Kim asks Tressler to go undercover in the Silicon Valley to investigate the improper use of nanoparticles as biological weapons. Kim believes someone is leaking top-secret information to a terrorist organization. Tressler's mission takes him to Boston, Mexico, Great Britain, and Iran, where he faces terrorists involved in the nanoparticle technologies.
Tressler must rely on all of his unique skills and abilities-including a high-tech internal computer and an indestructible skin covering-to rescue five American students held in an Iranian jail and thwart Iran's attempts to build a nuclear arsenal.
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The Follower IIIOur Indestructible Hero Continues His Fight for Our Country around the World
By John Durbin Husher
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 John Durbin Husher
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Follower and the Terrorists in Silicon Valley
Dr. Kim, chief scientist for the United States Science Agency (USSA), contacted Axel Tressler, alias, The Follower, over the course of several months about some weird findings the agency had uncovered concerning two dead bodies, one found on the East Coast and the other on the West Coast. In both cases, the pathologists had no explanation for the bodies' condition. Their internal organs had been torn up, as if piranha fish had been inside their bodies. Blood vessels were shredded, especially in the lungs and the major vessels leading from the heart. "The medical people," Kim told Axel, "have been mystified."
A couple of months passed before Kim called Axel again. Kim was normally quite calm and detached, but in this case he couldn't contain himself. Axel had never heard him sound so dramatic or excited.
"Axel, we've found another dead body in South San Francisco in the same conditions as the other two I told you about. These cases have been lifted to the highest levels of the top people in the government and the medical community. They even have the DEA involved. Last night the head of DEA called me and asked if our agency could help them. We, through you, have been quite successful in the past in resolving issues for them. So I talked to my superiors here about having you take a position at a west coast company that has been working on nanoparticles. There are two companies, one on each coast, that have nanoparticle programs that have been partially financed through our agency. Because of that, we send technical people to these companies with no problems. We believe these deaths might be connected to these companies. Our scientists have theorized that the damage to the bodies could have been caused by improper use of nanoparticles. With your advanced degree in biology, you have the proper background for this kind of work. You are the perfect person for figuring out if there is something strange going on at this company. Besides your obvious technical background, we might be able to use your physical strength and your unique properties if you find any terrorist activities. What do you think?"
Axel thought for a few seconds and then said, "This sounds quite interesting, but what makes you think they would allow me to go to work for them? They are working on proprietary material."
"It should be no problem. We're putting money into the company, and we'll just tell them we have worked with you before and believe you would bring a lot of talent to the company," said Kim. "We will also tell the CEO, in strict confidence, about the ravaged bodies and that we suspect terrorist activity. Your prime responsibility will be to find out if there are any leaks of the work being done by these companies to terrorists out of the company."
"Don't you think they would want to know where I worked before, and the kind of experience I had that would relate to their work? Why would they want to let a stranger in on their proprietary work?"
"We can get around that," said Kim. "First of all, we would tell them that we'll pay your salary, so they don't have any arguments about costs. Then we can provide them, in confidence, some of the data about your past experiences working with us. We wouldn't tell them about your special physical powers and your special communication skills, but would only rely on your strong capabilities in the field of biology. After that, the load will be on your back. If you go there and provide some help within a short time, they will be excited about you and the rest will be no problem. We believe you are sharp enough that once you see what they have been doing, you will be able to contribute to the operation. Meanwhile, you will be close to the culprit, if there is one there. You have a way of ferreting out problems. This should be right up your alley. Besides, it gives you a fantastic opportunity that very few people get. You get to learn a new technology. A new technology that is far in advance of what you are teaching at the university.
"Even better, you get to carry out an agency mission while staying close to your home. You will get to see Tori every day, unlike other times when you were away from your fiancée for long periods of time. We believe this has a lot of advantages for you and for the agency, and hopefully for the country."
"I have to admit, that all sounds enticing," Axel said. "I will talk to Tori tonight and see if she has any problems with it. I don't think she will, but you can never tell about women. They are pretty smart and very intuitive, and she might see some bumps in this that we don't. While we are at it, tell me what you think about the other company on the East Coast. That company could have the same problem. In fact, even though the deaths were on both coasts, they might have been done by only one company. They just completed the experiment in a different part of the country. What are you going to do about the other company?"
"The other company is in Boston. We thought we would wait to see what you recommend after being at the company in South San Francisco."
"That makes sense," agreed Axel. "What's the company's name?"
"It's fairly easy to remember," Kim said. "Its name is Aortica. I guess they named it after the aorta, since they felt they would be doing a lot with the nanoparticles that related to the aorta."
Axel told Kim that he felt the assignment suited him well. "What you have described is precisely the kind of experience a professional biologist would enjoy, because of the advanced field of work. I don't believe Tori will have any problems with my engaging in this venture, since I will be remaining home, or at least in proximity to home."
Axel told Kim to start processing what he thought he'd need to clear the way for him at Aortica. "I hope you don't have to make up too much of my resume, but if you do, you better let me take a look at it, so I know what I'm supposed to have done. I am confident that whatever you put in there will be something I know or have experienced. At least with my internal communication capability, I can keep in touch with the scientists at the agency. What I don't know, they will, and they can phone it to my internal computer,"
Kim agreed, and said he would be back in touch.
As Axel had suspected, Tori thought the new assignment was good exposure for him. "You can gain some unique experience from this venture," she said. "One of these days you might want to start a company of your own, and all of this experience is going to pay off. Besides, I can see you every night and you can bring me up to speed, and I won't be worrying so much." Axel laughed at that.
As the days passed, he got anxious that he hadn't heard from Kim. He had prepped his substitute to take over his classes at the university, telling him to start coming to his classes immediately, so he could see where each class was in its studies. He was now excited about this new adventure, and it took every bit of his cool not to call Kim and tell him how eager he was to start.
One afternoon, when Axel had just completed his course teaching for the day, he got a fax from Kim that came by way of his school computer. He read it over to himself.
Axel, I have sent you an expedited letter that has all the paperwork you will need for this new job. It should be at your house this evening. It's your resume, which I have conveniently brought up to date and already forwarded to the CEO of Aortica. You should read it over and make sure that you memorize its contents, since they are not exactly your experiences. I added experiences related to your role as The Follower, but described them in a way that makes it look like you got the experience from confidential forays with the agency at other companies; similar to what I expect to gain from this stay with Aortica. I talked to the CEO (Howard Foster) the day before yesterday and told him I was sending you. I assured him that it had nothing to do with any deficiency the agency has found in the company, and the agency will continue to sponsor Aortica. I told him you would arrive next Monday and he said he looked forward to it. He later called me and said that he had read your resume. He was quite impressed and felt you would add some additional technical talent to the company.
Also included in the mail is a complete description of Aortica, and the reports they have issued to us from their start to the present time. This should give you a good feel of what work the company has done to date and where they are going in the future. It also contains their costs, their assets, and their last two Profit and Loss financial reports. They have lost money to date, which we expected, but they should reach a break-even position in about another year. Anytime you feel you need additional information or input from the scientists at the agency, give us a call. Included with the material is a top secret clearance that you previously received from the agency and is considered to be active as of this date.
When he got home, Axel read the resume and was quite impressed with how Kim had worded everything. That makes me look good, he thought. The schooling and experiences were accurate, except where Kim had taken some liberties with his experience as The Follower. When Tori got home, he showed her the paperwork, and she thought it was very well done.
"Sounds like someone I should meet," she said with a big grin on her face. "It looks like the two guys I know, although I never see one of them around the house. He's always cavorting around the world." She laughed. She was describing Axel and his role as The Follower.
Axel was happy she found everything acceptable. He gave her a big hug and said, "Let's go out and celebrate my new job and then come home and really celebrate."
Tori immediately agreed.
Before going to his new position in the little company of Aortica, Axel knew he had to brush up on anything that related to nanoparticles. Nanoparticles were particles that were between one and ten nanometers in size in at least one dimension, but preferably in all dimensions. Axel believed the ideal size and shape would be a sphere that was one to ten nanometers in diameter. His studies through the Internet provided him with a significant amount of general information. The one key advantage proposed for these nanoparticles was that they were so small; they could go through blood vessel walls without harming the walls. The one big hope for the nanoparticles was to use them like missiles to carry medicine to selected spots in the body. The scientists working on these particles felt too much damage was done to the body when a person with cancer was treated with chemotherapy. Aside from the side effects, the fact that the chemo was nonselective meant it not only killed the cancer cells or tumors, but all the cells. The scientists believed that if they found a way to control the production of nanoparticles and the method of providing this material to selective areas, such as the cancer cells, the chemo would be much more effective in eliminating the cancer without causing side effects and collateral damage.
The key about a nanoparticle was that it had characteristics that were quite different from the material from which they came. Axel did not know why, but the nanoparticles had their own characteristics. One of the challenges was to bring a material down to this small size and to determine what its new characteristics were. They were so small; their physical size put a great strain on studying them. Everything had to be done using electron microscopes or other equipment. One of the researchers he found on the web talked about copper and gold, and how much their characteristics changed when they got to these small dimensions.
Maybe there was some way of using nanoparticles to carry nitric oxide to Tori's fingers, Axel thought. He knew the treatment Tori had used that had provided her some relief from her Raynoud's Syndrome was a salve that contained nitric oxide. Nitric oxide caused blood vessels to dilate, since they produced localized heat. Ninety percent of the time she wasn't bothered by the Raynoud's, but that other ten percent was dramatic. Maybe while working at Aortica, he would find a way to have the nanoparticles they produced to contain nitric oxide, which could be shot into Tori's fingers and relieve or entirely eliminate her problem. That would be a great by-product of his work with Aortica, finding a cure for Tori's fingers. Those thoughts gave Axel more incentive to go to work with Aortica. It wouldn't be long now.
Axel arrived at Aortica on Monday and met with Howard Foster. As they shook hands, Foster told him how much he had been looking forward to Axel's arrival.
"According to Kim at USSA," Foster said, "you have a background that is broad and could help here. Our work is very complex, and technical problems keep popping up. Keep in mind that the people I have here are biased toward one goal and biased on how to achieve it. We have been working a couple of years on this issue and have made great progress, but we have not reached our specified goal. Sometimes a team gets stale on an approach and loses its innovation. Innovation is something that all good scientists are looking for. It takes innovation to be creative in one's thoughts. Sometimes when people are working a long time on the solution to a problem, they run out of ideas and get frustrated from bouncing against a brick wall. They try to overcome this with old techniques, and they don't work. I need someone to look at the work we are doing and give us a fresh approach. How about just watching and listening for a couple of weeks to see where things stand, and then I will give you a shot at providing me with a review and recommendations? What do you think?"
"I appreciate your confidence in me," said Axel. "I will try to dig into the details and see where the problems lie. It's not always obvious, but there may be some critical step you're missing, or maybe some threshold level we must overcome. I will do the best I can. While I believe I will be of some help to you technically, I want you to keep in mind my main reason for being here. I know Dr. Kim has talked to you about one of the things I need to achieve."
"Yes," Foster said. "Kim told me about the odd deaths and his concern that someone is leaking our research to a terrorist organization. I know you are here to see if that's true, and I hope you find that we don't have that problem here."
Axel said, "It's important that you know what I'll be doing. It may sound counterproductive, but it might smoke out any terrorists in your operation. I would like to start dropping hints about how these nanoparticles could be used as a biological weapon. I believe I can do this in a subtle manner without alarming anyone, and hopefully I can connect with any individual who has aspirations in that direction. From what I know, all of your employees seem quite dedicated to the success of your program. But some people come from cultures that endorse violence, while others are looking for an opportunity to make money. You never know until you get close enough to them to gain their confidence and they begin to talk."
Foster agreed that it was hard to pull the bad apples out of the barrel at times, and he had no problem with Axel's approach.
Glad to have Foster's agreement, Axel asked the CEO to give him a summary of where the company was with its research.
Excerpted from The Follower III by John Durbin Husher Copyright © 2010 by John Durbin Husher. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
The Follower and the Terrorists in Silicon Valley....................3
Smashing the Terrorists at the "Bad" Silicon Valley Company....................29
Tori has a Medical Problem....................69
Boston and the Russian terrorists....................74
Tori Makes Major Contributions against Terrorists....................85
Axel Enters the Russian Den as Yaro....................99
Botox Enters the Picture as a Terrorist Weapon....................123
The Follower Smashes the Boston Terrorist Group....................133
Finding the Texas Supplier of Mexican Arms....................145
Locating the Ship Carrying the Guns into the Country....................169
The Follower Receives New Powerful Communication Capabilities....................179
Axel and Family at Camp David with the President....................199
The Follower Helps to Fight Britain's Terrorists....................214
The Follower Crushes Terrorist Plans for Bombs on Thames River....................245
The Follower Frees the US Students from Iranian Jail....................256
Axel Returns to the States and Teaching....................271
Axel and Iran's Nuclear Program....................280
The Follower is Hurt....................304
Kim to the Rescue....................309
Axel Returns Home from Iran to Tori....................319