Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Metal In The Moonlight - Episode 6.



Episode 6

“Time to get back to the core of the matter,” Dr. Foxfire confessed as she called up Gabriel’s initial test data. From the moment he had entered her operating room she had collected tissue and blood samples for the records. It was standard protocol, allowing her to cross match blood types and properly configure implants. But now those samples could provide her with more vital information.

“Hippocrates, run a full genetic analysis on the current samples. Give me a real time feed direct to this terminal and make sure to filter the findings accordingly.” The wall behind her desk flashed to life to display a complex series of data fields. Her facility A.I. was already hard at work scanning and compiling the necessary information to meet her request.

“And Hippo, let’s cross reference the data with all known abnormalities on file. Including my own personal research, confirm authorization code for secure access – Samantha Foxfire delta three.” Dr. Foxfire had collected various research and curious bits of data for years as a hobby. It had helped her pass the time between patients and to keep her mind sharp. But it was something long ago she had learned the hard way; sometimes it was wise to keep some information safely locked away.

Even as the colony medical specialist it would never do to openly keep sensitive data available for just anyone to access. Such records had been used for countless ages by various enthusiastic groups to twist and pervert as excuses for their causes. One misrepresented scrap of genetic code and an entire breed of pet could be slaughtered for fear of possible mutation. Or a child could be taken into custody for special use projects. It was the kind of thing Dr. Foxfire never could have on her conscience.

But she needed to compare Gabriel’s results to something and her best bet for finding abnormalities would be in these secure files. Already Chief Gnaeus had saw fit to threaten to stick his nose into the matter. If she couldn’t find something to explain things then she feared the former veteran would try to look for an answer himself.

Isolated genetic sequences were highlighted on her screen as she studied the displayed diagnostics. Fragments of Gabriel’s core structure had somehow been overwritten in a way that theoretically couldn’t just happen on its own. Something had changed the misfortunate man, and whatever it was it looked to still be actively in progress. As she observed the very cellular level was transforming into something resilient and almost elastic. Instead of tissue decay rates she was being shown incredible recovery times and durability.

Whatever had attacked Gabriel had left more than just scars to mar the skin. It had somehow left deeper damage all the way down to the DNA. Dr. Foxfire couldn’t be certain but a part of her wondered if by saving Gabriel’s life if she had doomed him to a separate fate. If he hadn’t survived the encounter there was the chance that these alterations might not have taken hold. But by ensuring his recovery she had inadvertently also done the same for whatever now worked its way through Gabriel.

No wonder Gabriel had shown such remarkable speed at healing from the surgery or presented such phenomenal stamina on their initial physical therapy evaluation. His body was repairing itself and adapting at an incredible rate. While it wasn’t completely without precedence it was something that she couldn’t allow to get out. She had to pinpoint the source of Gabriel’s transformation before she could be sure. There were only a handful of possible causes Dr. Foxfire could consider; and she could already rule out a natural development as it didn’t match up with the known evidence. No, the more likely alternatives were some form of secret experiment that seemed unlikely and something she shuddered to contemplate. If it was even remotely plausible there would have been evidence long before now of it’s presence on Gallu.

“Hippo, cancel secure access to restricted files and confirm,” Dr. Foxfire exclaimed urgently. Immediately her A.I. complied and registered the link to her private records had been closed. “Records secure,” Hippocrates commented in his cold computer voice. Dr. Foxfire didn’t enjoy the fact, especially after just having brushed off Chief Gnaeus’ last official transmission, but she was going to have to at least report something to buy her some time to figure things out.

“Reply, previous transmission,” she commanded and waited. The moment that the fresh young face of the on-duty dispatch officer filled the screen Dr. Foxfire requested to speak directly to the Chief. It was a safe bet, she was sure, that the Chief had left instructions to handle anything he deemed important directly. So it was no surprise when the rookie receptionist instantly bowed to the Doctor’s request and transferred the call.

“I am a little bit busy here Doctor,” the Chief answered with fresh frustration. “What is it you want now and it better be important.” Dr. Foxfire decided to jump straight to the point; if the Chief was already under a lot of stress then she didn’t have the time for anything too clever. “Just providing an updated report, as per your official request,” she offered with only a hinted grin.

“What have you found,” Gnaeus implored as his eyes narrowed to focus fiercely at his screen. Dr. Foxfire made sure to maintain her best composure and pretended she was just delivering the news a family member needed to hear about their loved one. “Well, the patient is recovering well from the encounter but his memory is unfortunately still affected. He has had to undergo extensive surgery to repair or replace the damage to his body. It goes without saying that it will take time for him to make a full recovery. While the physical trauma may heal easily the psychological impact may trouble him far longer. I have had to resort to some advanced treatments to expedite his progress but there is little I can do to for his memory besides allow it to recover on its own. We cannot rush it without risking a complete breakdown.

However, what I can tell you Chief is that this was nothing out of the ordinary. Something did attack this man and nearly killed him. By his own account it was something covered in fur, with sharp claws, vicious teeth and an appetite for flesh. I think it would be wise to warn against any unnecessary activity after dark and perhaps some increased security patrols as a precaution.”

Gnaeus listened as Dr. Foxfire briefed him on her findings and while he questioned the idea of some monster on the loose he couldn’t argue with her assessment. No matter what the cause of the disturbance was it was only cautious to enact some preventative measures to deal with things until more could be discovered. But something still nagged at him; his gut still said that this Gabriel fellow was somehow connected.

“Appreciate the report and the advice,” Gnaeus replied after a pause to swallow a gulp from his mug. He had to wince again as he had once more forgotten how it had managed to lose its warmth. “But I would also appreciate it if until we know more you keep a close eye on your patient. He is not to leave your custody or supervision without my direct approval. Understood?”

Dr. Foxfire couldn’t refuse the request, nor did she want to without knowing more of the necessary details. “Agreed, Chief,” she finally consented casually. “Let’s just focus on finding whatever this thing is before I start to run out of beds.” And then she was back to staring at displayed data that started to clutter her wall.