Doctor Cassandra Fraiser sits down at the conference table across from me. I am amazed at how young she is given what she accomplished. I'm pretty sure that she's not even thirty yet, but she was the head of the team searching for the vaccine for the Zombie plague.
Outside the window I can see the Stargate. I know this other piece of technology played a huge part in what these people accomplished, but it still doesn't take away from their achievement. I wonder at the stories this woman could tell me, but for the moment I need only one.
I was in Atlanta working for the CDC on other projects when the world collapsed. It was the day of the battle of Yonkers (The US military's last stand against the Zombies before pulling back behind the Rockies. It was a horrible disaster). I remember watching the battle unfold on the TV like everyone else who was still alive and being able to see that the military's strategy wasn't going to work, their plans held too many flaws. The moment the tide turned I expected the call telling me to evacuate, it came seconds later.
I interrupt here. "You were expecting to be evacuated? Why?"
You need to understand who I am. I wasn't just a virologist working for the CDC. Although I wasn't military, I had strong ties, a deep connection with the SGC (Stargate Command), and they had not forgotten me. Jack, General Jack O'Neill, he was the one on the phone. He told me they had been sending the families of SGC personnel , as many as they could find over the last few weeks, through the Stargate to safety for the last few weeks and now it was my turn to get to safety.
I could tell it pained him that he couldn't save everyone, but he was doing what he could. Jack had no family, his parents were dead and his only son had died years before, ending his marriage. I was like a daughter to him. He and his team found me on one of their offworld missions, when my family, and my village, was killed by a viral outbreak. I was the only survivor.
She's quiet for a while as she stares off in the distance. I wait patiently.
I was only 11 years old when Jack and his team brought me back here, to Earth. I had grown up in Colorado Springs with my adopted mother Janet Fraiser, she was one of the first doctors at the SGC. When Janet died on a mission off world six years later, he and his team were the closest people I had to family. We kept in touch, but there were too many painful memories to spend too much time together.
She shakes herself off and lifts her hand as though washing away the emotion I'd heard in her voice. Drawing a deep breath she continues.
Anyway, I resisted and told him I couldn't leave, that I had something important to do and I wouldn't abandon these people to die without trying to solve this puzzle. Jack told me it wasn't safe there, the zombies were already gathering outside the complex and it would be only a matter of time before they got in. I told him I couldn't go off world and leave a whole population to die while I lived, not again.
Jack realized I was serious about staying put, and he knew what I could do given the right resources and most of all that I wouldn't give up. I'm pretty stubborn when I want to be. So, he switched tactics and told me to get everyone who had brains up to the roof, and we could go to work in Cheyenne Mountain. That way at least we'd be safe. In the past the SGC had some close calls, dealing with alien viruses and that meant they had the infrastructure already set up for me and my team to try and find a vaccine and cure. There was no denying that Jack was right.
It took me three seconds to decide. The people in Atlanta had no clues where to go next. They were stuck on rabies, but this zombie plague had nothing to do with rabies. There were no clues to the origin of the disease and if the other countries knew they weren't tell us. No one had ever seen anything like this on Earth.
But I had, there were some similarities to the disease that wiped out my planet and the Zombie plague, but only slightly. I was getting nowhere with telling my colleagues this, mainly because they didn't have the clearance to see the reports. No-one would listen to my ideas, but like the captain of a doomed ship, I didn't feel I had the right to desert them. On the other hand, if I was able to board another ship to continue my work, having the power to direct the research, I was willing.
So I talked to the other doctors who felt the same way. There were seven of us in total and we all decided to leave. I knew once we got down into the SCG that we'd have access to information, resources and technology the CDC didn't. This meant immediately we could begin looking elsewhere, expanding our research. I knew that time was running out, but as long as people were alive, there was hope.
I had three minutes to pack and then meet the helicopter on the roof of the building. I was actually surprised to find everyone else there. Most of them had lost touch with their families and had no idea if they were dead or alive. The CDC complex in Atlanta fell less than a week later. I don't know what happened.
A few hours later we arrived at Cheyenne Mountain. We were walked passed a fleet of dogs to make sure no one going in was infected. Then there was the three day quarantine where our blood and every other bodily fluid was tested just in case.
Then it happened. My team and I stepped in to the elevator and descended twenty or so stories, to be locked away until we solved the problem or failed completely.. I had no doubts as I walked into the bunker that this was where I wanted to be, and while I couldn't save my family all those years ago, I hoped to be able to save this world.
I can imagine you've heard a lot of stories about what it was like to sequestered, but I have to tell you, ours wasn't like any other. We had the Stargate, a way out if needed; no-one else had that luxury.
If supplies were running low, we sent out the marines through the Stargate and they got us more. There were offworld trading partners that were willing to share their food in exchange for medical supplies or other things that only Earth could provide. This meant food wasn't the problem. There were even safe offworld sites, so we were able to get out and walk around, breath fresh air and see a blue sky... even if it wasn't Earth's. We never went to the Alpha Site, that's where the evacuees went. I never even told the other doctors of its existence, fearing they might abandon our research for the safety and security the base could offer.
Even with the advantage of access to other technologies and information, it wasn't easy. We worked long hours and we had a lot of failures. Because our access to NORAD and other systems, we knew more about what was going on around the world better than anyone else, and that only served to add to the pressure. How do you think I felt knowing that every one of my failures cost more people their lives?
In the end most of my team weren't strong enough, even with the comforts and advantages we had. Of the seven members, only three of us are still alive. There were times when I almost broke too, but somehow I found the strength to keep going. Not everyone was able to do that.
The hardest for me was Philip, before the war we had been planning to get married in a few months. When the day arrived, he slipped into the isolation room with the Zombie we used for testing. Phillip made sure that all of us saw what happened to him so we all would see how futile it was to keep fighting. You couldn't have painted a better picture for those that remained. It was all over in a few minutes, and then the man I loved was gone forever.
Until that moment all of us had been removed from the war, none of us had ever seen anyone turn, not right before our eyes, not someone we knew and cared for. We'd all seen the footage, but this was real, and now Phillip was gone, just like the world might be if we couldn't solve this. It demoralized the others but Phillip's it made me work harder; I wasn't going to lose anyone else I loved to this plague.
Days and nights blended together as I searched for the answer to the riddle. The human race on Earth had endured for thousands of years of disease, famine and war, we couldn't lose now, not after all this time.
But the harder I searched the more elusive the solution became. It seemed like there was no miracle pill to swallow and make it all go away, to bring back the world we knew. The more complicated I tried to be the more I failed, and more people died.
Then it happened, a simple solution presented itself, in the form of an old friend. In my desperation I had failed to the solution sitting right in front of me. I had it all the time, it had been in existence for years being used off world by another species of humans.
It wasn't exactly the same drug, but it gave us the building blocks we needed to unlock the vaccine. In the end, the Stargate was our salvation, It's what Phalanx,a rabies vaccine that was sold as a solution to zombie problem because early cases were called African Rabies, promised and never delivered. We called it Tretonin Z, and if we aren't too late, the vaccine will save the world.