“The man who made the nanobots is here in the hospital?” Doc Simmons asks. Her eyes have a gleam in them that doesn’t seem entirely safe.
“Yeah, well. He is, but he’s not like presenting a paper on them or anything. I think he’s just scoping out the competition,” I say.
“Competition? No one is doing anything anywhere near this! He’s decades ahead of everyone else. He’s breaking ground in so many ways that it’s impossible to even say which is most impressive. He may be the greatest mind of our generation.”
“Sure, but he’s also experimenting on me and killing people, if you’ll recall. So maybe dial back the fan club just a bit?”
“I am not in his fan club,” says Doc Simmons haughtily. “His methods are reprehensible. But I would kill to see his notes. Figuratively speaking.”
The gleam is still in her eyes, and I’m not completely positive that that was just a figure of speech. I can’t think of any polite way to ask, “Even if you’re sure you wouldn’t get caught?”, though, so I just let it slide.
Meanwhile, Brian still has his hand held awkwardly at his side, and has been waiting patiently for the conversation to turn back to our original purpose for coming here. “So what’s the word, Doc?” he asks. “Think we can get any nanos off of this?”
Doc Simmons has been donning gloves while we’ve been talking, and now swabs Brian’s hands. “I can’t imagine that he’d be working with them out of containment, as they’d be far too susceptible to contamination. So there’s essentially no chance that he’d have them on him as a byproduct of the manufacturing process.” She carefully stores and labels each of the swabs in small plastic tubes, then takes out a needle. “Let me get a sample of your blood for comparison purposes.”
“Hold up, I’m confused,” I say. “If we can’t get nanos from the skin-to-skin contact, then what are you poking at Brian for?”
“Two reasons,” says the doc. “One: just because I can’t imagine something doesn’t mean that I don’t test for it. I’ve seen plenty of things I can’t imagine over the years. For example, superpower-providing nanomachinery.”
I grin at that. “Okay, fair point.”
“And two,” continues Simmons, “there’s good reason to believe that Dr. Acharya has applied the nanos to himself. Didn’t you tell me that he transferred them to both you and Regina through simple touch?”
“Oh,” I say. “Yeah. I guess he would have to be acting as a carrier there.”
“So,” says the doc, “I’ll check to see if Brian was able to pick any up, and if so, I’ll see if I can spot any differences between those and the ones you and Regina have. It’s entirely possible that he has a different strain than he’s been giving his subjects.”
“Hey, can you check his DNA, too?” I ask.
“For what?” asks Doc Simmons.
“To — I don’t know, see who he is?”
“Dude,” says Brian. “We know who he is. I just shook hands with him like half an hour ago.”
“Yeah, but I don’t know. This feels like the sort of thing where we should be sequencing his DNA. Figure something out about him, you know?”
Doc Simmons sighs. “Dan, you’re conflating DNA profiling and sequencing. Also, there’s not really a lot of use for either one in this situation. Unless you particularly need to know if he’s at risk for certain types of cancer? Or diabetes? You could slowly get him onto a high-sugar diet and take care of this problem in just a few dozen years.”
“Hey, just start inviting him over to your place,” says Brian. “Basically all you have to drink there is soda.”
“There’s this bendy metal spout in the kitchen called a ‘faucet,'” I tell him, air-quoting the word. “You turn the knobs next to it and it just dispenses water freely. I keep a whole collection of cylinders called ‘glasses’ nearby to catch the water when it comes out.”
Doc Simmons makes a shooing motion with her hands. “No bickering in the laboratory. I have work to do. Out, out.”
Back at home, I feel like there’s something I should be doing, but I can’t think of what. We’ve identified Ichabot. We’ve learned his name. I still need to figure out the intermediate step that leads to “and then we turn him over to the police,” but right now I’ve got nothing. Officer Peterson? This man once touched me in public. No, not creepily, just like a handshake. Yes, that may not sound bad, but he gave me superpowers. I’d like you to arrest him, please.
Linking him to Regina would be a better bet, although again, I’d have to prove that he gave her the power to control the weather, something which she can’t demonstrate anymore since he retracted the power. If I could connect him to Aaron Lovell and Jonathan Caraway, then I might be on to something, since they both turned into ape-men and then died of internal injuries.
I’m not positive that turning someone into a sasquatch is a crime. It seems like it must be, but I can’t imagine what statute it violates. Killing them definitely is, though, and the ape-mutation was basically just a complicated method of doing that. I mean, that’s probably not why he did it, but it was the end result.
Regardless, I have absolutely nothing linking him to those two, so it’s all a pipe dream. Having his name is good so that I know who I’m working to defeat, but is otherwise completely unhelpful to me right now.
Since my brain’s coming up empty on ideas, I do what I always do when I need to jar something loose: switch off and veg out in front of the TV for a few hours. Having some mindless monster movie on allows my subconscious to take over, or something. I don’t know. All I know is that taking a break is much more likely to yield results than sitting at a table for hours going, “Come on, brain! Think! It’s what you’re for!”
However, one teen scream flick later, I’ve got no new bright ideas. Either the movie wasn’t sufficiently mindless, or I’m overly so. Whichever is the case, I’m coming up blank.
With nothing else to do, I idly punch Dr. Acharya’s name into Google. It pulls up a bunch of doctors, lawyers and professors, along with a few colleges with the name, but even after I refine the results I don’t find any doctor by that name in my city. Frowning, I go back to the first page of results and notice one I’d skimmed over at the top, since it wasn’t a person at all. It’s the definition of the word “acharya,” and says that it’s a title given to learned people, or can also mean the founder of a sect.
I text Brian:
I think we’ve been played
Acharya’s not Ichabot’s real name
My phone recognizes the word “Ichabot,” which makes me happy. It’s the small things sometimes.
Some time later, my phone buzzes with response texts.
what a jerk
let’s look him up through his credit card
I write back, “How?” and receive a sarcastic reply:
credit cards have to have a name on them
helps make sure people pay at the end of the month
didn’t know you were new to the whole capitalism thing
I roll my eyes at my phone.
yes, thank you
FYI I’m buying a new car soon & am well versed in credit
how, as in how will you get his credit card info
Visions of ’80s computer hacking montages fill my mind. I had no idea Brian had these sorts of skills, but he’s surprised me before. He got into Tanger’s phone with barely even a pause. Admittedly, that was less hacking and more just following the pattern smudged on the screen in finger grease, but still. It’s all part of the same skill set.
My daydreams are dashed moments later by his response:
I know a doctor with:
– standing at the hospital
– desire to meet this guy
– track record of getting what she wants
Oh. “Look him up” like see how he paid for the symposium we were just at, not “look him up” with screens full of code and super-fast typing. I mean, however we get the info is good, I guess. But hacking is cooler.
And yes, it’s a crime and a very bad problem and many hackers are bad people who do bad things and much money and information and time is lost to hackers. I get it, I’m not actually advocating it. But it’s still cool.
Either way, be it hacking or Doc Simmons bending lesser mortals to her will, the information-gathering is currently out of my hands. So I get a light workout in, cook up some pasta and sauce for dinner, and settle back in on the couch to waste my evening.
The only brilliant idea I have during this movie is to watch another movie, but that’s a good enough one for me. I check to make sure my alarm is set for work tomorrow, then settle in to fall asleep on the couch.