Scientists who once invented the Nanomachine Swarm finally achieved their long-cherished wish: the fleet reshaped the entire society, took on all the work from the environment to the industry, and became the planet's new lifeline—but only after the collapse of civilisation.
"You don't need any clever technologies to be a doctor in this place," the middle-aged woman said, looking through a small window on the syringe to check if the Nanomachine Swarm was working. "We only need to know how to use syringe and perform amputation. If these two measures don't work, then the only choice would be to resign to fate. But I'm guessing that the city that you were living in was better? I've heard that the ultrconservative Naturals occupy the last few natural environment in the world. Does your food came from the ground?"
Hao Ren did not want to answer her question directly. "I have left the place. I don't feel like talking about things over there."
"I don't know when you'll start regretting your decision," the 'doctor' shook her head and put away her tools. "Maybe you have never regretted. Oh yeah, would you like a shot? Free of charge. It's not that I can meet people like you every day in this era."
Hao Ren was stunned. "A shot? I'm not injured..."
"Tranquiliser," the 'doctor' pointed to her own head. "You may need it."
Hao Ren forced a smile. "Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not mad... really."
The 'doctor' shook her head, threw the cigarette butt on the ground, and stamped it off with her foot. Before leaving, he bent over and casually examined the girl's wound. But quickly she was wide-eyed. "Did someone give her Nano-fleet injection a few hours ago?"
Hao Ren had no clue what why she said so. "What happened?"
"The wound has no signs of decomposing," the 'doctor' said, pointing at the wound on the girl's abdomen. "Didn't you see? The Nano-fleet I just injected can only maintain her current physical condition. But judging from the condition of the wound, the tissues have stopped deteriorating a few hours ago."
Hao Ren did not understand what she meant. But he quickly came to his senses and asked, "You mean her body has never decomposed?"
"Something's not right… it's like time has stood still," the 'doctor' did not address Hao Ren's question. She bent down again and carefully examined the condition of flesh around the wound. "Looks like it's done even better than the best Nanomachine Swarm could do. Where did you give her the injection and why did you not say it before?"
Hao Ren had never known the girl's body never deteriorated, but if he so said he would draw suspicion to himself. So he tried to sway the conversation. "Would they be a problem since you gave her another jab just now?"
The 'doctor' shook her head. "The medical Nanomachine Swarm would intelligently adjust to the condition. There's no danger of conflict or poisoning. Just that it wasted one precious dose. It's an anti-... it's rarely used."
Hao Ren did not seem to understand what she said. But he thanked the 'doctor' anyway. The 'doctor' waved her hand listlessly. "I'm just doing my job. Oh yeah, by the way, I leave you some bandage, you can wrap her wound up yourself—it's not appropriate to expose her wound like that. I need to go back and sleep now."
She threw a pack of soft tool kit to Hao Ren, and was all yawning as she left, without a hint of professionalism of a medical practitioner. After the doctor left, the MDT spoke again. "It feels creepy…what has she done to the body?"
Hao Ren looked at the girl in bed sideways. "Didn't you just say that you don't think like us do and don't care about this body? Now what? Scared?"
Hao Ren opened the tool kit given by the 'doctor'. Inside the package were thick, transparent films like that of a food wrap instead of the kind of bandage he had imagined. He glanced at the MDT, thinking that it was not appropriate to leave the wound just like that. But he was at a loss. "How am I supposed to use this 'film'?"
The MDT said, "Maybe you can try to apply it on my stomach like a duct tape…"
"What if it doesn't stick?"
"Just add some glue."
Hao Ren was now doubtless that the MDT truly thought differently from human beings.
Fortunately, the film was simpler to use than he had expected. After studying the instruction on the packaging, Hao Ren treated the wound, and then peeled off the protective layer of the film and directly applied it on the wound in MDT's belly. A moment later, the transparent layer wriggled and blended in with the skin as if it was a part of the skin in just a few seconds. The wound healed perfectly.
Those not in the know would not know that inside the abdomen was still a mess.
"If used on a living person, this thing would make use of cellular energy to metabolise itself and slowly guide the normal skin cells to replace the artificial colloids in the epidermis. It will completely turn into normal skin within two days. But if it were used in corpses, it was only an aesthetic procedure," Hao Ren patted the belly of the MDT. "Good stuff for treating external injury. It's a pity that it was born out of the war."
"Get you hand off me, pervert! Dress me up, you necrophilia! It would be sexual assault if you do that after the wound heals..."
"You'd better think what to do next," the MDT wisely steered away from the conversation before Hao Ren lost control of himself. "We can't stay in this world forever. Don't forget that we come here through the dream. You're almost time to wake up—Lily is expecting you for dinner."
Hao Ren did not forget that he entered the Plane of Dreams through his dream, not the hibernation pod. He had limited time. He turned and looked around the small room, thinking that it would raise suspicion if he and the MDT were to get out from this dimension just like that. Scratching his jaw in thought, he then said, "We should try our best to maintain our presence before the mercenaries, but at the same time, we need to find reasonable excuses to leave the base. I don't know if we can come and go freely here. But in theory, these organised mercenaries should be more cautious. If we come in and out of the base too frequently, they would treat us as spies."
"It's not 'us', it's you," the MDT said, sounding indifferently as if it did not concern it at all. "I'm just a corpse. Isn't Ulyanov next door? You can go over, say hello, and then make up some excuses, such telling him that it's the time of the month again, you need to get out for a stroll. Then you disappear for the whole day..."
Hao Ren felt like whacking the MDT. But facing with a girl—and a dead one, he could only groan inwardly and walk toward the door. "Wait here. I have job to do."
Ulyanov's room was just next door.
The whole barracks were assembled using grey boxes on alloy frame with internal partitions dividing the grey box into two rows of room with corridor in the middle. It looked clean and tidy for mercenary standard. The door of Ulyanov's room door had a UFO graffiti that looked like a child's work on it. It was hard to miss.
Hao Ren knocked on the door a couple of time. It was only after a while that a coarse and low voice replied, "Come in. The door is not locked."
Hao Ren pushed the door open and went in. "Ulyanov, let me ask you something… holy shit!"
Ulyanov looked up. "My face looks scary, isn't it?"