(2016-07-05) Keys to the Kingdom – or - Giving a Pistol to a Chimpanzee
Keys to the Kingdom – or - Giving a Pistol to a Chimpanzee
Summary: Mon and Eli make a (small) breakthrough controlling the silencer nanites.
Date: 2016.07.05
Related: None

Monica is… agitated. She's pacing back and forth through the (thankfully) empty infirmary at the idea that's detonated in her brain She's obviously figuring out how to explain it, because her hands flail around like normal gesturing fast-forwarded. She stops when Eli comes in. "Doc… There you are."

Elijah had been out scavenging. No luck. Oh well maybe next time. As he enters the infirmary and sees Monica, his steps come to a halt and he lofts a brow "Monica…greetings." Removing his satchel he hangs it over a nearby chair "How my I help you?" he looks to her.

Monica opens her mouth, and the words come out in a torrent. This is actually what it's like inside Mon's head most of the time, but she learned young to slow down to the leisurely speech pattern and faint drawl of someone born and bred in small-town Wyoming. Not so today. She's tired. "I had an idea last night that could change everything. I think I can make alien power cells. Do you have any samples of Silencer blood? Dead one's, or Pipers? I mean if Piper's excreting nanomachines in her milk we could ask her for some of that, but you'd have to wonder what's going on in little Quinn then, but I really really need a sample of the nanomachines…” Monica only stops because she has to breathe.

Listening to the woman's words, Eli lofts a brow "I…yes…" He seems surprised. Yet not upset. "I have samples. What are you thinking?" Medicine was his strong suit. Power cells? Not so much. "Forgive me if I don't follow…"

Monica nods and tries to slow down. "Okay. Here's the thing. I've been poking inside a dead alien power cell from the school bus. What's in there is a huge coil, massive surface area, of very fine fibers made of carbon and lithium. I think I read about superconductor research once online where they thought carbon nanotubes plus lithium, and just a tiny amount of lithium, would work that way. Problem is I couldn't think of a way to make it. I know jack about making nanomaterials. I was thinking we could try genetic engineering… if you or someone in camp happens to be an expert. Bacteria operate on that scale. But then I remembered how you test for Silencers. Nanomachines. And the more I thought about them, the more the machines in silencer blood might be able to crack the problem for me. To do what they do, they have to be able to reproduce. That means they're nanoassemblers and disassemblers. If we can figure out how to get them to reproduce in vitro and reprogram them, they can disassemble samples of the power cell fiber, tell us what's in it, and then assemble the fibers for us if we give them the raw materials. We could basically ferment ourselves power cells and superconductors for other jobs too.

Elijah seems a bit overwhelmed, but follows along as well as he can. "Alright…" he nods. "I think I follow you…mostly. And…I think I can help. Again, the power aspect of it is not my forte and I'm honestly still figuring out just what all I've discovered from the samples I've gathered." The doctor rubs the back of his neck, thinking a moment. "I'll look and see what I'm able to pull from my current supply." He looks back to Monica and nods "And let you know what we might be able to do. Or you can let me know what you think we can manage with what I'm able to salvage. Or how does that sound?"

Monica nods. "That sounds great. We might still need to hit Piper up if they die after a certain amount of time without bio-activity, but I think if we make a good case to her, she'd spare us a pint. Power is just the beginning. Think about it. These things are already bio-compatible. If we programmed them to search and destroy bacteria? They probably already know how to do that. Ditto for cancer… Depending on how much control we can get, and how they actually communicate, you might be able to use them to do surgery in real time inside someone without opening them up. The nanomachines just go to a specific place and repair this tissue or remove that, or… whatever. I don't know. K. Eric Drexler made a lot of claims about what nanomachines could do, but we never quite got there on our own. If the aliens have given us nanomachines that can reproduce and be programmed, along with superconductors, they've given us the keys to the kingdom.

Thinking again on what she says, Eli nods slowly. "I can talk to her…but…we'll have to be careful. Just as I have been hesitant to try and use any of the Silencer blood without fully knowing it's effects…I feel the same for their technology. There are so many unknown factors. Some of which we can never know for sure despite any research we can do." Though…how could they learn if they never tried? Desperate times and all that. "Have you brought this up with anybody else in camp? Bob?"

Monica shakes her head. "No. I'm the R&D chief. This is R&D. I don't figure we need to bother him until we have something concrete to show him. If it dies in the lab… well, it dies in the lab. I wanted to bring it up with you because you have the samples, and except for Piper, possibly, you're the resident expert on the things. You know what they look like, at least. I also have a zillion questions about Silencer physiology that were what put me on this line of thought in the first place." She pauses, thinking. "I'm with you about the risks. The idea of self-replicating machines eating us, the world, and so forth is concerning. But we know they don't do it by default. Otherwise silencers would be self-burying.

"But they could do it when introduced to foreign matter…whether human or material…" Elijah seems deep in thought now, reaching into his satchel and pulling out a notebook. "It is definitely worth looking into…great thinking, Monica" he offers her a smile. "I'll help in whatever way I can. Let me know if you need help gathering other supplies as well. I can help with that if needed until we get to the point where the medical would come into play."

Monica nods. "Right now, a couple mounted on a microscope slide so I can have a good look at them would be the right amount."

Elijah nods "I have live samples still. In the fridge…" Thank goodness for electricity! "Give me a moment." The notebook is put down for the moment and heads into the kitchen. After a moment he returns with a tray of tubes, blood in them. From there he'd get out his microscope and other equipment, soon having it set up. "If you have time now that is…" Eli looks back to her, realizing he had just assumed.

Monica nods. "I have the time. I mean, I can make more guns and more explosives, but right now our pressing problem is dealing with the aliens before they deal with us." She looks at the good Doctor. "Let me know if you need a rifle, by the way. I need input from new shooters to tell me if the thing is practical for mass production."

Nodding, Eli gets only as much blood as they need on a couple slides, saving the precious resource. "I don't…know how to shoot." He'd mutter a bit, then moving to take the blood and put it back in the fridge before coming back over and preparing the slides and sliding one under the microscope. He looks to her "They're ready…" Hopefully his little statement before would be able to slide by with all the excitement of blood!

Monica nods. "I could teach you. Can you shoot someone? I mean, Hypocratic oath and all that." She peers into the microscope and uses it like someone who's used it before. She cleaned it meticulously the last time she borrowed it, but it's possible it wasn't quite in the right place when she put it back. One might wonder. She zooms in on the little bastard on the slide. "Okay… that's a blood cell… that's… I think that's it." She moves so the doctor can see.

"I've shot somebody before…" Dumb luck. Bad memories. "I'm just not trained so…I wouldn't rely on any accuracy is all." He frowns a bit, but then moves over to the slide and peers to take a look. "You're correct" he says with a confirming nod, pulling back up so she can look again if she wants. "Those are not active. Taken from Piper's blood sample. Here…is a sample from the other blood sample. With active Silencer nanites." He removes the first slide and replaces it with the second. She'd see the difference easily.

Monica peers. "That's way different. Doc… what happened to Piper that she's… Piper and not… a silencer anymore?" She peers. "Damn. I have to see how far back the library's collection of Scientific American goes. At one time, in the Citizen Scientist column, they said how to build an electron microscope at home."

Elijah shakes his head "That's where it gets complicated. You see from what I've gathered…the aliens implant these nanites into humans. Silencers are humans. The nanites enable the aliens to 'possess' the hosts…controlling them both physically and mentally to create the Silencer and make them violent against other humans. However…as in Piper's case…this control can be broken. Though I'm unsure of what causes that fight exactly. It could just be a variety of things and no doubt varies in each individual case. All that to say what worked for Piper…might not work for an active Silencer."

He frowns, trying to think of the right phrasing. Piper WASN'T a Silencer in his mind…but the logistics of it. It was all so confusing still and it showed in the doctor's face. "All I know is that however she did it…and whatever caused it…Piper fought their possession. She regained control." Eli looks to Monica with a bit of a frown. All of this was so serious. What a world.

Monica ponders that. "And she changed the nanomachines, do you think? Or are we looking at different revisions or something like that?" She studies the little monstrosity some more.

"No…" Eli shakes his head, watching Monica as she looks to the slide. "They just…turned off. Deactivated. They aren't active in her bloodstream anymore." It really was curious. Yet fascinating. Curse the mind of a doctor…always being intrigued by morbid things. "My intent has been to see if there is a way to reactivate them, but I of course didn't want to use Piper." For many reasons he hoped didn't need to be explained. "I've gathered rats from the barn, but I've yet to do anything with them…mostly because I don't know where I would go from there, but also because part of me is unsure what kind of threat that could create?" A Silencer rat? Talk about nightmare fodder!

Monica chuckles a little. Morbid is something she does too. She thinks along similar lines. "Silencer rats would be a menace to our feline members. And probably the rest of us too." She studies the two slides. "I wonder how her thought patterns would effect the machines themselves. That's… odd."

"The best I can figure is mind over matter? Or some element of that…a determination of will." Eli frowns at the thought "Whatever led to it. It wouldn't have been pleasant for her in any measure…" That kind of struggle. Eli's thoughts wander a moment before he shakes his head "Like you said though…Silencer rats are not exactly ideal. So I'd need a way to contain it…but I don't know what enhancements it would have or to what degree. Silencers are faster…stronger…heal quickly. If all of that is packed into a specimen as small as a rat that manages to escape…I don't even want to think of the horror movie scenario that could unleash." Zombeavers eat your heart out! "Perhaps I am just being paranoid though…"

Monica says, quietly, as she peers through the microscope. "Aliens come and kill 99% of the human population. How paranoid do you have to be to see that coming? This could be game changing technology, or this could be like giving a pistol to a chimpanzee. Caution is a good thing." She rubs her eyes. "I think a place to start would be see if we can switch it off and on the way Piper did. Start with the ones from the silencer, and see if we can induce the state she did.

"Right…" Eli nods. "Well then I guess I can try injecting a sample into one of the rats. Unless you have a way of introducing an electric current directly that would avoid having to use a carrier?"

Monica nods. "Yeah, we can wind an electromagnet around the sample jar and induce voltages in it."

That does get a smile from the doctor "Excellent!" Elijah chuckles "Sorry…that was probably far too an excited a reaction over voltage." Though with who he was talking to maybe not! He rubs the back of his neck again, "This is really good though, Monica. Thank you for bringing this to me. It helps with the rut I've been in too in my research. Feel free to examine that sample and the other for as long as you like…and I'll try to answer any other questions you might have."

Monica grins. Mon is several kinds of nerd, so no, she thinks it's perfectly reasonable to get jumping up and down excited about things that take ten minutes to explain. "I'll go get some wire."

Monica returns with a spool of recycled wire and winds it around the sample, and sets out a 9 volt battery. "Ready?"

Elijah nods and has the sample readied on the table. "Ready. Once you administer the voltage I'll put it back under the slide."

<FS3> Monica rolls Jury Rigging: Success.

Monica touches the wires to the battery. She blinks as the whole sample seems to shiver slightly. "That was weird."

"Weird…but encouraging…" Eli says, grin spreading. He moves quickly, taking the sample and putting it back under the slide. After examination he frowns "Hrm…try again…hit it twice more." Setting the sample back on the table he steps away again so she can shock.

You say, "Nothing happened? Huh." She gives it another electro-magnetic jolt. Two of them, in fact.

“Still nothing,” Eli says. “Perhaps we should try more current.” He holds up the paddles from the defibrillator.

After some quick taping (duct tape to the rescue again!) Mon's ready. She stands back from the table, both hands in her pockets. “Clear.”

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Nanite Killer=5 Vs Nanites=3
< Nanite Killer: Good Success Nanites: Success
< Net Result: Nanite Killer wins - Marginal Victory

Once again the doctor quickly swoops in and moves the sample back under the microscope. Eli stays silent for a moment…a long moment…before a laugh escapes. "I…I don't believe it." Stepping back from the microscope he laughs again, rubbing a hand through his hair and just nodding his head towards the device. "Look…just…take a look!" It had worked. It had actually worked!

Monica peers through the lens. "Oh holy shit…" She checks. "You're sure we have the right slide." She switches to Piper's sample, then back. "They're the same." She grins at Eli. "Well for one thing, we know we can seriously screw silencers now." She thinks about it. "And… probably how they were activated.”

Elijah is still just staring at the microscope in shock, grin spreading as both hands now move to run through his hair and rest on his head. "This whole time…it was that simple. Shocking them. Just a current…straight through…" He didn't sound mad. More entertained actually. Another chuckle escapes him as he seems to process what Monica had said now and just nods slowly, still just kind of looking in shock.

Monica gives the doctor a quick hug. "We should get the computer hacker guys involved. Big time. Going from "hey we can communicate with it" to "Hey, let's make it do things? That's their kind of thing. And I do have one computer that kinda sorta works.

Returning the hug, Eli nods then and looks to Monica. "We should find out if we can reactivate them. So are you ready to shock again?" he asks with a grin. Okay, he had to admit. This was exciting.

<FS3> Monica rolls Jury Rigging: Success.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Nanite Killer=5 Vs Nanites=3
< Nanite Killer: Good Success Nanites: Good Success
< Net Result: Nanite Killer wins - Marginal Victory

Elijah nods and stands back. Watching Monica as she does her thing! When she's done, he triggers the defibrillator.

When she can look at the slide again, Mon whistles. “That got more of them. I know that one down on the bottom right was deactivated before.” She looks at Eli. “We should try Piper's.” She tapes up the connections and switches to Piper's sample. “Clear.”

Taking the defibrillator, Elijah takes a breath "Clear…" He'd zap! After, he'd move to the slide and take a look at the slide. Stepping back he'd just look to Monica, "Take a look…" Again. It wasn't all of them…but some were reactivated!

Monica peers through the microscope and whistles. "Important safety tip. Defibrillate Piper with caution."

Elijah nods "Welcome to my worry…at least I know now that it's warranted." He frowns then, thinking on some things. "I guess we are good to go ahead and move forward though. I think that this discovery is definitely worth telling Bob about at least…

Monica nods. "Yeah… making progress with these things is definitely Bob-worthy. You want to tell Piper, or should I?

Thinking about that a moment, Eli nods "Let me…" It might not go well, but he figured he owed her that much. "And again…brilliant thinking, Monica. You're a genius" he gives her a grin.

Monica smiles. "Thanks. We couldn't have done it without your work isolating these little buggers in the first place. It's one thing to hear rumors about them. It's another to have someone make you microscope slides of them." Mon blows out her cheeks and rubs at the side of her mouth where her bad teeth are. "I wonder if you could use those to make fillings. 'Course I'm not sure I'd survive deactivating them, so…"

Elijah gives a small chuckle "I'm sure there's plenty we COULD use them for. Figuring out what those uses are? That's a whole other matter…" He honestly seemed happy. Excited even. Definitely more upbeat than he'd been in awhile. "I still can't believe…we did it. We actually did it. This is…incredible." Sure there was the negative, but right now this was a big step for them. "Think of what this could mean. Simply incredible…

Monica chuckles a little. "See why I was so excited? Kind of wish I hadn't thought of it at 2:00AM after a long day of making ammunition." She rubs her eyes. "So we need to talk to Bob, we need to get with the computer guys, and electronic guys and figure out how to feed this thing more complex waveforms." She looks at the doctor with that strange look she came in with. "Wait. Wait. Shit, we already have that. They've got a ham radio transmitter. Working voltage on those things is in kilovolts." She grins again, and it says something about her mental state that the next ping that goes through her head is a completely different subject. "I'll definitely teach you to shoot. I'll get you a rifle…" she yawns. "Maybe … tomorrow-ish. I have to put upgrade kits in mine and Terry's yet." Gah. So many projects. So little sleep.

Monica nods. "You might even like hunting. There's a certain amount of gross anatomy involved in it."

"I…maybe!" Absolutely not. If the animal or even person was already dead he was fine. Actually shooting it? The thought alone made his stomach turn a bit. How had he actually managed to make it this long without killing somebody? Who knows. Most likely, being a doctor, he had always had some type of people around to protect him. Who benefited from his services in return. Like here.
Still…he knew he couldn't avoid it forever. "Let's just start with practice first though…yeah?" Baby stepping.

Monica watches the good doctor. He seems to be squirming a little. "Yeah, okay. Nice, dead aluminum cans. We'll do that." She blows out her cheeks again and grins. "Thanks. This has been way more fun than my other big idea from last night. You can extract nitrogen salts from sewage, and I have a supply of sewage now… but I sure wasn't looking forward to doing the work."

Elijah gives a half smile and a nod "Thanks…" With her next words though the
doctor is chuckling again "I can understand why that wouldn't be appealing work. Let me know if you need help?" It's the least he could offer after all. Tonight's experiment AND gun lessons. He owed her!

Monica nods. "I will. Actually if you wanted to check the water at the tap in the bathhouse for harmful bacteria and all that, I'd like to make sure my big sand filter's doing its job. That'd be a huge help."

"Sure. I can even bring it back here if you need to look at it closer? Or I can probably find out what I need on site too. I'll bring my equipment." Elijah starts to put everything back up and clean the area.

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