Authors: Paul McKellips
In a thrill a minute read, author Paul McKellips poses a frightening “what if” scenario that will leave the human race on the brink of certain disaster. When a series of attacks on animal researchers leave several people dead, the government—including the President—issues an immediate ban on animal testing. And that’s when the real trouble begins…
At the heart of the action are two government agents, the dashing Commander “Camp” Campbell, a man as decorated for his bravery in Iraq as for his own self-professed charm. Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Raines is the more practical of the two, a woman defined by her dedication to rules. Camp has returned to the States, newly reassigned to a government-funded test site. When the ban on animals comes down, Camp pulls a restless act by making off with two hundred rats…and winds up in deep trouble. He is immediately banished for a year, his superiors hoping the ramifications of his stunt will have worn off by then. Raines, uncharacteristically covering for him, finds herself joining him. But where they are headed only increases the risk—both to themselves, to the scientist whose very existence is threatened…and the future of the human race.
Who is really behind the ban on animal testing? And why? Could a deadly, dangerous fanatical group be behind the threat of a new vein of plague sweeping across the country…or worse, could it be someone people have come to trust?
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. FBR Press is a registered trademark of the Foundation for Biomedical Research.
FIRST EDITION: July 2012
Copyright © Paul McKellips, 2012
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Published by FBR Press
Foundation for Biomedical Research
818 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data are on file.
Cover design by Patrick King, ImagineDesign
Author photo by Liz Hodge
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Rafed, Samir, Mohanned, Raouf and Jawed in Iraq and Afghanistan
|ABP||Afghan Border Patrol|
|ANA||Afghan National Army|
|BUAV||British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection|
|BSL||Bio Safety Level|
|CAC||Common Access Card|
|CW2||Chief Warrant Officer, Two and commissioned by the President|
|FATA||Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan|
|FOB||Forward Operating Base|
|IRF||Integrated Research Facility|
|ISAF||International Security Assistance Force Joint Command|
|ISI||Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence|
|MWR||Morale, Welfare and Recreation|
|MRAP||Mine Resistant Ambush Protected|
|NIBC||National Interagency Biodefense Center|
|ODA||Operation Detachment Alpha|
|PET||Positron Emission Tomography|
|PETN||Pentaerythritol tetranitrate(military explosive)|
|SHAC||Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty|
|TMC||Troop Medical Clinic|
|WMD||Weapons of Mass Destruction|
Forward Operating Base Lightning
Paktya Province, Afghanistan
hey left the briefing with the Minnesota National Guard Colonel in the Tactical Operations Center and walked quickly through a row of B-huts on FOB Lightning. The clouds were low and heavy with snow. A light dusting of powdered snow covered the gravel.
“Did you hear him?”
“I heard him, captain. Just let it go.”
US Army Captain Henry shook his head in disgust. “That’s not how they taught us at the Academy; I can assure you of that.”
“Captain, let it go.”
“How can you say just ‘let it go’? This is freaking tularemia, maybe a bio-weapon, and this idiot who teaches ‘lit’ in Saint Pete, Minnesota when he’s not a weekend warrior tells us not worry to about it…tells us he’s not going to elevate it.”
“Well, now you’re speaking to a weekend warrior from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Feel any better?” asked Major Dean Banks, United States Army Reserves.
Captain Henry held his tongue. They walked past the dining hall and up the gravel road. Major Banks stopped and turned around.
“Look up there, Henry. Do you see them?”
Major Banks and Captain Henry lifted their eyes to the two hills that rose up from the valley floor. Mountain peaks encircled the valley. Soldiers from the army of Alexander the Great had built massive observation fortresses on each hill. For months they pulled stones and boulders up from the valley floor to build circular sentinel fortresses. No advancing army had any chance of surprising Alexander the Great.
“Battle outposts. Alexander the Great. Not exactly a news flash, sir. They’ve been here since 323 AD.”
“Genghis Khan came. The Russians came. Now the Americans have come. Every one of them had front-line sentinels, scouts whose job it was to sound the alert.”
“Roger that, major. But the colonel took your alert and buried it deep within the infinite wisdom of a PhD. No offense, sir, but I don’t think he’s used to working with a gynecologist.”
Banks laughed. “I’m not accustomed to working with professors of literature either. But Uncle Sam is going to get a tour out of all of us, one way or the other. Don’t worry, captain. I informed the colonel, but I also sounded the alarm back at Fort Detrick and with Command at ISAF headquarters in Kabul. Battalion surgeons, Reserves or National Guard, have a slightly different chain of command, especially when it comes to infectious diseases.”
They walked past the male latrines and the basketball court where some Army Joes were playing four-on-four in the brisk February breeze. The first dusting of snow had just covered the mountain peaks of the Hindu Kush heading over into Pakistan. Pulling the bolt lock back, they walked into the holding pen in front of the checkpoint. Thirty Afghan day-laborers were waiting to move through the turnstiles. They were searched on the way in each morning to make sure they weren’t carrying weapons or suicide vests and searched on the way out to make sure they hadn’t stolen anything as they cleaned American latrines, emptied American trash and mopped American floors. One path at the checkpoint led down to Terp Village, a small village within FOB Lightning’s walls comprised of 10 small B-huts with bunk beds where all of the foreign national interpreters lived. Next to Terp Village were seven Haji shops where the GI’s could buy pirated DVDs, batteries, Afghan rugs, or a carton of smokes.
Miriam was sitting on the wood bench, on time and ready for work.
” Banks said as he covered his heart with his hand.
Sahaar mo pa kheyr,
” Miriam replied scanning the morning sky.
“Every day you wear that same cheerful smile, Miriam…and that precious necklace. Is that crystal?” Banks asked.
“I don’t know. It was a gift from my husband.”
“Miriam is taking a three day leave after work next Thursday, Major Banks,” said Captain Henry.
“Great. I’m sure you’re anxious to see your son,” Banks said as they all walked toward the checkpoint.
Miriam had a pleasant personality and at times, an infectious smile could dash across her face. Like most Afghan interpreters, Miriam wanted the money but she didn’t like to work. Even though she was on call every day and every night, she was seldom required to work more than an hour or two each day. Major Banks thought he had found a soft spot in Miriam’s personality armor. He always had a kind word and a compliment for Miriam and the major hoped she was warming up to him.