This story is expanding. The plot thickens. We see the motivation behind Mr. Blaylock and his evil tactics. We get a bit more information about the technology as Dr. Haybrook and Gini try to find a way to reverse it.
If you want to catch up on past installments, you can click on the links below:
Please enjoy No Pain, No Gain – Part 11
Dr. Haybrook left his office. He told the department admin that he was not feeling well and was going home for the day. She just nodded noncommittally and went back to her cat videos on her computer monitor. He walked out to his car with a sense of urgency, but worked hard to regulate his pace. His paranoia caused by the watchful ‘eyes’ of the surveillance equipment that permeated the Kongo Fit complex was growing by the minute.
He exited the main door used by employees that was near the cafeteria. As he inhaled a large breath of the thin Albuquerque air, he tried to steel his nerves for what was ahead. Although his car seemed to become more distant with each step he took, he finally reached it. As he tugged on the door handle, he became frustrated at the locked door. He needed to settle down and actually press the unlock button on his key fob.
A few more deep breaths once he was behind the wheel and Haybrook was able to start the car. He carefully maneuvered out of the parking lot and headed for his house. While on the way, he ran what seemed like thousands of different scenarios through his mind, but failed to come up with a solution. With his mind preoccupied, he failed to see the dark SUV that settled in three car lengths behind him.
“It’s done,” the voice on the phone said.
“As I expected and as I paid for,” Blaylock said.
“Let me know if you need anything else.”
“As always, I will.”
Blaylock disconnected the call and sat down. Alberg had always been an obstacle. He was always the one questioning decisions being made at every turn. He was on the board as a step in his climb to the top of the corporate world. He didn’t care about the success of Kongo Fit. He only cared about his own success. He had done the company a favor by digging into the Buff Cuff’s safety record. It gave Blaylock the excuse he had been looking for to fix the situation.
It had been a busy day. Blaylock felt like getting away for lunch. He decided to try the Nob Hill Bar & Grill. He had heard about it repeatedly since moving to Albuquerque, but had not ventured out to try it. He was suddenly hungry with his mind at ease.
“Heading out for lunch, Mr. B?”
The voice of his Administrative Assistant, Michele, snapped him back to the here and now.
“Yes. I might be gone for a while. Call my cell if anyone needs me.”
“Will do. Enjoy your lunch.”
Blaylock left the office suite without responding. Michele was used to his detachment which she answered with a subtle head shake.
Gini was intently focused on the digital video she had taken of the movement of Joyce’s blood cells. She had transferred the video clip to her iPad so that she could magnify it more. She was amazed at the symmetry of the nano-machines. They looked like small diamond shaped objects. When she first observed them moving through the blood sample they appeared to be objects that were metallic in nature with no purpose or activity. Then she noticed an anomaly.
She adjusted the video playback to the slowest speed possible and noticed a barely perceptible movement as the diamond shaped objects righted themselves as the flowed through the liquid. She also saw them consume other components of the blood such as platelets and blood cells. The objects didn’t open up and consume them, but rather sucked them in through infinitesimal holes in one of their facets.
The most shocking thing was when she looked at another sample of the blood. She found objects being constructed by other objects. The tiny machines were replicating. Not excactly replicating, but creating new machines similar in size, but of different shapes. Was this an expected outcome? Why were the shapes varying like this? She would have to ask Haybrook.
Gini was then startled when she heard the door rattle open to Dr. Haybrook’s lab. Haybrook opened the door and immediately dropped his keys as he came in and locked the door securely behind him. He picked up his keys and put them on the counter.
“You saw the video clips I sent you, I presume?” Gini asked.
“I did. They were very disturbing.”
“Well, take a look at this,” Gini said as she turned her iPad toward Haybrook.
He looked at the two slow-motion clips.
“This is worse than I thought. Their IAI is much more advanced than I imagined.”
“Yes. Intuitive Artificial Intelligence. These are machines that are not only programmed to learn. They are also capable of observing their environment and using deductive reasoning to change their actions. These machines have adapted and are attempting to rebuild the host in which they reside.”
“They almost seem to be running on some type of energy source.”
“That’s the genius of this design. They can extract the natural electrical current that runs through every human body. Their circuitry doesn’t require much power at all. The body has more than enough. It’s the perfect, never-ending fuel source.”
“As long as the host is alive,” Gini added.
“That’s true and these anomalous machines in people like Joyce do everything in their power to keep their host alive by fortifying their defensive and offensive capabilities.”
“Turning an imperfect machine into the perfect machine?”
“In the world of IAI, that would be correct.”
Gini pondered what Dr. Haybrook had told her. This nanotechnology worked from within the human body to fortify it and replicate essential systems into improved versions of themselves by creating specialized ‘cells’ to replace the imperfect organic ones. It was advanced beyond anything she could have imagined.
“How do we stop it?” Gini asked.
Haybrook furrowed his brow.
“I just don’t know. The worst part of it is, we don’t have a lot of time to find out.”
“Well, let’s divide and conquer,” Gini said. “We can split up the blood sample and try various methods to kill off the machines. It might not be that difficult.”
“There is a big guideline that might make it much more difficult,” Haybrook said. “We have to find a method that won’t kill the host.”
“True. That rules out extreme heat and radiation and many chemical treatments.”
“Also, we don’t know if the host has higher or lower tolerances to treatments that would kill a normal human.”
“Well, we better get to work,” Gini said.
Haybrook pulled on latex gloves and took one of the vials of blood to another workstation in the lab. It was going to be a long day.
Blaylock sat at a small table away from the bar at the Nob Hill Bar & Grill. It was late for lunch, so the place was quiet leaving him alone with his thoughts. As he consumed smoked tomato bisque soup at a leisurely pace, he thought about his day. A very small percentage of this thoughts were spent on the murder of Alberg. In fact, Blaylock’s rationalization of the action caused him to not even think of it as a murder. It was just a necessary cost of doing business.
He reflected on the future of Kongo Fit and on his ultimate goal. He still thought back to that fateful day in Virginia when the military testing had gone wrong. He still felt that General Butler had soured the testing by rushing certain aspects before the technology was ready. His development of the Buff Cuff for consumer use was motivated almost exclusively as a way to show the military that they made a huge mistake by abandoning the technology. As an unexpected result, Blaylock had earned ten times the revenue for Kongo Fit than they would have made from the initial military contract. He was very proud of that and did not think twice about the methods that he employed to bring it about.
His thoughts were interrupted by the vibration of his private cell phone, a burner that he used to put some of his tactics into play.
“Yes,” he said as he connected the call.
“Just wanted to report in. Haybrook left work early and went back to his house. We are surveilling from the utility van down the street.
“Why did he leave?”
“The department admin said he went home sick.”
“Well, maybe he did. Why did you feel it was so important to call me about this? This number is for essential communication only.”
“There’s another car in his driveway. We traced the tag and found out it belongs to his intern. She appears to be at his house as well.”
“Maybe they’re just skipping out for some ‘afternoon delight’. It could be harmless. Just keep an eye on them and see what you can find out. “
Blaylock ended the call and went back to his soup. Haybrook didn’t seem like the type to have an affair with a young intern, but it was always the nerds that surprised you with their proclivities. Still, he would have to step up the scrutiny on Haybrook. He would initiate a bit of forensics on the good doctor’s recent work when he got back to the office. Haybrook was a brilliant scientist, but there were others waiting in line that would fight to work with this technology. Blaylock had zero tolerance for anything that would compromise his long-term goal. His vision was that the U.S. Government would come crawling back to him with an open wallet to buy his technology based on the success achieved in the consumer market. He would be ready for them.