We catch up with Joyce a bit this week as Dr. Haybrook and Gini continue to look for a way to reverse the technology. Things get a little more complicated, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Please enjoy No Pain, No Gain – Part 13
Gini logged in to her account on the University of New Mexico’s mainframe. Her logon was still active and the landing page read “Welcome Ragini Gagrani”. She quickly uploaded the script she had written along with the first 25% of the nanotechnology code that Haybrook had given her. This would run for at least 30 minutes.
“The script is running,” she said to Haybrook.
“Great. I think the routine is going to be deeper in the code, but it’s safe to run it through the entire code just in case things have been moved around,” Haybrook said.
“So, what do we do while it’s running?”
“I have some theories on some things that we can try to disable the nanotechnology, but we have a problem.”
“Well, the technology is powered by the natural electrical current in the human body. Each individual nano-bot has a tiny fuel cell that is continually charged by the body’s current. Once we extracted them from Joyce, we took away the power source.”
“How long do they last outside the body?”
“That varies, but as soon as the current was interrupted, they went into a low power mode. Any testing we do in trying to reverse the effects and disable them will be tainted by the minute as the power degrades further.”
“So, if we find a solution, we won’t know if it will work while the bots on in full-power mode.”
“That’s right,” Haybrook said.
“Well, I only see one solution. Inject the tech into me and we’ll have a better simulation as we test our solutions,” Gini said.
Haybrook was taken aback by Gini’s offer. She was just an intern, but was apparently invested in correcting this abomination of the technology. He smiled at her.
“What are you smiling about?” she asked.
“While I appreciate your offer and sacrifice, it won’t be necessary.”
“What do you mean? It seems like the only way to test the alternatives based on what you said.”
“It is the only way,” Haybrook said. “It just won’t be necessary for you to be injected with the technology, I’ve already injected into myself.”
“What? Why would you do that?”
“We just determined why. The risk is fairly low. I’ve checked the blood type of Joyce and the others affected and I don’t fall into the grouping with them. The tech should work normally on me. If it doesn’t, I could never let you take the risk.”
“That begs the question, are the bots the same in those where it works normally and those where it doesn’t?”
“None of this lends itself to perfect experimental conditions,” Haybrook said. “We’ll just have to hope for the best. Now, let’s get to work on seeing what will disable the tech.”
Joyce looked around at her surroundings. Her eyes had totally adjusted to the darkness. What she saw around her would have disgusted her in her previous incarnation. Looking at the creatures that surrounded her in the room, however, she felt oddly at peace. They seemed to connect with her through an empathic energy that made her feel welcome and at ease.
There was also another underlying feeling. It was rage. A feeling of hatred for the humans that had caused them to be in this condition bubbled beneath the surface along with a sense of common purpose to make them pay for what they did. The island that was Joyce’s human self was quickly disappearing and she was content with it.
“I have no idea what happened to Mr. Alberg,” Blaylock said to the police detective that had greeted him in his office at eight in the morning. “He left the meeting yesterday and went to meet with Dr. Haybrook. After that, I have no idea.”
Blaylock had come in early to put some of his latest ideas into motion. When he entered his office, he found Detectives Stern and Burgess. Michele, Blaylock’s executive assistant, was in as well and had let the detectives into Blaylock’s office. He would have to speak to her later about this. He didn’t like being ambushed.
“What about Mr. Masden? He was reported missing this morning by his brother. They meet for breakfast every day and he didn’t show up today. He was last seen reporting for work here,” Stern asked.
“I have no idea. I’m not sure why you’re asking me. I wasn’t here after the board meeting yesterday. I’m sure my assistant told you this.”
“She did. We just wanted to be thorough. It’s a strange coincidence that two people associated with your organization are missing within 24 hours of each other. When it’s someone high-profile like Mr. Alberg, we are under a bit of pressure to find out what happened. I hope you understand,” Burgess said.
“I do. We will cooperate fully with your department. I’m sure they will both be found. Mr. Alberg is a bit eccentric. It’s possible he’s jetted off somewhere for some new venture. As for Mr. Masden, I don’t even know him. It’s a big organization and I don’t know all of our personnel.”
“Understood. Here is my card, Mr. Blaylock. Will you please let me know if you hear anything on your end for either of these gentlemen?” Stern asked as he handed Blaylock a business card.
“I certainly will. Please let me know when you find either of them. I’m sure they’re both safe and sound.”
The detectives shook hands with Blaylock and left his office. Blaylock sat down behind his desk and punched a button on his phone.
“Yes, Mr. Blaylock.”
“Michele, will you please come in here. We need to speak about this morning’s visitors.”
Haybrook and Gini worked well into the night. Finally, at about 2 A.M., they were both exhausted beyond any point of being coherent.
“I’m going to go back to the house and get some sleep,” Haybrook said. “You’re welcome to bunk in here if you want. There’s a futon and a bathroom. Sometimes I spend nights out here when I’m working on something.”
“Yes, I don’t feel like I’d be very good driving home right now. Plus, we need to get busy as soon as we get some rest.”
They had worked on different ways to disable the technology. Haybrook had been connected to a transformer and had been given electrical shocks to the highest degree of tolerance. The technology seemed to adjust and continue to function. On the plus side, he felt a new level of energy and an urge to eat healthy food. It seemed to be working as designed with no ill side effects.
“We have some other things to try in the morning,” he said. “I just need about three or four hours of rest.”
“Me too. I’ll set an alarm.”
“I’ll bring some coffee.”
Gini laid down on the futon with equations and potential solutions bouncing around in her brain. Eventually the fatigue took over and she drifted off to sleep.
Haybrook slept as well. He set his alarm for 6 A.M. and when it woke him from his slumber, he felt surprisingly well-rested after just four hours. He sat up in bed and then padded off to the shower. As he toweled off, he noticed the first clumps of hair that fell to the floor from the towel. The timeline for finding a solution had just become much more urgent.
“Michele, I’d like to know why detectives Stern and Burgess were in my office when I arrived this morning.”
“They were here when I arrived. They asked to see you as soon as you got in. I didn’t think having two police detectives sitting in the waiting area would be a good image for employees to see.”
“Why didn’t you put them in a conference room?”
“I suppose I could have. I just thought it would be better to put them out of sight in your office. I’m sorry if you don’t agree.”
“No, that’s fine. I just didn’t appreciate the surprise.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Blaylock. I hope they weren’t here about anything serious.”
“No. Nothing related to me or the company. Just a routine investigation.”
“Well that’s good. I’m glad it’s nothing serious. Did you need anything else?”
“No. Just try to avoid surprises like that in the future.”
Michele returned to her desk. Blaylock’s responses confirmed some thought she had been having. She didn’t tell him that Stern and Burgess had questioned her for about 20 minutes prior to his arrival. They had told her why they were there. Blaylock’s assertion that it had nothing to do with the company or him made her growing suspicions more prevalent. Two people associated with the company had disappeared. She would have to keep her eyes and ears open and her mouth shut for the foreseeable future.