Chapter 2

It was five-thirty pm and most of the scientists had headed home leaving the minority of workers on. It had been three hours since Robert Sutherland's plane had left the airport.

"Why do I have to go, again?" Caitlin asked Astrid.

"Because they all know who I am. You can easily go and distract them, while I sneak in to find where the cages are, if it doesn't go to plan, you can just pretend that you don't know me." Astrid told her.

"It'll be fine. Here are your ear pieces," Cisco tried to comfort them as he handed them small Bluetooth communicators that would sit over their ear. "That way we can keep in communication."

Caitlin and Astrid made their way into the elevator, dressed in white lab coats. "Shouldn't you be taking the stairs?" Caitlin asked her.

"I am not climbing down sixty floors worth of stairs, just to get to one floor. I'll get off on the 39th and say I have some business to attend to." Astrid responded pushing the buttons to the elevator.

Caitlin gulped nervously, "oh, ok."

"Look, relax. You'll be fine."

"Astrid, we're not all known for sneaking around to avoid getting into trouble."

"What trouble? Caitlin. My father's your boss. Just blame it on me and you'll be fine. Besides he asked me to deal with it, so we are."

Astrid exited the, now full, elevator on the 39th floor as she had said, and made her way towards the stairs to continue on her journey.

As she was climbing down she heard Caitlin's voice come in through the earpiece, nervously talking to the scientists on the floor. "I have been sent here to gather a couple samples, my supervisor sent me over."

"Yes, Francisco Ramon sent word," one of the voices replied.

Astrid had reached the doorway of the 37th floor, waiting for the code word.

"Were there any samples containing the mitochondrial antibodies?" Caitlin asked nervously, speaking 'antibodies' loudly so Astrid could hear her.

The code word! Astrid opened the door and walked in with her head to the floor. Dr Snow had led a group of scientists to the right side of the room while Astrid made her way to the left of the room. "Astrid there should be a desk at the far back corner, you need to make your way over there for the confidential data. I cant access it from here." Cisco's voice spoke through her earpiece.

Astrid turned her earpiece volume down slightly in case someone could hear it and made her way to the desk, looking around to see that she wasn't being watched. She looked over at Caitlin who had Astrid in her sight. "What about this sample here?" Dr Snow asked the scientists, trying to keep their attention.

Astrid located the laptop on the desk, "found the laptop," she whispered, hoping that Cisco could hear her, "It's locked." She told him. 

"Okay... try it now!" he had manually unlocked it from his own computer upstairs.

"Ok, it's all good!" she told him softly as she began searching through files. She put her USB into the port to begin extracting information.

"Is it hot in here?" Caitlin called out, clearly she was losing their attention and getting desperate. Astrid knelt under the desk as she noticed Dr Snow removing her lab coat, and flicking her hair out, attracting more attention.

She wanted to laugh at her friend's desperate improvisation, but at least it was working.

Astrid glanced from under the desk, not an eye was gazing in her own direction. She crawled out and knelt with her head slightly above the desk to see the laptop screen. Extraction was complete!

She crawled out and noticed a shelf full of vials, one mixed with some sort of clear chemical, another with what looked like blood. Both of which had the labels clearly marked 'Gorilla: Grodd.'

'Bingo!' Astrid thought to herself. She swiped both vials, removed her USB device and left the room, hoping that she had found what she had come here for. She made her way towards the elevator, pressed the call button and entered.

She was finally joined in the elevator by Caitlin who had swung her coat over her arm.

"What took you so long?" she asked her friend.

"One of them gave me their number." Caitlin told her.

"I'm not surprised!" Astrid told her, with a smirk.

"Did you get what we came here for?"

"I think so, and maybe more. Let's go find Cisco."

"This data has it all!" Cisco declared once they were back in their own office on the 97th floor. "It proves that the group were working without your father's knowledge and it has the codes we need to get into where the cages are kept. It even has all the names of the scientists involved. If we can get proof like photos or something we can get the authorities to do something about it and your father won't look like he was in on the whole thing."

"Don't we have camera's down there?" Caitlin asked him."

"We did but someone took them down a few months ago," he replied.

"I'll do it." Astrid told them, "I'll sneak in later tonight, when everyone has gone home and get some photos. Once I have them I can go to CCPD in the morning."

"Sounds good..." Cisco told her, gazing over at the television on the wall behind her, "Where was your father's press conference to?" 

Caitlin and Astrid both looked at the television that had captured Cisco's attention..

"... In breaking news, a meteor that is currently on route to the town of Smallville, will be leaving flight plans cancelled and a team of scientists stranded in town until further notice..." the news reporter's voice got louder as Caitlin turned up the volume.

"Dad, didn't say." Astrid spoke softly.

The news report went on, "Luthor Corp has hired a team of scientists, including Dr Robert Sutherland, to research the meteor to determine the impact that it will leave on our earth, if any. Dr Sutherland's organization has currently been making the news for unrelated accusations of cruelty to animals, this week."

"They're making dad seem like he is some sort of criminal! I hope he will be okay." Astrid groaned at the screen. All of a sudden her phone rang, "Turn that down, it's him!" she pointed at the TV and answered her phone, stepping away from the group.

"Dad! What's going on? Where are you? You never said anything about a meteor! What does this have to do with how my mother died?"

"Astrid, please, you need to listen!" his voice spoke softly, she remembered that tone far too well. The same tone he had used when her mother had died. She obeyed him and listened.

"This meteor is big. We need it to land for us to start our research. I promise you that we are being as safe as we can, but it is the closest thing that we have to understanding the chemicals that are not of this planet. This is really big! They are throwing a lot of money at us to figure it out." His voice was urgent and serious.

"Dad! You're not making sense! What are you trying to tell me?"

"If I don't make it home, remember, I love you. The company is yours! Do with it what you will, but I want you to carry out my research on this meteor. It is going to change our world."

"Dad! Don't be stupid! Of course you are going to make it home! What is going on?"

"I can't tell you right now, this phone call is being listened to. I won't be able to answer if you call me back, the meteor is impacting our technology and phones. But I promise you, that you will know in all due time. Please, Astrid. I love you."

"Dad! Ok, Dad, I love you too."

The connection went silent. She tried to call him back but she could not reach his phone, the service was unavailable. She gazed silently at the television, the meteor was to hit in less than 24 hours.

Her friends stared at her silently. "I suppose we need to sort out this whole animal testing business." She told them lightly. She was feeling dizzy, like she was in a dream. "I will stay behind and get those photos. My dad's name will be cleared, it's the least that I can do!"


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