Daniela checked Lucas' vitals again. So far he was only showing a slightly elevated heart rate and mild tachycardia. His heart monitor continued to bleep in the background. His temperature was higher than the last time she checked although he was clearly shivering.
"How are you doing Lucas?" Gary asked.
"I'm freezing. Are there any extra blankets?"
Gary pulled on a latch on the wall and a door slid aside, revealing an inbuilt cupboard. He grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around Lucas. He was sitting up in his bed, the head of the bed had been raised so that he had something to lean back on.
"Being cold is an interesting symptom. It's not one we could have observed with anyone out there." Kelly said from behind the glass.
“It certainly does give us a unique perspective,” Daniela agreed. “I wonder how hot we would need to make it to eradicate the symptom.”
“The Earth is already cooling down,” Kelly said. “It will be years until the temperature is habitable but I don’t know if there’s much we can gain from investigating that.”
“Well, that all depends on whether you are planning to go outside while it is still hot,” Daniela said.
“It would be redundant, the atmosphere would kill them even if the heat didn’t.”
“A useful element to our investigations would be to see if the toxins are contagious from person to person without the second being exposed to the air itself.” Daniela added, thinking aloud. “It would be advantageous should anyone be exposed to the air and attempted to re-enter the building.”
“We’ve set up the lab to perform those tests,” Kelly said. She nodded towards a door between the glass prison Daniela was in and the neighbouring one. A small air lock separated the two prisons, presumably for de-contamination of the air.
Daniela nodded her approval and went back to checking the vitals.
"You okay?" Duncan asked Daniela. “You seem suddenly overly cool about all this.”
He was sitting outside the glass, watching her every move.
Daniela shrugged. “I’m just focusing on getting the best results possible.”
Duncan let it go. “How come you know how to do all this stuff? I thought you were a scientist, not a doctor.”
"I did a couple of years of med school when I was a teenager."
"Just a couple?" Duncan asked.
Daniela shrugged. "I got bored. They stopped being able to teach me anything I didn't already know. Plus, I prefer computers. I'm not much of a people person."
"Really? I hadn't noticed." Duncan said. Daniela could hear the grin on his face without looking.
"His vitals are the same as they were half an hour ago," Daniela said to Gary. "I think he's starting to level out."
"He won't stay that way for long," Gary said. "But I suppose now would be a good time for you to get some rest. I'll call you if anything changes."
"No thanks," Daniela said. "I'm fine here."
"Daniela, you haven't slept in ages," Duncan argued. "We've been in here for six hours already. You need to take a break."
"I don't feel tired as a Walker, my body's doing all the resting it needs in the pod."
"It's hardly the same thing." Duncan said.
"Do you honestly think I'll get any sleep if I left now? If I leave, I won’t be able to control the emotions that will undoubtedly plague me from what you are making me do. As such, I don’t envisage I will be able to come back in here to complete the investigations.”
"No one's making you do anything." Kelly said.
“That’s a stupid thing to say,” Daniela said. “Of course you are.”
"Daniela..." Duncan started.
"You leave if you want, I'm staying put."
"Well, if you’re insistent on it, I probably should go check out the clinic," Gary said. "Jensen?"
"Yeah?" Jensen's voice came over the sound system.
"Bring me back."
Daniela turned to Duncan and Kelly.
"You two might as well go too. I can hold the fort."
"I'd really rather not leave you alone." Kelly said.
"What are you afraid I'll do? Kill him? He’s already dying on his own.”
"If you think it will ease his suffering, yes that's exactly what I think you'll do. It's not like he'll be able to stop you."
"I can certainly try." Lucas said.
"I'll stay with her." Duncan offered.
Kelly appraised the situation for a moment.
"Jensen, if she does anything close to killing him, I want you to pull her back."
"Fine." She said. "Take me back too." She turned to Duncan. "Keep an eye on her."
Within moments both Walkers melted into small round stones on the floor.
"You can go too." Daniela said to Duncan.
"Sorry babe, I'm duty bound to follow her orders. Jensen, can you transfer me inside?"
"Already doing it."
Duncan melted away and re-appeared out of Gary's remaining Danel inside the prison. It was as if he appeared grinning. Daniela wasn't quite sure how he had done that.
"You use your emotions too much as a Walker." She said. "That's kind of stupid."
"Only 'kind of?' Well that's certainly an upgrade from just plain stupid, you must be warming to me."
Daniela rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to Lucas. He was shivering uncontrollably. She reached for a needle on the table beside him.
"What's that?" Duncan asked.
"Relax, it's just a sedative. Do you really think they would have left me in here with anything that could be lethal?"
"N-n-no." Lucas said through chattering teeth. "I d-d-don't want a s-s-sedative, it will m-m-mess with the results."
"On the contrary," Daniela argued. "If it puts you to sleep, then we'll know that we can do that to help anyone in here who might get infected. Isn't that why we're here anyway?"
Lucas considered this for a moment then nodded. "F-f-fine, but only f-f-for a little while."
Daniela entered the medication into his drip. Almost immediately Lucas fell asleep. She watched him for a moment, considering her options. If she was quick she could easily hit him with a blow that would kill him before she could be pulled back. It made sense. He was going to die anyway and this would be easier on him. However, she knew that she wouldn't. Right now, it made more sense to see what the symptoms he was dying of did to him. She thought for a moment on why the thought of killing him had made sense at all. A brief stab of something ran through her, was it guilt? She decided not to dwell on it and pushed it away, welcoming in another influx of empty bliss her Danel so easily provided.
She walked away from her sleeping subject, and sat down at the desk she had taken as her residence since the death watch began. A lap top was set up and it was working through the bloods she had taken. She opened up her current report and started entering in her current findings.
"I do it on purpose you know." Duncan said from the other side of the box.
"I'm sorry?" Daniela asked.
"The emotion thing. Connor and I tried the whole detachment process but found it limited us in combat instead of helping. When we're emotional we can read each other better and also react to situations better. Without it, it was harder to tell wrong from right."
"Don't you find it hard to keep the emotions active when your pre-occupied?" Daniela asked.
"At first it was, but after we got used to doing it, it sort of became second nature. To be honest, it's harder to turn the emotions off now."
"Interesting," Daniela said. "I hadn't thought Danel was capable if utilising the emotions that way."
"You've never tried it?"
Daniela looked at Duncan, confused.
"Why would I want to do that? Emotions just cloud everything anyway. Without them I can get a lot more done."
"Like watch a person die?" Duncan asked.
Daniela thought about that for a while. "I guess so, why do you ask?"
"When I came in here, I could sense little bits of emotion in you, I haven't found any from you for hours though."
"Seeing as I've been forced into this situation, the most logical step seemed to be to remove my emotions from the equation entirely. As everyone is hell bent on getting these results, I thought I might as well deliver to the best of my ability."
"You know, you'll have to go back to your body eventually."
"There's no evidence to support that. So far, I haven't found a limit to how long a person can stay a Walker. I've tested for as long as a month without any major side effects. Naturally my body will need to be kept hydrated and maintained but providing that's being dealt with then I should be fine."
"And you plan to do that?" Duncan asked. "Stay in here for the rest of your life?"
"It's not like there's much out there I'll be missing." Daniela reasoned.
"There's everything out there." Duncan said. "There's life out there. For all we know it’s the only place where there is."
“It seems that I’ve been saved in order to provide answers in here, so it makes sense to stay where I am, at least until it’s finished.”
Duncan tutted angrily, Daniela felt his emotion and it evoked some of her own. Fear, despair, dread and guilt, all flowed through her at once.
“Stop doing that!” Daniela scolded him.
“Showing me emotion,” she explained. “You do that and it’s harder for me to forget my own.”
She closed her eyes and focused on her element once more. She felt herself empty out and become neutral again.
“I don’t like this.” Duncan said. “You can’t make an informed decision on whether you should do this or not without letting your emotions help you decide.”
“If I let my emotions decide, there’s no way I’d be doing this.” Daniela said.
“Exactly,” Duncan said. “If you’re so certain of that then you shouldn’t be here.”
“I thought you were meant to be keeping an eye on me to make sure I am doing this.”
“Look, I’ve seen some things Daniela, I’ve seen full grown men with stronger wills than you and with seemingly no guilt to speak of, break down over some of the things they were made to do in combat. Things that are less morally wrong than what you are doing right now.”
“You think what I’m doing is morally wrong?” Daniela asked.
“So would you, if you let yourself process it properly. Look, all I’m saying is you’ve been chosen to live, and with a brain like yours you can help in any way you want instead of in here, like this.”
Duncan looked at her sadly.
“I’m scared for you Daniela, whether you want to believe it or not, you will have to come out of your Walker eventually and I’m worried that what you do in here will scar you for the rest of your life. I kind of like how you are now, it would suck if you changed.”
“Are you saying all this to have sex with me?” Daniela asked.
Duncan laughed. “No! Why would you say that?”
“Because you asked me earlier for sex and I turned you down. Now you’re being nice to me and giving me flattering comments, I assume this is all to get me to change my mind.”
“Right that’s it,” Duncan said, getting up. “Jensen, send her back.”
Jensen’s voice came over the speakers. “Ummm, Duncan I can’t. I have orders to keep you both here until one of the others come back. Someone needs to keep an eye on Lucas.”
“He’s sleeping in a glass prison, he’s not going anywhere.”
There was silence. Eventually Jensen spoke again. “I have my orders.”
Duncan swore loudly, Daniela blinked at him, surprised.
“Why are you angry?” She asked.
“I’ll be damned if I let them destroy you.” He said.
He strolled over to the hand held device sitting on the bed and, before Jensen could stop him, hit the de-activate button. He melted away in front of her but Daniela stayed where she was. That was odd, she should have gone with him. She checked the settings on the hand held and saw that it had been set to de-activate all Walkers but she was still there.
“Jensen,” Daniela called. “What just happened?”
It was a while before anyone answered, but when the voice came over the speakers it was Duncan’s and not Jensen’s she heard.
“Jensen can’t come to the phone right now, he’s currently trying to de-swell his eye. He disconnected you from the portable device, what do I press to bring you back?”
“If I told you that then I’d be away from the subject, I can’t do that.”
“Daniela, I’m warning you. I’m getting you out, if it means I personally walk into that room and carry your Danel arse out, I will do it.”
“That’s impossible,” Daniela said. “There’s no way the doors leading out of this prison will open again, even with the decontamination air lock, the risk of exposure is too high.”
Duncan swore again and the room fell into silence. Daniela heard a moan come from Lucas. She walked over to him to see him waking up from his sleep. She checked his vitals, they had slightly increased since she last checked. He shouldn’t be waking up yet, the dose she gave him would have knocked out a person for at least 12 hours.
“Lucas?” Daniela said, “Stay calm, you’re still in the prison, your temperature is rising and the medication seems to already be wearing off. I’m going to take some bloods so don’t move.”