The Supreme Helper of Information Teaching, Dornan Hepler stood in front of the gathered workers. “At 7:30 this morning, long range galactic scanner 840 came back with these images.” He pressed a button on the control in his hands and the LCD behind him flickered to life.
“This newer strain of the H-virus has now adapted the material of this world into transferring its life-code and protein strands across vast distances of galactic space. It has now infected the two closest planets, a distant moon, and is attempting to stoke the nearest star into speeding up its own life cycle, threatening to create a system able to support more of the virus. This is a rapid change from the last scan of the sector and represents a huge difference in the current modeling techniques used by this office.” He paused and looked around the room. “We now need all of your help in how to not only reverse this process, but also how to inoculate other class B worlds which might create and sustain other strains of the H-virus.”
Jules shuffled in his seat, knowing that his presentation would be coming up next.
“Jules Grant, senior virus advisor, will brief you all on the nature of this specific strain. Jules?”
He got up and walked to the podium, slightly slouching under the weight of the eyes that were focused on him. He saw Angie in the front row, her stockinged legs crossed tightly.
He cleared his throat. “This is a nasty bug. You have to understand that.” He clicked his control and an image appeared behind him of a desert planet. “This is Mercon 6, a class B planet in the Harpoid sector, 8 cycles after an H-virus outbreak. A particularly nasty mutant group of cells infested the geothermic patterns of the planet and used it to break most of the organic matter into silicone, carbon, and methane in roughly 200 orbits around its nearest star.” He looked out at the group. Guy, guy, guy, ugly chick, guy, guy, hot chick with a weird lazy eye, guy, guy, Angie Harmon – the most beautiful corporate PR rep he’d ever see or ever will see, guy, guy, ugly chick, guy, guy. “It is in the nature of the virus to use up the organic matter on a planet in a rapid fashion. It eats through the core, sends receptors in the sky, and eventually, after reaching a point of critical mass, pass its genetic code to nearby planets, moons, and eventually – if our models are correct – into the entirety of space.”
“We have every reason to believe that this is the same type of virus currently spreading in sector 9 and capable of reaching that level of transmission in 2 cycles or less.”
“What about the current research suggesting that this virus is a thinking virus, capable of long term adaptation and mutation?” Angie looked up at him as she asked.
Angie, beautiful Angie. Jules locked the image of her in his mind for a later private viewing. “Well, the research is still out on this, but I think that it is not in the realm of science fiction. While the different H strains have adhered to similar patterns of development and evolution, their paths are as different as the planets where they are grown. So, I agree with the current findings. These are not like the cellular viruses that are acting only on protein stimulation. These might very well be sentient viruses.”
A soft murmur fell on the group as Jules smiled at Angie, silently thanking her for the alley-oop. She returned his smile with no reaction at all as she went back to jotting down notes on her opened pad. Dornan rose and walked to the podium.
“So, knowing what we know, how do we stop it?” His eyes looked from Jules out to the group. “Get to work, people.”