Serialized Science Fiction.

The Nanovampire
Tom Haynes

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I was already wired up like a Christmas tree, time to flip the switch and scare the neighbors. "Yeah, lets get the show on the road." I was going to lean back, but hey, in outer space, I was just as comfortable canted 53 degrees forward.

"Okay, now remember, as I start the flow of helium, I want you to breathe in deeply and start counting back from 100. When your voice is normal, we'll keep going to make sure you have swallowed all of the nanobots." he lectured on as he secured the mask over my face. It looked like one of those flimsy ones you see the stewardess wave about before takeoff, but if fit rather snugly over my mouth and nose. "Alright, you ready to try my diet?" he asked. I was pretty sure that Atkins had already released the little buggers and they were racing into my nervous system as he spoke. He was under the gun to produce and if I backed out at this late date, or died before he got the probes in, he was back to the academic paper chase and being badgered by students.

For an answer, I just started off, "100, 99, 98, diet? That's where they picked your name from?" His cover name was Bob Atkins and mine was Logan Fox. I'd figured mine out a while ago, Logan from the X-Men, they were going to make me a fast healer, and Fox Mulder from the X-Files, okay, I didn't get any connection other than the "X-". I knew the code name for the station was the X-Lab - someone had too much time on their hands.

He grinned at me, "Keep counting cowboy, stick to the plan." I was beginning to hate that grin. I also knew that attached to the green canister in his hands was a second button, one which would shotgun blast cyanide down my throat. I wasn't happy about that, but then again, in a couple of months I might welcome it.

"97, 96." my voice was already as back to normal as it was going to get in the station. His arms had been rock solid the whole time, he really didn't feel the burn just supporting the canister, but now that he knew the changes had begun, he was ready to try and kill me if needed. "Alright, final 10: 95, 94, 93, 92, 91, 90, 89, 88, 87, and 86." He didn't know that as far as I was concerned, once those beasts were in me, he was expendable. If I knew how to mix them myself, he might have had an accident the first day up here. I'd love for him to trigger the cyanide, I'd already rigged it to blow back along the switch; maybe it would get him, maybe not. But he would be distracted long enough for me to crush his throat.

Someone should have known better than to leave me alone with him during the critical growth period. But that someone was scared of being caught by the FDA testing nanotechnology on humans. It was okay to do to rats in hermetically sealed labs, which instead of halon systems had cyanide sprinklers, but putting down a test population of humans was frowned on. Hence, you get the terminally ill to volunteer and you find a loop hole which lets you try it in outer space. I wasn't too crazy on the odds by which someone who had the right background happened to catch the Aids-II virus - it felt like I had lost some lottery.

I'd been a fighter pilot, hey, I'd even applied for the space program, before I got splashed down over the Indian Ocean. A week drifting combined with a five week trek avoiding the Ragheads had washed me out on my next psych evaluation. I'd spent the next 10 years as a freelancer for the various covert op branches of the government. The very thoughts which got me booted where the ones that triggered my induction into the wetter side of the action. But, it was always understood that I was expendable. I'd been left behind a couple of times, once in Columbia, I trekked out through paths which hadn't seen much traffic since the Spaniards hit the area.

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