These stories contain mature themes of sex, violence, and naughty words, and are not suitable for people under the physical or emotional age of eighteen. Also, if it is illegal for you to read stories of an alternative nature because of your geographical location, STOP. And if you don't like the idea of two XX chromosome people falling in love, STOP! This site isn't for you.
Nano #3: The Carnot Cycle
by Jules Mills
Part One - Warming up
"You didn't even leave me a note, or say goodbye," Dr. Grace Wilson spat angrily.
"I left you the dog, didn't I?"
A swift hand went to strike the face of the tall ex-con, but was caught at the wrist before impact.
"Don't ever hit me, Grace," Dana said
steadily, without malice or threat, but as a warning.
Grace yanked her hand away and turned her back on
the tall lanky woman standing in the empty doctor's lounge. "Go away, Dana, I refuse
to do this again."
"Why? Is it some sort of cosmic directive for you to wreak turmoil in my life and cause me pain?" The young doctor spun around revealing tears in her eyes. It had been over two months since Dana had walked out on her in Chicago after a glorious evening of lovemaking, but Grace had not stopped aching from the abrupt separation by any degree.
Dana knew she was morally wrong and selfish for coming to her, to inflict more suffering, but she could not think of anything else for the nine months. She fought hard to keep the emotions that were choking her, and the longing, from revealing themselves.
"Believe me," she croaked. "I
wouldn't have come if , if . . ." Grace's dark piercing glare stopped her cold. It
was a mistake. "I'm so sorry," she whispered and left the lounge on the second
floor of the Yale New Haven Medical Center. Despite the fact that she was being eaten
alive by a nano virus and Grace was the only person in the world she trusted to help her,
she walked away with the knowledge that she would surely die in less than a week, and
Grace would still hate her when she did.
Through watery eyes, Grace watched the lone figure
cross the street from the window. It was January, ice covered the sidewalks, and aged gray
snow was piled everywhere. The figure faltered on an icy patch of the street and then
disappeared into a stand of trees blocking the view of the park.
Dana had not wanted to stop, but the buzzing in her head started as soon as she reached the elevator. She left the building on sheer will power alone, finding the bench was instinct, the ground would be too cold, and she would draw too much attention to herself in the form of a cop, or worse, someone who wanted to help her. She lay down and fell asleep. She awoke for a few minutes after the sun had set and what little warmth the sun lent had blown away on the cold winter wind. She struggled to plant her feet on the ground, a burning pain seared her side forcing her body to buckle and her vision to dim. Unable to straighten, she lay back down on the bench and tried to breath without causing any more pain.
Dr. Wilson left the hospital shortly after Four-thirty p.m. She knew that the nano tech was lying on a bench across from her office, but she refused to let herself investigate further. She drove her vintage Jeep Wrangler on I-95 towards her small cottage nestled on the beach in Milford, positively adamant about not thinking about the visit. But true to the inevitable law that anything one does not want to think about, one thinks about, she thought about it. "Okay, Grace," she told herself, "at least try to stay objective and emotionally distance yourself." She missed her exit. "Distance, ha! How do you distance yourself from someone you think about every free moment."
"She looked so terrible," Grace
commented as she caught the next exit and circled around to take the south ramp. The nano
tech did not look like that the day in Chicago when she abruptly withdrew, poof,
emotionally and physically, literally leaving her while she was in the shower. Thank
heaven Grace had her work to return to after that, a relentless fast paced environment,
adrenaline always rushing through her small frame, people who needed her making her feel
worth the air she breathed. But Dana would creep into her dreams and haunt her, dark,
brooding, and evasive spirit when she would demand answers.
Grace's mind was reeling with observations and questions. Dana had been sheet white and sweating, and dark circles under her eyes meant she hadn't been sleeping. Maybe she was torturing herself too? Has she realized her mistake, but is too afraid to admit it. And where the hell has she been the past two months? "Fuck!" she swore to herself passed her exit again and headed back to New Haven. Grace had decided, she had to say her piece, and close this relationship the right way, where she gets the last word.
She left her Jeep idling at the curb and approached the bench in the middle of the park. A black booted foot dangled over the end of the bench. It surprised Grace that she was allowed to approach the woman without her awakening. She let her eyes roam over the lengthy sedated body.
Arms were wrapped around the waist, skin ghostly
pale, and the body moved up and down to the quick shallow breaths of someone who was ill.
The leather jacket was unzipped revealing a wool black sweater. The Dr. kneeled next to
the woman and gently nudged her shoulder. She was met with a groan, but no movement. Grace
touched the face and gasped at the heat and clamminess.
"Oh, Dana, what the hell is going on
now?" Grace took a wrist and checked her vitals. Her pulse was racing. She placed the
hand back to rest. Sitting back on her heels she tried to decide how to get help. She
could not carry her across to the hospital. She ran to her car, shut off the motor, and
grabbed her keys, then sprinted across the street to the ER entrance. It took little
effort to get two orderlies to follow her out with a gurney. No one refused to aid her,
for one because they all liked her so much, and because allowing an injured person to lay
just outside their door dying was grounds for criminal prosecution.
"Damn!" Anthony exclaimed when he saw
the figure on the bench, "What's wrong with her?"
"Infection, maybe pneumonia, I'm not sure.
Let's get her up." Doctor Wilson directed. Anthony took the shoulders, Roger the
feet, and lifted the body. Dana groaned in her sleep clutching her waist. Grace slipped in
and lifted the middle section aiding them in gently lowering her to the gurney. It took a
moment to strap her in, and they were headed for the ER.
Grace shrugged her coat and opted for a lab coat while the orderlies were placing the patient in the examining room.
"Someone call in tonight, and forget to tell
me, Love," Sydney the head nurse asked her.
"No, I brought a sick friend in."
"Don't tell me you poisoned another date with you're shrimp scampi?"
"Noo," Grace loaded her hands with waterless cleanser. The Aussie was always reminding her of that disastrous date. She was taller than Grace, dirty blond, and had no ass, having run it off years ago. She was rough on Grace when she was a third year student, tougher still when a resident, but her right arm since she became assistant and earned her respect."I think she has pneumonia."
"Need any help?"
Grace nodded. "If you have time."
"Always for you,Love. I want to meet your
]Dana was still unconscious, now on the
examination bed, lying on her side and wrapped up in the same position as she had been on
Nurse Sydney studied the woman for a long time while Grace removed the leather jacket. Sydney finally spoke. "Are you dating her?"
Grace looked at her nurse, brows pinched to form a question. "No, not really. Why?"
Sydney touched the tattooed right hand of the nano tech. "She has been here before."
"I know, Sydney," Grace snapped. "Do me favor, stop staring and take her vitals."
The nurse, pursed never needed to be told by a doctor to do something twice. She hooked the patient up to a vital monitor. "Her BP is low, but her pulse is high."
"Dehydrated, probably from sweating." Grace listened to the heart racing through the sweater with her stethoscope. The heart pulse rate was up to compensate for the drop in blood volume.
"Temp is at at 103 and climbing." A beep, "103.6."
"Infection." Grace rolled her patient onto her back, and removed the bulky sweater, groans the only protest. "I want a blood work up. Would you call Onco for me?"
She was wearing the sweater Grace had bought her in Freeport months earlier. Tugging the white T-shirt up so that she could listen to her lungs, she discovered a white bandage held on by surgical tape covering the skinny abdomen. She pealed it off revealing an inflamed gaping wound. "Sydney!"
The nurse came to stand next to her favorite
doctor to look at what had warranted a shout. "How long has she had that?" she
asked and slid on a pair of plastic gloves. She handed a set to Grace.
"I . . . I . . . have no idea. She just showed up out of the blue today."
Sydney was examining the wound more closely with her fingers. "Looks like a puncture wound and a tear. I suspect by the inflammation . . .," she pressed lightly, eliciting a groan and puss, "it punctured the parietal cavity, but did not get the intestines, no blood."
Grace was staring, dazed.
"Come look, Love," she nodded toward the
Moving forward and slipping her gloves on, Grace
began to examine the wound herself. The skin was red with infection, the tear a few inches
long, but clean of blood. She was able to pluck out three stables that were clinging to
the puffy skin.
"She has already been to a doctor," Sydney remarked seeing the medical staples.
Grace sighed dropping the staples into a plastic container. "No, she did this herself. I can't believe Dana would ever have been this careless with cleaning a wound." Sydney returned to her side with antiseptic. At the first touch of the swab, long fingers caught the nurse's wrist in a vice grip. Grace peeled her hand away from her nurse.
"Dana, she's trying to help."
"I realize that," she struggled to open her eyes. "but that stuff will only bu . . . fuck me, that hurts, you mean old witch."
"Shut up you little creep."
Dana writhed in the lingering burn, eyes closed to keep the tears from falling. "You're as mean as you ever were, you old hag." Another swab and a hiss. "Stop, please."
"I really enjoyed that," Sydney said tossing the cotton into the waste receptacle.
"I bet you did, you sadist cow," Dana panted.
Sydney laughed, and turned to Grace. "We go way back."
Dana concentrated on breathing to calm down. Sweat ran down her face from her hairline. "It doesn't matter how much crap you pour in there, it isn't going to heal."
"What are you talking about?" Sydney asked, "you always heal, and keep coming back to show me how well."
"I have the Beta." Dana pushed herself up to a sitting position. "My cells degenerate at interphase, so I can't heal."
Both Sydney and Grace drifted backwards, "Beta?" Grace asked in disbelief. Sydney placed a hand on her friend's back for support. The young woman's face had drained of color. AT that moment the phlebotomist walked into the examination area.
"Come back later, Dee," Sydney
instructed the woman. The young tech rolled her eyes, spun on her heels and left.
"There hasn't been a case of Beta for two
years," Grace pointed out, "And it was isolated to the West Coast, L.A.."
Sheer panic was taking hold of Grace, knowing this woman, if she had Beta, who else did,
and no one survived nano viruses, no one, not even Dana. Silent tears were streaming down
Dana clutched at her side and swung her feet over
the edge of the examination bed. Her head drooped from exhaustion.
"How long has it been?" Grace asked,
barely a whisper.
"Two days," was the painful reply.
"But I'm afraid of infection from this nick more."
"That isn't a nick."
"It would have been a clean puncture, but I moved when they hit me with the aerosol. I thought they were trying to mace me, but when this didn't heal, I knew it was Beta."
Sydney caught a quick glance from her friend which
begged her for privacy. The nurse left, turning away quickly to hide a tear spotting her
"Does it hurt?"
"Would a local help?"
She nodded again. "Anything you've got at this point."
"Can I biopsy it, just to be sure?"
"Please, so I know."
A slow nod.
Grace reached to swab the wound with a huge Q-tip on a stick. "I don't think it punctured the intestine, so we should be safe from peristalsis."
"You don't need to take any from the injury. They're in most of my cells by now; skin, organs, take your pick, although I prefer skin."
Grace scraped a sample of skin from the back of Dana's arm and sealed it in a biopsy baggie. "We should seal the wound."
"The local first."
Grace smiled her doctor smile of sympathy, then buzzed for Sydney. While the nurse made her way to the examination room, Grace helped Dana onto her back and undid her jeans, lowering them far enough down her hip so that they would not contaminate the wound. After explaining the procedure she and Sydney set to work. Grace inserted the needle deep into the wound,removed it, and inserted it a few more times, emptying the syringe into her skin, while Sydney went to the organ cooler for a patch of skin.
"I'll have a Sam Adams while you're up," Dana joked.
The nurse ignored the obnoxious ex-con. "What's her blood type?"
"Suggestions on size?"
"Large!" Dana demanded.
"Not the size of your mouth."
When the local had numbed the patient enough, Sydney swabbed the wound with a merthiolate compound that painted the skin orange. Alternating between a vacuum and cotton swabs she removed all the puss and infection she could.
"That patch won't take," Dana remarked as Grace began drip liquid from a tube onto the patch of skin and then lay the sticky mess across the wound. It sealed like super glue. Dana watched in wonder. "I've never seen anything like that before."
"It has been out a few years, Dana. If you would go to the doctor once in a while for your injures instead of stapling them, you would have had some experience with it."
"What is it?"
"Live epidermal and fibrous adipose cells in
a plasmic medium. Even if you can't reproduce cells, it will work its way between the
cells like a web as it grows and anchor. Now relax a few minutes while it sets."
She sent Sydney with skin biopsy up to the to the
nano lab with a note.
"What else can I do you, Dana?"
Dana looked up at her only lover. "Nothing." A crooked smile tugged at her mouth. "I wanted to say goodbye, is all. I didn't expect anything else. And to apologize for hurting you." She looked away from the lovely face. "For what it's worth, I thought about you every second since then. I know I was a jerk."
"You hurt me."
Sad blue eyes darted to Grace's face. "I
"Insecurity, I guess. I knew that when we returned you would discover I didn't fit in here with you. I don't even have a high school diploma for god's sake, or a job, and I don't suppose many of your coworkers run around with ex-con murderers."
"So you dumped me first, thinking I would reject you?"
A sad laugh. "I couldn't have been more miserable if you had."
Grace stepped closer and lightly traced a pale hot cheek. Dana had to touch her back and reciprocated by sliding her hand into the soft blond hair. Suddenly, desperate mouths met in a passionate kiss, lips sliding against each other, sobs of ache coming from Grace. Soon the sobs overtook the kiss, and all the two could do was lean against each other.
"Why didn't you come back sooner?"
"I knew you hated me, that I blew it."
Grace sniffled and buried her head into the broad
shoulder. A little sweet talk and one look into those pools of blue and she would have
forgiven her. The truth, an explanation was all she would have needed.
"Grace, would you take me home with you? I
want to see Rip."
"Are you up to it? I mean maybe we should check you in here."
"I hate hospitals. Ended up here more than once, and always ended up with that Broom Hilda poking me with needles. Last time I was beaten to a pulp, broke both my hands fighting off the guards during a riot."
"The good old days."
"No, just the only old days I have," she thought sadly. "See, I'm already feeling sorry for myself because of this place. She sat up wincing, then slowly slipped off the bed. Using Grace for support they walked out of the exam room.
"Wait here," Grace instructed propping Dana against the wall while she ran around the corner to grab her coat and keys. Sydney came by and helped Dana with her jacket.
"At least I now know where my new surgi-gun disappeared to, don't I?" the blond nurse commented.
"I have no idea what you're talkin' 'bout,"
Dana replied with a wicked grin. Grace returned and allowed Dana to use her as a crutch as
they left the hospital.
As the sliders parted for the couple, Nurse Sydney wondered how Inmate 01432887 ended up in the company of her fair-headed young doctor.
"You should sleep," Grace urged.
"I told you on the way here, I don't want to waste time sleeping. Besides, these things are going to eat me at the same rate whether I'm resting or running a marathon. My immune system has no impact." She sat down on the couch. "It's designed to destroy any white blood cells that attack." She winced from the pain as she sat back against the cushion. Grace went to the back door of the kitchen and whistled. Dana nostalgically viewed the house, trying to imprint every detail in her mind even if the memories would exist for only a few more days.
As soon as Rip rounded the counter into the living
room she froze, staring at Dana, and growled fiercely, teeth bared. Dana shifted nervously
and the black dog began to bark warning.
Grace grabbed the dog's harness and pulled her outside, closing the door behind her. "She's still angry with you."
"No, it's the nano. Some hounds pick up the
electronic noise reverberations."
Grace brought Dana a bottle of water. "Are you sure it's the Beta virus and not Alpha?" She asked hopefully.
"Alpha has a turn off switch, Beta doesn't."
"I know, Dana. That's why I asked."
"And alpha doesn't freak dogs out." She
drained her bottle in a long swig then wiped her mouth with her hand. She bounced the
empty plastic container against her palm. Grace slipped down between her legs and wrapped
her arms around Dana's hips, her cheek resting on a long thigh . They sat like that for a
long time, not speaking.
"What are you thinking about, Chipmunk?"
Dana asked a hand stroking the long golden red locks. Grace smiled at being called
Chipmunk in such an endearing way.
"I was wondering what you have been doing the
past few months."
"Walking. It's a long way from Chicago to New Haven."
She lifted her head up."You walked
"I needed time to think."
"How long have you been back?"
"That's when you contracted the Beta. Were they waiting for you?"
"First, you don't contract a Beta virus. It's
inflicted upon you. And second, they were waiting on my boat." She eyed the kneeling
doctor. "How much do you know about nano viruses, Grace?"
"Not much, nobody knows much because it kills so . . .."
"It kills quickly. You can say it."
"I understand chip technology better than the viruses, and you never spoke about your nano work."
"I should have talked to you more," Dana
mentally slapped herself.
"Don't do that!"
"Talk about yourself like it's too
Dana smiled sweetly and brushed a few chaotic
strands of hair from Grace's face. She lost herself in her friend's beauty and the
softness of her hair. "Tell me now,"Grace pleaded pulling Dana out of her
admiration. "Tell me about Beta."
"Take a bath with me first," the brunette asked. Grace blushed, understanding where Dana's mind had been for those silent moments. "I've always wanted to wash your back."
Grace led her to the bathroom to fulfill her wish. Dana eased herself into the hot water wincing at the sting of little waves on the wound despite, the analgesic. She leaned her warm skin against the cool tile relishing the sensation.Grace lowered herself in front of her causing the water to rise in the small tub to within a half inch of the top. She reached up with her toes and turned the water off. Dana lifted her calf to the edge of the tub giving her lover more room.
Grace glanced back with a shy look to catch a crooked half float across Dana's face. It caused her belly to knot in that warmly good way. She let her fingers run from wet aristocratic toes , along the shin, across a round knee, and up that strong endless thigh. "How's the wound?"
"What wound?" A whisper that caused a chill. "Can I have the soap?" Hot breath on her ear, her belly tightened. Grace picked up the Safeguard and handed it over her shoulder. Fingers touched in passing. Grace waited for more, and when it did not come, she turned to see what the hold up was.
"If I weren't sick would you be so . . . um . . . so."
"Willing to forgive me?"
"Would you even be here if you were not
"Yes. I thought about you all the time."
Grace smiled to herself. "I would have made
you work at it a lot harder. Flowers, dinner, then seduction." She kissed the knee.
"So it would have taken maybe an pizza and a
couple of daisies?"
Grace laughed. She could have skipped the pizza,
the flowers. The dynamic smile and a "sorry" would have been enough, was enough.
She leaned back to feel the firm breasts against her skin. "Forget my back," she
said huskily, grabbing the hand with the soap and running it down her chest to her flat
stomach. Dana's free hand slid onto a round breast, sliding the nipple the length of her
middle and index finger. Her lips took an earlobe and she sucked as she stroked the belly
with the soap, Grace's hand moving with hers. Lower and lower it moved, Grace arching into
her hands. Dana dropped her mouth to her neck, then her shoulder. "Oh, god,"
Grace moaned reacting to the hard suction on her neck. Plunk! went the soap . Together
their fingers strove even lower. Dana groaned at the feel of the soft curls, them the soft
skin . Grace pressed her feet against the tiled wall allowing her to lift her hips and
move in the most natural of ways. "Oh yeah, just a couple more times around,"
she whispered deliriously.
Dana smiled into her hair, breathing in the smell
of flowers. She dropped her other had into the action. It did only take a couple more
times around for Grace to release, with deep guttural moans of pleasure, her breath
catching in her throat. If Dana were not so tired she would have continued, but the fact
was, all the work made her hurt and it took a lot longer than she remembered for Grace to
reach to her destination..
"You're so beautiful when you release,"
Dana whispered into the ear of her reclining spent lover. Grace hummed contently, hands
stroking the muscular legs that surrounded her.
"And you are awfully spry for someone I
couldn't wake in the park earlier."
"I hadn't slept for two days, and the
ingestion took a lot out of me."
"Ingestion?" she asked dreamily
Dana had a hard time remembering other people did
not understand the nanoverse the way she did. Her knowledge was not common to the real
world, even the smartest of them, which Grace was. "Ingestion is how the little
buggers get into the cells and replicate."
"That's still pretty vague."
"The virus is delivered in a fatty capsule to
be digested in the small intestine when the aerosol is ingested through the mouth."
"Why not the stomach?"
"Fats are absorbed in the small intestine as goblets after being emulsified. The Masters use their fatty coat to hitch a ride in the goblets to be absorbed, and then end up in the blood stream, and end up everywhere."
"I know the general physiology, Doc, but why the fatty shell?"
"The Masters use the fatty sheath to slip through the lipid membranes of their targets"
"You keep referring to Masters."
"We call the infiltration machines that create the slaves the Masters."
"The masters set up shop by creating the
slaves, literally building them from the Carbohydrates that are available in the cells and
using the cellular Adenosine Triphosphates as fuel. They use up a lot of the ATP to
complete replication work. Once it has completed put the last carbon on the slave, its
program cycle goes into shut down. It's all computer programmed on nano processors with
small sensory devices that pick up chemical signals and analyze them."
"For instance, the Master will begin its cycle as soon as it's taken up into a vacuole and a certain lysome begins to break down the lipase molecule it is attached to. That takes about twenty-four hours, but once the Masters are shut down, the virus cannot spread. The slave, unlike its Master, don't have the fatty carrier to get them past the cell membrane, so they never leave the cell.
"I don't get how these little machines can build more machines."
"They're carbon based, pyramidal structures, we called "diamonoid" for lack of a better word. The Master links the carbon molecules it finds in the cell together in specific orders to create a pre-programmed mechanical molecule with specific functions, one of which is mobility. The mobility is usually necessary for its function such as in the slave's case."
"Which is?" She had found the soap and
was washing her lover's feet and legs.
"It attacks and decimates the DNA, destroying all protein synthesis and cellular life. Specialized cells that don't divide, like nerve cells, die a little more slowly because the slave uses the breakdown of the nuclear envelope as its door to the DNA, otherwise it cannot get in to attack. It's all triggered by chemical signals, like I said. Cells that divide more rapidly die more quickly, like the skin cells, and the brush border cells of the kidneys. I'll die of kidney failure or complications of acidosis first."
"That's not true, because for some reason the Masters bypass the brush borders of the small intestine where they are initially ingested. Usually the acidosis kills those brush borders, as a secondary effect. We should get out, my pelvis is falling asleep."
"Oooo, don't want that," Grace stated as she stood and offered her hand to her nano tech. Using her strong back and shoulders she pulled Dana to her feet. Standing toe to toe in the soapy water Grace made an offer Dana could not refuse, " Need help waking it up?"
"Only if we can lay down." Dana tried
not to appear as tired as she felt.
"Lucky for you, I have a bed."
"I do feel lucky ,Grace," she said
seriously. "And if I died right now, I would die happy."