Genevieve held the tablet out to me.
“Take a look for yourself, though I think you’d better sit down before you do.” That slightly mocking, irritating as hell, smile was on her lips again but I did as she asked and sat.
I took the tablet but struggled to make any sense of the black dots moving randomly about the screen.
“What am I looking at?” I couldn’t keep frustration from creeping into my voice. I was being shown something that might give some meaning to the craziness of the last few hours of my life but it made no sense to me.
Genevieve leaned over and tapped the screen again and the image expanded. I noticed her perfume as she did so, Chanel I think – classy. The little black dots were now little hexagonal shapes that seemed to be swimming randomly about in a clear fluid. They were clearly artificial but they moved like living cells.
Genevieve tapped the screen again and a greatly expanded view of one of the hexagons appeared. A membrane that was covered in tiny vibrating hairs surrounded it. Cilia, that’s what they looked like I thought dredging up my High School biology.
Genevieve moved behind me, put her hand on my shoulder and spoke softly in my ear.
“What you are looking at is the latest breakthrough in nanite technology – bio-nanites. Nanites embedded in a living cell. You do know what nanites are?”
I nodded, I’d read enough science fiction to know what they were – incredibly small machines that were going to revolutionise the world we live in. An icy chill ran down my spine and I started to tremble.
“And that, that is what Lila put inside me?” It wasn’t really a question, I already knew the answer. My voice shuddered and nausea swept through me again.
Once the retching had subsided Genevieve took the tablet from my shock-frozen fingers and crouched down to look me eye-to-eye. I vaguely noticed that Edward and Not-Exactly-Lila had joined us.
“Caleb, look at me. I need you to focus. What I’m going to tell you is the most important thing you’ve ever heard in your life.”
Slowly my wits came together and I nodded for Genevieve to continue.
“The first thing is that you are safe with us. Since Lila gave you the bio-nanites you have become the most important person in the world to us. Your welfare has become our number one concern. There is no-one else you would be safer with. Do you understand this?”
I nodded, speech was beyond me at this point.
“These little babies are the most powerful organisms ever created. They are programmable machines but behave like living cells. To be honest, we’re not entirely sure whether they are truly living organisms or not.” She paused and smiled ruefully. “Sorry, that probably wasn’t very reassuring.”
I smiled weakly – very weakly – in response.
“Bio-nanites can do incredible things. For instance, we can program them to alter a person’s DNA to eliminate genetically inherited diseases such as Huntingdon’s or cancer. They are going to change the world.”
She paused again – I felt there was a very large but coming.
“But, in the wrong hands, they can be a terrible weapon. They can be programmed to kill rather than heal. There is even the possibility they can alter someone’s DNA to the extent that they are transformed into a completely different organism.” I started to feel faint at this point.
“Why kill someone when you can turn them into a jellyfish.” That was Not-Exactly-Lila – not helping, really not helping. Genevieve gave her a look that would have frozen hell over.
“That is only a theoretical possibility and a very distant theoretical possibility at that. What you need to focus on is that we are going to do our utmost to keep you safe and to extract the bio-nanites safely from you.”
Edward cleared his throat. “Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be as straightforward as we’d hoped as they appear to have migrated to your brain.”
That was the last I heard as I slid to the floor in a dead faint.