this story takes place one week after Shattered
Wolf Den Military Base
Gooseman, Shane 11 y.a.d.
still," the lab technician snapped and positioned the
injection pistol above his upper arm.
prepared for the shot and kept silent. At this hour all humans
were grumbling. For whatever reason. The set of ten two-inch
needles penetrated his biceps, slamming his arm as usual against
the steel splint that ensured that the needles went deep enough
as they fired the fifteen ccm's of adapted
drug solution into his flesh. The heat and pain of the
steel needles turned into a sudden dull coldness that soon
changed again to pain as the stifling cold of the injection
vanished. The two steel cuffs above and below the injection area
grumbled the tech. "Next."
hurried on, involuntarily rubbing his arm against the heat under
the skin at the injection site, and sped up. He wanted to be done
showering before Ryker and his gang had gotten their shots.
second physical training course was done. Shane forced the pink
piece of geloid enabling factor down his dry throat and hurried
for the exam, hoping desperately that Sawyer was the gentech
The man had
proven to be astonishingly careless with water in his lab, there
were always pots, mugs, or glasses unwatched and it had never
become obvious that the water was gone later... not even now,
when they measured his consumption of liquid.
had no illusions. He knew that without the gentech's
carelessness, he would likely have failed to hide that he needed
more water than the others did.
why did Hannibal lose when he was already at the gates of Rome?"
His head throbbed in the rhythm of his breathing. At least no one
hissed at him in the special lectures in the evening that the
commander held personally. "Gooseman?"
name reached him as if through a thick fog bank. He searched his
mind for the question, then for its answer... The commander had
already narrowed his eyes at Goose's slowness. He'd "Sun
Tzu III-17-5." He swallowed inconspicuously against the bad
taste in his throat. Useless.
The answer was there
promptly in spite of the odd sensation that the back of his head
was being chilled. "He will win"
interrupted him. "Quote the complete paragraph,
He drew a deep
breath. "Sun Tzu: _The Art of War_ Chapter III: Attack by
Stratagem." The sudden acid in his throat made him wishing
instantaneously he hadn't. "Seventeenth. Thus we may know
that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who
knows when to fight and when not to fight." He kept his back
very straight, his head upright. Don't let on... "(2)
He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior
forces." The chill sensation in his head grew stronger; he
felt almost dull. Get a grip on yourself, Shane! he
growled to himself. "(3) He will win whose army is animated
by the same spirit throughout all its ranks." Don't show
weakness. "(4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits
to take the enemy unprepared." If they notice... "(5)
He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with
by the sovereign." He refused to shake his head. "Carthage's
leaders violated the fifth commandment. They interfered with
their general's strategy." Goose's temples throbbed. He
refused to close his eyes against the painfully bright classroom
lights. "Hannibal obeyed."
commander rewarded the answer with am approving nod. "Correct.
At the last
moment, Shane kept his body from twitching in pain. Why did the
man have to shout so loud?
it for today. Report to your sleeping cubicles within the next
He jumped up.
Two of the others slammed their elbows into his sides as they
passed. Luckily, because it covered the unsteadiness of his first
running steps. If only the corridor would stop rotating...
expected, Walsh found Sawyer in the lab. "Max, did you do
the second exams today?"
The gentech nodded confirmingly.
you notice anything about the boy?"
except the usual need for water that we noticed after PTS
but the extra portion," Max grinned weakly, "he
'accidentally' gets during my exams solves that quite well. Why
do you ask?"
watched him in class." Walsh made a helpless gesture.
"Something isn't right with him."
you have any idea, Joe? I checked his measurements thoroughly.
He's fine." Max shrugged. "Maybe he's still reacting to
shock from the PTS."
shadow whizzed over Walsh's soul at the words as he turned slowly
for the door. "Please keep an eye on him," he begged
before it opened.
closed on Sawyer's sentence, leaving Walsh alone with his
footsteps echoing through the empty corridor and the dark
thoughts in his mind.
had the feeling that something was definitely wrong with his
Whatever the measurements
He just knew it.
there was nothing he could do.
pressed his aching head against the cold metal of the wall and
yearned for water... hell, for any kind of liquid to flush the
acid from his throat. He felt as if the food from four hours ago
was back on his tongue. The cool walls eased the peaks of the
throbs behind his eyes a little. At least the sleeping cubicles
were silent. And soothingly dark. He knew the pain would be
calmed by morning.
He drew a
deep, shivering breath. He couldn't go on like this. This was the
third time this had happened. Sooner or later it would happen
during a sim or worse, while they were putting him onto
the grille and if one of Killbane's group noticed his
condition it could turn out even worse than that.
what was causing this? He couldn't remember experiencing this
kind of pain with sickness afterward before... the grill. And
they had drugged him after that. But he'd felt fine once the
drug-induced dizziness was gone. For the two days afterwards,
too, till he had returned to the daily routine.
frowned, ground his teeth as the skin of his forehead suddenly
felt too tight for his skull, and fought to ignore it.
exercises were no harder than before. There'd been the first exam
with the drug shots afterwards, first food nothing that he
hadn't experienced in single lab care, and he'd been well there
combat scenario, enabler, second exam He stopped dead. That
he hadn't gotten in the labs! The enabler. But he'd been taking
the stuff for years, almost as long as he could remember, and it
hadn't changed, so why...?
moved his head slightly to the side, leaned his temple against a
fresh, still cool spot of the wall.
the drugs he got in the morning were different. There were more
needles shot into his arm. And the stuff burned. He remembered
the heat in the injection site. And back in the lab, Sawyer had
told him, when he'd finally gotten to his feet, that he'd
probably be disoriented for a while because of the
Could it be... that the
different drugs caused this? That they interfered with the
enabler? But... none of the others seemed to be affected.
ground his teeth even harder: against the pain, the feeling of
sickness, and the realization.
difference. A dangerous one. And the drugs were injected. He
couldn't avoid them... His next breath, nearly a sob, startled
him even more. Damn it, no! He wouldn't!
If only his brain would stop demanding more space than there was
in his head... Different level. Think less specifically.
Reason is combination of new drugs and enabler. New drugs are
injected. Enabler is swallowed...
enabler was considered extremely important. They'd told him it
would activate the special abilities already implanted in his
DNA. And he had to develop those abilities soon, quickly and
Without it, he had at
least a chance to survive the next few weeks.
new about the boy, Max?"
restless, Joe?" Sawyer smiled. "Well, he's fine. I did
the complete checkup on him again." Making a face: "I
just hope Owen doesn't check how long I took for the exams. Shane
wasn't scheduled for one."
I gave him an extra quarter liter. He seems to need at least two
extra liters to feel well." Max frowned. "That leaves
him with a daily need for four to five liters."
more than a normal human being needs."
really. Consider the physical exercises he has to go through
during the day, and the climate here. It's acceptable. But we
must pay attention. Dehydration is risky because there's
no chance for him to work around it. Aside from that... well, I
caught a last glimpse of sore muscles in the second exam after
the combat scenario."
exceeds his strength?"
really. His bio defenses coped well with it. By the time I
recalibrated the sensors for an in-depth check, it was already
gone. I think I saw it only because, atypically, I called him in
first. But there are two facts that surprise me." Max shook
his head slightly.
reverse. His nucleotide sequences are more stable than last week,
and the EEG showed an increase in brain activity. Normally, that
kind of increase appears when an ST is becoming more aggressive,
but he isn't. I think that's a very positive development, Joe."
to Elizabeth 'fatima' Bales for her help with English. :)