I woke up at 9:33 today. After sleeping for almost the entirety of the past 36 hours, I felt more or less whole again. Someone had moved me to a more suitable bedroom, and brought me a change of clothes.
I made my way to the cafeteria, and spent a moment taking it all in. "What is this," I asked.
Tom looked embarrassed. "I... should have taken your warnings more seriously. I could have stopped Dalton when he was in the same room as me. But, at the moment, he is barricaded in Level 45."
"He smashed the elevator?" I had noticed that the elevator seemed cleaner than usual today. I suppose Tom would have needed to install a new one overnight.
"Yes. And filled the shaft with concrete. We actually can't get to levels 40 through 44 either. At some point, I guess I have to dig them out.
"So, right now, your plan is to drill all the way through through the Basement, including the three hundred feet of bedrock above Level 45."
"Yes. You don't happen to have a better one, do you?"
I thought about it for a moment, while Tom turned on a very loud digging machine. "Well," I shouted, trying to make myself heard above the din of the machines, "I don't suppose you could reconfigure those fusion reactors to melt through the ground. But I assume Dalton has some sort of communication with the surface, and plans to somehow broadcast the virus' completed genome. You could try to cut the cables."
Tom thought about that. "I could try, yes," he spoke as loudly as he could. "But how would I know if I have them all?"
"You wouldn't. But it is still a good backup plan. Similarly, do we know how Dalton plans to distribute the virus. I assume it is through technology you own through Medizi. Was buying it his idea or yours?"
Tom turned off his drills. "Umm... hard to say."
"That means it was his. Now, Medizi is a leader in organic and biological synthesis. We are going to need to check every single one of their facilities, and see if they have been coopted into Dalton's plan."
"So, it seems like I should keep working on this. Because the drills we have right now aren't going to have an easy time getting through the bedrock. You and Daniel and Gabe and Chris can focus on cutting off Dalton's other resources." Chris? Who was Chris? I had an eidetic memory, why couldn't I place him? Oh, right, mathatically inclined MAD also in the Basement. Hopefully I wouldn't misplace any other facts. I returned my attention to Tom. "I don't think we are getting Camille and Joanne back," he finished, "so its just the two of us and the three of them against Dalton."
"Where are Gabe and Daniel and Chris?"
"One of my houses. About two miles from here."
"I'll call a cab."
It was pouring. I walked up the steps to Tom's mansion- sorry one of Tom's mansions, and rang the bell. All three MADs came to open the door.
My brother threw his hands around me. "Are you okay," Gabe asked. "No, silly question."
"I have felt better," I said, coming inside. "But I am well rested, and we have work to do."
"Are you sure you are ready," Chris asked. I shot him a look. "I mean, I don't know you that well. But you have been through a lot. Nobody would begrudge you a few days' rest."
"People need me," I said. "I have the chance to undo some of what I did under Dalton's influence. I will seize that opportunity. So, fill me in, what has been going on here?"
"Well," Daniel said. "I have been helping Tom design a more powerful drill. The only constraint is that we'll need to make it almost entirely out of car parts at a factory Tom owns."
"Do we have any airplanes we can cannibalize," I wondered aloud.
"Three," Daniel said.
"Okay. Chris, Gabe what have you been doing?"
"I've been helping Daniel," Gabe said.
"And I've mostly been talking to the government," Chris added.
"So the government knows about this? Do they know everything?"
"Everything we know," Chris answered. "But nobody has gone public with it, yet."
"Interesting. And can we count on the government's help."
Gabe chortled. Chris didn't seem to consider this a laughing matter. "The government is being incredibly obstructive. They are trying to stop Tom, saying he does not have the necessary permits for what he is doing, seemingly ignoring the fact that Dalton is trying to make a supervirus."
"I see. Tom thinks he can handle the drilling on his own. We are focusing on attacking Dalton's infrastructure. Once he perfects the formula, he will need to broadcast it from his lair. That will require some sort of wire to the surface. Probably more than one. We need to find that. Does anybody have any idea how to do that?"
"Could we pick it up on sonar," Chris asked.
"A wire would have a minuscule radar signature," Gabe said.
"No," I said. "Dalton didn't just stick a wire through the bedrock. He would have needed to drill. The wires are probably in tunnels at least a few inches across. That ought to be doable."
"What do you think about an EMP," Chris asked.
"Even ignoring the difficulty of procuring such a powerful device," I said, "even without considering the consequences of disabling all the transistors in the middle of Silicon Valley, I am doubtful that would be effective. The wires probably extend a tremendous distance from the Basement."
"Very well," Daniel said. "Gabriel and I will see if we can detect Dalton's communication array."
"Chris, Dalton is going to be using Medizi's protein synthesizers to create the virus. I want you make sure that every machine Dalton could use is broken in half. You are probably going to want to get in touch with someone at Medizi. Ask Tom to hook you up."
"What are you planning to do," Gabe asked.
"For now, let's see what I can do about this government obstruction."
"Hello, this is Allegra Complex."
"This is the President. Who are you, and why exactly am I talking to you?"
"I am an associate of Thomas Markovitz. I know why you are standing in his way."
"Tom is a dangerous MAD and is digging up his own illegal lab in Silicon Valley. My administration finds this suspicious. And, wait, are you the girl who was working for Dalton."
Well, technically, I suppose I was. But that was beside the point, and I wasn't entirely ready to talk about it. Least of all with President Walsh.
"Mr. President, you are facing a tough election. A very tough election. You realize that this will be a game-changer. And you know that the only way you make it through this crisis with even a chance at reelection is if Tom is lying, there is no underlying problem, and you put a quick stop to Tom's nefarious plan. So, no matter how unlikely it seems, that is the plan you are pursuing. Tell me I'm wrong."
The President sighed. "Are you about to tell me there is some other way I can win, and it involves doing what you want?"
"No, I am not. I am telling you that if you don't allow Tom to go about his business, I will tell all of your political rivals to look into you dealings with one Alexander Dalton. With a no-longer-secret adviser like him, who, let's be honest, has been pulling most of the strings behind you administration... well, I just hope your successor decides to pardon you." There I was. Blackmailing the President. The most powerful man in the world. Well, the person who most people thought was the most powerful man in the world.
"Miss Complex, I don't take kindly to that sort of threat."
Shit! He was calling my bluff. Shitshitshit! Where was Gabe. Mister Poker-face. "Mister President, I don't care how you take my threat as long as you stop aiding Alexander Dalton is his quest to annihilate millions of people."
Walsh seemed sounded surprised. "Millions? How many MADs are there?"
"About fifty thousand, worldwide. But this virus will not be that discerning. There will be many, many collateral deaths. I would guess eight million. Which, yes, would make this worse than London. So, Mr. President. Should I go tell the media about this?"
"It will come out eventually, and we both know it. I'll make the announcement. And yes, Tom is now leading the official government effort. But, Allegra, if Tom really is up to something... I will have you sent to a hole in the ground that makes Guantanamo Bay look like a tropical resort." He hung up.
Well, that went better than expected.
I watched the President come up to his podium. He didn't look confident. He looked tired. He looked defeated. He looked like someone you wouldn't want to vote for.
President Walsh cleared his throat. "It is my duty to report to the American people that a terrorist named Alexander Dalton is threatening our world. Dalton is a man of great mental gifts, but is also deeply troubled."
Well, that was a nice euphemism for it!
"In the past, I counted Alex as a friend. But over the years, I have watched his condition worsen, and have tried to get him the help he needed. Dalton has rejected my offers of assistance. Most recently, he has barricaded himself beneath the Xcom building in San Ramono, California. It seems that Thomas Markovitz, owner and CEO of Xcom, has been his unwitting collaborator. They have been working together on several projects, many of which were illegal, for a period of at least six years."
Throwing Tom under the bus?
"Dalton's goal is simple: the murder of several million people, at the hands of a virus designed to target MADs, as well as innocent civilians who happen to have the wrong DNA."
Not quite right on the science, but what do you expect?
"Rest assured that the United States Government is doing everything possible to stop this dangerous madman. I will not be taking any questions. God Bless America."
Still better than expected.