Chapter Three (part one)
The building Andrea stood before was a flat slab of grey concrete. The cheap paint was chipped away at. Andrea didn't believe this could be some secret compound. Inside the lobby was filled with old, sunken furniture and a bored looking receptionist. She waved Danny through along with the rest of them. Danny swiped a badge next to the lift and they all got in. Andrea prepared herself for labs that looked like her secondary school ones and instead a very modern corridor made of metal and built-in lights greeted her.
“Guess you want people to overlook you?” Andrea asked, though it was more of a statement. Danny laughed and motioned as they entered a large cafeteria area. Which was extremely empty save two people in lab coats in the far corner.
“This place goes down for five levels. The fifth level is absolutely off-limits to all but the highest level staff. You guys will be staying in accommodation on the second floor with the others. up here are the general labs, offices and this place. There aren't a lot of staff here so this space is free to be used as general hang out area. There's also a rest room I can show you guys later with a TV and such. Internet does not exist here, except for certain exceptions. Your parents have been told you've been transferred to a private school. Don't give them any reason to suspect otherwise. I need to go now, please wait here and Mr Stuart will be out to explain everything better.” With his long spiel finished Danny waved and headed back to the lift. Andrea watched with growing curiosity as the lift number went down to level five before turning to examine where they were. The tables were well spaced and round with bench seats, in white and stainless steal.
Down here is completely different …
“Just us I guess,” Francis said, sitting on a table with her feet on the bench. Andrea sat on the bench, giving her muddy boots a wide berth.
“Do you think they're doing it in lots or-” Peter began, his voice even, suggesting his high was over.
“Where are we?” a voice interrupted. Andrea blinked as she saw fifteen teenagers ranging from fourteen to nineteen in front of her. A women lead them into the room, giving a speech similar to the one Danny had given them. She had long ginger hair that curled at the ends. Glasses perched on her freckled nose making her blue eyes look big.
“Ah, you're the lot Danny got? I'll leave all of you together and see what's going on downstairs. Get to know each other,” she added with a big smile before returning to the lift. Andrea was jittery, wanting to know what was going on already. Aliens? It can't be, just can't. But she'd seen the seriousness in Danny's eyes when he'd said it. Andrea learnt a few names and considered approaching the young girl keeping to herself. She looked thirteen or fourteen and extremely nervous. But a man in a suit stopped her in her tracks. He had thinning, greying black hair and dark eyes that once upon a time were easygoing based on the old laugh lines.
“Follow me,” he said. Turning swiftly without bothering to introduce himself. A man like him being in charge didn't really surprise Andrea much.
“My name is Richard Stuart. I own Radon-Pharmaceuticals.” There was an audible gasp from some in the group. Andrea kept her surprise to herself but she couldn't help being a little awed. This man's company had come up with highly effective treatments for nearly every cancer. And for those who couldn't be saved, it had come up with means to extend a life far longer than had ever been possible.
“This isn't one of the main facilities. The research done here is highly confidential, both to the public and the government. Unfortunately a serious issue has arisen from an old … error. Luckily the side-effects of that error give us a chance to repair the damage.” Andrea narrowed her eyes on the hesitation and his choice of words. Just what kind of research have they done?
They followed him into a big lecture room, most sat near the back. Andrea had never feared looking like a geek and sat up front. She glanced at the piece of paper sitting before her and the pen, honing in on the small print quickly. Andrea looked up, studying the man's every move with scrutiny. He dumped a folder and gave each of them a cursory glance.
He almost took a step back when he met hers. Andrea wondered what he saw, probably a lot more suspicion than the others. A side effect of having a police officer for a father and lawyer for a mother Andrea guessed.
“I have already heard the rumours of aliens spreading so let me clear things up quickly,” he started, his voice easily able to reach the ears of those sitting far away.