For an Eye
Wolf Den Base
Ryker Killbane - 15 years after decant
Shane Gooseman - 11 y.a.d.
"No, Killbane." The teacher rejected the answer with an impatient movement of his hand. "You haven't understood the principle of encapsulation at all. -- Anyone else?" He looked around. "Yes, Gooseman."
"If the foreign body can't be pushed out it has to be separated from the rest of the tissue by a thin layer of inactive cells."
"What's this inactive cell layer?"
"What is it for?"
"To keep control over the foreign body. Ah... to prevent it from migrating in the tissue."
"That could also be done by hardened living cells which afterwards could be reintegrated into the system instead of causing a permanent loss of tissue. Why do they have to be inactive?" The silence in the room was broken by hissed comments: Grind, Commander's pet, Shut up!... "It's still your turn, Gooseman." ... To get shredded.
"Living cells have metabolism, inactive ones don't transport substances. Therefore... the capsule has to be inactive to prevent the potential spread of poison through the body."
"Correct. Except it's tissue transitive. -- Good, Gooseman. -- Tissue transitive toxins don't need metabolism to spread in the body. They spread through the cells on the molecular level. You all were immunized against most of them during your DNA-adaption. The list of the other tissue transitive toxins is on display in the common room. I'll test you on it next class session."
"I can't get used to the armed men next to my desk."
"They are there for your protection, Dr. Meadows."
"Do you really think they're necessary, Walsh?"
"You're teaching the most talented group." Joseph Walsh looked earnestly at him. "Every one of your pupils is more dangerous than a whole company of space marines."
"But they're teenagers."
"They are weapons."
"Piss off, Ryker. I've got work to do!" A growl crept into Goose's voice as he answered the older ST and tried to keep concentrating on the toxin list at the same time.
"Trying to outdo us again? I thought I told you what would happen if you did that again -- commander's pet." Some of the others sat spread out across the room, sneering and watching the fight in the offing. "Or maybe I should say commander's girlfriend?"
Killbane's fist crashed against the table's edge, barely missing Gooseman, who threw himself to the side. Goose's body scraped against the table, skin tearing. He rolled under the desk and onto his feet, slid back on one flank from the other side over the tabletop, and slammed his feet into Killbane's stomach. His enemy stumbled two steps back and roared: "You'll pay for this!!!"
Gooseman balanced on the balls of his feet, tried to keep distance between himself and the others. Jackhammer and Gravestone blocked the way through the main door. Stingray stood in front of the sleeping quarters, playing with one of his knives.
Shane looked around. Damn! No chance in here! My abilities aren't strong enough to break through the bulletproof glass. But his are!
Goose fell back towards the wall with the windows, provoking his enemy. Killbane furiously jumped at Goose, shifted into his spiked form, crashed against the younger ST. Goose leaped to the side. Two of the spikes caught him, ripped open his side -- but Killbane slammed against the windows, shattering them. Goose was pulled out through the splintered clear steel plate. Shards tore like scrapnel into his arms, Killbane was cut, too. Goose tumbled over, jumped to his feet and tried to run, but a paw like a vice held his foot. He fell down, was buried under a heavy weight.
"Now you're in for it!" The voice behind his head was enraged. "Hey, pack! I'll let him have it!"
"It's no use smacking little girls, Ryker." Stingray's ironic comment made the others laugh. "Commander's pet isn't worth the effort."
"Ha! I'm going to take the commander's girlfriend!"
Fangs sank into Goose's neck, scraped over the vertebrae, shook him like a piece of prey. Clawed hands tore open his clothes, ripping into the flesh of his back... He writhed, twisted -- and noticed the sand in front of him.
"Keep still! Or I'll finish you off right now!"
A blow hit his back. Goose tried to jump away but was slammed to the ground, half turning as he fell. His outstretched right hand dug into the sand. He twisted around and tore his neck free, leaving a piece of his flesh in the transformed fangs of his enemy. His left hand, driven by rage and pain, slashed across the ugly face above him...
The sirens howled as Ryker hunched over. Goose struggled to free himself and retreated to the other side of the yard without letting the others out of his sight, bloody hand stretched out before him as a warning. Killbane's bio defenses glowed as they activated. The cuts closed. The others shouted for him to give the rest to the grind. But Killbane didn't get up. He screamed, writhed in pain and hatred.
The guards secured the yard within moments, laser rifles kept at the ready. Gooseman let his hand drop and waited without moving. Killbane, struggling in the guards' grip, stared hatefully at him and spat a single word in his direction: "Runt!" The commander's announcement drowned it out:
>>Killbane - to the medo station. Gooseman - in my office, immediately! The rest of you to the sleeping quarters. Anyone found outside in three minutes will be disciplined!<<
"What happened?" Walsh scrutinized the young ST in the overall, tattered from the shoulders down to the legs. Deep cuts in Goose's sides, gashes in his arms and legs and a bite on his neck soaked the shredded cloth with blood.
"Ryker tried to kill me." Goose pressed the cloth Walsh had given him against the wound in his neck.
"You have severly injured him."
"I didn't want to die. If he'd left me alone I wouldn't have done it."
Walsh accepted that with a nod. "You're dismissed, Gooseman. Get your injuries treated. And stay away from Killbane!"
Professor Negata entered the room after Gooseman had left. "Killbane has lost his eye."
"How is that possible? Gooseman isn't as far along as Killbane. It's remarkable that he could even have escaped from him."
"Don't be so sure about that, Joseph." Negata put a data screen onto the desk and activated it with a key.
"The surveillance files. -- He told the truth, Killbane attacked him, looks like a rape attempt to me. But there's something else very interesting. Look here..." Negata pointed at a detail, zoomed the image. "Watch Gooseman's right hand. Pay attention to the fingers."
"They're changing... He shouldn't be capable of such transformations for at least six more months. How..?"
"Panic. Fear. Strong emotions seem to generate the necessary energy for a short time. It's also possible that he has developed faster than we thought and is hiding it from us."
"Claws, of iridium steel according to the spectrographic analysis. He shredded Killbane's eye down to the skull. The scan even shows scratches in the bone."
"Killbane's bio defenses are fully active. Why wasn't the eye restored?"
"Just a moment. Look again at Gooseman. At his right hand. Do you see the sand?"
"Yes. Must have drifted over from the training ground."
The professor nodded. "He drove it into the shredded flesh. When Killbane used his bio defenses every one of the grains was capsuled. And now the capsules form--"
"--a single inactive mass in his face." Walsh stared, shocked, at the events in slow motion on the screen. "His body can't regenerate, because capsules are treated as part of the body."
"Correct. And if we cut out the capsules the disfigurement stays because capsule tissue isn't replacable."
"Gooseman used Killbane's own abilities against him." Walsh hissed through his teeth. "He always fights with his head."
"Yes. He's a much brighter head than Killbane. Sometimes I think he's brighter than he should be with his genetic base. Maybe we should test his IQ sometime." Negata shrugged. "At least he found a way to wound a Bio Defense Carrier like himself permanently."
"How should we react to this?"
"He was attacked and has defended himself successfully."
"To punish him for success would send the wrong signal. We'll have to let it go. But we must not forget the reason for the attack."
"Is he aware of what Killbane was trying to do?"
"No." Walsh looked at the door through which Gooseman had left. "He has no idea. He thought Killbane tried to kill him. I've ordered him to stay away from Killbane."
"Let's leave it at that. I'll raise the dose of the sexual inhibitor."
"For all of them?"
"y.a.d." (years after decant) means physical age in contrast to "y.o.v." (years of viability) which is the time since when the STs have proofed themselves able to survive in the conditions specified by the project's intentions and were considered as being alive. (usually y.o.v = y.a.d. - 2 years).
See Also: The Price of Victory