Carbon Plague Analysis
The following report was taken off a highly secured file by Rache Bartmoss in late May of this year. I’m including it in the V-Term Library just in case some of you would like to know more about what ’s going on inside you right now. I wish I could give you more, but Dr. Chaing vanished under suspicious circumstances shortly after this report was filed. — ALT
Incoming PRIORITY-AZURE Transmission. Scramble Code: Zebra-Charlie-9-Bravo-Bravo-0 Source: Dr. David Chaing, Ctr. For Disease Control [NSec A©FtGGMeade.. R&D_DBioP..TC1
bq. Destination: Lt. Gen. John Hunter DoD©Pent..NSec_Tac..JH1 < EYES ONLY READ and DESTROY >
Just got finished assembling and collating the data. You weren’t kidding about this one, old friend. Something strange is definitely afoot, and if I knew who the bastards were who put it all into motion, I’d certainly be the first in line to strangle them. It’s taken us well over a year to piece together what we have — and what we have isn’t much. If only… John, their research was light-years ahead of ours; we had to invent two new processes just to analyse some of the properties—just to analyse… Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the top.
Since last year, the Carbon Death has spread like wild fire through the country, exploding outwards, despite our best efforts at containment.
After a while it became evidentthat this bug was not going to be corralled or penned-in by any means at our disposal. Within the short span of six months every population center on the Earth had reported cases of the plague; by month seven, even the Orbitals and Luna had fallen prey to the plague’s wrath. Once it hit the cities, it spread along the well-trod corridors of travel; it behaved in every way like a virus or bacteria — a textbook epidemic. Millions were dead or dying, John; no one was surprised when Martial Law was declared in the middle of ’26; I think everyone was too shocked or too sick to care, really.
The government took over. The bulk of the research on the plague was handed over to my team and I. National security. Bulls—t. The problem was bigger than us; some people were just too scared and stupid to see, or possibly admit, that in retrospect, it’s obvious that we still weren’t thinking at this point. If we had been, it would have been painfully obvious that no mere spill or virus could have caused exactly this type of destruction.
We had concentrated on the dead to study the Plague, but it was the dying that finally gave us the insight we needed. Many of those who were struck by the sickness hadn’t died immediately. Instead, they began to recover. Isolated incidents at first, increasing in number until we could no longer treat it as an anomaly. The dying — the ones we had so callously written off — were getting better. More than better. It was incredible. The awakening survivors were changed. By some unknown fashion, they emerged from their chrysalis with radically altered physiologies; with abilities and talents we’d never seen before nor imagined prior to this. We subjected the individuals in our custody to an intensive battery of tests and got readings too bizarre to make sense of.
One thing that we could tell for sure, however, was thattheir genetic prints had not changed in the interim — their DNA was the same in their present state as it was before their illness — even though their bodies had been changed drastically. That was the clue that broke the puzzle: what we had was something that entered a subject’s body and rebuilt it from the inside-out, building on a phenotypic level as opposed to genotypic; something that was so small it escaped detection by standard means; something that was intelligent, that only made changes where it needed to.
The light was finally beginning to dawn. Some idiot had done the impossible. Someone had designed the world’s first true volitional nanomachine, and no one had any clue what to look for, let alone what the end result was supposed to be. Christ, John, we didn’t (and still don’t) even know if whoever created this thing is still alive. Finally armed with the knowledge of what we were facing, we temporarily relocated our base of operations to the White Sands Center for Virulent Disease Control while we conducted the bulk of our testing and research. It took hundreds of our scientists six months of solid round-the-clock work to collect the information we now have; the billions allocated to me flowed away quickly, spent, like water, like the blood of the “volunteers” who died on our tables. All in the name of science and security. I don’t know what scared me more, the thought that we wouldn’t be able to stop the nanomachine, or the knowledge of what we were doing in the name of a noble cause.
Well, we can’t stop it. We can watch it, study it, even appreciate its genius — but there’s not a damn thing we can do to even slow it down a little. The Catalytic Nanomachine (CNM), as we had labeled it, was, and is, well beyond our ability to affect. Every attempt we’ve made to date to alter or wipe out the CNM’s internal programming has resulted in the deaths of our test subjects. At the stage we’re at now in the field of nanotechnology, what we’re doing is no better than randomly punching keys on a leopard and hoping for a coherent program to magically appear at the end. It’ll take us years just to make heads or tails of the mechanics of the nanomachine itself, let alone understand how to program or reprogram it. What it’s doing is completely comprehensible, it’s how it’s doing it that’s got us mystified.
What we know about the CNM is this: it’s been programmed to change us. Not all of us, either —just some of us — those with the presence of the proper MetTry protein-fragment key. The MetTry fragment is just the trigger, however. Unregulated, the catalytic action is ultimately fatal. We believe that the regulating substance is somehow connected to something in growth hormone. We’re not exactly sure what specifically (i.e.. the hormone itself, something in the hormone, the levels of hormone, or an action caused by the presence of the hormone, etc.), only time and further research will tell.
Forget quarantine. It’s not going to work. In any case, the sickness isn’t contagious in and of itself. What we observe and call “the sickness” is no more than CNM’s program running its course. The CNM reproduces itself whenever suitable material can be found, and then lies dormant until it comes into contact with a potential host subject. It can also survive in just about any environment. Activated by body heat, unless the CNM detects the presence of the MetTry fragment, the CNM will not do anything more than reproduce itself in its host; in a sense, the “rejected” host becomes a farm and living vector for the CNM — it’s the “unaffected” ones, like you and me, that are the most dangerous in terms of controlling the spread of disease —ironic, isn’t it, John? At this point, trying to deal with the spread of the CNM is an exercise in futility. We’re way too late. At the rate this sucker reproduces it’s very likely in everything on this planet by now.
If the MetTry fragment is present in the host, the CNM becomes fully activated and begins the process we now call The Change. Once the Change begins the outcome is simple, either you die, or you’re “force-evolved” (as one of the boys here puts it). Uncomplicated. The Change can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the subject’s original health and physiology, and can be very traumatic, both mentally and physically. The survivors,the “Evolved”, are very diff erentf rom the rest of us in many respects; in several ways they are vastly superior— whatever the goal, whoever designed this puppy certainly knew what they were doing. I hope whoever did this is dead…for all our sakes.
The CNM itself is a remarkable piece of engineering. Once inside a suitable host , the CNM starts fabricating several different secondary nanomachines. In this way, the CNM is much like our own DNA, which contains all the information necessary to create every individual organ and type of cell in our bodies; similarly, within the CNM are all the blueprints necessary for it to manufacture the tools it needs to transform the host and regulate/ maintain the changed form once the metamorphosis is complete.
The Evolved take on several forms, the bulk of which can be categorized into five distinct classes: Scanners, Tinmen, Wizards, Alchemists and Bolters. Roughly 5-10% of our survivors continue to defy large-scale classification and fall under the category of Sports. Each group of the Evolved has unique abilities that put them beyond the ken of “normal” humans. However, the Evolved as a whole, share several characteristics in common. One distinct trait that all the Evolved seem to have, is a preponderance of molecularpolycarbon,which I have taken to calling Supercarbon. This material is used throughoutthe implementations brought on by the Change, and is a fascinating substance by itself.
The smallest of the stable Fullerene-carbon structures, Supercarbon shows a crystalline structure under electron microscopy unlike diamond or graphite. Consisting of two hub atoms along an axle, three plates containing an additional three carbon atoms each emanate from the hub, forming a paddlewheel-like architecture. Six or more Supercarbon molecules stack together in an interlocking honeycomb pattern. This interlocking structure prevents planes from slipping past each other. The resulting material, Hexite, has over 10 times the tensile strength of titanium while possessing only a third of titanium’s density. Beyond its simple utility as a structural component Hexite also possesses unique electronic properties which are further exploited byte Evolved’s micro-physiology.
The nanomachines in an Evolved’s body function off of molecular vibrational and transitional energy which they “steal” from the Hexite structures found within the transformed body. Small pockets of Hexite (small relative to total body mass), are enough to power a whole bodyfull of nanomachines —in manyinstances,depositsofHexitefaroutweigh the demand for power (meaning: as a general rule of thumb, most of the Hexite encountered in the body of an Evolved is not superconducting). Once we got down to examining the bodies at this level, any doubts we had aboutthe CNM were gone. It is patently impossible for the CNM to have been the result of random mutation; too much thought went into how to implement these abilities to accredit it as a freak of Nature.
There’s a lotof genius atwork here.The Evolved have a significantly altered metabolism that puts Mother Nature to shame. Within the circulating fluids of a Evolved individual’s body (i.e.. blood and lymph) are several maintenance nanomachines which cruise through the body, destroying any bodies which are foreign to the host. Anything which does not match the protein profile of the host is broken down into components (i.e.. foreign proteins are broken down into their amino acid components) and then dealt with by the body’s standard systems (i.e. the liver and kidneys). The Evolved are fairly resistant to most terrestrial diseases; unless the effect is fasterthan the nanites can act, the host will suffer nothing more than the start of the disease or illness. This action does not seem to hinder anything that does not have a protein signature — chemicals for instance; drugs seem to affect the Evolved with the same efficiency as they do all humans.
More impressive is a background repairsystem. Certain nanites carry around sections of a host’s DNA and flow throughout the host’s body performing repairs on damaged cells and organs. Given enough time, it is theoretically possible for these nanomachines to even “regrow” lost limbs or organs; healing rate for the Evolved ranges between two to three times as fast as that of humans who have not undergone the Change.
Our work quantifying and studying the Evolved is far from finished. Quite the opposite, in fact —we’re just starting to understand some of the underlying theory of this remarkable (and frightening) technology. Security and Defense-wise? You already know where I stand onthatone, John. My advice: letthem be. They’ve already been through hell. We don’t need to give them any more grief. Keep an eye on them, sure; I’m notthat much of an idiot. They can be potentially dangerous, but then again, they might just be a godsend; just what we need — a good swift kick in the pants.
I’m going to continue my research, John. I know thata lotof “my” people have alreadybeen reassigned, but I’m close. Damn close. Give me a ring in a few weeks—I think I’m onto a major revelation about this nanotechnology mystery.