Part Six - Recovery
The five patients were on their eighth dose when the federal agents finally arrived. And when they required access to the database and computers, Rachel had disappeared, as had all of the computer programs, as well as the handwritten technical notebooks they all kept, everything except the application running the production.
Grace refused them entry into any of the ICU rooms where the patients were continuously monitored, claiming that silence in the patient's environment was one of the priorities of the treatment protocol. She likely would not have been persuasive enough to keep them at bay had it not been for Nurse Sydney or Dr. Buchler, who stood behind her. Together they were formidable, and the agents found themselves watching from a perimeter.
Mr. Riley, the oldest of the victims, Mike Lyons, the youngest, and Dana remained unconscious for the first week of treatment, all three losing renal function completely and requiring dialysis as well as the Destroyer treatments. Mr. Riley was experiencing full liver failure as well and was becoming Grace's number one medical worry. The other two patients, the man and the woman who had come in last, recovered within the week and were released after several organ and skin biopsies had shown no active Beta slaves.
The other three were going to require further medical care. Their kidney cells had completely died, leaving very few options for treatment. On Day Five of treatment, live cells were harvested from the kidneys of each patient and sent down to the cloning laboratory. Until the new kidneys were ready, the patients would remain in ICU on dialysis.
When Dana finally awakened, she caught through bleary eyes a blonde halo of hair, an ethereal whiteness surrounding her, and silence. A gentle touch to her forehead told her she was not dreaming, and, hopefully, not dead. Then a straw was placed to her cracked lips, and she drank cold, wonderful water. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer to whoever was listening. When she reopened them, she could see a little better, and the blonde, angelic figure was still hovering at her side. She blinked several times until her caregiver came into focus.
"Ugh," she rasped, "not you again."
"Good to see you too, you bloody little creep."
"--She'll be here in a second. She's with the Lyons boy."
Dana let herself get reacquainted with the wonderful sensation of air filling her lungs. "How long--"
"--Ten days, now be quiet."
Dana decided she was simply too grateful to offer a biting retort. "Did everyone...."
"Yes, so far."
Dana let her eyes search her surroundings. "Is that a dialysis machine?"
"We're cloning your kidneys. They should be ready in a month. Now I need you to be quiet--you're still under treatment."
Dana reached for the water, but Sydney easily beat her to it and helped her to more.
Both patient and nurse looked up to find out who the sound had come from.
"Well, it's about time," Grace said from the doorway. Her green eyes were filling with tears. "I say, it's about friggin' time you woke up, you big, wonderful nano tech."
_ November 1998 by Jules Mills
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