The following takes place before the events of Biowars #1
Now that was a party. As he walked back to his dorm along the illuminated streets of midnight Manhattan, a low hissing sound caught his attention from a nearby alleyway. Just buzzed enough not to worry about wandering down a dark alley at night, Alex strolled into the narrow corridor to find the sound’s source. Behind a rusty dumpster he found a mangy, melancholy Siamese cat. Alex took pity on the cat and reached out a hand to comfort the feral feline. Before he even came close to petting it, the cat swatted Alex away with its filthy claws before sprinting away. Alex thought nothing of his minor wound, and continued on his way home. Little did he know that a simple scratch in the outside world could lead to a war inside his body.
Meanwhile, within Alex’s Biocosmos:
Another day, another invasion. It had been years since the last time I could even remember a day of peace, let alone enjoy one. For a BioWarrior like me, existence revolves around a never-ending cycle of violent conflict, punctuated by the deaths of my comrades.
That day started out the same as the rest, with the unwelcome arrival of a Messenger Cell. It was Nero this time. His eagerness to fighthad always gotten on my nerves; he could understand the glory of war but not the horror. The enemy of the day, a run-of-the-mill protozoan, had entered near the Ulnar Base 2. The Macrophages and Fibroblasts were already on their way, with us B-Cells delayed by Nero’s pestering requests to join us in battle.
By the time my squad and I made it to the incursion site, the Macrophages had things pretty well under control. I still played my part, taking out a straggling parasite here and there, but a battle against an enemy as unremarkable as toxoplasmosis is over before it begins. Almost as soon as I arrived the battle was over, with our Commander heaping empty commendations upon us and preached about the importance of protecting the Biocosmos. Just as I was leaving with my squad, I could have sworn I saw movement near the edge of the battlefield. At first I thought it was just a trick of the light, but after a second glance I was sure. A particularly nasty looking microbe was getting away, and no one else seemed to notice the guy.
I told my pals to take a look, but he was already gone by the time they turned around. They told me that there’s no way anything survived our defense, and that I was just seeing things. Besides, if any pathogen was left, we’d be able to detect it, right?
I wasn’t so sure about that. There had been isolated reports lately of microbes not showing up on scans. Most BioWarriors thought they were just urban legends or ghost stories to tell the greenhorns. But what if the stories were true?
It’d only been minutes and the thought was already becoming an obsession. I needed to know if what I saw was real or not. I scrutinized the combat zone for anyone who might be able to help me learn the truth. That was when the Messenger Cell Sensurian caught my eye. She was a heck of a lot more tolerable than that runt Nero, if you get my meaning, and she had the connections I needed to sort out fact from fiction.
Sensurian was the kind of dame that would talk your ear off if you gave her the chance, so I cut right to the chase. I didn’t have time to hear about how pretty the spinal ganglion was, I needed answers right then. I told her the whole story, which seemed a lot longer in my head than in words. She was skeptical from the start, but I knew she wouldn’t pass up an excuse to run around the Biocosmos again. She agreed to check in with the Council of the Mind to see if they could pick up on something we were missing.
As she took off I noticed all the cells in earshot were looking at me funny. No one was willing to believe that maybe we weren’t perfect, that we weren’t the best. It didn’t take long for Sensurian to get back with the big shocker that the Council barely even made a show of scanning for the microbe. Sensurian was blind to their hubris and took what they said at face value. But I was sure I knew what I saw, and I was going to prove I was right. I’d have to take care of this problem myself.
As the BioWarriors began to head back to their bases, I hung back until the coast was clear. The last thing I needed was to be labeled as some conspiracy theory nutjob. I headed over to where I’d seen the rogue pathogen to see if it left some sort of tracks or a clue of some sort. I didn’t find anything for what felt like days, but suddenly there it was. In the direction the microbe took off there was a pilus stuck in some tissue. It wasn’t a lot to go on, but it was too far from the battlefield to be a coincidence. Now that I had an actual piece of the sucker, I should be able to track him anywhere.
I logged the protozoan’s DNA into my scanners, and they picked up a faint trail leading north. I headed up the Basilic for a short ways but stopped short by Fort Median. It was right there and no one had noticed. Another broken-off pilus by one of the side walls. I strolled up for a closer look and saw a few dozen scratches on the wall. Why had no one else noticed this? And was this microbe up to? Trying to take out a BioWarrior base singlehanded? None of this added up, but I had to keep moving. It was up to me to stop this joker before he did some real damage.
I went back into the bloodstream and got back on the track after my slippery new friend. As I continued hell-bent on my mission, I passed Fort Radial and got out just long enough to see the same gashes in the tissue as before. These were fresher though, still leaking a bit of fluid. I was getting closer.
Hot on the heels of the culprit, I raced along the chemical tracks he left, and when I got to the Brachial Plexus there he was, scraping away at the tissue like it was going out of style. He made me as soon as I pulled up and bolted, and just when I was about to take off after him I noticed the body lying near the microbe’s handiwork. The poor guy must have just been at the wrong place the wrong time. I was about to find out that I was as well.
Sensurian showed up right after the protozoan left, and there I was standing over a dead BioWarrior with a couple of pili on me. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly look like I was on the up-and-up. And then she told me what had been going on since the battle with the toxoplasmosis invaders. It turned out that I’d been on this guy’s trail for days, not hours. She said that not only was I considered AWOL, but they all thought I’d lost it. The BioWarriors had the idea that I was seeing things and was staging these attacks to make them believe what I had been saying about the runaway microbe. The fort attacks were being pinned on me, and now this murder would be too. I tried to tell her the truth, but she looked at me like I was necrotic. I knew I only had one way out of this, and that was to clear my name.
I feigned surrender and told Sensurian I’d go quietly. She was too trusting to suspect a double-cross, so when I got close enough I blindsided her and made my escape. It didn’t feel great to sucker-punch a dame like that, but I had no choice.I had to stop this pathogen before it was too late. But what was his game? Why Median and Radial? And how was he still not showing up on scans after this long? That’s when it hit me. He wasn’t just scratching around like an animal, he was severing the connections between the forts, theCouncil, the whole blasted Biocosmos. I still had his pili, so I checked my own scanners again to see he was heading for the Thalamic Chamber. This bug had big ambition, thinking he could carry out an attack on the Council all by himself, but so far he was pulling it off.
The creep had a running start, but I knew my way around the Biocosmos. I took a shortcut through a pathway that’s reserved for Messenger Cells only. Luckily I didn’t run into any; this was probably the last place any of them would be looking for me. When I finally got to the Thalamic Chamber, the door was already busted open.I sprinted for the entrance and when I entered the chamber there he was, about to make his move on one of the Council members. Before I had time to think, I’d already taken the shot. The sound echoed throughout the chamber and that piece of scum dropped like a rock. The Councilman turned around to see the lysed protozoan on the ground and that I was the one that put him there.
They may lose a little face, but they’ll have to clear me now, right?