Degeneration, The Ghost Squadron

Chapter Two

Felix Castile’s Office, Unsurpassed, Tangki System.

The red light from the screen on the wall cast the office in an eerie glow. Felix narrowed his eyes, his lips pushing out in a slight grimace. He’d been staring at the image on the screen for a full minute and it still didn’t make sense. That was a rarity for him.

He swiveled to face the scientist sitting across the desk. “Explain exactly what I’m looking at.”

A regurgitated laugh sputtered from the man’s mouth. Elemius was neither tall or short nor fat or thin. He was also neither attractive nor ugly. He just was, with his plain brown hair and eyes to match. His repeated chuckle fell away once he caught the look of disgust on Felix’s face.

“It’s quite simple. I assumed you were well versed on chemical compositions,” said Elemius, gliding his hand over the top of his head, nervously.

Felix sharpened his eyes at the scientist. Elemius was the best. He’d been hard to retain, and he apparently knew how critical his involvement was or otherwise he wouldn’t have been so bold.

“I’m well aware what I’m looking at, but I don’t understand exactly what it’s supposed to be,” said Felix, enunciating each word, his hostility palpable.

“Right, well, chemistry isn’t for everyone. The same is true of genetic engineering.” Elemius cleared his throat as he stood. He pointed at the screen indicating a strand of DNA. “This example shows a specimen with nanotechnology directly enhancing their system.”

“I can clearly see that,” said Felix, his voice sharp.

“Right, of course you do,” said Elemius in a patronizing fashion.  “The specimen has additionally been hit with a toxin that degenerates the subject’s cells on a continuous basis.  I call it ‘degen’ for short.”

“That’s the reason for the change in the appearance of the DNA sample?” asked Felix. Now this was starting to make sense. He had guessed something was off, but couldn’t pinpoint it.

“Precisely,” stated Elemius. “Degen overwhelms a center in the body, continuously breaking down the cell membrane, attracting the attention of the nanocytes. As they flee to fix this area, they . This, in turn, stops the nanocytes from enhancing existing cells. That means the subject is unable to heal quickly, fight certain diseases, or revitalize the body. They begin to age naturally as well. So long as the nanocytes are occupied, they remain incapable of performing their original tasks.”

“You’ve distracted them, in essence,” said Felix.

“Correct,” said Elemius. “Which means, if the subject is attacked then they are unable to recover.”

“They are purely human, then?” asked Felix.

“Yes. Once degen is administered the subject is fully human. They will have zero enhanced abilities. No increased speed, strength or healing abilities. Degen degrades a person with nanocyte technology back to their former self.”

“What if they are put back through the process? Upgraded using a pod doc?” asked Felix, unwilling to celebrate this near success just yet.

Elemius held up a single finger, a triumphant look on his face. “It wouldn’t work. Degen will again attract the nanocyctes, rendering them useless. Its draw is too strong, and once it has the nanocyctes, then it holds them hostage.”

“So there is no way to reverse degen?” asked Felix.

Elemius shrugged. “I’m guessing there could be a way. Destroy the toxin in the system, but it would be incredibly difficult.”

Felix allowed a small smile that spoke of his satisfaction. This was it. Finally he’d figured out a way to destroy General Reynolds. The man was incredibly well guarded, which posed its own risks. However, even if Felix could get a hit on him, then he’d most likely recover without incident. Felix didn’t just want the General to fall, he wanted him to suffer. He wanted him to die like a normal human, vulnerable and defenseless.

Felix felt the urge to laugh. In his mind, he could see the General being stuck with degen. His eyes would be full of fear as he stared at the barrel of Felix’s gun. He’d know how fragile his body was. He’d know that he’d been beaten. He wasn’t as strong as he thought. And more than anything, most important to Felix, was that Lance Reynolds would regret what he’d done. He’d regret turning his back on Felix all those years ago.

When that regret surfaced in General Reynolds’ eyes, that’s when Felix would pull the trigger.