"The general is interfering again," Clarke Jenkins paced in front of Robert C. Cooper's desk. He was the only civilian authority who had more power than most of the military assigned to the base.
"I'll talk to him," Cooper said. "But I'm not promising anything. You know how stubborn the man can be."
"I already can't control the nanos in Taffy's blood. I told him I needed more time to find a compatible match. Some people are more tricky than others."
Robert surveyed the results of Taffy's first sleep study.
"Thirty percent is pretty low," Robert said. "I've seen you get at least fifty with an hour of prep."
"I can't put my finger on it, but there is something different about her."
He handed Robert the dream analysis Doris had compiled with Lucy Franks, head of the Necromancer unit.
"It concerns me that she's no remembering some of these dreams," Robert said.
"We don't need her to remember. The nanos will do that for us," Clarke replied. "Even at thirty percent the analysis is pretty spot on."
Robert threw the reports down on his desk. "Make sure she's up to fifty percent for tonight's test. I can't push this under the rug forever."
Fifty percent was a crazy expectation. Clarke wasn't sure what to do. He'd pushed Taffy's nanos as much as he was comfortable. What he really needed to know is what was it about Taffy that was different from everyone else.
"You look a little defeated." Jack Osbourne leaned back putting his feet up on Clarke's desk.
"What do you want, Jack? General McCabe can't want results already." Clarke shrugged out of his lab coat and put it on a hanger.
"Taffy Appleton. What does the military want with her?" Jack peeked out the hallway then closed Clarke's door.
"What do they want with anyone?... Results."
"What kind of results? Is this technology a danger to her?" Jack leaned in toward Clarke.
"There is a small chance of rejection. We've had a lot of success with this line of nanos. She should be fine."
A sound of footsteps rapidly pounded down the hallway. The receptionist, Helen Burke, burst through the door out of breath.
"There's been a complication with the Appleton girl. You have to come -- NOW."
Clarke raised his eyebrows at Jack then followed Helen out of the room. They jogged down the hallway dodging a group of military and civilians lined up at the Starbucks on the Concourse.
"They had to put her right in the middle of everything?" Clarke slid into the room, the bottom of his loafers losing traction on the slippery surface. He caught his balance before falling on his face. Jack was on his heels.
Taffy was crumpled into a ball on the floor. She twitched violently as Clarke knelt by her side.
"Help me get her onto the bed."
The two of them worked in harmony, quickly and efficiently. Clarke checked her airway and pulse; both were fine, although her pulse was racing a little faster then he was comfortable.
The one thing he was concerned with was the nanos. He'd never had a subject experience a negative effect. This woman was the most important subject to the general. If she crashed and burned, it could possibly mean his dismissal from the program.
"What's wrong with her?" Helen asked. She had gained a quick attachment to Taffy.
"The general wanted a quick implantation for Taffy. I had to cut corners to meet his deadline." Clarke didn't miss the angry expression on Jack's face.
"What sort of corners?" Jack came forward his face more menacing than Clarke had ever seen it.
"I didn't have time to program the nanos sufficiently. The general only game me half the time. I must have miscalculated..."
"Then you'd better fix it fast, buddy. You may not realize this but Taffy and I are friends. Our parents have known each other for years. If anything happens to her, I'll have to make you pay."
Clarke's eyes grew wide. "It was a mistake."
"Stop talking and start working."
"Alright. We need to take her back to my lab."
"We can't!" Helen blurted the words so loudly, Clarke jumped. "The general has the entire place wired with security cameras."
"What about in here?" Jack asked.
"The tech division wasn't expecting Taffy until next month. Not everything in here works yet," she said.
"Then, I'll need a few things from my lab." Clarke listed what he needed and Jack and Helen went to gather the items.
Clarke stared at Taffy. She didn't look good. If he didn't miss his guess, the nanos were depleting her system of ATP, a critical component for bodily function.
"I'm so sorry," Clarke said to Taffy's unconscious form. "I never meant for this to happen."
Helen and Jack chose that moment to return. Clarke cleared the emotional lump from his throat. He shouldn't be feeling this way about someone he barely knew.
"Here's the hand scanner." Helen handed him the device. "You really need to organize your lab. It's a complete mess."
Jack helped Clarke hook it up. It took a grueling ten minutes to scan Taffy's body. Jack positioned himself over Clarke's shoulder. He pointed to the monitor. "Why do these two look different?"
Clarke shook his head. "They're the same thing. They should be registering the same color."
"Maybe they're not," Jack suggested.
Clarke stilled. "I need to get a sample of both nanos."
"How do you plan to do that?" Helen asked. She was more freaked out than either of the men.
"I'll take a blood sample, take it back to my lab and test it." Clarke said. "That's all I can do right now. I don't know what we're dealing with."
"You better find out fast. There's only so long I can cover for you." Helen exited Taffy's room and disappeared down the hallway.
Clarke looked to Jack. "Can you stay with her while I complete my tests?"
"Sure, no problem." Jack packed up the scanner and moved it to the desk. He wanted to make Taffy as comfortable as possible.
"Hey, kiddo. Long time, no see." He wasn't sure if she could hear him but he wanted to keep the faith.
"Bet you didn't expect your old buddy Jack Osbourne to be messed up in all this. It's not exactly my first choice of assignments. But I can clearly say you're the best thing that has happened to me in four years."
Taffy's hand twitched and Jack grabbed it. "Taffy?"
All the color drained from her face and he body began to jerk uncontrollably. Without Clarke to supervise, Jack knew they were in big trouble.