Taffy Appleton's hand twitched and Jack grabbed it. Pretty soon her entire body was convulsing. Clarke could hear the confusion down the hallway. He raced into the room with an injector canister.
"Hold her down!"
"What's wrong with her, Doc?" Jack asked.
"It's nearly impossible, but somehow Taffy already has nanos in her blood."
"How is that possible?"
"I have no clue." Clarke pushed the injector into her arm.
"What is that?"
"I'm giving the nanos I placed into her blood a signal. They should be integrated back into her system."
"What about the others?" Jack still hadn't made up his mind about the doc. Should he trust him with Taffy's life?
"I'll do some testing on them," Clarke said. "I'm very curious where they might have come from. It's fascinating."
Taffy began to stir. She opened her eyes and looked directly at one man. "Jack?" Her voice cracked. "You're hair is so short."
Jack couldn't help but laugh. Only Taffy could face death and come out smiling. He glanced toward Clarke. "I think she's going to be okay."
"She may be okay, but if McCabe finds about I had to flush a hundred thousand dollars worth of nanites dow the toilet, we could both be hurting."
"Then maybe you need to find a way to control the nanites she already has in her body," Jack suggested.
"You don't know what you're asking. These are the most advanced things I've ever seen."
"What are you saying exactly, Doc?"
"I'm saying that technology like that doesn't come from this world."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Not you too. You let them suck you in."
"I've been here a lot longer than you have, Jack. I've seen things."
Taffy was still displaying signs of wooziness so she couldn't follow the conversation. She closed her eyes to get the energy to ask a question, but before she could she fell back asleep.
Clarke pulled out a needle and placed it into an unmarked bottle. He filled the needle up to the end and injected it into her arm.
"What's that stuff?" Jack flinched as Clarke extracted the needle.
"It's ATP. It's what the nanos feed on," Clarke said. "What I can't figure out is why she hasn't collapsed before now."
"What do you mean?" Jack asked.
"Nano technology requires an energy source. In the human body, it's powered by something called ATP. The body can't rebuild the substance very quickly so the subject would have to have daily infusions of some sort to replenish the quickly depleting supply."
"If you didn't put the foreign nanos into her, who could?" Jack asked.
Clarke shook his head. "I don't know, Jack. I really don't know."
The rays of the morning sun woke me up. If I was near a window, I knew I wouldn't need an alarm clock. I walked to the curtains and pulled them back and found a sophisticated light box. There were no actual windows.
It took me a few minutes to remember where I was. I was still trapped in Area 51.
I heard a curious giggling outside my door and couldn't help but investigate. A pixie-haired girl no more than eighteen laughed as a boy nearly her age threw her a frisbee. The disc almost took off my head as I opened the door.
"Oh, I am so sorry," the girl said. "My bad."
"You don't look like you threw it, so I doubt it's your bad." The pixie shrugged, clearly apologetic. As the boy walked closer, I realized it wasn't a boy but a well-defined man wearing a tank top and shorts.
"It's my fault," he said, now standing in front of me. "I didn't expect anyone to be in this room yet."
"Yeah," the pixie interjected. "You're not supposed to be here for a month."
"Sorry to disappoint you," I said. "I'm Taffy."
"Pleased to meet you. I'm Carter Wayne and this little elf of a girl is Penny Newcastle."
I nodded a greeting but suddenly felt uneasy on my feet. "I think I need to sit down," I said weakly.
"Maybe we should call Doc Jenkins," Penny said.
"I think you may be right."
Carter helped me to a bench across from my room. The entire hallway reminded me of how a mall was designed. Various green plants in pots dotted each side of the corridor and every one hundred feet or so sat a similar wooden bench.
"Where is this place?" I asked. "It doesn't look like the facility I walked into yesterday."
Penny shrugged shoving bangs out of her face. "We should probably let Helen explain, or the Doc. They both understand this way more then me."
She picked up the yellow frisbee and threw it down the hall. "That was totally the best throw so far," Penny said to Carter as she disappeared down the corridor.
"You'll have to excuse me," Carter said. "I have a point to prove and a reputation to maintain." He shouted to Penny who was quite a ways down the hall. "You are going down."
I smiled at them. At least someone could have fun in all this insanity. I shook off the wave of tiredness long enough to make it back to my room and collapse into bed.
Carter stopped by Doc Jenkins lab after his victory over Penny. He was sweaty and ready for a nap, but he wanted to know more about the new girl.
"Must you make an appointment with me every time a new lady enters the facility?"
"I'm hurt," Carter Wayne said. "Can't I be concerned about our new guest?"
"You've met her already?" Clarke asked with surprise in his voice.
"Briefly. I was in a kickin' game of disc golf with Penny when she walked out of her room and I nearly sliced her in two," he said. "What's the lowdown on the newbie?"
"Her situation is classified." Clarke wanted to be as vague as possible because he knew Carter's reputation for sticking his nose in where it didn't belong. Plus, Clarke didn't trust him as far as he could throw him.
"I get it. You like her and you want to spend some quality time together," Carter said. "I totally respect that. She seems like a nice girl."
Clarke moved away from the microscope and turned around. "Okay, you have my attention. What do you really want?"
"I heard a rumor you're testing those experimental nanites on her."
"That's what this is about? A rumor?" Clarke sighed. "You know I can't reveal the details of any project to a civilian. Why don't you move along. Play another round of disc golf. Relax. It's not like you're going anywhere."
Clarke let out the breath he was holding when Carter Wayne finally left his office. The man was trouble with a capital T. He shook off the encounter and returned to the blood sample he'd taken from Taffy the night before. The foreign nanites had completely taken over the ones he'd injected into her blood. Clarke still couldn't believe what he was seeing. They were somehow wirelessly communicating with his nanites and reprograming them with their code. It was as fascinating as it was horrifying. Where had those foreign nanites come from and what were they doing to Taffy's body?