
“Okay, I’ll do it,” Mega agrees. “Give me some time.”
“Dr. Dyent doesn’t have much time, Ms Hertz,” says agent Jones.
“So Ray is still alive?” asks Mega.
“He may be. I haven’t checked since we picked you up. So the answer to that question depends on how quickly you are able to download a decrypted file,” says Jones.
“When I walk out of Genyologen Pharmaceuticals, tomorrow with that information, I cannot return. Will you have someplace for me to go?” asks Mega.
“After you leave for work tomorrow, plain-clothes agents will empty your apartment. We will keep your belongings in storage for you. Come here after work. If you have what we need, you will sleep at a safe house tomorrow. By next week you could be working for the Federal Government. Are you ready to cooperate?” asks agent Jones.
“Yes, I will get the file tomorrow,” Mega confirms.
“Excellent, I will have an agent take you home and keep an eye on you until you return tomorrow,” says Jones.
“Okay, thank you,” Mega replies.
Agent Jones updates the ecstatic President on the progress.
The next day Mega just wants to get out of Genyologen Pharmaceuticals. There are layers of redundancy to prevent employees from walking out with trade secrets. She copies the file to a portable storage device. It interacts with her implanted microchip and sounds a silent alarm.
As Mega begins walking towards the exit, she notices security guards making their way towards her. So she starts running to get to the agents outside. The federal agents exit the vehicle and intervene.
Security accuses her of being in possession of stolen property. The agents say they will handle it as they place her into the back seat of their vehicle. Security guards radio their superior who deploys more security to her home.
Back at the station, Mega tells agent Jones that she also has the minutes from an incriminating meeting. When she tries to download the files for agent Jones, they are corrupted.
“Did you decrypt the files before copying them?” asks agent Jones.
“Yes. It’s the microchip!” Mega shouts. “Apparently, Genyologen can remotely corrupt electronic devices.”
Slamming her hand on the table, agent Jones tells other agents, “Take her from here and dig this thing out of her arm!” The agent must then alert the President of the failed mission. This is when she receives word that Ray Dyent expired.
“Two failed missions with one casualty,” the President somberly acknowledges. “We are no closer to obtaining the serum.”
“That is correct. I am sorry, sir,” confirms agent Jones.
“I think we have heightened the suspicions by Genyologen Pharmaceuticals. Starc Kontryst will surely pull out of the pharmaceutical consortium. It’s not like they were cooperating to begin with,” says the President.
An angry Starc Kontryst calls a board meeting to discuss events of the past two weeks. “I am putting some motions before the board. In light of recent attempts to breach data, I move that we implement a hiring freeze. Any discussion? No? All in favor? Unanimous.
“Next, I move that we extricate ourselves from the pharmaceutical consortium. Any discussion? No? All in favor? Unanimous, fantastic!
“Now I want to discuss plans to impeach the President of the United Coalition of Nations.”
Ambyent Lyte suggests leaking more news reports of President Thyme’s inept handling of the health crisis. “No one in the consortium has a serum. As the weeks go by the public will turn on him and demand impeachment.”