Read Season Of The Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1) Online

Authors: Michael R. Hicks

Tags: #military adventure, #fbi thriller, #genetic mutations

Season Of The Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1) (9 page)

BOOK: Season Of The Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1)
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Sitting there for
just a moment, listening to the
tink...tink...tink
sound as the
engine cooled, he suffered another twinge of guilt at not having
called Jerri, and knew that she would probably not be at all happy
that he’d turned up here. But she would forgive him for
it.

A bit late to
worry about it now
, he chided himself as
he got out of the car and jogged through the rain along the curving
concrete path to the front entrance. In the daytime, it was an
impressive multi-storied structure of stone and glass, with nine
large vent pipes in clusters of three rising from the roof. While
Jack had never been partial to modern architectural design, the
lab’s architects had made a functional design that was also fairly
attractive.

Right now, in the dark and pouring
rain, lit by periodic flashes of lightning in the distance, he had
the sudden impression of Frankenstein’s castle on the fateful night
when the madman’s monster was brought to life.

Making his way through the main
entrance, showing his badge to the building’s security officers, he
headed straight for Jerri’s lab. He had barely pushed the door open
when she was in his arms.

“Jesus, Jack,” she said after
kissing him on the cheek, then drawing him back into a tight
embrace. The top of her head came to just above his shoulder. Her
hair was jet black and long, flowing down her back nearly to her
waist. She had almond-shaped eyes that were as beautiful as they
were expressive, and the complexion typical of someone of Japanese
ancestry. “Why didn’t you call me?” she asked softly.

“Because I wanted to be here when
they brought in the evidence, and...” The words caught in his
throat and he felt his eyes begin to tear up again.

“And you thought I wouldn’t let you
come down,” Jerri finished for him, standing back enough to meet
his gaze. “You should know me better than that.”

Jack, at a loss for words, only
nodded as he fought to keep himself together.

“Listen,” she told him, cupping his
face in her hands, “don’t do the macho idiot thing on me,
okay?”

“Okay,” he breathed. “I promise. No
more macho crap.”

She smiled, then stood up on her
tiptoes and kissed him lightly on the lips. “Good,” she told him.
“Now, let’s–”

“Jerri!” someone said urgently,
poking his head in the door from the hallway, “It’s
here!”

“Okay,” she told him, giving Jack a
reassuring squeeze before she turned to the man in the hallway.
“We’re ready. Let’s get rolling.”

A small army of technicians went
through everything that was in the boxes sent from the Lincoln
team, sorting out what needed to go where. The FBI Laboratory was
made up of nearly twenty units that focused on various aspects of
crime scene and related analysis, including Jerri’s unit, DNA
Analysis Unit-1, which specialized in nuclear DNA analysis. Many of
the samples retrieved by the on-scene forensics team had traces of
blood on them, and Jerri’s unit had to analyze the blood before the
other units could do their work.

She quickly organized her staff to
take samples from the clothing and other items that had been sent,
and set up the necessary tests for samples that had been swabbed
from the walls and other areas around the murder scene and the LRU
lab by the forensics team in Lincoln.

The last cardboard evidence box to
be opened, and the one she decided to handle herself, was the one
containing Sheldon’s weapon and two extra magazines. Weapons were
normally unloaded before they were transported for analysis, but in
the case of weapons that had blood or other evidential residue that
might be at risk if the weapon were handled to unload it, the
weapon was bagged, tagged, and boxed, with a warning on the box
indicating it was loaded. Sheldon’s weapon and the magazines had
certainly fit the criteria: they were all spattered with
blood.

Wearing latex gloves and a face
mask, Jerri first removed the two magazines from the box. She took
several swabs of the blood on each one, with Jack carefully bagging
and cataloging everything.

“Okay,” she said after she’d swabbed
the exterior of the first magazine, “go ahead and unload it, and
I’ll take a couple of samples from the bullets, just for grins. We
won’t test those right away, but I don’t want to leave anything to
chance on this. Swabs are cheap.”

After Jack unloaded the bullets from
the first magazine, Jerri took three swabs of bullets that looked
like they had some traces of blood on the casings from where blood
had seeped inside the magazine. Then she swabbed the inside of the
magazine.

They repeated the process for the
second magazine, with Jerri taking swabs from three spots on the
metal, then handing them to Jack to file.

He had just sealed the second
magazine into an evidence bag and was marking it when he heard a
low voice behind him.

“He shouldn’t be here.”

Turning around, Jack found a man
wearing lab gear, staring at him as if he were a particularly
offensive insect.

“He’s here on my authority,” Jerri
grated, standing up from her lab stool. “Jack,” she said with cool
formality, “meet Dr. Martin Kilburn. He was sent over from CODIS to
give us a hand.” The CODIS Unit was where the Combined DNA Index
System, or CODIS, was managed. The results from the DNA tests from
Jerri’s team would be entered into the massive CODIS database for
storage and cross-indexing. “He seems to forget who’s in charge
here.” She stared up at Kilburn, her normally warm eyes ice
cold.

Kilburn ignored her, and continued
to stare at Jack.

“Hey, doc,” Jack said, nodding.
Shaking hands was out of the question with everyone wearing latex
gloves and handling evidence, but Jack wouldn’t have been inclined
to shake Kilburn’s hand anyway. His rude behavior and disrespect
toward Jerri had already seriously pissed him off. “Don’t you have
some work of your own to do?”

“He shouldn’t be here,” Kilburn
repeated, finally glancing at Jerri. “He’s emotionally involved and
he’s not assigned to this unit.”

“Neither are you,” Jerri snapped.
“Now get back to what you were sent down here to do or get the hell
out.”

Kilburn stared at Jack for a moment
more, then turned and stalked out of the lab.

“Jesus,” Jack whispered, “what a
creep.”

“He’s only been here a few months,”
Jerri told him, shaking her head in disgust. “Don’t feel bad about
the way he treated you. He’s like that with everybody. Not
surprisingly, nobody likes him, but the CODIS people say he’s a
whiz over there with the DNA database. I’ll take their word for
it.”

“Where the hell did they dig him
up?”

“I think he was working as a
researcher for an agri-business before coming here,” Jerri said.
“New Horizons, I think.”

Jack felt like someone had rammed a
frozen steel rod down his spine. “New Horizons, huh?” he said
quietly. Now there’s a coincidence, he thought. “The university lab
where Sheldon was killed was set up by New Horizons,” he told her.
“And we think he may have been investigating computer intrusions
against their other labs.”

She sat back on her stool, eyes wide
in surprise. “No kidding? Any idea as to who’s doing
it?”

“Yes,” Jack grated, the image of
Naomi Perrault flashing into his mind, unbidden. “It looks like a
group that’s screening itself behind UFO garbage on the web, if you
believe that. The Earth Defense Society, EDS. The team in Lincoln
found one of their flyers crammed down Sheldon’s throat. We don’t
know yet, but it looks like they’re engaged in some sort of
industrial espionage, possibly stealing genetic technology from New
Horizons. Apparently they decided to move up the criminal ladder by
killing an FBI agent.”

They both looked up as Kilburn
reentered the lab. He threw Jack a smug smile before returning to
his table and getting back to work, looking for anomalous fibers in
Sheldon’s torn-apart clothing.

“Asshole,” Jerri muttered as she
nudged Jack. “Let’s get back to it.”

Not trusting himself to say anything
more about the good Dr. Kilburn, Jack reached into the cardboard
evidence box and withdrew the bag containing Sheldon’s Glock 22.
His backup weapon, the Glock 27, was also in the box, in a separate
bag, but wasn’t a priority right now: the field team in Lincoln had
determined that there wasn’t any blood or other suspicious residue
on it, and it hadn’t been fired. After being inspected carefully in
the field, it had been unloaded and packed into the evidence
box.

The Glock 22, however, had
definitely been fired. Sheldon had emptied one magazine, the one
Jack and Jerri had just finished sampling, of its fifteen rounds,
and had fired at least three more just before he was killed, based
on the number of brass casings that had been found by the body. The
weapon had blood spattered all over it.

And there was something
else.

“Unidentified residue on gun
muzzle,” Jerri murmured as she read the note that had been stuck on
the outside of the box containing the weapon.

“I wonder why they didn’t have that
in the report?” Jack said.

Jerri glanced at him, a wry smile on
her lips. “You read all the field reporting?”

“Well...yeah,” Jack confessed. “It
was all in FIDS.” He shrugged. “Listen, Clement sent me home
because he thought I was an emotional basket case, which maybe was
true. But what was I going to do? Just sit and watch the boob
tube?”

“Well,” she told him, “this was
reported. It was in a follow-up they added just before they shipped
it out. You were probably on the road by then. One of the more
senior techs in Lincoln took a second look at the gun and found
something odd around the muzzle that didn’t appear to be
blood.”

“Right,” Jack said. “Okay, let’s get
this done.”

He carefully removed the weapon from
the stiff cardboard box and laid it on the table under the lights.
Jerri focused a high definition video camera on the weapon, looking
at the magnified image on a flat panel display. She tapped a few
buttons on the touch-sensitive screen to enhance the resolution and
add some color filters to help make the residue stand out
more.

“Yeah,” she murmured, pointing to a
very faint speckling of an amber-colored liquid right around the
gun’s muzzle. It was very faint, and she was surprised the Lincoln
team had found it. “See, right here, there’s definitely something,
and it’s not blood. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s back-spatter
from a bullet impact at extremely close range.”

“We’re talking inches, Jerri,” Jack
said grimly, trying to imagine who, or what, would have gotten so
close to a man who was still firing a gun.

“At most,” she agreed, zooming in
even further.

“And why is it just around the
muzzle?” he wondered. “Why wouldn’t there have been other traces
left at the scene?”

“I don’t know, Jack,” she said,
shaking her head as she wondered the same thing. “I can’t imagine
what it is.”

“One way to find out,” Jack told
her, handing her a set of swabs.

She took several samples, then told
Jack as he cataloged them, “Set those aside for me, please. I want
to take a look at those as soon as I’ve finished sampling the
outside of the weapon. I’m pretty sure the rest of this is going to
turn out to be Sheldon’s blood, but whatever this is on the muzzle
is definitely something else.” Then she began to methodically take
swabs of blood from the weapon to finish up the job.

“Okay,” she said, finally handing
him the last of five bloody swabs, now stained a dark maroon. “I
think we’re done with his weapon. Go ahead and unload it and get it
boxed up.” She picked up the swabs of the unidentified substance
they’d taken from the gun and told Jack, “I’m going to get these
set up for analysis. I’ll be back.”

Jack watched her head off toward the
lab next door where the DNA analysis equipment was, her feet
beating a rapid tattoo across the hard floor. He caught Kilburn
looking at him again. The man smiled slyly before turning back to
his work.

“Pissant,” Jack muttered as he
turned back to his own task. He released the magazine from the
Glock, then pulled the slide back to eject the round in the chamber
before putting the weapon in a fresh evidence box that he’d already
labeled.

Then he changed his gloves, not
wanting to accidentally contaminate the magazine that had been in
the weapon before he examined it. Aside from a trace of blood on
the bottom, which Jerri had already sampled, the magazine’s
exterior appeared to be clean. The rear of the magazine had holes
that showed how many rounds remained. Counting the glint of the
bullet primers showing in the holes, Jack saw that the magazine,
which had a capacity of fifteen rounds, held only twelve now. While
ballistics would need to confirm it, Jack felt certain that the
three .40 caliber brass cartridges the Lincoln team had found
around Sheldon’s body were from this magazine.

Looking more closely, Jack saw
something odd. In the hole for round thirteen, which should have
simply been dark and empty, he saw...something. He couldn’t tell
what it was, even through the zoomed-in view on the video
display.

BOOK: Season Of The Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1)
9.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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