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"Doctor Gerald, this is our cargo." When the warning alarm sounded on the tarmac I could feel the tension and anticipation melt away. It was time to go to work. My current practice was far less interesting than my years spent working at the Colony.

A commonly held misconception was that the site was an upscale rehab facility. This was difficult for us since paparazzi like to stalk people at their lowest points in life. Steps were taken to discourage the camera probing that bordered on criminal, but it worked, a few of the parasites even left the profession entirely.

“Is the tank to temperature yet ?” The nanites were not cooperating as I had hoped. One failed attempt to set the tank cost two hours of valuable time.

“Yes Doctor, we have it steady at 97 degrees, it’s been holding for twenty minutes. We are ready for a second try,” Carol explained calmly.

“Bring the subject. Let’s get her in the transfer basket. The optimal treatment window is closing. The data capture will be useless in thirty minutes.”

I barely recognized the battered slab of flesh that was dropped on my exam table. After some manual wound site irrigation, I believed Calynn was in the best possible shape for treatment.

If they work, the nanites will remove the dead flesh and fall to the bottom of the tank where the filter will skim them away. The natural healing process is augmented by providing the optimal temperature and solvents for the removal of dead tissues. Keeping the base skin structures at a stable temperature in a sterilized environment encourages regrowth from hypodermis outward. Swelling was also an issue. A cocktail of antibiotics, painkillers, and anti-inflammatories has been administered with promising results so far.

“Are we looking at total submersion Doctor?” Only a handful of staff had clearance high enough to work on the Virtue Project. Doctor Craig Moffett was assigned to me but he had little information at his disposal.

“Let’s try the neck harness first. Saturate the top layer of the tank with oxygen. She is breathing well on her own; I don't want complications from intubation. The major head contusion needs sealant and clamps, check them every hour until we see good cohesion. The minor abrasions have responded well to basic suturing. I'm encouraged so far.”

"Yes, I agree with your treatment outline. I need to mention, some of the staff have reported fatigue and an overall malaise while in contact with the subject. I would like to limit personnel to three-hour shifts." Craig was attempting to get ahead of a problem he didn't understand. I needed to correct him but I didn't want to quash his enthusiasm.

"That is a prudent precaution for most special subjects. In this case, we need more staff, even if we use the non-medical staff. The subject siphons energy when injured but I don't believe she is capable of more than a mild attempt today."

"What have you observed about the subject that leads you to this conclusion Doctor?"

"She is still injured and we're not. The program will do everything in its considerable power to recreate her ability in others. A valid protocol for patients with siphon abilities will be needed. In the past, I threw more bodies at her, so no one person was drained beyond saving. It was simple but effective. Oh, and one more gem to consider, when she is at peak performance, proximity to her means nothing."

"Doctor Gerald, pardon my interruption, the tank has reached the target 98-degree temperature. The nanites are fifty percent depleted. We are almost ready for the regeneration phase," Carol explained.

"How contaminated is the solvent?"

"Eighteen percent, urine is low it's the other biologicals. This tank's filter rate is slow compared to the Boston facility."

"Have the filter replaced live; the team has trained let's see how the process works. That tank should keep up with two subjects. Something's not right if we are already approaching twenty percent contamination, have engineering earn their keep. Our girl needs clean solvent."

"Yes, Doctor." Carol left with a fire in her eyes. I almost felt sorry for the engineering supervisor.

The filters were replaced and the problem was resolved. A new shift arrived. None of the fresh staff reported fatigue. We noted the change in staff mood as part of our revised evaluation for Virtue participants. There were others in the project at one time, but those files were destroyed along with the people they documented.

It's a tricky business growing monsters that shouldn't exist. Every government has their special assets. They are usually listed as civilian employees who work in buildings that aren't really there in towns that only exist on paper and post office box labels. The staff fatigue was encouraging at first, but I saw no indication Caly was draining them. Rumor and gossip were the more likely culprit. If I had done my job too well, she might never regain her marketable talents. In all honesty that may be the best possible outcome.

"Sir, we have focused orders from the base commander. I can't say that I fully understand what they are asking us to do." Craig was confused. It had been a long day and he was out of his element.

"Well, we are coming up on 30 hours. Let's see what the powers above have decreed." Reading the report made my hands shake and my blood boil.

The first scans of her brain showed the old implant had degraded; its size reduced by fifteen percent. They wanted me to remove the rest of it like it was a splinter in her finger.

"This is not a valid medical request. This is a vendetta against me. Either way, I won't kill her. If the base commander wants her dead so badly he will have to do it himself. I will be going out. Doctor Moffett, you have the helm."

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