It is generally accepted by Public Health scientists that epidemics go through a “smolder” phase before they explode into exponential growth.
Exponential growth is slow in absolute terms when the base infected rate is in single digits.
Another thing that happens in the smolder phase is that the disease organisms is searching for key mutations and super-connector carriers. Sometimes those mutations enhance efficient distribution...like a mutation that infects the relatively cool mucus membranes of the mouth and nose, that cause mucous and saliva to carry viable virus and trigger sneezing and coughing.
Super-connectors are carriers that interact with many, many more potential patients than the typical carrier and interact in ways that optimize disease transmission.
In the beginning the code that Dilip released to the wild slowly replicated itself on smart phones and increased its geological footprint the old fashioned way. It was moved physically and spread by local WIFI signal rather than dashing off across the internet.
It took days for the code to get physically carried to the SanFran Bay region. Once there, the code started infiltrating Alpha-Omega databases. No alarms were raised. The people who might have raised a flag at all of the requests coming in with AJ’s key-codes were incarcerated in the same facility that he was.
Records were created and populated. One of the fundamental decisions the brothers had made was to use aggregate-family data. The oldest trick in the book is to hide income and assets under one’s wife’s or mistress’s name. And you only need remember that every room in Cali had multiple microphones with sound processing capability. A-O knew every who and every whom with which they were sleeping.
The first reported target of Tim-Tom and AJ’s code was Nick Pelosi. Nick was an inspector with the EPA and he worked the fishing docks checking catches for illegal species, checking for other code violations, issuing citations, collecting fines and so-forth.
It was the end of the evening and he was inspecting Vince Ruma’s boat.
Vince and his crew were in an exceptionally foul mood. Vince had been informed that the bank was foreclosing on his boat. Vince was being torn apart by 17 hours a day out on the ocean fishing and trying to piece together financing to hang onto his boat during the remaining hours of the day.
No matter how good the catch or exceptional the prices, he was just not able to get ahead.
Take today, for example. He had a great catch. Then the EPA puke starts writing him up for a slew of infractions and Vince has to pay with his business debit card. The icing on the cake was that Pelosi now demanded two kilos of freshly caught, chilled, prime abalone. That was a very heavy blow because a kilo of prime abalone was worth enough to buy a high-end hooker for an entire night in any Cali coastal town. Those two kg of abalone took the day’s take from a profit to a steep loss.
Vince’s phone went off as did those of his crew. Vince picked his up, hoping it was good news from the bank.
Vince saw what looked like a simplified balance sheet and income statement. He was intimately familiar with both documents because of his recent battles to obtain financing.
“Sir?” Vince addressed the EPA puke.
“What is taking so long with the abalone? It is late and I gotta get it home.” Nick snarled. Never let a captain get back on his feet was Nick’s M.O.
“Sir? Are you ‘Nick Pelosi’?” Vince asked. Vince would have checked the written citations but the signature was an illegible scrawl.
“Yeah.” he said. “Where is the abalone?”
“My cousin lives on Casuarina Drive and has a neighbor by that name. That wouldn’t be you, would it?” Vince asked.
“Could be.” Nick snapped back.
“Hey! Did you drop your wallet?” Vince asked. “There. By your foot.”
As Nick stooped over to get a better look at the dock next to his foot, Vince swung the heavy fishing gaff and the point penetrated Pelosi’s temple as if it were tissue paper. Vince regularly swung 250 pound swordfish up out of the water and onto his boat’s deck. Vince had no problem swinging Pelosi’s body out over the water and disengaging the gaff with a deft twist of his wrist. The body arched outward and struck the water fifteen feet to the starboard of Ruma’s boat.
The crew members were speechless.
Sailors, by their nature, must act decisively. Rocks, waves, shoals and thrashing fish wait for no man. They also learn to use adrenaline to their advantage and to not second guess their decisions. Equivocating can mean death on the briny blue.
“What. The. Hell.” Vince’s mate finally sputtered out. “Why did you do that?”
Vince calmly answered. “Because the tide is going out. That is how the Bay clears out the garbage.”
Then he added, “Look at your text message. That prick has 3.8 million Callors in the bank and netted 750 thousand Callors so far this year from shaking down fishermen like you and me.”
Vince swished the stainless steel hook of the gaff in the bay's waters to wash off the blood.
Even as the crew looked at their messages, the image slowly faded and disappeared as if it never was. Tim-Tom and AJ were not going to leave evidence lying around.