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View Full Version : [NSW-Fic] Heart of the Universe


machievelli
04-09-2009, 04:13 AM
Something that I've started. Won't post much of this because I'm hoping to sell it.

May 16 2160: Geosynchronous orbit above the United States of North America

The ship plunged toward Earth, fire lancing from the wounds in it’s sides. Circling behind came half a dozen fighters, all that remained of the squadron that had ambushed the ship as it approached Luna.

Even with the ambush it had been a near thing. Though not much larger than a jumbo jet the enemy ship had been fast efficient and lethal. Five fighters were either drifting dead or scattered debris.

“It’s plunging in, Kennedy.” Flight leader Roderiguez reported. He was the surviving officer of the unit. The squadron commander had been the one who mortally wounded that monster, not that he lived to rejoice. Burn mother.

Light Scout vessel Kashti

As Kashti plunged, the ship checked her pilot. He had been injured in the fight. Whoever these people were, they were vicious. Her autonomic systems kicked in. First, repair. But considering the sensors she was detecting, she would have to hide.

Second was her pilot, and her medical bay was among the damaged compartments. He would not survive without medical attention.

She analyzed the atmosphere. Breathable by him. The aliens might be vicious, but if they had any compassion they would at least try to heal him before the torture began.

Remotes staunched his worst injuries, then moved back into the ship. The life capsule launched from her side as she plunged toward the ocean.

USS Vincennes

“We have separation.” The radar man reported. Captain Keough turned from the plotting board, moving toward the rating. On the screen they could see the ship’s dive steepening, almost as if it were preparing for a kamikaze drive. The other blip was slowing, like a space capsule.

“Is it happening again, sir?” The rating asked. Keough looked down, then set his hand on the man’s neck. The young man was terrified.

“Last time they dropped from orbit. From the look of this I think it’s an escape capsule.” He stood away. I hope. “Exo spool up the chopper and divers. If there’s anything in the capsule, I want it in the brig now.”

On the stern the SH60 Seahawk helicopter was pulled out, the ground crew setting the rotors as the diving team came up. They checked their weapons, then boarded as the pilot started the engines, the rotors spinning faster and faster.

“This is Hawk seven, Vincennes; skids light, lifting out now.” The pilot called as he lifted from the deck.

“Be advised Hawk, the target is closing.” The ship reported.

“Danger?” The pilot was an old hand. He’d seen the devastation caused by the first incursion.

“None verified. It’s dropping at five meters per second, and has changed course toward the ship.”

The pilot grimly looked through windscreen. “What’s our course, Vincennes?”

“Come right to 090, target is now seven oh miles due west, altitude angels five.”

The helicopter lifted to 5,000 feet, headed west at 215 knots. The flight crew watched for the alien craft. Seventy miles was barely within visual range from here. The co pilot reached down. Lifting a pair of binoculars. The pilot nodded at the action. “Vincennes, position report?”

“Alien craft is now at angels 4, right five degrees on the nose, range four oh miles.”

“Got it, skip.” The co pilot said. “Change course first.” He lowered the binoculars, reaching out. “Copilot’s aircraft.”

“Copilot’s aircraft.” The pilot agreed, taking the offered glasses. He let go of the stick, lifting the glasses. Lots of water, cloud- “I see it. A glowing globe.”

The aircraft closed on it’s target. The glow caused the shape of the craft it protected to be diffused. The globe was slowing, but now had changed course, heading for the helicopter instead of the ship.

“Vincennes, the object is bound for us now.”

“Be cautious.” The ship ordered.

“Yeah, right, Sherlock.” The pilot whispered.

“Say again, Hawk seven?”

“Just talking to myself, Vincennes.” The helicopter dropped toward the ocean, matching the glowing orb. It had slowed, almost as if it understood they were closing. The pilot noticed a dark band on the horizon; the Florida coast.

The globe settled to the surface, bobbing gently. The helicopter dropped toward it, and hovered. “Go!” The crew chief shouted. The divers dropped, splashing into the water.

Master Chief Ryan swam toward the now dull globe, his hand catching a depression in the hull. He reached up, catching another handhold and he swarmed up enough that he could kick his flippers free, the long rubber appendages snapped up behind his feet as they fit into other underwater depressions. Something about their placement bothered him, but he wasn’t sure why.

He climbed, hearing Nolan, the medic cursing as he followed. Ahead was what looked like a handhold, but was circular rather than squared. He caught at it, and there was a bar 20mm long, and his hand fit smoothly. He turned the bar, and heard a hiss as pressure equalized. Ahead of him a plug two meters across popped up. He readied his MP5, was ready to fire, but nothing came out.

He popped his head up. Then back down. He lifted his fist with one finger lifted. Then his hand moved like a flat see-saw. He allowed the commando sling to hold his weapon, and looked again.

The inside of the globe looked like a flight control room, one figure lay crumpled over the controls, helmet shattered. He slid over the coaming, dropping to land behind the figure, which didn’t move.

“One injured aboard. Nothing else.” He tersely reported. “Nolan, whatever it is, I think it might be dying.”

The medic slid down beside the Chief, landing in a clump before rising. He went to the figure at the controls, catching the helmet. It clicked, then slipped from it’s support ring. As it rose, the head lolled down rocking gently as the globe rocked in the waves. Blood running down his face.

Nolan looked at the Chief. “No way, Skip.”

“What?” He moved to look at the figure. “They say it’s one of them. Check him.”

Nolan shrugged, peeling back an eyelid. Then the other. “Blown pupils. I’d say a skull fracture.”

“Hawk seven, we need the Stokes litter. One injured ET.”

“Understood. Dropping hoist.” A moment later, the pilot asked. “How serious?”

“Nolan says a skull fracture.”

“Chance of survival?” The pilot demanded.

Ryan looked at Nolan, who shook his head. “Nolan says he won’t live to reach the ship.”

“Roger, wait one.” Above them, the third diver threaded the solid litter used for rescue missions through the opening. Nolan caught it, disconnecting the straps, then he reached down releasing the harness. He and Ryan caught the body, lifting it until he lay in the litter.

“Be advised, we have been ordered to Miami General. We are now under Icarus alert.”

“Well there goes my weekend.” Nolan groused.

“Hey, man, we might be giving up our lives because of this guy.”

machievelli
04-09-2009, 08:23 PM
May 16 2160: Miami General

Terri Cole snapped awake as Tom touched her arm. “We have an emergency op coming in.”

“Right.” She sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. Even after 4 years as trauma surgeon, she still had problems with sleeping. Her head felt like a basketball after a game, and her eyes must look like poached eggs. Her stomach rumbled at the thought.

Great, breakfast metaphors. She thought. If my mouth tastes like cottage cheese, I’m giving up medicine and getting a job as a massage therapist.

It didn’t happen. Lucky her. She felt around, catching the frame of her glasses. The headache that had become her constant companion threatened to show up again. She smelled coffee, and opened her eyes as she set the glasses on her nose. A cup of hospital coffee was in front of her eyes, the steam fogging her glasses, and she took it with a nod of thanks. Probably the worst coffee in the world, hospital coffee rivaled that served in police stations.

She sipped, the caffeine hitting like a sledge hammer. Hello, migraine. She drained the cup, holding it out, feeling it fill. “Talk to me, Tom.”

“Navy chopper. One patient; blown pupils, BP spiking like the stock market. The SEAL medic says it’s probable skull fracture. They had a choice of taking fifty minutes to get back to their ship, or fifteen to us.”

“All right, prep MRI and X-ray. Have trauma three ready, get the team together. I’ll be down when the chopper comes in.”

“Right, doc.” He went out.

She stood, draining the second cup of coffee. It was bad during the long shifts. Almost 30 hours straight, followed by a full day off. It wasn’t enough.

She flipped on the light in the small washroom, eyes squeezing shut against the sudden brilliance. She walked to the sink with years of practice, hand flipping the faucet on, and splashed her face with a handful. She gasped at the chill, eyes opening in slits to look at herself.

Swift, Terri. Next time take off the glasses, she took off her glasses, wiping them with some tissue, then slipped them back on. Her eyes didn’t look that bad, really. Blue orbs in a white face, pale blonde hair looking a bit scraggly, but that was normal after a day of work for a trauma surgeon. She pulled the tie from her hair, pulled her hair back again, and used the tie. Better.

Miami General ER

“Get away from him!” The man with a gun demanded. As they had wheeled the patient in, the ER team had descended like locusts. What they hadn’t expected was three armed men that wouldn’t let them approach. Now one of them was aiming a submachine gun at them, glaring.

“We have to cut away the suit-”

“Touch the suit and they won’t be able to ID you without DNA!” Ryan snapped.

“Hold it right there, Rambo.” A woman snapped. The man looked up at the figure in a lab coat. She walked toward him and stopped less than a meter from him. “We need to deal with the patient, and you are interfering with that.”

“Lady-”

“That’s Doctor.” She interrupted. “Doctor Cole to you. The one who is going to do everything I can to save this patient. Now we will set a few ground rules.” She growled, pacing toward him. Unwillingly Ryan backed away. “This is my playground. You play nice, I let you play, you mess with me, and that gun is going to be inserted by me as a suppository, then I’ll not only pull the trigger, I’ll be the one to patch you up. Understood?” The man nodded. “Good. Now get out of the way.”

She turned, her team descending on the patient. A nurse caught up a pair of surgical scissors, but the material refused to cut. “Doc, it won’t cut.”

Terri snagged the fighting knife from Ryan’s belt. “Use this.” She snarled.

The fighting knife cut it, but the nurse grunted with every stroke of the blade. Slowly but surely it sliced through the suit until the chest was bared.

“We’re wasting time people!” Terri shouted. “Tom, get his boots! Peel him!”

At her order two nurses pinned down the injured patient’s shoulder. Two more caught the loose suit, peeling it off his shoulders and arms.

“Sucking chest!” One reported as they drew it down past his waist, then handed off to two more who dragged the suit off his legs.

“Shattered femur!” Another shouted.

“Plug the chest, tourniquet the leg!” Terri ordered. “We don’t fix the skull he’s toe-tagged.”

The team swung into action. A man lifted the limp form, plugging the hole in the figure’s back, another taped a piece of plastic over the front.

“MRI?”

“Standing by! So is X-Ray.” Tom reported.

“All right, roll it now!”

“We go-”

“Fine!” Terri rounded on Ryan. “But aim those damn things somewhere else!”

Two orderlies shoved the gurney toward the elevator. Terri walked to the other elevator, getting off at the third floor. The operating room was prepped, and she took a quick tour before going into the prep room. She slid into her scrubs, walking to the sink to scrub in. She cleaned with the intensity trained into her in Med school. Doctor O’Neal came in, and began scrubbing.

“Sucking chest and compound left leg.” He mused. “I’ll work on the chest. We can’t guarantee he’ll live even after you’re done if we don’t fix that.”

“Agreed.” Terri held her arms up, her elbows shutting off the water. A nurse brought a sterilized towel, and Terri wiped her hands, then slid her hands into gloves. Behind her O’Neal followed.

The door slammed open, and Tom came in dragging the gurney. “Monitor two!” He shouted.

Terri turned, a nurse still not gloved hit the key, and the MRI came up. “Major fracture and hematoma.” She said after a moment. “Set up the trepanning gear, smallest bore we have. Where’s the x-ray?” The nurse keyed in a sequence, and Terri looked at it. “All right. Now team, intubate and anesthetize, stat.” She turned. Three men with guns were in her operating room. “You three, get out.”

“Doc-”

“Get. Out!” She roared.

Ryan snarled. “Doc, one of us will have to be in here.”

“Fine. You, scrub in.” She nodded to one of the nurses. “Ginger, make sure he’s properly prepped.” She turned away from him as her team worked. Collins, the anesthesiologist was dialing in the settings, the patient’s breathing smoothing out. Terri looked at the MRI one more time. “Right, everyone, show time.”

Miami General ER May 16 2160

The door opened and three men entered. They were eminently forgettable except for the fact that they all wore black suits. The man in the lead would have been striking anywhere. A long hawk-like face, his sunglasses hiding his eyes. He walked to the desk, a badge flashing. The nurse froze at the logo.

“The patient from the Navy chopper. Where is he?”

“Operating room 3, sir.” The woman stuttered.

“Thank you.” The man motioned. The two behind him moved forward, a wall of menace without a weapon or threat revealed.

The elevator opened, the three exiting. They stopped at the door. Six people hovered over the figure on the table, another with a machine gun stood to the side.

“You, elevator. You, stairs.” The leader ordered.

“This is odd, Terri.” O’Neal commented.

“What, Pat?”

“This chest wound.” He motioned to the bare chest before him. “It was sucking when he arrived, but by the time he was under, it stopped.”

“Define stopped.” She said. The hematoma was almost drained.

“The sucking stopped. We haven’t cut into him, but his lung looks like it’s healing.”

She shook her head. “Wait a minute; a sucking chest wound just healed itself?”

“That’s not all.” Tom commented. “We catalogued a shattered femur, but I can’t find it.”

“Be real people.” Terri snapped. She looked at where Tom was standing. She looked down at the leg. The compound fracture had been reduced, and before her eyes, she could see the tear caused by the bone slowly sealing itself. Unbidden her eyes went to the chest wound. It was shrinking even as she watched.

“Doctor Cole.” The anesthesiologist called. “He’s coming up.”

“What?” She spun.

Collins was readjusting the system. “He’s resisting the anesthesia. He’s under, but it’s almost a twilight sleep.”

Terri looked at the EKG. Sure enough it was just below being awake. She propped open his eyelid, a light shining on the pupil. “Normal reaction.” She shook her head. “This is impossible.”

“Maybe not, Doctor.” She looked up. In the observation area a man looked down at her. “My name is Gosset, Doctor. Under International security restrictions, you and your team are required to go with me.”

“What?” She snapped.

“Doctor, I will be blunt. That patient is an extraterrestrial who was shot down four hours ago. His existence is top secret code name Icarus. If you will not come with us, we have instructions to execute you. The decision is yours.”

machievelli
04-16-2009, 03:43 AM
III

Cole stormed from the operating room, ripping off her gloves. The man who had threatened her stood watching her with a slightly amused expression.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” She shouted. “Threatening my team with death for what? For someone you claim is an alien?”

“It is no claim, doctor. The three SEALS who brought him in took him from his rescue capsule. That man, whatever he is, came from outer space.”

“An obviously human man that came from outer space.” She sneered. “It’s
impossible. Not unlikely, but absolutely, no way it can happen so don’t BS me impossible.’

“Really, Doctor-”

“As much as it is beloved of science fiction writers, parallel evolution is the stuff of dreams. “She snarled.” H Beam Piper back in the fifties described parallel evolution as a man on Earth making a lock, and someone hundreds of light years away designing a key that would work in that specific lock. What is this really? Some exercise to see if-”

Gosset raised his hand and the man to his left reached into his jacket and withdrew a 4mm gauss pistol. He lifted it to aim into the air. “Doctor, this is not a drill. This as real as it gets. You will pack what you need from here and be ready to move in twenty minutes. Any of your people who are not ready by then have two choices. They can be dragged out with nothing but what they are wearing, or they will suffer a tragic handgun accident arranged by Phillips here.” He smiled, a gentle gesture unlike his chill words. “And I would tell them now that if they call anyone, that person has the same choice you do. That is twenty minutes starting…” He looked at his watch. “Now.”

That didn’t stop the madness. Gosset’s orders were that anyone who had actual contact and sight of the ’alien’ was to be taken into custody. By the time Gosset was done, the parade had included her, three other doctors, seven nurses, three orderlies five patients the three men of the Seal Dive team, the lab techs from both X-ray and MRI; and two of the hospital security guards. It branched in to absurd when Tom Cavanaugh’s wife called him. He’d told her only that the government was telling him to go out of town, and half an hour later his wife and their two children found themselves escorted into the waiting room at the airport.

That wasn’t all. Every sheet, garment and glove that had touched him had been binned, sealed, and brought along.

The last she had seen of her ‘patient’ had been when Gosset’s storm troopers had arrived and escorted her best damn ER trauma team to waiting vans. The figure, still with his IV tree attached to the gurney, was stuffed into an ambulance with half a dozen troops that followed them.

The military transport, one of the Boeing C25a Megaliners that had been bought to replace the aging C17 Nightingales waited as the vans drove directly aboard. They were the size of a 3 story building inside the cargo bay, and all four vehicles fit with plenty of room. There were two more decks, and as disgruntled as the staff were, the support staff of the aircraft did what they could. Cole stuffed the bag with a single change of clothes in an overhead bin.

“Doctor Cole?” The stewardess; a slim woman in army fatigues came from forward.

“What now? Does the president have a hangnail I have to remove?”

“No, ma’am.” The girl replied. While she might have been able to wield an iron, it was obvious that irony was beyond her. “Agent Gosset told me that until we land, you’re the patient’s doctor of record.”

“So? He has his prisoner, he can slap on band aids with the best of them.”

“Ma’am, he told me to tell you, ‘Doctor, if you would, please check on the patient. I would much prefer a living specimen to a corpse‘.”

Cole growled. What she wanted was a bone saw and to see if she could outdo the record for amputation of a leg- 53 seconds- with Gosset as the patient.

She sighed, walking forward.

*****

Terri walked into the room where the patient lay. She looked at the monitors anchored to the frames of the aircraft. They had cobbled together a full scale ICU; and, she had to admit, done a good job of it. Every instrument she would have wanted was there, every readout, every sensor.

She walked over, getting her first real look at her patient. His face was gaunt
as if from hunger, and she adjusted the drip on the d5w IV. Then she examined the face before her. He was attractive, almost a decade younger than herself, Perhaps twenty years old. She looked at the man, then gently reached out to touch his cheek. Then she turned to the monitors. She looked at the EEG, then sat, nibbling her lip. That was… odd.

*****

The stewardess sighed as the woman doctor headed forward. Would the civilians even care that her crew had raided the airliners that had been preparing to take off for supplies? She looked over the dinners that awaited the microwave and service. Steak! Real honest to god once a living cow steaks! Chicken! Real I was once a bird chicken! Did they know how rare that was? They were so rare only first class passengers and the wealthy these days got them. Enough for seconds for everyone on the plane!

Not to mention the small single shot bottles of liquors and full bottles of champagne and wine. Even if they were prisoners, they were going to get the best the government could afford or grab.

True to her duty, she took a dinner and stuck it in the microwave unit. Maybe a good meal would calm the doctor down.

*****

Survival was priority one. The control unit was small, perhaps the size of a man’s thumb. But it was as powerful as a supercomputer. It had exactly one mission. Keep it’s biological unit in operation. Survival was priority one. It was usually an easy command. Keep your biological unit alive, whatever it takes.

Sometimes it was a difficult task, this was one of them. The biological unit had suffered massive trauma; leg shattered, lung pierced, skull fracture. The control system had too many things to work on. The leg had caused the femoral artery to be ripped apart along a 75mm stretch, something that would have killed an unaugmented human in less than five minutes. The sucking chest would have caused death in perhaps 30 minutes. The skull fracture could cause death in perhaps an hour.

So it had to prioritize. The artery was fixed within the first two minutes. The sucking chest within twenty. Thankfully the skull fracture was dealt with from outside. The system had not been sure it could fix all three in time. The smaller repairs were still being taken care of, but now it ran into another problem. Repairs needed energy, something supplied usually by fat cells. But almost all of the fat had been drained by the first desperate rush of keeping the biological unit alive.

More energy was needed.

*****

The EEG made no sense. There was the slow alpha line, meaning the patient was asleep, along with the slow beta line of sleep. Both delta and theta, indicative of sleep. But what was this fifth line? It was too even and modulated to be natural. In all her years, she had never seen anything like it.

She smelled something, and turned. The young stewardess brought in a tray. On it was a steaming cup of coffee, and…

“Doctor, will steak do for dinner?”

Terri stood, looking at the dinner plate. Steak, a baked potato, broccoli with cheese sauce. She felt her mouth water. It had been years since she had eaten real beef, and months since she had eaten such a feast. She looked up, smiling. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, doctor.” The girl smiled impishly. “There is even seconds. Unless you would prefer chicken…”

“Real chicken?” Terri asked.

“As real as the steak, doctor.”

“Then chicken, please.”

“Ten minutes.” The girl turned, leaving the room.

Terri sat, picking up the knife. A steak was worthy of due reverence.

*****

The control unit sensed what it required. In an emergency it could use it’s subordinate units, and convert substances a living being would refuse to eat into necessary fuel. It activated the subsidiary systems.

*****

Terri’s eyes went to the EEG as it spiked. She looked toward her patient; no change, then back to the screen. As she looked away he rolled from the bed and padded toward her.

That fifth line looked almost like a standard beta line, a fully conscious mind in action. She looked back, then suddenly gave a yeep sound at the figure that stood over her.

The man looked like a revenant; a dead body reanimated for some other purpose. His eyes were open in slits, enough to see by, but he hadn’t focused on her. Instead his eyes were locked on the plate.

She leaped backwards as a hand came up, then came down on the remains of the steak she had cut only a few bites from. It closed, lifting the dripping meat to his mouth, and he bit into it with savage intensity. The meat ripped from the bone, and he gave a sound of hunger as it vanished into his maw. He chewed twice, then swallowed convulsively. Terri skittered backwards on hands and feet as the figure seemed to consider the bone and meat remaining, turning the morsel, then snapped forward again to rip the remaining meat from the bone.

He considered the stripped bone in his hand, then dropped it, turning back to the plate. His hand closed on the almost uneaten potato, stuffing it into his mouth. His jaw moved a few times, then he swallowed. Again he focused on the plate, and the hand came down, lifting a mass of broccoli in cheese sauce. The entire mass was stuffed into his mouth, and he chewed.

Terri stared at the man. The EEG on the screen hadn’t changed. Damn it, the brain read as asleep, but he was up and moving!

There was a click, and the stewardess came in. “Here, Doctor! Chicken Kiev with rice!” She suddenly froze as the man turned to face her. “Doctor-”

“Don’t move!” Terri shouted. “He’s eating!”

The man turned, walking toward the girl. The stewardess stood frozen as he approached. Then his hand descended, grabbing the meat from the plate. He stuffed it in his mouth, biting down, teeth shearing through the meat.

“Put the plate on the table here.” Terri ordered. Heat another dinner, right now!” Shivering in fear, the stewardess set the plate down and fled. Terri watched the man devour the meat, then he turned toward the rice and vegetables on the plate.

When she returned, two soldiers came with her. The man turned toward the stewardess, heading toward her when the men leaped forward.

The first caught the prisoner’s left arm, and flew into the wall as he flexed his arm almost negligently. The other tried to hit the prisoner with a baton. He succeeded in landing the blow, but the figure snatched the weapon from him, then slapped him into the wall before grabbing the steak from the plate, and stuffing in into his mouth. The stewardess stod there like a deer in the headlights as the figure rammed food into his maw. The plate was almost empty when suddenly he stopped.

Almost gently he set down the half of a potato he had not eaten, then collapsed onto the floor.

machievelli
05-15-2009, 09:50 PM
IV

Nellis AFB, (Area 51) March 17 2160

The Boeing C25a Megaliner dropped onto the tarmac at the base. Inside it, Doctor Cole glared at the ground. It was insane.

The stewardess, a slim woman in army fatigues came from forward. “Please, we will be disembarking in a few moments. Please take your onboard luggage-”

“What luggage?” She snarled, slapping the lap belt away. The woman retreated.

“Chill, doc.” The wacko who had threatened her ER team said. “We knew what we expected-”

She rounded on him. “You low brow lack brain storm trooper! I didn’t sign up for this!”

Ryan sighed, popping the seat belt and stood. He towered over her, but her rage towered over everything. The man who had earned every medal of honor from the Navy Cross down found himself backing away as she stalked toward him in a towering rage.

“What do you government idiots care for the little people! We just pay your salaries and get in the way when you decide to show off!” She roared.

The ramp slid down, and a voice cut into her diatribe. “Doctor, if you must have a target for your ire, that would be me.” Gosset came up the ramp. His shadows followed. “If you will Doctor.” He motioned toward the ramp. “I think since you’ve been caught in this mess, you deserve an explanation. As soon as you‘ve gotten settled I will explain.”

Gosset led the newly displaced people to the vans. Cole looked around. She had seen photos of the security at military bases since the attack. This was the first she had seen up close and in person. Six vehicles, the newest hybrid Hummers paced them. Three were aiming outward, but the other three ominously tracked the vans.

They pulled up outside what looked like a base hospital, though the guard towers, machineguns and mine fields ruined the effect. The vans stopped, and each was emptied with military proficiency. Tom Cavanaugh’s family were escorted to a series of rooms that might have been designed for a man with teenagers. Even Cole’s room was larger than her condo in Miami.

She stormed back and forth as she waited. It hadn’t taken her five seconds to settle in since she had only the clothes she stood in. Enough of this claptrap. The man was an actor, and the entire military and government establishment was in the middle of some god awful drill. Eventually some idiot pretending to be an important official would apologize, fly them home, and let them get on with their lives.

A bell chimed, and she glared around. The communications center panel was blinking and she stalked toward it. Gosset’s face appeared, and he looked at her. “Doctor Cole, please report to conference room C.”

“No.” She snapped. He looked surprised.

“Excuse me, doctor?”

“I said no. Two letters, no way you can make anything out of them other than a flat negative. You decided that I was to watch the patient, then decided I wasn’t. I for one am finished. Once you’ve finished this drill, let me know so I can go home.”

He closed his eyes, and she could almost see him counting. When he reached ten, his eyes opened. “Maybe I wasn‘t clear before, doctor. This is not a drill, and you are not going home until this is resolved. So please, either come down to conference room C, or I will send some people to drag you here.”

She resisted until four rather large men arrived and threatened to carry her. When she arrived she was in a rare mood. Her team, who had seen the mood before wanted to be anywhere else.

Gosset arrived, taking the seat at the head of the table. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have been informed that I can brief you all in on the situation. Please hold any questions until I am done.

“Twenty-five years ago, an alien ship dropped a nuclear device that leveled the city of Denver Colorado. That attack galvanized the world, requiring us to form the Union that now exists, as you all know. Every since that day we have been arming ourselves to defend the planet, and yesterday we had our chance.

“A ship arrived and we shot it down. The pilot ejected and was picked up by the helicopter from the cruiser Vincennes. The helicopter delivered that alien to your ER. That is why you’re all here now.” He looked around the room. “Doctor Cole, I know all of the arguments against parallel evolution, and I agree. But I want you to understand this. By whatever visual test we can use, he is human, within 99% of normal, except for this.” He touched a control. The first picture was of the patient in the ER. All they could see was a bloody body. The wounds were obvious in the camera. A shattered leg, a chest wound that looked like someone had shoved a spear through him, and the head trauma.

Gosset looked at their faces. “Now I want you to look at this.” He brought up another camera view. Cole recognized the operating room. The patient lay there, helpless. But her eyes tightened. The shattered femur had been reduced, as had the chest wound. But both of the surgeons in charge had said those wounds had healed themselves!

Another photo. She saw herself aboard the plane as the alien fed. She had spent part of the flight feeding the alien every half an hour as he woke up to stuff more food down his throat. The military had excluded her after the second feeding; literally dragging her from the room.

Another, and she found herself on her feet. The patient lay there, and she could see nothing wrong with him at all. The men that moved around him were balanced between caregivers and armed men. “Doctor, before you say anything, this feed is live. Every injury except the head trauma has healed. If you look at the time line, all but the head wound caused by the injury and you’re surgery had been healed at this point, the head trauma is healing even as we speak. He has been in our hands less than twelve hours, and has healed as if a week has passed.”

Terri sat again. “So you have your alien, why are we still here?”

Gosset flipped to the feed from the hospital room on the plane. After the first feeding, Terri had taken the patient in hand. Instead of merely letting him stuff food into his mouth, she had taken to feeding him like a child. He had been complacent, allowing her to choose what to feed him. The third had been the same.

The fourth feeding had been more like the first. The stewardess that had taken Terri’s place tried to feed him as she had done, and instead the ravenous beast had returned. He had begun grabbing food from the plate almost the instant he began feeding, ignoring the upraised fork until everything else was gone. Only then did he grab the food from the utensil.

The fifth and sixth had been cold faced men who merely put down portions from military field rations, standing back as he stuffed himself.

“Something about you soothed him. Until we can question him, I would like you to take over his care, Doctor.”

“So I am to get him well so you can torment him-” She leaped as his hand slammed down on the table.

Gosset stood. “Let me be clear, Doctor. My family was in Denver. Mother, father, brothers, wife and children. All gone in one blast.” He pointed at the screen, and his voice grew harsh. “His people caused that, for no reason we can understand!

“So I accept your characterization.” He stood proudly. “I will torment him, as I have been tormented for half my life. I will brutalize and torture him until we find out why they attacked us. If I have to rip the answer screaming from his body, I will do it. If I must sacrifice all of you along with myself for the good of mankind, I will pull the trigger every time gladly.” He glared at her, a fanatic in his devotion to his duty. Then he sighed, eyes closing wearily. He sat, holding his head in his hands. “I will earn my place in hell, Doctor, in devotion to my duty.

“But you can mitigate that pain for him. Be there with him, whatever it is about you that made him calm, use it. Or sit on your fanny and watch. I don’t care which.”

Damn he would take that path. She had always gone the extra kilometer for her patients. To stand by while her patient needed help was as impossible as standing on the surface of the sun. “Very well.” She snarled.

*****

It took the better part of an hour. First they had to take her picture and attach it to an ID badge. Then she found herself being examined by a military doctor who assured she was in good health. Only then was she given fresh scrubs, and escorted by a pair of armed guards, brought to the special ward.

She entered a scene of manic movement. Soldiers armed with sonic stun guns stood back as one of the guards came over with a bucket of what looked like garbage. He set the bucket down, then shoved it forward with his foot. The captive grabbed a handful it, stuffing it in his mouth as if he were starving.

“What is going on here?” She shouted.

“Feeding time in the zoo.” One of the guards snorted. “He’ll eat anything won’t he?”

Terri saw red. These…men… were treating a still healing prisoner this way? “You monsters!” She stormed forward. The guard that had set down the bucket backed away as she shoved past. “Hey, watch it! He’s dangerous when he’s hungry!”

She didn’t listen. She knelt, catching the man’s hand as it raised a particularly noisome morsel.

He froze, then his muscles loosened. She removed the stuff, gagging, yet he kneeled quiescent. “If anyone so much as thinks of doing this again, I’ll geld you with my fingernails.” She rasped. The prisoner whimpered, his hand trying to go back into the bucket. But he was not resisting her pull upward.

“Three meals, hot, right this minute!”

“Ma‘am-”

“Do it or I’ll let him eat you next you mindless Nazi!”

The meals weren’t delivered that quickly, but once she had stuffed a handful of French fries into his mouth the prisoner relaxed. Patiently, she began shoveling fuel into that ravenous maw. He ate only two of the trays and she could tell when he was replete when he ignored the fork with a piece of soy-beef held before his mouth for almost a full minute. She sighed, eating the morsel herself.

*****

That marked the start of three days of hell. The period had extended; now he only had to be fed every hour or so, but he was still comatose and ravenous when he did eat. She recorded the rapid healing, the hole in his scalp had healed as if by special effects, and the MRI and X-rays done while he was comatose showed internal healing at a rate faster than normal.

They showed more than that. There was some kind of cylindrical growth in the mastoid sinus about 5 centimeters long and 1.5 centimeters around. The full x-ray set showed a webbing inside the muscles all over his body.

By the end of the third day he was completely healed the constant feeding had filled his face out, looking now like a patient merely sleeping. She examined the chart, then her patient. A pity he was so young. She leaned over him, eyes on his face.

His eyes opened suddenly, and she started back in surprise.

V

21 May 2160 Area 51

Karad lay there as the sub processor fed the data from the recent events into his brain. He noted his treatment by these people who looked human but didn’t seem to be by their actions. The processor had used his eyes (when his eyes were open) to record what had happened. He had to admit the one woman had treated him kindly, but the others…

His people’s idea of how to treat prisoners was much more refined. Even if they eventually caught one of the Solthura, they wouldn’t treat them in such a cold manner, unless there was no alternative.
His body had been enhanced by the use of nanites or ‘nannies’ that made them stronger and more resilient to damage. But there was a cost. The average enhanced human ate half again what the normal human did; more if injured. The nannies needed the additional calories of energy and molecules for major repairs.

Those calories could come from any source if the body could break down the material. Even the garbage they had fed him for almost 10 hours had needed nutrients. As much as people forgot it, polymers and plastics were also based on biologically created materials, and they could supply those needs.

Still, forcing a prisoner to eat garbage was a bit much.

He accessed the data, then felt a gentle nudge. Karad, do you hear me? The Valkyr class scout ship Kashti asked.

I hear you, Kashti. He replied.

I was worried, the ship replied. They were treating you so shabbily.

He wanted to snort. The Valkyr class was the first true AI mankind had created. They were issued initially as something equivalent to a teenager around 18, with the capability of a full warship. They grew along with their commanders; becoming not a mirror image, but a complement of that person. Sometimes they became like a nagging wife. Status report.

Kashti paused. Not good. They did a lot of damage, and my survival sphere is in their hands. I will have to get it back.
Understood. Beyond that, report.

Three more days of repair, the AI replied.

Karad wanted to sigh. Understood.

Karad, I would mention that your alpha and beta levels have risen high enough that they will know you are no long asleep.

Then maybe I should wake up?

*****

Karad opened his eyes. The first thing he noticed was a woman’s face. She had blue eyes the color of the Vastian Sea, pale blonde hair the color of summer grain. He resisted the urge to reach out and touch that face even as she jerked back in shock.

She spoke, her words didn’t make sense. Her voice however was warm and smooth like aged brandy. He didn’t mind that he could not understand as long as she was willing to speak.

*****

He didn’t seem to understand. Terri started to wonder if perhaps this was not a faked up drill. The man didn’t even have a look of incomprehension. All he did was look at her and smile. But that smile made her feel warm inside for some reason.

He tried to sit up, and felt the restraints they had begun using in the last two days. This he seemed to comprehend. He relaxed against the bed. Except for the one glance he had given the straps holding his hands and body, his attention was fully on her.

The door opened, and Gosset came in. Terri wanted to stand between him and the patient, to protect him. Even as the thought formed she knew all it would cause was her own pain, because Gosset was a zealot; And to a zealot anything that interfered with their belief was a danger.

The man walked over, looking down. The patient’s eyes moved to him, then his face, turning that same intense scrutiny on the man.

“I see your patient is awake finally.” Gosset leaned forward. “Do you speak English?” No sign of comprehension. “Wakaramasu ka?” Still no sign. Gosset impressed her when he rattled off a dozen different other variations on ‘do you understand’ in everything from Russian to Swahili. None seemed to be recognized.

“This will make it difficult.” Gosset commented as if it were merely a malfunctioning computer monitor. “We can’t very well interrogate him without having him understand the questions.”

“Maybe you can teach him enough English to get by.”

“Really.” Gosset leaned back. “Do I look like I’ll wait patiently for several months?”

Terri didn’t reply immediately, because she couldn’t see him being patient for several minutes let alone months. “H Beam Piper suggested what he called basic English. A one thousand word vocabulary.”

“Really, doctor. I do not have the time to waste on an android.”

She looked at him confused. “Android?”

“The scientists we have working on this have come up with two opposing theories as to our friend’s existence. One suggests he is someone taken from our world and implanted with devices to control him. The other is that he is an android designed and built in human form.”

“That’s… insane.”

“Really?” Gosset motioned toward her computer. “Look at the file marked ‘blood work‘.” She walked across to the computer, and brought up the file. She stared at the electron microscope view of something found in his blood.

She remembered the movie The Matrix, the robots that swarmed ships under. This looked something like that, but according to the scale, it was less than 10 nanometers in length. “What is this?”

“A machine found in his blood.” Gosset replied. “You can’t see it in the picture, but it is not only still alive, it is invasive. It actually started dismantling the glass molecules of the slide as that photo was taken. We destroyed it after taking that photo.”

She looked at the man, then at the patient. His eyes were going back and forth like a tennis match as the two spoke, but there was still no comprehension. As much as part of her wanted to accept that he was a construct, her mind rebelled. Would a machine consider her so fascinating? He had watched her like a hawk watching prey, there was interest there. As she thought it, she felt herself flush. What interest was there? Was it…

She caught herself, realizing that Gosset had said something she had missed. “Excuse me?”

“Since the majority believes it is just a machine, I have ordered that it be dismantled.”

She bridled. ‘You will not take apart a human being on my watch.” She growled.

“Oh really.” Gosset leaned against the table the android, no the patient was strapped to. “And how do you think you will stop me?”

She stood, stalking toward him. “Unless you remove me, I am his doctor of record, correct?” He nodded. “Then until I release my patient, you will do nothing of the sort. Now if you will excuse me, I have work to do. To answer you’re questions, I am going to have to teach him enough English to get by.”

Gosset merely looked at her for a moment. “You have five days, doctor.” Then he turned on his heel and left.

machievelli
05-15-2009, 09:51 PM
Unless I get more votes, this is all you get to see.

Comments might be nice too... :P

machievelli
05-16-2009, 07:54 PM
Unless I get more votes, this is all you get to see.

Comments might be nice too... :P

I am sorry I was not clear; I want a minimum of five votes or six comments before it will continue...

machievelli
05-16-2009, 07:55 PM
I am sorry I was not clear; I want a minimum of five votes or six comments before it will continue... So far it is two and zip. And no, it is not negotiable.