Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The agent had been a train wreck. Until just a few hours ago he’d been laid open like a can of tinned meat from his ear to the bloody stump that had been his left foot. Blue, the mechanic, had stopped counting the number of liters of fluid that had been pumped through him, gathered in the catch basin beneath, filtered and pumped through him again.

Messy business, special ops.

Along the side of the makeshift medical center hummed a bank of printers assembling replacement parts one micro-thin layer at a time. Several days ago they had produced a femur, a nearly full complement of ribs and the better part of a jawbone. Prior to the agents arrival they’d produced a complete foot mesh, from the cuneiform bones through the metatarsals to the phalanges, all from data retrieved from the agent’s medical records at Langley. Blue’s cultured tissue was rapidly turning that mesh back into what would soon be a working foot.

“We’ll have you dancing again in no time,” Blue joked, noting the pained look on the agent’s face.

As the damaged man’s body worked to assimilate the new components, the printers were now tasked with reprinting the missing body armour pieces and assorted tools the agent would require when redeployed. Assuming he made it through this rebuild.

“We’re not going to win any prizes for thread-work I’m afraid,” Blue tested the strength of the glue and suture-line holding the two halves of the agent together, “but then I don’t expect you’re out on many dates these days, are you?” Satisfied the seams were well on their way to healing, Blue crossed the narrow room to a workbench littered with freshly printed gun parts and the recovered barrel and firing assembly from a battle weary HK PSG.

At the end of the workbench, the quad-rotor recon drone chirped to indicate its batteries were fully charged, then silently disengaged its tether, lifted off the desktop and headed to the ceiling. A circular panel irised open, and the craft rose to hover again inside the light lock on its way into the night sky. There were two more agents unaccounted for.

“How… long…?” The agent spoke with apparent difficulty through a newly remanufactured face.

Blue walked back to the table where he could look the man in the eyes and ran down a deeply ingrained checklist.

“Twelve hours and we’ll have your kit printed, polished and put back together, which should coincide with the growth cycle of your new muscle almost exactly.” He checked off items on his fingers as he spoke. “Your gun, fortunately enough, is mostly intact and preliminary tests show your eyes are working fine with the fresh lenses, but we’ll need to calibrate them once you’re up and around. You’ve stopped leaking, which is always a good sign, so we’ve started pumping more specialized fuel into your system. I’m going to knock you out until we’re closer to redeployment as I expect your brain could use the rest your body sure as hell needs.”

Blue stopped there, staring into the blank yellow irises of the agent stretched supine before him.

“The only thing we can’t remanufacture is your will to reengage, you’re going to have dig deep and find that on your own.”

There was a pause, then the agent’s face twisted into a gross approximation of a smile.

“You sure I’ll be able to dance when you’re done with me?”

Blue laid a hand on the man’s shoulder. “Like Fred Astaire,” he said, hoping the reference wasn’t wasted.

“That’s great Doc,” the battered man chuckled, “I was never able to dance before.”

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