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by Gary Inbinder

“Who could have predicted the Nanobot Terror? We dedicated our foundation and research institute to humanity’s service: the saving of lives through nanotechnology. The Nanobot was the greatest surgical breakthrough since organ transplants.

“Imagine, Ms. Brown; terminally ill cancer patients with inoperable tumors cured in one course of treatment. Men and women dying of heart disease, with arterial blockages too advanced for angioplasty or bypass surgery, restored to youthful health and vigor. The use of such lifesaving technology as a weapon of mass destruction seemed unthinkable. We never anticipated this.”

Doctor Agrippa covered her ashen, wrinkled face with trembling hands, and wept. Bridget Brown’s patience was wearing thin.

“Pull yourself together, Doctor. We in SCATU (Special Counterintelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit) understood the weapons potential of nanotechnology years ago; billions of microscopic molecular buzz saws slicing and dicing the enemy’s innards. We tried to gain control of your research, but the lobbyists and politicians blocked us. They said the technology was safer in civilian hands.

“They were wrong; the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, and our new administration has given us the job of capturing him, and ensuring he works for us, and not our enemies.

“Some years ago, your assistant, Philip Aureole, became involved with an environmentalist organization, Gaia’s Ardent Lovers, or GAL. Feminists dedicated to preserving the environment founded GAL. Unfortunately, an international criminal gang involved in terrorism, extortion, drug smuggling, and contract murder took control of the organization.

“Aureole was unaware of the change in leadership and believed that GAL would still use nanotechnology to benefit the poor and oppressed, while preserving the environment. What the gang behind GAL really wants now is a bio-weapon of mass destruction.”

Cornelia Agrippa’s frail body, wizened features and cloudy-blue eyes exuded despair; a man she loved as a son was caught in a terrorist web. Dr. Agrippa dried her eyes with a tissue, and firmly replied, “Ms. Brown, I will do whatever I can to help you find Philip Aureole. GAL must be stopped.”

* * *

Dr. Agrippa’s information proved useful. Following her meeting with Agrippa, Bridget Brown, the top SCATU covert agent code named “Wonder Woman,” located Aureole at a cabin about two miles from the Capital City reservoir. After infiltrating GAL, Bridget met Aureole at the cabin, posing as his GAL contact.

Bridget studied herself in the bathroom mirror, while combing her long, straight jet-black hair. She smiled, trusting in her physical charms, superior intellect, martial arts skills, and cold-blooded ruthlessness as means to accomplishing her mission. She had gained Aureole’s confidence, accurately assessing the young scientist’s character; he was an idealist, not a mass murderer.

GAL’s billion-dollar extortion plot appalled Aureole. Non-compliance with GAL’s demands would result in the release of Nanobots into the Capital City’s water supply: estimated death toll, approximately five million men, women, and children.

Bridget turned off the light, exited the bathroom and walked through the bedroom into the main room of the cabin.

Philip sat at a small wooden table, his back to Bridget, chain-smoking, and taking swigs from a pint of cheap bourbon. He flinched at the thumping of her high-heeled leather boots on the cabin floor, and turned to look at her.

The cabin was quiet; the only sounds were the chirping of crickets in the surrounding tall grass, the hooting of an owl in a nearby tree, and the occasional rattling of the windows in the early fall evening wind.

Philip looked like Bambi in headlights as he stared at Bridget with large, dark eyes, his gaunt, pale face twitching with nervous excitement.

She approached him confidently, smiling and gently placing her right hand on his trembling shoulder. Taking a nearby chair, she sat close to him, brushing up against his quivering leg with her thigh.

Philip took a last drag of cigarette, stubbing it out in an ashtray. Gazing furtively into Bridget’s bright, green eyes, he marveled at her serene beauty and composure. “B... Bridget,” he stammered, “I... I refuse to go forward with this plot. Think of the millions who’ll suffer and die, if they don’t comply with GAL’s demands.”

Bridget took his hand into hers; smiling beatifically, she whispered, “Don’t worry, Phil; I’m on your side. I, too, have become disillusioned with GAL; a bunch of thugs has usurped the leadership. We’ll find a way out of this, together.”

Philip stuttered a response, “Yes... yes, of course.”

Bridget leaned forward; after kissing him gently, she lured Philip into the bedroom. She was very sensitive, consoling him following his less than adequate performance. “It was a beautiful experience, Phil.”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, “I’m so nervous. I’m ashamed.”

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she whispered. “You have the weight of the world on your shoulders.” While she sat on the edge of the bed, pulling up her jeans, Bridget thought, Let’s do it, girl. Half-dressed, she turned toward him, reached over and stroked his hair. “I won’t let GAL murder millions of innocent people. I’m going to stop them, and I need your help.”

Aureole’s wan faced flushed as he glimpsed Bridget’s bare breasts, glistening with sweat in the dim yellow light of a bedside lamp. Philip pulled himself up, onto his elbows. He asked, “What do you want me to do?”

“How do you activate the Nanobots?”

Philip stared wildly; he seemed confused and helpless. Choking with emotion, he mumbled, “The Nanobots... they’re going to be released into the water supply. Everyone using the reservoir water during the next twenty-four hours will have them in their system. I trigger them with my cell phone.” Philip gave Bridget a ten-digit number.

Bridget smiled; holding him securely in her arms, she swiftly injected a powerful drug into his jugular vein. Philip gasped, shuddered, and then passed out.

Gently laying him back onto the bed, Bridget smoothed his hair and kissed his forehead. “You’re kind of cute, Phil; don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”

* * *

Back at headquarters, Admiral Nelson, chief of SCATU, reclined in his large leather armchair, smiled contentedly, and lit a twenty-dollar cigar. Naval memorabilia, paintings of battle scenes, and photos of Nelson receiving various honors and decorations covered the mahogany paneled walls. Wonder Woman sat on the other side of the Admiral’s highly polished burled walnut desk; she beamed with satisfaction following a job well done.

The Admiral declared, “Commander Brown, I believe a little celebration is in order. You know where I keep the thirty-year old scotch.”

“Yes, sir.” Bridget got up from her chair, walked to a small walnut veneer cabinet and retrieved a bottle of single malt scotch and two glasses. After placing the bottle of scotch and the glasses on a silver tray, she returned to the Admiral’s desk and poured doubles.

They stood, raising their glasses in a toast. “To Project Thanatos, and the end of the Nanobot Terror,” said the Admiral. Bridget responded in kind, and then took a hearty swig of scotch.

Returning to his armchair, the Admiral remarked, “Now that we are in sole possession of the world’s deadliest bio-weapon, there will be zero tolerance for leaks; I want this operation sealed tighter than a whiskey keg’s bunghole. Commander, you’re my point person on this.”

“Admiral, I have a list of everyone who’s in the loop, including his or her position, function, and level of clearance. There’s been a complete security lock-down at the Institute. All Institute personnel, from Dr. Agrippa down to the maintenance and cleaning crew will be under surveillance 24/7. The press, public, and politicians are completely in the dark. Only the President and designated administration personnel are briefed on Project Thanatos.

“We’ve assigned our best counterintelligence operatives to this project. Further, we have our psych experts working on an interrogation program for Aureole. Officially, he died yesterday, in an auto accident; we’ll keep him happy and cooperative.”

Nelson eyed Bridget, observing, with a wry smirk, “I’m sure you’ll enjoy that assignment.”

Bridget responded with a grin, like a playful cat contemplating fun and games with a helpless mouse.

At that moment, there was a loud knock on the door. Nelson barked, “Come in.”

A nervous Lieutenant entered the room, came to attention, and saluted. Without waiting for the Admiral to speak, he blurted, “We have an emergency, sir; highest priority.” The Lieutenant handed a Top Secret package to Nelson.

Irritated by the interruption, the Admiral ripped the seal, emptying the contents onto his desk. The package contained a note, and a DVD from GAL.

After viewing the DVD, Nelson glared at Bridget, muttering, “What’s up, Wonder Woman? Is there something you didn’t tell me?”

Bridget smiled confidently, a naughty sparkle in her emerald eyes. “Sorry to keep you in the dark, sir. Everything’s going as planned. After our operatives picked up Aureole, I returned to GAL headquarters. I told them I had to torture Phil to get him to reveal the Nanobot secrets; unfortunately, he died as a result, and I disposed of his body. I then gave GAL’s leader, comrade Athena, the phone number that triggers the Nanobots.”

Perplexed and still glaring at Bridget, Nelson growled, “I don’t get it. Come to the point.”

“The point is, Admiral, I didn’t release the Nanobots into the reservoir. Instead, I dumped them all into the GAL headquarters water supply.”

A warm, toothy grin spread across Nelson’s flinty face, “You mean, when the government rejects their demands, and they trigger the Nanobots...?”

“That’s right, sir. Billions of nasty little molecular machines will start grinding away at the GAL network’s internal organs.”

“Commander, now I know why we call you Wonder Woman.” Reaching for the bottle of scotch, and the glasses, the Admiral added, “Triples, this time: neat or with water?”

Smiling slyly, Bridget answered, “Thank you, sir; I’ve a temporary aversion to water, so I’ll take mine neat. Cheers!”

Copyright © 2007 by Gary Inbinder

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