Arcturus Syndrome Ch. 11-2


“We have contact tracing on them now. They may or may not be named Jeff and Jill. Probably not. Some funeral home employees are on their way to our isolation facilities now. We should scoop the runners up within the hour.”

“How about other stops along the road? Food? Gas stations, etc.?” McKinnon asked.

“We can’t guarantee that we can identify every possible interaction or secondary interactions, but we will be doing spot checking over the next 48 hours.”

Ana Gonzales of the CDC chimed in: “Thanks to your research, Dr. McKinnon, we have a skin test. Infected persons have signature salt traces on their skin that are easy to detect. We believe we now have 100% containment in eastern Pennsylvania due to this.”

“How quickly does that salt manifest?”

“That we don’t know. We do know that there is a benign form of secondary infection. Essentially, a partial dose that leaves some protein complexes acting in a person but which does not have a complete enough set of proteins to generate the macromolecule. Our expectation is that in the usual way of all proteins, these levels will subside fairly rapidly. The macromolecule is key to sustaining protein replication, and hopefully your scientists will understand that in time. We have forty seven people in the isolation facility now, and are tracking protein levels on an hourly basis.”

“Great news, Dr Gonzales.” Glenn reclaimed control of the meeting. “With similar tracing through south-central PA, we should finalize containment by the end of today or tomorrow, and then put the next phase of the plan into effect.”

“Which is?” McKinnon asked.

“We are still weighing options. The President’s address should buy us the time we need to make the right decision.”

“Who will be making that decision, Glenn?”

“The president, ultimately.”

“Glenn: the Wildfire mandate is that the scientists on the Wildfire research team will make the decision.”

He shrugged. “It’s an archaic program, as you yourself know, Emily. The reality is, any substantive or dramatic action needs to be at the decision of the president.”

“And who will be telling the president what he should do?”

Glenn held his gaze and his thin lipped smile steady. “We will, Emily. The people on this call.”

“And what are we going to decide, Glenn?”

His smile hardened further. “We will make the hard decision that your own team’s mandate acknowledges, and do whatever it takes to eradicate the Arcturus Syndrome before it eradicates us.”

“And what of the children, Glenn?”

“Although asymptomatic, we have to assume that all living persons in Philipsburg are vectors of transmission.”

McKinnon nodded. “Thank you for being clear about your intentions, Glenn. What we need now is time. Neither of the options that have previously been mentioned, nukes and napalm, are actually clearly the right way of accomplishing that objective. In either case, they could have the effect of spreading the infection due to the chaotic nature of uncontrolled exothermic reactions. I think we can have scientifically justifiable options clear by this time tomorrow. I will make sure that this is the primary focus of our next sequence of research.”

HomeSec acknowledged. “General, do you think you can keep any more escapes to a minimum?”

“Fuck you, Glenn.”

Glenn laughed. “Hey, it happens. These two are slippery fish, for sure. Will be interested to find out who they really are.”

“Oh, one other thing,” McKinnon offered. “Glenn, I think you should join us here at the command center. It would be good for the scientists working on making this difficult decision to meet the person who will be taking this to the president. I think your charisma would be beneficial to morale at this time.”

He gave her a sharp look. He was no fool. “Interesting. Well, I had intended to visit this evening in any case, so perhaps that will all work out well.”

* * *

After the call, McKinnon put a direct call through to General Buckley.

He took the call, but with his usual dismissive air of barely-contained tolerance.

She cut to the chase: “Will you be joining us here in HQ with HomeSec this evening?”

“I hadn’t planned on it.”

“Well, I guess it will be Glenn’s show then.”

“How do you mean?”

“Whatever he has planned. I didn’t figure he would make a personal appearance without some specific plan. I’m sure he’ll loop you in when the time is right.”

Buckley looked thoughtful, as McKinnon ended the call.

Ana Gonzales required a different approach: “It’s been great to be working so closely, Ana. It looks like the full committee will be on site this evening. I suspect this is when any decisions will be made, and I am hoping you might add a voice of reason to the situation.”

“If you are hoping I will argue against what we seem to be calling ‘dramatic action’ – I can’t do it, Emily. An alien infection with completely unknown chemistry? Look how long it took us to get on top of covid, and we already knew what that was. We had it sequenced in the first hour. What could this thing do to our world while we try to innovate completely new biological tools to address it?”

“I understand, I’m not asking for your vote, I just think you should be a full participant in the process. You know how it is when only one person in the room is on zoom.”

* * *

If she was going to do her job right, the next three hours would involve checking in with Gebre, Andrea, each of the Wildfire team scientists, and all her remote teams, which were converging on Pennsylvania. Dr. Emily McKinnon had gotten where she was with meticulous organization, detailed planning, and ensuring that for any given room, she was the most well-informed person in it..

The problem is, she thought, that’s what got me where I am. It has not gotten me where I want to be.

She had to fast-track this thing, because she was racing a clock, and she didn’t know how much of a lead the clock had.

She was a little fuzzy on military distinctions, but there were a couple of men of generally low rank detailed as security for the area of the complex that currently housed only herself. Presumably once the other committee members arrived, this would be a different story… with more guards.

Still, they seemed like alert, fit, and attentive young men. She sent the shorter of the two on an errand that would keep him confused and busy for a while.

She asked the remaining soldier’s name.

“Jack, Ma’am. Jack Verret, Senior Airman, Ma’am.”

“What are your orders, Jack?”

“General security, check badges, prepared for emergency response. This is Zone Three; I rotate duty with eleven others across Zone’s two and three for 24/7 security.”

“And since your friend just ran an errand for me, I gather you are generally supposed to follow my instructions.”

“If it doesn’t compromise security.”

McKinnon had interviewed Katherine, Imani, Vicki, and Tanya. Synthesizing conclusions across their individually partial stories, McKinnon felt for the heat. She looked Jack in the eyes, but brought equal attention to her own body. She imagined radiating that heat out of herself, in the way that the women of Philipsburg had described.

“Listen, Jack, things are going to get lively from here on out. I’m sure you are aware of some of the context. You’ve seen the lookie-loos out beyond the perimeter, journalists and protestors and such. President’s going to be speaking to it soon.”

“So I understand, Ma’am.” He shifted his weight a little. McKinnon thought his bulge might be expanding.

“I need someone that I can count on, someone that I have a personal relationship with, if things get dicey.”

“I report to Chief Master Sergeant Bellaro, Ma’am.”

“I presume part of your standing orders are to protect me?”

“Yes Ma’am, along with all members of Zones Two and Three.”

“Then you will be following orders.”

“Ah, yes Ma’am.”

McKinnon felt a pang of thirst. Hoping it meant what she thought it should mean, she took a long swig from her bottle of intensely fortified electrolytes. Interestingly, she also felt her bra cutting into her flesh in an unfamiliar way. And the heat… she had an urge to unbutton her blouse.

“Come to my room for a moment, Jack. I want your opinion on … security.”

Jack looked around with an expression of uncertainty, even confusion.

Holding his gaze, she put more command into her voice. “Security, Jack.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

He had a slightly dazed look on his face, but he followed her. Her room was a small space, a hastily converted office. There were no windows.

“How do I know there are no hidden cameras in here, Jack?”


“Do you boys have cameras on us at all times?”

“Uh, no Ma’am.”

“Security-wise, I would expect you to.”


“But then I imagine you watching me… as I prepare for bed… in the night.”

She held his gaze. His bulge was no longer an indistinct weight, but now showed shape and dimension.

“Would you do that, Jack?”

“Uh, no Ma’am?”

She stepped close to him, feeling the heat intensify as she did so. She put a hand on his shoulder.

“And if I wanted you to, Jack?”


“For security?”


He seemed to want to turn his gaze aside; but she held it. She stepped closer, pushing that heat at him. Another wave of thirst passed through her, and at the same time he licked his lips, unconsciously.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, backing off. “Have some of this electrolyte stuff they are giving us.”

She took a long draft herself, as she mixed him a plastic cup full.

It fizzed as she stirred the powder in; he drank it swiftly.

“I should get back to my station, Ma’am.”

“Your station is with me, now, Jack.”


“I need you.”



The airman blinked, trying to clear his head.

A rising confidence spread through her, the heat, the thirst, a tingling in her skin, and aliveness all through her body. She resonated more strongly with the stories the young women had related.

She gently pushed Jack down so that he was sitting on the side of her bed.

“You’re going to follow my instructions, now Jack. You’re good at following instructions, aren’t you.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he mumbled, his gaze fixed on her chest.

“Good. It’s pretty hot in here, isn’t it.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

She unbuttoned her blouse, letting it drape casually over her swollen breasts. The security guard’s eyes did not waver; his mouth hung open slightly.

She close and began unbuttoning his shirt.

“I need to be able to trust you, Jack.”

“Yss, mmm.”

And then the heat blossomed within her. It was as if peach and gold and rose colors flashed through her body. She felt her pussy dripping, her nipples aching. Her hand on the ropy muscles of his neck: an electricity coursed through them both. Jack opened his eyes wide.

The clothes came off, and in a moment, Dr. Emily McKinnon was riding the soldier’s hard cock. The metal cot groaned and creaked beneath them.

Jack groaned almost as loudly as the bed as McKinnon swirled her hips around, stirring herself with his throbbing, pulsing cock; grinding her clit against his pelvis; rocking herself hard against him.

There was something eager in her. She would have said she preferred slow, sensual love-making; taking her time to tease and build pleasure and excitement slowly. But this was a different quality of excitement entirely. This was hunger, thirst, raw, primal desire. It was victory, command, control, power. She felt it crackling through her as she thrust her hips and pressed her full breasts to Jack’s lips.

She could feel into his body, she knew right where his climax was, and when it started to rise she stopped. She pressed a hand to his chest, holding him down, holding him in stillness, looking into his eyes until the moment passed. And then she gradually built her rhythm again.

At some point she began having quivering orgasmic peaks, coinciding with his expanding pleasure, and she fell into a pattern, having her climax, coming to stillness, quieting him, and then building another.

But his base level of excitement was higher each time and she could tell when there was no calm to be found.

She lifted herself off him, hearing his cock slap wetly against his belly.

“You are mine now, Jack. Follow all your orders as you should, but you are mine. Don’t jack off, Jack,” she said. “Let this arousal linger. Feel that ache in your balls, and remember why. Work on the others in your group. Let them know, Dr. McKinnon is boss here. You’ll help me with the others when the time is right. Now: drink up. As much as you can.”

She put her clothes back on. Her phone was a string of priority messages.

* * *

“Glad you could join us, Dr. McKinnon.”

General Buckley was a small profile in a small box; the screen was a video feed, the green rolling hills of West Virginia sprawling below.

“Just in time for the show.”

The CDC didn’t have a representative on, but Glen was there, grey and grim faced as ever. There were a couple of other military men on the call.

“What are we looking at?” she asked curtly.

“Bringing in the runners, and if we’re quick about it, we’ll have it done before the President goes live.”

The silver Jetta was taking the curves at a slow, cautious pace as the helicopter zipped forward, spun and lowered to the road. The camera showed soldiers in black tactical gear hop out and lift rifles.

The Jetta came to a stop.

“Get me audio,” Buckley barked at someone.

Abruptly the audio feed came on.

“Go, go, go!”

Another camera angle, a body camera, showed the approach to the car. Glare from the sky made visibility into the car sketchy, but the driver’s side window was down.

“Out of the car! Now! Hands up.”

Rifles angled in.

A portly fellow, half bald, leathery from sun wearing overalls got out of the car. He had a confused but generally friendly expression. There did not seem to be a second person in the car.

He kept his hands up.

“What’s going on boys? Served myself, you know. First Iraq war. Infantry.”

“Fuck,” Buckley said. “It’s not them. Where’d he get the car?”

“Where did you get this car?” the body-cam wearer said.

“Yeah, thought it was too good to be true. I thought I was buying it fair and square. Titles and everything. Even checked his id. Nice couple, they seemed. Had always wanted a Dodge just like mine. Thought I was trading up.”

“Fuck,” Buckley said again. Glen from HomeSec was leaning back, the biggest grin on his face McKinnon had ever seen.

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