Looking up from her desk, President Serena McCall recognized her Secretary of Defense who had arrived with the Secretary of Health. "Yes, I'm pleased with your unusual punctuality, Lawrence, especially since you called for an emergency appointment this morning. I thought the idea of an emergency was unlikely given that the world has been, for want of a better word, quiet."
The SecDef, Lawrence (never "Larry") Hutton, a man she had chosen specifically due to his inability to lead a platoon of marines into a brothel, did not smile. "We had ... a bit of a surprise, ma'am. Forty-two days ago, a female MORF with, if we believe everything she gave us, unusually extensive teleport and chronoport capabilities, appeared in the main command center in NORAD. She delivered a documentation package to us before taking her own life. The chips she left, with video, stills and written material ... provided us with more history than we wanted. We are still sifting through what she delivered and we still have only gone through a small percentage of the material, but, given a whole section of information about the development history of MORFS, we felt it best to call on Helen's department to help evaluate those items we don't have the expertise for."
"First," President Serena McCall said, "What is a chronoport?"
Helen fielded this question, answering "Someone who can travel through time. I've never seen or heard of a chronoport that could jump more than a week or more. I suspect they fall afoul of Niven's Law when it comes to traveling through time and end up, somehow, erasing their own existence. This one, though, was apparently an exceptionally powerful one, having a reach of almost a century."
Turning to Helen Carter, her Secretary of Health, she asked, "And the remark about MORFS?"
Helen sighed. "I'll state the obvious, Madame President. MORFS, the Massive Ontogenetic Regulation Failure Syndrome, has been an intractable problem for some years. The information we have gotten so far indicates that the agent was released early in its development cycle and what we have is nothing, comparatively, to speak of, compared to what the intended end-product was. As you can imagine, the bio-terrorists were working towards was far more nastier pathogen intended to be painful at the same time it would be fatal. From what I've seen of the documentation and briefings from those with far more technical expertise than I, we got off incredibly lightly."
The president nodded, commenting "I think the anxiety over the side effects—especially if you live through the changes—is rather more severe than the reality. The polarization and religious persecution has not helped political stability, either. I think you are all already aware of my irritation with the Attorney General on this issue, along with the rest of the so-called Department of Justice, who are all far too lax on enforcing the Civil Rights Act."
"Well, ma'am, based on what we've managed to understand from the mother-lode of information we've gotten, it may be that the political effects are less of a problem than the more likely alternatives. This hybrid MORFS survivor, a Serena McCall, was a powerful enough chronoport, on top of being a teleport, to be present, albeit intangible, when the terrorist's bio-containment facility was breached and may, based on other remarks she made, have had a hand in ensuring that MORFS was inflicted on the whole world, before it could wipe out all mammalian life."
The president sat up. "Who was she? Is ... was she related to me?"
.... There is more of this story ...