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The Society
The Society
The Society
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The Society

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The Society, the first in a series, serves as a map for the curious, and a reminder for the enlightened. From interests in Astronomy and Geometry, Jay's subsequent works will reacquaint the reader with aspects of the Trivium and Quadrivium—aspects that will be both a source of light and something of a treasure to the perceptive reader.
Revisit the past now in search of our future in The Society—it's time.
Release dateSep 8, 2021
The Society
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    The Society - Jay Middleton



    Chapter I

    Chapter II

    Chapter III

    Chapter IV

    Chapter V

    Chapter VI

    Chapter VII

    Chapter VIII

    Chapter IX

    Chapter X


    Copyright © 2021 by Jay Middleton

    This book is a work of fiction. Any and all resemblance to actual persons—whether living or dead—is entirely coincidental. Any and all resemblance to events, incidents, or places is entirely coincidental. The names, characters, organizations, businesses, events, incidents, and places are either the author’s invention or are used fictitiously.

    Furthermore, this book is for the entertainment of the reader. This book does not provide financial, medical, or legal advice; or any advice on any other matter, subject, or topic. This book also should not be construed as providing any advice. It is the duty of the reader to consult the appropriate professional or professionals before any decision is made or any action is taken by the reader.

    The artwork, drawings, objects, items, and things contained or described in this work along with the corresponding musical score and the book cover are the creation of the author; the author reserves all rights.

    All rights reserved.

    Cincinnati Book Publishing

    Cincinnati, Ohio


    Library of Congress Control Number: 2021913173

    Printed in the United States of America

    First Edition

    Although not required, some will find the following invaluable:

    •Some paper, a pencil, and an eraser;

    •A compass and a straightedge/ruler;

    •Basic knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, and spherical trigonometry;

    •Knowledge of basic astronomy;

    •A slide rule and a solar calculator (Though not required, access to a printer and a computer with CAD and Spreadsheet software are great time savers.);

    •The ability to find your latitude from several different phenomenon;

    •A Sundial, or the ability to make one;

    •An Astrolabe, or the ability to make one;

    •Access to a Sextant;

    •A high-quality stopwatch (preferably mechanical);

    •A good wristwatch (preferably mechanical);

    •Access to a portable telescope with a range of eyepieces, including several varieties of astrometric/micrometer eyepieces;

    •A magnetic compass;

    •Knowledge of how to use and read both a terrestrial and celestial map;

    •And a sunny day, a reflecting pool, and a cloudless night.



    Like an artillery round shot from the coast, the military helicopter landed in a jungle clearing under the punishing midday Sun. Mexican Special Forces were woven into the surroundings. A general approached.

    Joseph Russo stepped down from the door. Two titans, each about six foot four, and although by age elderly were still vigorous and chiseled, in better shape than most nearly half their age. The general motioned, and Joseph followed.

    As Joseph and the general entered the jungle, the light became dim. Visibility was cut down from furlongs to paces. Both men withdrew their sidearm should someone or something surprise them. The jungle rained as the two disturbed the saturated air with each step.

    Joseph steadied his dog tags and then looked up. His voice shattered the deafening jungle silence, a strange silence that visibly discomforted the general.

    General Castillo, you contacted me directly—why not my office in Mexico City?

    The general looked back briefly, said nothing, and continued on.

    They climbed up the side of a rocky hill to a hidden outcrop that commanded an unobstructed view of the western sky and valley below. The ledge opened to the south and southeast, but was blocked by strangling vines that seemed to be growing everywhere. Just then someone emerged from the hillside. Joseph’s index finger began to squeeze, and with a flash the general’s hand caught the gun and flipped the safety.

    The general’s lieutenant spoke, Nothing new sir.

    The lieutenant turned to Joseph. Buenos dias, he said in a martial tone, and then went back inside.

    Joseph, once inside you will know why we did not contact the FBI field office in Mexico City.

    Both holstered their firearms and passed under a lintel supported by two limestone pillars. Strange, they were certainly not Mayan. They appeared more like something you would find among the ruins in Northern Lebanon, but decidedly not Greek or Roman.

    Joseph had landed in an area west of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan’s formidable jungles after spending the early morning at the ruins on the island of Cozumel. Looking out from those ruins on the hill overlooking the bay, he could not help but be reminded of how the ancient port mirrored many small ports today. The ruins looked longingly to the east as if knowing at any time visitors would arrive.

    Inside the jungle temple, he knew he was not among the Mayans. An eerie torch like glow was cast by several hand crank lamps. Joseph looked up to the ceiling and saw a round stone shaft.

    Turning to the general, he asked, Does it open to the jungle above?

    The general replied, Yes, but it is now filled with debris.

    Joseph reflected for a moment, A zenith sighting tube that in this region casts light at noon time twice a year.

    The general turned Joseph around to the incoming light passing through the narrow opening.

    Joseph said to the general, Due west?

    Without a pause, the general said, Yes.

    General Castillo introduced Joseph to his lieutenant, Lieutenant Sanchez has extensive experience combating the narcotics trade and communist revolutionaries, but was selected for this team because of his expertise in ancient Mediterranean civilizations.

    As he spoke, Joseph looked at the young man. He was a tall, slender man in his early thirties, not unlike the general, but slightly smaller in stature. Joseph then looked back at the entrance.

    The general continued, We have had a number of artifacts stolen, mostly rare Aztec relics, from private collections during the past year. Still unknown to the general public, is the massive volume of material that still survives from before Cortez’s arrival. We can thank our ancestors for quickly fanning out to warn of the impending disaster that was to befall Mesoamerica as the few zealots feverishly went about destroying everything in sight shortly after Cortez arrived. The zealots claimed divine inspiration, but their wrath pointed to another source.

    Joseph nodded as if to say, please go on.

    The general continued, As you know, we had contacted your office in Mexico City after the first few thefts, as your investigative skills and resources are second to none. Thanks to satellite tracking, our special forces were able to recover most of the items, with the remainder being picked up on the black market. However, the thieves still elude us. With your investigative assistance, we expect that it will be only a matter of time.

    Joseph sensed something else and began to look around the temple. The temple was cave like, rectangular, and unadorned. As Joseph looked again at the pillars, the general realized that Joseph now sensed that the thefts were just a smoke screen used to conceal the one theft that mattered.

    The general refocused Joseph’s attention. Joseph, while all the other items’ radio signals moved frequently, we noticed this one did not. Given the location, we thought it must have been accidently dropped from a helicopter transporting its cargo to the coast. We saved this recovery for last, given the cost and difficulty in reaching the spot of the signal.

    The general then held up the radio beacon. We found it among the vines just outside on the ledge.

    Joseph examined the stone disc, and asked, Where is the beacon?

    General Castillo remarked with a sly grin, Inside.

    On one side of the stone disc was a map of Western Africa; the Azores, Canary, and Cape Verde islands were clearly marked. On the other side was a map of the Caribbean, Yucatan peninsula, and Gulf of Mexico. Both maps were similar to the ancient maps used throughout the Mediterranean and Near East.

    As Joseph looked at the disc, he noticed that the language was Phoenician and marked a number of settlements. Markings with what appeared to be names appear in the Bahamas, on the coast of Mexico in what is now Vera Cruz, and on the west coast of Florida near Tampa Bay. The island of Cozumel had one as well. All were on the coast except one, the one that marked their present location.

    The general looked at Joseph and in a voice just above a whisper, Some archeology is forbidden, and certain finds cannot be found. We had to contact you directly.

    Joseph was now concerned and pressed the general, Did you find anything else?

    General Castillo and his lieutenant stepped back as if to compose themselves. Joseph’s concern was contagious.

    As the general went over to collect the other artifacts, the lieutenant said, As far as stolen artifacts go the map was all that was here, but …

    The general quickly interrupted, We did find some gold coins in several pits we dug. These are from under the limestone floor near the pillars. He handed them to Joseph.

    Joseph looked down—each was about the size and weight of a U.S. gold eagle, a ten-dollar gold coin. The language on some of the coins was similar to that on the map, but the other coins were Greek. He read the Greek … Antiochus Epiphanes, but the date was obscure. Looking at the others, he turned to the lieutenant. The general replied, Carthage, before the third Punic War, around 170 BC.

    Joseph measured his breath, his temper smoldered.

    The general paused then resumed, "Along with these Greek coins we found a gold scroll inscribed in Greek as well. It contained the beginning of Exodus. The style was similar to parts of Enoch, but the version was strange."

    It began, ‘A new Pharaoh entered the land, one that did not know Imhotep.’ Later, between the serpent rod scene and the first plague, the blood red Nile, the scroll told of an unknown exchange. ‘Moses saw that Pharaoh was not impressed by the serpent, so Moses revealed his hand, a hand covered with sores. Pharaoh’s servants fled; his priests and soldiers remained. Moses reached into his clothing and took out a clay flask; his hand still covered with sores. Pausing momentarily, he then slowly drank its contents. Moses put the flask back in his clothing. When his hand emerged, it was healed. Pharaoh’s priests turned to Pharaoh and said, ‘Heed us, this we cannot do.’ Pharaoh was stubborn and did not listen.’ …

    Joseph’s mind began to wander. He looked around the floor. He saw directly under the well shaft something was drawn in relief.

    The general commented, A strange tree. Something you would see in the savannahs of Africa. The stuff on the lower limbs and trunk appears to be some sort of ivy. A chill pierced Joseph. He looked back at the general, eyes focused. He said, Please continue regarding the scroll.

    The general looked up at the ceiling and said, The other differences were jarring. The sixth and last plague, well …

    The general paused and looked at the tree on the floor, and then continued, The Greek text stated that the sixth plague, one of boils, was caused not by Moses but by Pharaoh and his priests—they threw the ash into the sky that settled as a fine dust over Egypt. A vast number, but not all were cursed with boils. Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, his priests, and a large number of his soldiers remained unblemished.

    Joseph interrupted, And the last plague?

    General Castillo answered, On the fourteenth day of the first month as destruction came, the unafflicted Hebrews hid behind their blood daubed doors from the afternoon of this day through the morning of the next. Having heard the cries in the land, they remained home seven days for fear of the death in the land. Those who did not died. The text then ended abruptly.

    General Castillo handed him two other gold coins that he found wedged atop each pillar. The one …

    Before he finished, Joseph interrupted now with a growing sense of anger, Fregellae and Athens.

    The dates of these two were certain. With Rome still Caesarless, the one dated to about 125 BC—a time still in the pestilent shadow of the Sicilian revolt and three years prior to Tiberius’s brother’s insurrection. Fregellae, a Latin colony, revolted and was crushed by Rome. The other, Athens about 87 BC, shortly before Sulla suppressed a revolution in Athens and destroyed the Piraeus, its port.

    Joseph stared at the general and said, Rome thought each time it was freed of this creeping darkness, but it always reappeared.

    The general looked at Lieutenant Sanchez, and then continued, "We found on the hill above next to the well shaft opening the partial remains of a man. In his hand was a gold scroll with the Gospel of Thomas inscribed therein. The Gospel appears to predate the Nag Hammadi corpus. Around his waist were a handheld cross staff and a broken compass with a wind rose, both made of gold and ivory—each like those used by ancient sailors."

    Joseph had grown tired of the darkness, and sought the Sun outside. Moving towards the entrance, the general stopped him. Joseph, with apprehension, followed the general and lieutenant’s eyes as they looked to the back of the temple and to a previously unnoticed doorway. All three walked slowly to the opening directly opposite the temple entrance. Joseph saw an opened gold box on the floor.

    General Castillo replied, It contains coins from Constantinople dating to shortly before it fell, a recent date relatively speaking, 1440 AD.

    The general pointed to a hole in the ceiling above the doorway and a recently removed stone.

    Joseph, it appears to have come from there.

    As Joseph flinched in the direction of the gold box, a blast exploded against his left chest and shoulder. Before he could react, he found himself falling rapidly away from the doorway towards the entrance of the temple. As he fell to the floor, he could see that the lieutenant had struck him with the butt of his rifle. The lieutenant now guarded the doorway and the general quickly stepped between the two to explain.

    Joseph spit the just coughed up blood from his mouth, centered himself, and then stood up.

    Furious, he looked the general squarely in the eyes and said, I understand you guys are the untouchables and you take the war on narcotics seriously, but this is over the top!

    General Castillo smiled. That is going to leave a mark.

    Joseph was momentarily perplexed, and then smiled, Lucky I’m alive to see it.

    The general followed, As any Vietnam Vet knows, if you look to leave a Viet Cong bunker alive, any temping bait—a box with maps or money—remains just that, tempting. The box remains undisturbed. … And so shall this box.

    The lieutenant extended his hand to Joseph. With a handshake, the apology was accepted. All three stepped through the doorway and around the box on the floor.

    The general turned on the lights. Save the ceiling stone, the floor was empty, no sign of an altar. Three walls were illuminated, each contained scenes carved in stone. Remains of paint could be seen over some of the stone relief. A transition panel was between the first and second wall. On this panel was a map of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East. It was similar in style to the stone disc, and depicted throughout the region what looked like a number of cities, though nameless. The major pyramids in Egypt, those of the early Old Kingdom, were shown in relief. The Indus was not shown, but three other rivers—the Tigris, Euphrates, and the Nile—were clear.

    The first scene on the south wall depicted ancient Egyptian civilization. Numerous scenes from daily life were shown, and the three pyramids of the Giza plateau could be seen under construction in the background. Commerce flowed freely. The panel depicted relatively few soldiers. Everyone carried a scroll and a dagger. However, within each vignette could be observed a few Egyptians looking at both their fellow Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike with what could be described as a look of disdain.

    The southeast corner of the south wall contained the map panel. As Joseph stepped over to look more closely at the area east of the Tigris, he noticed Greek graffiti scratched into the wall near an unlabeled site—it said in Greek, Persepolis. A chisel line connected the city to one that was just a little to the northeast. Looking over at Egypt and the three pyramids of Giza, he traced his hand over from the middle pyramid to Persepolis; they appeared to sit on the same parallel. Joseph then turned to the eastern wall.

    The eastern wall was divided into five vertical panels. The first depicted a scene similar to that found on the south wall; however, it looked like it was raining, but no clouds were in the sky. Joseph picked up a lamp and more closely examined the scene. Roughly half of the individuals depicted had grossly freckled skin. Joseph turned back to the general.

    The general motioned to the other scenes.

    Joseph worked his way from right to left along the wall. The next scene was disturbing. The scene depicted death throughout the land—the disc of the Sun was clear. The paint was relatively well preserved—every corpse was painted blue. The next panel depicted a gruesome civil war.

    The general stopped Joseph and said, Take note of the scenes regarding the scrolls and daggers.

    Joseph looked again. He saw Egyptian soldiers and some citizens gathering up the scrolls and daggers while the civil war raged on.

    Moving left, Joseph paused and puzzled over the next panel.

    A voice from behind then said, Summary executions. Joseph quickly turned around.

    Behind the general on the blank west wall were numerous pock marks, but at regular intervals as if whatever was anchored to the wall had been ripped free. On the right-hand side were a number of shelves, now empty. On both sides of the inner doorway he now noticed two pilasters stretching from the ceiling to the floor.

    Joseph, in a passing thought, concluded, With no cartouche, any attempt to link to the Egyptian calendar would be fruitless.

    Turning back, Joseph examined the fifth panel; it depicted the scrolls being burnt and the daggers being melted into farm implements.

    Joseph looked over at the golden box and back again to the Greek word Persepolis. Something was tugging on him, but he could not link the two. He paused to think while drinking from his canteen.

    What was it about those coins and Persepolis? His mind went blank. He moved then to the north wall and the final scene.

    The final scene stood opposite the south wall. The bottom of the wall depicted a faceless mass working the fields. Above and all around them were almost as many soldiers. Neither the Sun nor the Giza pyramids could be seen. The Nile River could be seen off to the right, and in the background where the three pyramids of Giza had been now stood a group of Egyptians, all equal in height, and peering down with that look on the soldiers and the mass. Well almost all were equal—the one in the center of the group was slightly taller than the rest. Everyone in this group carried a scroll and a dagger. The soldiers carried only spears, swords, and shields. The mass held nothing.

    Joseph turned to the two officers and asked grimly, What else was in the golden box?

    The general and lieutenant (tinged with a color pale green) did not have a reply.

    OUTSIDE ON the ledge, the general called for the helicopter. The afternoon Sun had begun its descent into evening.

    The general turned to Joseph, Can you meet at the Mexico City field office at 3:00 p.m. on the morrow next?

    Joseph replied, Yes, that will give me some time to look into a few things before we meet to review the investigation. What do you plan to do with the temple?

    General Castillo replied, We will scan for other rooms, sweep for additional metal, and take measurements and photographs. Regardless of any additional findings, the entrance and well shaft will be closed and concealed.

    We’ll meet up again in Mexico City. The helicopter had arrived, and Joseph disappeared into the jungle.


    JOSEPH LOOKED out his office window as the light of dawn began to drown out the fluorescent light from the ceiling above. Feeling refreshed, he returned to his desk. The office floor was empty except for two roaming security guards. At this hour traffic in Mexico City was tolerable. His trip in was uneventful. The only distraction was from his subconscious as it routinely threw to the surface possibilities regarding what he had seen the day before. Mere fleeting thoughts like seeds unable to take root despite fertile ground. Joseph sat down and turned on his computer.

    While it was booting up, he opened his leather briefcase and took out several accordion file folders. As he undid the cords keeping them closed, he paused and surveyed the office. That tugging feeling he felt in the temple he felt again. The connection was there, but he could not make the link. He entered his password, logged into the network, and launched his browser. He sat and stared; his mind was blank.

    He took out his antique pocket watch, and opened the outer sterling silver case. His father had found the case in Virginia while visiting customers, and gave it to Joseph along with the pocket watch as a graduation gift. The watch was held in place by two clasps and a cover. It sat in the outer case to the right. To the left was the outer case lid. Inscribed on the inside were the four lines of the nursery rhyme Sing a song of Sixpence.

    The ornate text was interesting in that certain vowels were underlined, as was the entire word song and both of the y’s were changed to i’s. Twelve piano keys, seven white and five black, starting with C were drawn below the last line of text. Below the keys was the word Largo. Above the five black keys were the following vowels: E, I, O, U, A. Each black key was assigned to a specific vowel—namely, C# to vowel E, etc.

    As Joseph looked at the inscribed folk song,

    Sing a song of Sixpence;

    Pocket full of rie;

    Four and twenti blackbirds,

    Now baked in a pie.

    he remembered that these traditionally were four lines long and were either prose or poetry. Some of them rhymed, while others were songs. They also usually contained the information within the text required to answer their implicit question or questions.

    Joseph knew the two straight-forward questions: The first, how many grains per bird? The answer is six. And the second, how many grains per pence? Twenty-four.

    Going further, he thought, "How many grains for sixpence? The answer is 144."

    Joseph paused and looked at his computer. He wondered if he still had this song on his music player. Clicking through his files he found it, and double-clicked. The melody began to play; its time signature was 2:1—two whole notes per measure. The twenty-two vowels, or notes, played as follows:


    He played with the rhythm control until it was just right and then hit loop to repeat the song. As it played, he thought back to an English Literature class in which the professor kept droning on about how those who compiled the First Folio of Shakespeare’s works knew nothing about how the plays should be grouped. While others in the class were playing with magic squares, he had taken out his watch and opened the case to see if he could find anything else in the song.

    Joseph remembered working with the five vowels. Assigning numbers to the underlined vowels—one for E up to five for A, he had totaled up the value of the twenty-two vowels. The total was sixty-four.

    He noticed that five vowels were not underlined: One, one, four, one, and one, nothing.

    Slightly disappointed, he continued with the measures as anything was better than the lecture. He added up the vowels of each measure … the first ten, the second six … and then started playing around with the numbers. Nothing special emerged. He then multiplied some of the measures, and got the following values: 60, 40, and 168—again nothing special.

    He thought to himself, "a 2:1 time signature, twenty-two vowels, and the weight of a pence?"

    Then with a concealed yawn he looked over at his neighbor’s magic square; it looked like more fun. He did one last addition: two hundred sixty-eight. Nothing, he had gone as far as he could go. Joseph then started drawing magic squares.

    With a smile, he remembered musing, If I can’t make sense of a simple nursery rhyme, how am I supposed to understand Shakespeare?

    Joseph turned off the song, closed the case, and placed the watch back in his pocket. Looking up at the wall map of Mexico City, he was quickly reminded of his meeting today with Bill. Joseph had promised to pick him up at 1:00 p.m. at the hotel for lunch.

    Bill, an old friend and fellow member of the Bureau, arrived from Washington D.C. before dawn; and was currently in route to Teotihuacán to see the largest pyramids of the Americas. He was an Egyptologist and something of an amateur archeologist. Joseph felt sorry for the tour guide, as he knew Bill would relentlessly pepper him with questions regarding not only the ruins but also the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, as well.

    Joseph, still distracted, checked his e-mail. As he scanned for must reply mail, his eyes stopped on the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Joseph had got added to the distribution list back in ’95 while he still worked in the U.S., but had not been able to find out how to get off the list since moving to Mexico City. The daily e-mail was a CDC summary report of the data it received from state and local health agencies reporting on infectious diseases in their area during the previous day. It told where people were sick and from what.

    Joseph opened the e-mail and out of habit quickly scanned for Ebola, Marburg, Hanta, and the Black Death—nothing. Looking through the unclassified cases, he noticed several. He clicked through the links to the supporting reports. He noticed two backpackers had been found dead on the Appalachian Trail. They were found asphyxiated in their tent badly ravaged by mosquitoes.

    Likely carbon monoxide, he thought as he opened the last e-mail from Bill.

    The flight was fine, driver found me at baggage claim, and we are off to the pyramids. See you today for lunch.

    Joseph replied, and then closed his browser.

    While taking out several files to set up the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting with General Castillo, Joseph looked back at the wall map and wondered. He quickly got up, grabbed his keys and security badge, and headed for the service elevator. His office door locked behind him. Something finally took root.

    Joseph turned his key for the elevator, and within seconds he was inside. He unlocked a maintenance panel and then swiped his badge through the reader behind the panel door. A yellow light blinked, and he placed his thumb on the biometric scanner. The light turned green. He then keyed in the code for his destination. The elevator descended into the subbasement of the FBI field office. The elevator door opened to a small room; surveillance was everywhere. Walking off the elevator, he approached a solid steel door. He swiped his badge and the door buzzed. Joseph entered a long corridor. A door was at the other end. A lone security camera stared at him from above his destination. Once at the other end he swiped his badge. Two wall mounted biometric devices lit up, both yellow. He placed his right hand on one—green light. He then looked into the other. After a brief alignment on both eyes, another light lit green. He entered the pass code on the numeric pad beside the door, and with a buzz Joseph opened the door.

    The door closed and the magnet seals engaged. The room was all white, well lit with broad spectrum light, and was about ten by twenty. Its furnishings consisted of a chair and a desk—a terminal, keyboard, and mouse sat on top. The terminal plugged into a lone outlet on the wall. The outlet had one plug for power, and one to connect to an unseen server. Joseph saw no security cameras in the room, but sensed other types of surveillance. The server location was reportedly in a secure room with automatic data destruction capabilities should the room’s security be breeched. The terminal was on—a password was required for activation.

    Joseph entered his password, and in a brief second the FBI’s classified records and documents were available to him searchable by document number or keyword. He entered document number 24934. After little more than ten seconds, he was looking at a scanned copy of the document—Biological weapons: A history with current concerns.

    Joseph skimmed through the executive summary to refresh himself.

    He paused and thought to himself, In a generation, only vain hubris will stand in the way of Smallpox.

    He turned to the index, and quickly reached his destination—Anthrax. He clicked back to the section, a section he was already familiar with, and began reading. Positive evidence of Anthrax infections in both humans and livestock has existed throughout recorded time.

    Joseph skipped ahead to find what he was looking for in the document. The cursor stopped—The Anthrax bacterium forms spores that can survive in the environment, such as soil, for an indeterminate period of time. The spore is a phase of dormancy that, if the conditions are favorable, ends and the bacterium emerges. Anthrax is infectious but only moderately contagious, depending largely on the host’s direct, engaged exposure to spores or the live bacteria.

    The section continued, "An Anthrax bacterium infected with a phage—a virus—that is also infectious to either animals or humans or both is a more serious concern especially if the virus is lysogenic and splices its genetic material into that of the bacterium. Such a prophage as it is termed will remain dormant in the bacterium until some environmental trigger excises it from bacterium’s chromosome. Until such trigger is encountered the bacterium will continue replicating, and each new bacterium will contain within it a latent virus that can reemerge at any time. With an environmental trigger, the virus will become active again and use the bacterium to generate new virus until a point is reached

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