Chapter 1


Astrid Sutherland entered CCPD's main foyer, where she worked as a criminal psychologist, just as her phone rang in her pocket. Robert Sutherland of Sutherland Labs was calling. "Dad, wrong time to call, I just got to work." She told him without letting him speak first.

"I really can't stand you working there, I have an office right here, you know..." He was always trying to rope her into leaving her job and working with him.

Technically Astrid's father made enough money for her to never dream of working a day in her life ever again, as he was one of Central City's richest entrepreneurs and a well-known head scientist.

"Dad, it isn't going to happen. Look I have to go, tell Cisco and Caitlin I say 'hi' and I'll pop in after work. Ok? love you, dad." She hung up before he could answer her, and reached the elevator in time for one of her colleague's, Barry Allen, to press the call button.

"Still trying to make you quit?" 

"He sure is! He gets so concerned that some criminal will get out of jail and seek revenge on me for helping you guys lock him away."

The elevator doors opened and the two of them entered. "When you talk about him, he sounds just like Joe. Just a father looking out for his kid." Barry told her.

"It makes it hard to see him as one of Central City's most famous scientist, hey?"

"Yeah, pretty much." Barry replied.

"Well that's how I see him. He is just my over paranoid father... especially since my mother died." 

Barry stared at the ground. The two of them both had this in common. Both had lost their mothers, only while Astrid's mother had died of cancer, Barry's had been murdered. The courts believed that Barry's father had killed his mother, though Barry believed otherwise.

Astrid glanced at her phone again, "you're late again, Barry. Singh is going to tear you a new one." She giggled, "I don't envy you at all!"

"It's ok, Joe message me before I got here, he's covering for me."

Joe, or detective West, was Barry's foster father. He was also the detective that covered the murder of Barry's mother.

The elevator doors opened and they reached the floor. Barry raced off, giving a quick over the shoulder wave at Astrid before he disappeared in one of the offices with West and Singh.

Astrid walked through the room with multiple detectives and desks. It was a bustle for the Monday morning. She greeted a few colleagues and glanced up at the current news bulletin on the television hanging from the roof.

It made her heart sink. It was no wonder that Robert had tried calling her this morning. "...Sutherland Labs is under investigation for rumors of mistreatment and cruelty to animals in relation to animal testing. Dr Robert Sutherland had this to say as of this morning..." the news reporter's voice rang out, while showing an image of Sutherland Labs.

The next scene had her father's face, he had clearly just gotten to work and had numerous cameras and microphones pointed in his face. "Dr Sutherland, are the rumours true? Has your laboratory been conducting cruel experiments on animals such as mice, cats, dogs and even gorillas?"

A few people in the office looked at Astrid waiting for her to comment. She bit her bottom lip and waited for her father to speak. "Under my watch we have never conducted any experimentation on any animal. My daughter would be the first to scold me on that one. But I assure you that I will get to the bottom of this."

Robert turned and left, entering the building inside and the scene went to a news reporter.

A voice from beside her made her jump, "I think your father spoke very well," detective Joe West was standing beside her. "Do you think the rumors are true?" he asked her softly.

"Just as my dad said, if they were true," she responded, "my father would be in big trouble with me. But if they are true, then that means someone has been working under my father in secret. I will personally get to the bottom of this."

"Are you ready to work, Miss Sutherland? This is not a coffee lounge, there is one up the street if you want to chat." Captain Singh had entered their conversation, with Barry standing behind him.

"Yes, I am ready to work. I'll head up to the interrogation room, send them in when you're ready," she replied obediently. She smiled politely and waved back at Barry and Joe, before taking her leave.

Later that day, Astrid stormed up to her father's office, bypassing her friends (and her father's colleagues), Francisco Ramon, or Cisco for short, and Dr Caitlin Snow, abruptly.

"Hi to you too, Astrid, Jeez! Rude much!" Cisco called out after her. She ignored him and slammed her father's door opened. He had been sitting at his desk waiting for her.

"Dad, what the HELL is going on? Animal testing? What have you gotten yourself into? That is illegal! You're risking all of Sutherland Labs! Hell! What about your investors? Think of Mr Queen! What if he was alive? He would be fuming right now! I have been dodging Ollie's calls all day until I could get to the bottom of this!" 

Doctor Sutherland took a breath and spoke softly to attempt to diffuse his daughter's anger, "I have never condoned any animal testing under Sutherland Labs, you know that. But there have been rumors of a top secret project that has been carried out without my knowledge. I promise you that I am getting to the bottom of it."

"Without your consent? don't we have cameras for this sort of thing?" Suddenly, they were interrupted by her father's assistant Mr Anderson, "sorry to intrude, the press are asking for a conference. They will need you to travel to..."

"Oh no! Dad! You're not leaving me with all of this! You will sort this animal testing business out immediately!"

Robert Sutherland stood up from his desk and walked towards his daughter, "My men are on this, I assure you, that we will get to the bottom of this. This conference is about something else." Excitement was written all over his face at this point.

"Dad, what's going on? What's this about?" she asked him.

"We may have discovered a cure for the disease that killed your mother. I will need you to take over things from this end." He told her softly.

"Dad, she died from cancer what are you talking about?"

"No, it wasn't cancer. It was something else... but, please you need to deal with things from this end. My men are already onto finding out who has been conducting experiments on animals, you will just need to sit a few press conferences here for me and I will be back in a week."

"Dad! No!" she tried to argue but he seemed too excited to change his mind. He kissed her on the cheek, "I love you dear, but this could be something big!"

There was no use, he had won the argument and was leaving her with the mess. "Fine, I love you too dad!" she told him, he turned and left the office with his assistant, while she begrudgingly followed.

She slowly pulled her phone out of her pocket, as her father raced out of the room. She searched for Oliver Queen's number and prepared to call him. "What was that all about?" Dr Snow asked Astrid, referring to her father leaving in such a hurry.

"He is on to some important breakthrough and is leaving me with the animal testing mess." Astrid told her, frustration in her tone. "I just wish I had one of those normal father-daughter relationships. Where I would be the one to mess up, and he could clean it up."

"Every family is dysfunctional, Astrid" Cisco told her, "you've witnessed mine. They shower love on Dante... and me? I get whatever is left over."
Astrid stared at Cisco, he was right. It could be worse.

She looked down at her phone and pressed 'call' to ring Oliver, and walked away from her friends.

"Who is she calling?" Cisco asked Caitlin. They both looked at Astrid, listening intently.
"Hi Ollie, yeah I'm sorry I didn't call you earlier..."

Cisco's face fell, "I hate that guy." He announced to Caitlin.

"You only hate him because Astrid dated him off and on for ages... and because he's a rich handsome bachelor who could have any girl who looks his way." Caitlin reminded him, "Secretly, you're just jealous." 
Cisco nodded. That was it in a nutshell. They continued to listen to Astrid's conversation with the man.

"So my father says he has his men on to this whole 'animal testing case' but then he has gone and left it with me, while he is going away to deal with something else, somewhere else. But you know me. I promise I will get to the bottom of it."

Oliver's voice on the other end of the phone tried to assure her that he wasn't mad just a little concerned for what this could mean for the future of Sutherland Labs. But Astrid took it as him just trying to be polite.

After ten minutes, she finally got off the phone.

"Do you realize that phone call went for nine minutes and... fifty-two seconds?" Cisco told her, looking at his watch.

"Oh, what do you care? Anyway, Cisco. I don't trust my father's men. I need you to find out which floor this animal testing has been carried out on."

"Already done," he told her promptly, "Level 32. I managed to bug a few different floors to pick up random conversations. It's amazing the stuff your father's employees talk about when they don't know the boss's people are listening."

Astrid raised her eyebrows at him, "creepy, invasive... but effective... I like it! Did you find out where the animals were kept, they have to be kept in cages somewhere..."

"I sure did... that would be underground. I take it you have a plan?"

"Astrid smiled, "When don't I?"



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