- Author's Note: I don't own the characters or Revolution; I'm just playing with them for a bit for fun, not profit. Spoilers for 1.17. T for language.
Rachel shook in the morning air, attempting to block the pain of her broken leg, the fear of infection, the fear of thrombosis. She wasn't a medical doctor, and her first aid knowledge of R.I.C.E. didn't really apply to wounds of this magnitude.
Aaron asked, "Seriously, why the hell am I in this book?"
Rachel curtly replied, "This is why I didn't want to tell you. I knew you'd obsess about it."
Aaron retorted, "Yes. No. I'm sorry for overreacting."
Rachel suppressed a sigh, "I don't know. It doesn't make any sense. I'll tell you one thing. I think Ben knew… something."
Rachel shrugged her shoulders non-committally.
Aaron asked, "What do you mean?"
Rachel explained, "As soon as we met you, he kept you close. No matter where we moved, what we did, you were with him. He could have given that pendant to anyone, and he chose you."
Aaron looked a little hurt. Clearly, he had thought Ben and he were friends, and it hurt his feelings that his friend was so Machiavellian. Well, Rachel really didn't have the energy to give a damn about his hurt feelings.
Aaron shook his head and said, "This is just creeping me out. Let's just get going." He packed Dr. Warren's journal in his bag.
Rachel retorted, "How am I supposed to do that?" Yes, they had the horses they stole from the men she had killed, but even with them, traveling was excruciatingly painful. Each hoof-beat sent slivers of bone grating against muscle and sinew.
Aaron replied patiently, "Oh, come on. I don't want to hear it." And he bent down to pick her up.
Rachel, whose wound had clotted and frozen in place, said, "No. Aaron."
Aaron strained to pick Rachel up, huffing, "Wait."
Rachel cried in suppressed pain, "Aaron. Aaron! Ow! Aah!" She grunted in distress and gripped Aaron's jacket in a death-hold. She strained to breathe through the pain, like childbirth. But in this case the pain wouldn't end in a beautiful baby boy or lively baby girl, but a prolonged painful death by sepsis, or if she was lucky, a fast death by a clot from the wound reaching her heart or brain.
Childbirth. That gave her an idea. Rachel hardly even heard Aaron's apology – her mind was racing a-mile-a-minute, attempting to logic out the possibility.
Rachel asked Aaron, double-checking what she thought he would say, "You really aren't gonna leave me, are you?"
Rachel glanced up at Aaron; he stood resolute, and said, "No. I'm really not."
Why was it that some men turned tail as soon as the going got rough and others stood the course, and neither was who you'd think.
Rachel made up her mind, if he wasn't going to continue her mission without her, she would have to attempt this foolhardy experiment in order to survive.
"Hand me my pack." She commanded.
Aaron acquiesced, and Rachel dug around in it to pull out Danny's capsule. She said, "I have an idea. Something that might fix my leg."
Aaron asked, "Why didn't you say something before?"
Rachel snapped at him, "Because it probably won't work and it will probably get us both killed. But you are so stupid and stubborn that you won't leave, so…" Rachel pulled out Danny's capsule and looked at the small thing that had kept her son alive.
Rachel continued. "There might be a way."
Aaron was confused and asked, "How?"
Rachel handed him the precious capsule, elaborating, "With this."
Aaron examined the capsule; he recognized the circuitry but not the pill-like design, "Huh?"
Rachel curtly said, "Well come along then. We'll need some supplies so let's give this horse-back riding thing another try."
Aaron eventually lifted Rachel onto the back of one of their stolen horses and they rode along the highway looking for an electronics store. Rachel had almost passed out from the pain of the transfer, and her wound began bleeding again, the clot broken. Riding on the highway was easier on her – fewer detours for the horses – but the ride was still far from smooth. Her wound began bleeding again, and she thought she might be going into shock, the whole world fuzzed out and then snapped back into sharp relief. It might be easier if she just passed peacefully from shock to death and let Aaron continue on without her, but her need for revenge drove her to fight off the comfort of unconsciousness.
At around noon they found a podunk electronics store and Aaron carried her inside. She instructed him to hand her Dr. Warren's journal, no lab notebook, no magic spell book. She opened it up and looked around for the circuit diagram Jane had drawn depicting a nanite controller re-programming device.
"Build that," she commanded pointing at the complex diagram.
Aaron asked her, "What is it?
Rachel replied shortly, mincing the words through her pain-fog, "Just build it okay! It'll reprogram the capsule."
Aaron was more confused rather than less, but began looking for the correct components to build the diagramed device. It had been a long time since he played around with circuit diagrams and motherboards, but hey, soldering was just like riding a bike, right?
As Aaron was searching for the required resistors, capacitors, and transformers, Rachel fought to control her pain. She had experienced much worse at Sergeant Strausser's hand without breaking, or at least that was what she tried to tell herself.
Rachel unwrapped the ace bandage and then steeled herself for examining the wound. She knew it was bad, as compound fractures were always much worse than closed fractures. Rachel was no medical doctor but she knew that compound fractures had infinitely higher risks of infection as well as an increased risk for thrombosis.
Rachel tore off the gauze – disrupting the clot that had formed and looked at her shattered leg bone, she didn't remember if it was the tibia or fibula, but she could certainly see it, whichever it was. The flesh around the wound was not yet inflamed, and she wasn't feverish yet, both good signs that the wound wasn't infected yet.
She looked up at Aaron, hopefully he could pull this off; otherwise she was toast. Rachel figured that some ego-stroking wouldn't be amiss and said, "Pretty impressive, Aaron."
Aaron dismissed the complement with, "Well, other kids played sports. Of course, I have no idea what I'm building."
Rachel attempted to explain, but the pain-fog made it difficult to clearly explain everything, "The capsule is first-generation nanotech." What she really meant to say was that it was a first-gen nanite controller. It itself wasn't nano-sized – clearly.
Rachel continued, "It kept Danny alive. Fixed his lung tissue." At least that was the simple explanation that Dr. Warren had given her sixteen years ago. From decoding her lab notebook, Rachel had learned a lot more about what the nanites could do biologically.
Apparently the silicon ceramic the nanites were made out of, made them sensitive to pH and oxidation differences. They could figuratively sniff out cancer tumors by detecting their acidic and low oxygen surroundings.
In Danny, the nanites removed the harmful scar tissue in his lungs and somehow triggered normal healthy tissue growth. Rachel couldn't quite understand how the capsule could tell the nanites to form the correct surface structures to convey the growth message, but they could. These two things would have made the capsule a one-and-done procedure, but Danny had had other issues besides just scarred and weak lungs that required regular maintenance.
Due to his arterial defect, he had experienced in utero oxygen depravation. The clinical trial to ameliorate the effects had helped somewhat, but he was still born premature with under-developed lungs and some mild brain damage. His under-developed lungs were scarred by the NICU's oxygen tubing, and the mild brain damage had lead to delayed language acquisition.
Rachel had been concerned when he didn't start babbling around six months, but knew she had to do something when her two-year-old had never once called her 'mama.' Dr. Warren had deftly programmed Danny's capsule to trigger subtle brain tissue growth and differentiation. The first time Danny had called her 'mama,' Rachel knew the whole Blackout was worth it.
Rachel returned to the present, "Umm… you can reprogram it to do almost anything – stitch bone, heal skin – like fix my leg, if it works."
Aaron asked the smart question, "And if it doesn't?"
Rachel tried scaring him off with the worst-case scenarios; she said, "Mm, could cook us from the inside or… ignite the air." The nanites guarding the Tower were programed to do just that if they detected any unauthorized personnel.
It was far more likely that nothing would change, or maybe they would heal the small bit of scar damage in her lungs from the summer she had spent in Turkey and had taken up smoking. Rachel continued, "hard to say."
Aaron wasn't easily scared and nodded resolutely, simply grunting "Uh-huh."
Aaron worked on building the device depicted in the diagram; he had difficulty finding a way to solder the breadboard together, but jerry-rigged a soldering iron with a bit of heated copper wire with electrical tape wrapped around one end as a handle.
When Aaron had finished constructing the nanite controller re-programming device he turned to Rachel, "Now what?"
Rachel looked up at him and said, "Just plug the capsule in."
Aaron asked the obvious question, "How do we power it?"
Rachel suppressed a sigh and said, "Just plug it in. You'll see."
Rachel watched Aaron plug the capsule into the receptor and the old Macintosh monitor sprang to life.
Aaron exclaimed, "Wow."
Rachel smiled at his child-like wonder, "Yeah."
Rachel told him, "Just flip a few pages, there should be some code. Input it."
Aaron asked, "What does this mean?"
Rachel sighed and said, "It'll re-program the controller to tell the nanites to 'Heal all the Things'"
Aaron smiled at the re-appropriated meme, and Rachel thought it was a simplistic but true explanation of what the code would do. Dr. Warren had designed this wound healing short-cut. The program would tell the nanites to locate cells sending out damage signals – such as histamine or activated clotting factor XII – in a high-oxygen environment and form a scaffold for wound closure. In addition, the nanites would trigger cell growth.
Aaron turned around and asked, "The program is asking for a stimulation value?"
Rachel pondered a brief moment before she replied, "Input 1." That was the maximum stimulation value. The nanites would trigger very fast cell growth. It would be painful as fuck, but if this leg wasn't healed within a few days, they would be dead-meat. Danny's lung healing had occurred with a stimulation value of 0.1, but even then her precious baby boy had been in pain.
As Aaron was inputting the rest of the code for the healing short-cut, Rachel thought she heard something. She looked around and decided she must be hallucinating – a symptom of shock, this better work one-way or the other. A fast death would be better than an agonizingly slow one.
Aaron unplugged the capsule, reprograming complete. He turned and looked at Rachel and said, "Okay."
Rachel readjusted her position, keeping the wound elevated but allowing for easier access, she grunted in pain.
Aaron attempted to sooth her with a, "Shh, shh, shh. Okay."
Rachel grabbed onto the shelving above her, gripping hard in anticipation of a great deal of pain. Even if it didn't work, shoving the large pill of a capsule into the wound would be painful.
Aaron hesitated, asking, "Do you really think we'll explode?"
Rachel commanded, "Just do it, Aaron."
Aaron murmured, "Okay." He shoved the capsule into the open fracture wound.
Rachel groaned, the insertion of the capsule was more painful than she had imagined it would be especially when it grated against the bone slivers, but soon even that pain was eclipsed. Rachel cried out in agony.
In the distance, far from the whirling cyclone of torment she existed in, Rachel heard Aaron ask, "What did I do wrong?"
The indescribable pain of the nanites forming a scaffold and triggering tissue growth was then overshadowed by the torment of bone knitting together. An eternity later the pain lessened and Rachel looked down at her healed leg. It had been a million times more painful than she had expected, as well as ten thousand times faster than she had expected. She didn't think tissue could grow that fast, even if it had been given the proper signals.
Rachel hugged Aaron in relief. She wasn't going to die. She would be able to live to see Monroe pay for what he had done to her baby boy, her husband, herself.
Her brief moment of happy reflection was interrupted by the sound of a gun cocking and she looked up to see a man of the Plains Nation holding a rifle in his hands. He asked, "What the hell was that? That's impossible. How'd you do that?"
Aaron attempted to explain the inexplicable, "Just – just take it easy…"
The man interrupted, "You're coming with us."
Aaron continued, "Now hold on a sec…"
The man reiterated, "You're coming with us! Now."
- Author's Note: I guess I will continue trying to make scientific sense of Kripke's explanations for how the power went out and the nanites.
I hope you guys like it, and it is comprehensible. Reviews and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated.