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"Oh, yes.. Now there's one answer even I
wish I had. I wonder what's happening
out there?" and Captain Stanley lifted his
HT to his mouth. "Station Eight, this
is Engine 51. Got an update for us? It's
almost daybreak. Your station still light
on a few hands..?"

Gil, Roy and Chet and Brice all waved  in
protest and frantic denial, anticipating
that Cap was actually going to have them
reassigned to outside disaster detail because
of the lifted quarantine. They all shook their
heads rapidly and made all sorts of negative
signs to silently block such a captain's action.

##This is Stone. Hank? We heard. The
quarantine's over.  Good going. Rooting for
ya. Yeah, we're light staffed but upstate
companies and crews are on their way to
relieve us, even the Pasadena FD's on their

"Oh,..uh....just checking to see how you
were. Captain Stanley out.."

##10-4, Engine 51.##

Captain Stanley parked the HT onto one knee
and levelled a look of "this better be good."
at his men.

Chet voiced their excuse perfectly.
"Didn't I hear a particular fire house
captain among us say that a firecrew
doesn't abandon one of their own?"

"Yep.." Roy and Mike said at the same time.

Cap just harrumphed and got up
to turn off his own oxygen tank sitting
by his feet. "Man, I'm hungry.. Did they
give us some chow here anywhere?"

Three arms pointed to a nondescript
crate by the water cooler.

"Oh, thanks.. Smelled the soup, Stoker
made Cindy earlier. Anything else to
go with it..?" Cap said, rubbing his

"Does it look like we had time to even
think about food? Some of us haven't
even slept yet.." Roy said without sting.

"Yeah, well. I was walking wounded there
DeSoto. And I'm a glowing testament to
your paramedic skills if I got my appetite back.
right. Now,..who'd like some soup and whatever
else I can scrounge up? Hmmm?" Cap asked.

Three sets of hands rose instantly..

"Fine.. I'm assigning myself chow detail
for the day since I'm not cleared to captain
anything yet. Just called me Cook if you
want anything sooner.." he joked.

And he moved off to get his men, and
everyone else able to eat and drink,
some hot meals.


Cindy was talking fast with Dr. MacPherson
and Dr. Taylor. She was actually getting on
their nerves with questions and nagging
for details about Marco's bug.
", your people have seen three cases
like his..That's interesting. Hhmm. What I mean
is..How truly were those cases like our situation?
Were they in Mexico, away from professional help
and treatments?
I find it hard to believe that a bug like
the Marburg would be singularly lumped in
with Ebola, and Hanta and other virulent
strains on a whim just based on a pathology

Jamie MacPherson slammed down her file onto
the table and she finally faced the teacher
standing before her. "Listen,..Miss Thorne.
My colleague and I have been trying to work
around your prattling for the last five minutes.
Now I draw the line on a civilian who's a little
nervous when that same civilian accuses me
and my organization of not doing a proper job."

"No offense meant, doctor.." Miss Thorne said
genuinely.. "I'm just trying to plug for answers
on behalf of a firehouse full of frightened
firefighters who are sitting on the edge of their
wits because an earthquake jarred them out of
their normal lives like a bull in the china shop!
I'm a teacher, and teachers question everything.
Makes me very practical and worldly for my
students if I'm absolutely certain of where
I stand with any one subject. So I'm not questioning
anyone's credibility here nor the CDC's tactics..
I'm only digging for a wider view..
Since when has any paper on a contagion written by
someone else, ever stopped YOU from pushing
the envelope..?"

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Steven actually smiled as he continued making
test slides of Marco's blood to find an effective
dose of Idouroxidine to slow the Marburg's
meiosis. "She's got you there, Jamie. Let see,
you bucked heads with boss, what... seven times
already this year on various subject matters??"
he poked.

"Ohhh..." she huffed. "Stop ganging up on me,
Steven Taylor. All right.. " Jamie said, dropping
her work and snatching up Johnny's pot of
luke warm coffee from the table. She poured
out the plaster dust that was floating on its
liquidy surface and grabbed a mug from the

Changing her mind, she grabbed three of
them. And started pouring.. "Ok,..You got my full
attention Miss Thorne. And Steven's.. I always
claim that I have an open mind across professions,
so here's putting the money where my mouth is.
So, shoot. What questions do you have about our
poor sick fireman and his dead little cousin?
I'll answer anything that isn't classified material.."

Miss Thorne wasted no time. "The Red Devils..
Were they present for your other three Marburg
victims? Did you know about them..?"

Jamie's face registered respect and a little
surprise that Cindy went right to the heart of the
same thought that had been nagging in her own
mind ever since Marco's astounding account
of them. "What??" she gasped.

A sudden fax from a battery generator run
machine across the room, bleeped
and came to life by the microscope. It got
all of their attentions when it lit up with a

Steven walked over to it and waited for
the sending to complete. "Wow, the main
phone lines are up in the neighborhood.
That was fast.. Italy's last quake took
a week to reestablish full land line telephone

"Like our firemen, " Miss Thorne sighed.
"Our phone and power companies are the best in
the country. They'd have to be, being under
the gun of earthquakes all the time in our

Steven snatched up the still warm sending
from Atlanta.. "This is from Mexico.. Forensic
photos of the vineyard.. "

"Let me see.." Jamie said, taking one and
moving over to the dawn's rising light by
the kitchen window. Natural debris settling
in the night had freed up some daylight there.
"They're all adult bats.. No juveniles.."

Steven looked up from another fresh report
from the Mexico CDC team. "No fatalities as
yet. Those seven are still holding. These
vitals sets seem to be matching Marco's so far.."

Cindy walked over to Jamie, and handed her
the cup of tepid coffee the doctor had left
behind on the table.. "Here.. May I see

"Huh.. ?" Jamie said, from a long distance
away.. "Yeah. Sure.." and she saw the cup
Cindy was handing her.." Thanks.."

"No problem.."  Miss Thorne delicately took
the color photo showing the decaying bats in
the vineyard  lying on the ground in the
Lopez garden, and immediately noticed
something.. "Doctor...."

"Yeah?"  Cindy said, looking at aerial
photos of the Lopez villa and the surrounding
streets leading up into the mountains surrounding
the city..

"Tell me something..I'm no bat expert here.
But aren't all of these bats here males? I don't
see any sienna furred females with them..
One of my students did a report on Flying Foxes
last week and I clearly remember there being
color shade distinctions between the sexes..."

"What?!" MacPherson shouted. She grabbed
the vineyard photo back and peered at it
with a hastily snatched magnifying glass.
Then she gasped and placed a hand on her
mouth. "Steven!! Get over here.."

"What is it? " Dr. Taylor shouted, running over
to them from the other side of
the room, he stripped off his latex gloves and
tossed them into a disposal bin near
the microscope.. "I'm coming. I'm coming.."

"Look.. Miss Thorne's noticed something
about the bats. They're all males.."

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