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Authors: Lynn Sholes

The 731 Legacy

BOOK: The 731 Legacy
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NOTES FROM THE HISTORICAL RECORD

#1.In 1941, a division of the Imperial Japanese Army was formed and called theEpidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department. Disguised under the innocent-sounding title, the group's real purpose was to promote the belief in Japanese racial superiority.

The EPWP conducted horrific medical experiments, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and military personnel from China, Korea, Mongolia, and Russia. An ultra secret unit of the EPWP experimented with biological weapons research, resulting in an estimated 200,000 additional deaths. Untold numbers of atrocities were committed in the name of science by the group known as Unit 731.

#2.In 2006, researchers in France recreated a five-million-year-old virus whose remains are scattered across the human genome. This ancient retrovirus inserted copies of its genetic material into our DNA. The remnants of those copies in our DNA, human endogenous retroviruses, or HERVs, make up about 8

percent of our genetic code. Most of the copies have mutated over the millennia to the point that they are obsolete. However, scientists have found one that can still alter itself into new, infectious virus particles. Scientists at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif, France successfully resurrected one of the retroviruses, calling it Phoenix after the mythical bird reborn from its own ashes. This group of scientists also found indications that some of the other HERVs in our genomes might still be infectious.

"Most dangerous is that temptation that doth goad us on to sin in loving virtue."

Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene II

SUBWAY

Calderon knew he was dying as he shoved the token in the slot before stumbling through the turnstile and down the steps to the subway platform. The rumble of the train, even though muffled by the clotted blood in his ears, sent a spear of searing pain shooting through his skull.

Calderon braced his head with both hands until the train finally came to a stop, its doors sliding open with a hiss. He wasn't sure how long his legs would hold him. The raging 105-degree fever seemed to be melting his bones into what

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felt like a slurry of molten marrow. He snatched a gulp of air, and it howled through his airways like wind in a chimney.

Get on the train. Move. Get on the train.

Laboring, Calderon trapped himself in the flow of boarding passengers, their bodies pushing him along.

There were no seats available, only a spot for his hand to grip a pole. Just as he wrapped his fingers around it, a deep croupy cough clutched up in his chest. With his free hand, he covered his lips with a handkerchief, and the coppery taste of blood-streaked mucous sprayed the inside of his mouth. The flecks of phlegm bloomed like miniature scarlet geraniums, seeping through the threads of the white cloth.

The train lurched, and Calderon rocked sideways, bumping a young man with an earphone crammed in his ear and an iPod clipped to his belt.

"What the—" The young guy stared at the handkerchief. He let go of the pole and stepped back. "What's the matter with you, man?"

Like dominos, the passengers' attentions turned to focus on Calderon. They retreated from him, crowding into the opposite ends of the subway car.

"Oh, my God," a woman said, using her hands like a surgical mask.

Calderon wiped his face, breaking loose the crusts of dried blood and spittle from the corners of his mouth. He didn't blame the passengers for staring or for feeling disgust alongside their horror. They had good reason.

His eyes burned and his skin hurt to touch. The five ibuprofen tablets he choked down an hour ago hadn't seemed to dent the pain or the fever. Probably made the bleeding worse. He felt a warm, thick trickle drip from his nose and again heard gasps. He wiped away the blood with the back of his hand, smearing it across his cheek.

The train pulled into the next station, and all the passengers except Calderon fought their way through the open doors.

The first incoming passenger froze in the doorway before backing out and stretching his arms like a gate. "Stop!" he yelled. "Nobody get on the train."

"What's going on?" a man said, forcing his way past. "Get outta my way." But then, as his eyes landed on the sole occupant of the car, he bolted back.

"Holy shit."

The doors slid closed, and Calderon watched the faces staring at him through the window. In a moment the train was in the darkness of the tunnel, and he closed his eyes. He wheezed a shallow breath and again was overcome by a strangling cough. He tried to stifle it. Over the last twenty-four hours he had learned that each time he coughed it irritated his airways even more, bringing about a fit of uncontrollable spasmodic hacking. He kept his mouth closed, coughing as if in a theater and not wanting to disturb anyone. His cheeks flared with the gush of air from his lungs, but the force behind the cough burst through. A jet of blood and mucous spewed out, splattering the pole, and a fine pink cloud floated in the air. After several minutes his lungs rested. Time was running out.

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The next stop would be his last. He was almost there. This time when the doors opened, Calderon nearly fell out onto the platform. He saw the expressions of those who looked at him in total revulsion. He lowered his head and kept his eyes cast on the concrete. Halfway up the stairs, he grabbed the railing, doubting he could go on. He stopped and propped his side against the wall for a moment before continuing to the sidewalk.

The fever had him shivering, and he thought about what a paradox that was. His body was burning up and what he felt, except for the scorching in his eyes, was a bottomless chill.

Only half a block to go.

He approached the front entrance to his final destination.

The crowd on the street seemed to part like the Red Sea when God divided it to save the Israelites from the Egyptians. But he knew this was not the work of God. It was the result of the terror that took hold of the pedestrians at the sight of a nearly fleshless skeleton of a man whose eye sockets were soot black and every orifice leaked blood and body fluids.

Calderon pushed through the revolving doors into the lobby of the Satellite News Network. Then all his remaining strength caved in and his knees buckled. He collapsed face down on the marble floor.

An SNN security officer was first at his side. Squatting, he pressed the button on his shoulder-mounted mic and said, "Code red. Dial nine-one-one." Slowly, he maneuvered Calderon onto his side. "Jesus Christ!" He reared back at the sight.

Calderon opened one eye. He felt the strings of mucous that glued his lips together, stretch as he spoke.

"Cotten Stone. I must speak to Cotten Stone."

MOON RISE

Pyongyang, North Korea

Chung Moon Jung tried to calculate how many people she was going to kill as she stood on the sidewalk under the lone streetlamp. Most of the city lights were turned off, causing details to be lost in darkness. Only a scattering of lights reflected off the Taedong River. Across the water, stark government buildings and apartment complexes formed a harsh skyline.

Moon's gaze took in the shadowy shapes of the two ships moored at the river's edge: the USSPueblo, the armed spy ship seized in 1968 from the U.S. imperialist aggression forces, and the Oceanautics research vessel Pitcairn, taken only a year ago after it drifted into North Korean waters. They were two examples of North Korea's ability to thumb its nose at the West. The Pueblo had brought the Communist nation a bargaining chip on the world stage while the

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Pitcairn had delivered a means to dominate the stage.

Moon pulled a photograph from the inside pocket of her coat. In the soft glow of the streetlight, she looked upon the fading black and white image of her parents. The sting of recalling their fates still twisted inside her, the pain never letting up.

As she touched the photograph, her finger lightly hovered on her mother's face. A lifetime ago. Moon was now more than twice the age of her mother at the time the picture was taken. She looked at the photograph often, never wanting to forget.

"Dr. Chung?" Her driver held up a cell phone as he stood beside her sleek black limo parked a dozen yards away.

She slipped the photo back into her pocket. Turning from the river and the two ships, she said, "Yes?"

"He is ready to see you."

***

Moon watched the General Secretary savor the last sip of green tea before placing his cup on the small, cherrywood table. He leaned back in his chair; a signal the meal was finished. Instantly, a servant rushed forward, removing the dishes. A second servant brought a porcelain pot of fresh tea, filling the General Secretary's cup. The servant offered more to Moon, but she held her hand up in refusal. When the table was cleared and the two were alone in the small private dining room, the General Secretary said, "I dreamed of your father last night."

"Dear Leader," Moon said with a slight head bow, "he would be most honored to know that. For only those who have the highest love and devotion for you are worthy of a place in your dreams. I, too, often dream of him. He was a great man." She raised her cup to her lips as she admired the row of twothousand-year-old vases along one wall.

"They're from theBaekje Kingdom."

"Beautiful, Dear Leader. We have such a rich heritage. It is contemptible that savages divided our beloved land with such an arbitrary border."

"You are correct in referring to them as savages."

"And they will soon feel our wrath," Moon said. "The Americans and all their allies will be paid back for the death and destruction they have spread across the globe."

"You have made amazing progress, Dr. Chung, in the year since thePitcairn death ship was found. We are most fortunate that it fell into our hands before the United States could retrieve it."

"I considered it an omen, Dear Leader. A sign that we were meant to achieve our revenge. That which we are about to execute is guided by the hand of fate."

"The satellite medical labs are all in place?"

"And fully functional. We have borrowed a term from the computer

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industry and are calling each field test aping."

The General Secretary shrugged. "I don't understand the term."

"When a technician wants to confirm that his computer can communicate with another computer, he pings it."

"Oh," he said with an expression of revelation. "Like our submarine fleet pings other vessels?"

"Exactly. With each ping, we see the results of the virus and how it reacts to the genes of various races. At this point, we are down to a handful of groups. So far, all are perfect recipients."

"And how are thosepings being delivered?"

"Aerosols, throat sprays. Whatever is appropriate and we think will work for the target."

"Ahh, and while the imperialists wring their hands over our so-called nuclear weapons program, they have no idea we are really planning their demise in a most unexpected manner."

Moon smiled with self-satisfaction as she brushed a strand of silver hair from her face.

"Debts must be paid, Dr. Chung. We were betrayed many times in the past. There will be no more betrayals because there are no more negotiations. No more deals. No more talk. The days of the imperialists and the corrupt communists are about to end. We will watch as our enemies all begin to die. Soon their citizens will become paralyzed by fear. They will be afraid to leave their homes, afraid to go to their jobs or send their children to school, afraid to come in contact with one another. There will be no safe place. And as each country falls into chaos and anarchy, world dominance will come to us like a sparrow upon the breeze. We will win by the simple process of elimination. You are about to unleash Hell, Dr. Chung, and cause our enemies to feel the wrath of Black Needles."

LAST WORDS

"How long will you be in New York?" Cotten Stone asked before taking a sip of coffee. She sat in a booth of her favorite deli on Broadway, a few blocks south of the world headquarters and studios of the Satellite News Network. Across from her was John Tyler, her closest friend, confidant, and the unfulfilled love of her life. In the eyes of the world, Cardinal John Tyler was the prelate of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology. To a select few in the world of international espionage and security, John was the director of the Venatori, the ultra covert intelligence agency of the Vatican. To her, he was the man she could never have.

BOOK: The 731 Legacy
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