Entry 43 – Khartoum
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Khartoum!”
Dr. Az’dule’s welcoming smile was the first thing we saw upon exiting the plane. So this was Sudan, I thought. Kind of underwhelming when you think about it – plenty of people expect to see the worst of any country the moment they get off a plane and when they don’t, they assume everything’s alright. And that sometimes gets them robbed, sometimes killed. Just because you don’t see a drug lord coked out of his mind brandishing a rifle right after passing through a security gate doesn’t mean everything’s fine and you’re safe.
Az’dule seemed genuinely pleased to see us both despite the circumstances and, somehow, it felt more reassuring than all the information passed by Ferguson. His mood quickly changed, however, as we began discussing the events that had transpired since our departure from Chicago. The good doctor essentially confirmed all our worries – the strange occurrences drove Murdoch to go all in, calling in every favor at his disposal. He seemed determined to get to the bottom of what was happening to the point of recklessness, sighed the scientist, which was something highly unusual for the ever-so-cool tycoon.
The camp was located about an hour away from the city. The transports driven by Perihelion personnel (no outsiders this time, I noted, only vetted people), some of which I was familiar with from the Arizona days, got us there rather easily – the city was full of Sudanese security forces who knew better than to mess with corporations. The country’s riddled with black sites and secret labs so, for them, this was just another Friday.
Perihelion’s base of operations was even bigger than the camp back in Arizona and, remembering the ill-fated journey south, I bitterly remarked we should have started with this in the first place. Doctor Az’dule shook his head.
“All this that you see... that’s not a show of force or a standard procedure, Mister Thorpe. No sir.”
Doctor Az’dule sighed again and waited for the vehicle to stop and the driver to get out before finishing the sentence.
“This is desperation. I don’t have to explain either of you, especially Miss Espinoza, the consequences of when our kind of research goes wrong. This is the sum of all fears, world-ending stuff...”
He shivered involuntarily.
“We no longer care for stealth – and make no mistake, some very important people will notice what’s happening here. This is a race now, a race to the source of unimaginable power and danger.”
A terrifying prospect by any means and shivers ran down by spine. It all sounded like the makings of an epic fiasco, especially since most of the staff had no idea about the true nature of the mission. For all they knew, we were here to teach a certain biotech company a harsh lesson about what happens when Murdoch’s offers get refused. You know, standard corporate stuff. At least that’s what the down-to-earth part of my mind was telling me. At the same time, given what we’ve witnessed... who knows? Not even a rhetorical question – we will. We will go and see.