A Phone Call About A Plague

Summary:
July 15, 2014: Angelo diLucci calls Hank McCoy about a subject of mutual interest.

On the Telephone

Avenue C Clinic / Xavier Mansion


Characters

NPCs

  • none

Mood Music:
Andromeda Strain


It's been a few days since he got the information, and an exchange of hesitant email, but Angelo has finally managed to make enough of a connection with one Hank McCoy to feel OK about phoning him, after the end of a particularly hectic workday.

He dials the number he was given by Jericho "Aspect" Trent. The man he's calling is more of an expert on mutation than Angelo, but the Avenue C Clinic is starting to make a name for itself, so he's hoping the guy won't just blow him off.

"Hello, this is Dr. Angelo diLucci, from the Avenue C Clinic in Manhattan, I'd like to speak with Dr. McCoy if he's available?"

~

Beast has sort of been expecting the call. He picks up the phone and offers a somewhat gruff, "Hello?" but upon the salutation, there is an "Ah! Dr. DiLucci. This is he. I'm glad you called. We seem to have a mutual friend who has brought a rather dire situation to my attention. Has he filled you in as well?"

~

"Actually, I filled him in on the majority of it. I did the analysis of the pure viral sample, before turning it over to the Ambassador from Themiscyra. They have some technology that may be able to generate antiviral for this stuff much faster than anything I have access to. But I haven't heard from them since," Angelo replies. He paces in his office.

"I'd appreciate any insights you have into this situation. The politics are frankly terrifying to me."

~

There's a pause, "Oh. They have? I've also been working on it, but I'm not a medical doctor. I've done a bit of studying, but I didn't go to medical or pharmaceutical school." Hank taps a claw on the desk in front of him, "I'm less concerned about the politics than the repercussions if this could actually be used. I want to find an antidote so that we're ready if they decide to push forward with this."

~

"I don't think it would be a good idea for us to leave this solely in the hands of one group. The problem comes in with the involvement of Hydra. The vial that I examined had a US Government part number on it. So I don't dare go to any government agency — I don't know who's safe to tell."

Angelo paces again, and mutters a quick refresher to the spell he cast earlier to protect him from eavesdropping.

"Do you have the facilities to synthesize vaccines?"

~

Beast looks around at his lab before answering, "No, it's probably not a good idea to go to an agency. Just…mutants are still a very hot topic. I think that since this was brought to us in confidence, it should remain so. However, I think that we should also be prepared if it becomes a larger issue. I think that we shouldn't keep it a secret when we create the antivirus…but only if they use the virus first."

Beast also adds, "I think I might be able to synthesize vaccines here."

~

Angelo hesitates a second, before speaking.

"Dr. McCoy, I am going to trust you with something. I am not a mutant, nor are my partners, though one of our employees is, and doesn't know it. The fact is, I have metahuman abilities by a different route, which I would prefer you not divulge to anyone who cannot be trusted to keep a secret."

He continues, without explaining the connection to his next statement.

"I'm certain that if the virus is released, we would lose more than 96% of the population of Mutant Town, within a day. I believe there's a more than even chance that it would also mutate to take out people who have partial copies of the X-Factor complex, as I mentioned in the analysis. That could kill as many as a quarter of the citizens of New York City within a week."

He pauses, and says, "I think it's imperative that we inoculate against this, but I'm afraid that short of rounding up every mutant in the city - something like fifteen to twenty thousand people, including latents - we are best served by protecting the several thousand here in Mutant Town. But even that's almost intractable. We may have to create a counter-viral."

~

"One of your employees is a mutant and doesn't know it?" Hank asks before he scrubs a hand across his face.

"We can go to the mutants in the city if need be. We have ways of reaching them."

After all, they do have Cerebro and Xavier. They can find who needs to be found.

"There are three different strains. Are we to inoculate against all three? Making enough for twenty-thousand is going to be difficult and will take time."

There's a pause there, "Maybe we can put it into the water supply?"

~

"I've seen samples of the toxin forms; they're all based on the same viral basis, just using poisons as backups. The fools don't even seem to care that any corpse left behind might be a biohazard, which is one of the reasons I am very worried."

Angelo pauses, and thinks a bit, then decides to explain.

"I have an ability that lets me tell when someone is a mutant, but only by sight, and usually only if it's causing them an illness. Our employee had a minor problem, which I was able to correct."

Now that's a leading statement, if ever there was one. Still.

"Water supply. That'd be good. It's a bit like the old supervillain stereotype though. The easiest, not to mention most robust, vector for the antiviral bio-agent would be a modified bacterium."

~

Interesting. Hank makes a note of that but doesn't press. Not now.

"It's old-fashioned, but it works. It's better than releasing some sort of airborne thing…and this way, it can be an inoculation…they could build up immunity, depending on how quickly we can get it working, and we don't have to track down tens of thousands of people."

~

"Actually, I was thinking of modifying lactobaccillus bulgaricus — that's one of the two biotics in yogurt — and giving it the ability to generate the specific antiviral. It would be very mildly contagious, but if it's placed in food, and in probiotic supplements, it would render this stuff useless within a few weeks. If we have that long," Angelo says.

"There's just, getting it into the right source stocks. It'd be best if it was dispersed planet-wide, because we don't want this being used as a military weapon, in the event that it really IS intended that way."

~

"Getting it into the food is going to be nigh impossible. Water supplies are totally different. We just have to get it in after the filtration process so that it's not filtered out. Everyone drinks water…everyone uses water in their cooking. I think that making enough for the city is a good start, and we can look beyond that later. But here…this is our immediate need." Hank moves over to one of his notebooks to jot a few things down as the conversation continues.

~

"You know," Angelo says, "We might not have that much of a problem with getting it into the food supply. We just need to replace the base stock used by the major suppliers of biotics, there are only three of those in the country."

He paces a moment, before saying, "I still think we'd be picked up as supervillains if we tried to do that water thing, but there's something else … I read about this in epidemiology studies. Back in the 1960s, the US air force used planes to disperse bacterial agents over parts of San Francisco, so they could determine how well their bio-weapons worked. They used serratia marcesens, which cultures easily and has a bright red-orange color in large quantities. They accidentally sickened a number of neighborhoods that way. If we could get a plane … or maybe I could carry… we'd need a large tank. Probably at least a ton…"

~

"I'm not going to break into a major food supplier and risk an epidemic of some sort of food poisoning when there are other options."

There's a heavy sigh as Hank scrubs his face again, "We have limited time and limited space. We haven't even come up with or tested any anti-virus. This is not going to get done in a day. There is no way I can make enough in what little time we may have, to full a tank of that size. You need to be realistic here. First, we need to make this. Then we worry about dispersal methods."

~

"True. But how we disperse will determine our best method. Still, your point is compelling. I can use my partners' equipment to generate an antiviral bacterial sample, and I can guarantee that what I create will not have longer-term problems. But I can't grow enough of the stuff here for more than a single dose."

Angelo looks up, as the monitor in his office shows that someone is walking near the (closed) clinic; he mutters the concealment spell again.

"I'll contact you within four days, with my results."

~

"I'll do some work on my own and we can compare notes in that time. I'll also think of how to get this to those who may need it. If it's needed. Let's hope it's destroyed before we do." There's a weariness in his voice then but Hank offers a somewhat pleasant, "It was good to finally talk to you, Dr. DiLucci."

~

"Likewise. I hope we can meet soon under less dire circumstances, Dr. McCoy," Angelo says. His mind is already halfway down the hall figuring out how to get a valid gene sequence for making the modified interferon…

The phone call terminates.


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