This Short Story is set before EPISODE 5 and AFTER EPISODES 1-4

Infection Contained

The gravity pumps were fluctuating like mad today. It made Dr Warren Davies feel like his stomach was turning backflips. He paced up and down the lab scratching at his head, trying to walk off the nausea. Those damn Maintenance-Nano's aren't aware of the conditions humans have to endure on this Nano-Station.

There seemed to be a lot of little things going wrong on the station lately. The jets that keep the station aligned with the massive solar array down on the planet had been misfiring. The station has been running on stored energy for several days at a time during recent weeks. The solar array beams limitless energy directly up to the station in orbit via microwaves and fills the batteries of various machinery on-board. These are used as a kind of energy buffer in the event that the station moves out of geo-stationary orbit with the array for any length of time. That kind of thing was happening a little too frequently of late.

Dr Davies was feeling so distracted from his work recently, these minor problems with the station had the potential to become pretty major and vomiting onto his samples wouldn't further his work here. He was an impatient man, no time for imbeciles and this place seemed to have its fair share of them. Again he was getting distracted and his fingertips felt itchy, was he coming down with something? He sat down and tried to focus on his work.

The Nano's that he was working on were designed specifically by Rycroft himself inspired by his personal findings from the so called 'Being One'. These tiny, microscopic robotic organisms fulfilled a pre-programmed purpose then turned upon each other in a giant microscopic battle to erase each other, creating a time limit to their existence. It was quite ingenious of Rycroft to build in this method of self-eradication. Otherwise these things could get out of control and theoretically 'eat' entire worlds from existence.

These particular types of nano were unique in that they were flesh tearers. They were apparently being designed to cut away infected flesh in certain terminal patients and allow the bodies' natural defences to dispose of the excess tissue but Dr Davies knew Rycroft better than that. These things had wider, more insidious applications. Rycroft's connection to Weston Carnodyne only cemented the idea that these may be used in ways not entirely positive for the human race.

He looked into his microscope again and saw something quite shocking. There were far more Nano subjects buzzing around than there were earlier. He shook his head, blinked his eyes and scratched a small irritation on his forearm before taking another look into the lens. There were definitely more Nano subjects in the suspension fluid but that was not possible, there was no way these things could be replicating. It simply wasn't built into them according to Rycroft, but then again he wasn't exactly known for his honesty. He couldn't physically see them multiplying but they were and as he watched something dawned upon him. If these things had changed themselves, changed each other in some small but fundamental way...surely other changes might also have been performed, for example the removal of their 'code' to fulfil their primary function before wiping each other out! He noticed several holes in his lab coat sleeve before his vision began to go blurry and his eyes began to sting.

He was feeling quite ill now, struggling to stand up as dizzy spells washed over him in waves. He staggered around the lab searching for the emergency alarm to no avail. Throughout his body a tingling sensation began to take over, like his insides were being scratched with tiny needles. He felt his hand go wet and brought it up to his face to see drips of blood through his blurred vision. He knocked over some machinery as he continued to search for the emergency alarm, his hand found the door handle instead. It opened and he fell outwards into the corridor.

He got up to his knees, the tingling had turned into a burning sensation as he began to scream, quietly at first but rising in volume. His clothing had totally perished by this point leaving him entirely naked. Several of his associates came out of their respective labs to see what the hell was going on in the corridor. Dr Davies was writhing in obvious agony and his skin was covered in thousands of cuts and abrasions. Blood was pouring from his eyes, nose and mouth and his screams continued to rise in volume. Almost all of the others in the corridor stood frozen in shock, unable to move through fear of what they were seeing before them. Only one moved...scratching an itch on his eye. All of a sudden Dr Davies stopped screaming. His skin turned almost to liquid and fell like wet tissue paper from his body, dissolving and deteriorating in melted waxy chunks. This was closely followed by his muscles falling to the floor in a series of sickening wet thuds leaving his skeleton upright for a moment before it also toppled over forwards into the mess of dissolving flesh that was once Dr Davies.

The others simply stood there for a second before bursting into panic and rushing down the corridor past the remains of Dr Davies and frantically banging on the lift call button. A female scientist was violently pushed aside when the lift didn't arrive after she repeatedly pressed the button. Another pressed it again and again but the lift refused to arrive. A look of horror passed amongst them all as a voice suddenly came over from the PA system. It was the voice of Dr Rycroft.

'As I'm sure you're aware, we have an emergency situation.' One of the male scientists shouted 'Get us out of here Rycroft!' but Dr Rycroft ignored him and continued on 'Due to your incompetence, some of the Nano's have been allowed to escape! This is a problem that cannot be allowed to escalate. Therefore I have locked this station down.' At this they all burst into shouts of protest and rage, banging on the lift door as if that would somehow bring it down. Dr Rycroft finished by saying 'I will not apologize as the fault is your own. However, you will all die knowing that my computers will continue to gather evidence of how these Nano's affect live subjects and your small contribution will just about make up for your massive incompetence!' The speaker went dead with a crack of static.

They stood there for a moment dumbfounded, shocked then they began to itch, scratching at their skin, fingernails tearing at internal pains. Some ran as if trying to escape the enemy that was within. Several started screaming as the Nano's did their jobs efficiently and effectively. One of them jumped into a stasis pod and activated the control before pulling the door shut. Another banged on the glass shouting 'Let me in! Let me in!' before her skin began to dissolve, seconds later she was also a heap of bones and dissolving meat on the floor. Others screamed in pain as the Nano's ate away all their flesh and organs from within. The Nano's pre-programmed purpose obviously altered and their lifespan limitations overcome as they fulfilled their own directives or possibly Dr Rycroft's directives. It was all over in a matter of minutes and this floor of the Nano-Station fell silent. The rooms were scattered with the remains of all the dead scientists and the Nano's awaited further instructions.

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