Tankborn Deleted Scenes - Journal

Major spoiler alert. Here are actual entries from the journal of Devak's great-grandfather, Zul. Many questions are answered here, so if you haven't read Tankborn, I recommend you don't read on. But if you have read Tankborn and want a little more background on Zul's many secrets, you'll find it here.

Spoiler! * Read the journal * Spoiler!

The Deleted Scene

Cuigui 18th

We're evenly split, men and women. Bunch of starry-eyed research assistants and their fearless leaders, the somewhat disreputable Manels.

The university gave their formal stamp of approval on our study name, too. Enhanced Neural Circuitry Interface. ENCI.

I've been lying awake at night worrying about those eight young men and women who have stepped up to participate. Fulki says I'm being silly—the use of monoclonal antibodies was a well-established therapy back on old Earth. Nano-particles have been injected into the human body in numerous studies with no significant ill effects. The two methods have just never been applied together and never targeting the nervous system.

The question, of course, is reversibility, once we've confirmed the immunity is programmed into the body. Fulki has no doubt. The data and previous studies all say it should be safe, but still, doubt visits me often in the dark hours.

Seu 29th

Well, the deed is done. No turning back now. The last of the volunteers completed treatment yesterday.

Since I was first, I've already finished the cycle of side effects Fulki had warned about—the nausea, the weakness, the hair loss. The other volunteers—so damn young and vital—have taken the sicks and the debilitating fevers in stride, bouncing back within a day or two.

But not Fulki. She insists she's fine two weeks after the injections, but I don't like the grayness of her complexion, nor how thin she's gotten. Hradini keeps asking why mam doesn't pick her up anymore, why mam falls asleep reading her bedtime story.

It's only been two weeks and the others are fine. Fulki says I have to give it more time.

Ochtu 13th

The interface has started to form. Mine is darkest, as the first to be injected, but even Thomas, the last, has a few faint streaks.

Even if the procedure hadn't cemented the ENCI members as a team, these identical marks would have done it. When we walk across campus as a group, we receive our fair share of dropped jaws and pointing fingers.

The interfaces aren't active yet. It'll be at least another two or three months before we can test that aspect of the study. But what we've seen so far proves communication between the nano-particle programming and each subject's brain. The request for melatonin to color the skin has been made and answered.

Ardtus 4th

Bunch of dark suits visited the research lab today. Claimed they were from the GHO—Government Health Office.

Dr. Pouli brought them in. Always thought it was a mistake making Pouli head of the bio-medical department. Seeing him bow and scrape to the GHO dark suits didn't change my opinion. They asked all kinds of questions about ENCI, how close it is to being operational (not at all, I told them) and just how effective it's likely to be for inserting external information (far too early to say).

Fulki thinks they were really from some defense group looking for a way to improve communication in the field, to create some kind of super-soldiers. God knows, the Plague Wars have dragged on long enough and I wouldn't quibble over bringing the insurgencies to an end and our boys and girls home from the Wall. But they asked far more questions about the bio part of ENCI than the engineering. It was Fulki's ear they talked off.

And why so much interest in our poorly funded stab at treating the Abeni Plague? The GHO's full court press is far more likely to produce an effective cure. ENCI is more proof of concept for future disease than a silver bullet for our current debacle.

Fulki's damn near comatose this evening, just about all her energy used up in answering those yahoos' endless questions. I'm going to get her to a specialist tomorrow if I have to drag her there. In this case, the physician cannot heal herself.

Triu 17th

The interfaces are fully formed. Lael says hers itches and Vincenzo's cheek is swollen, but no other side effects noted. The tech group is crunching through product evaluation for the reprogramming algorithms and have a simple command script to use as a pre-test test. So we're thumbs up for next week's trial. If that's successful, we're go for the real thing next month.

At least Fulki's doing better. Still not back to her hale and hearty self, though. I dipped a toe into the discussion of leaving her out of the final trial, but she just about took my head off. I thought her interface would burn right off her cheek.

Triu 22nd

Programming laid in for pre-test. All subjects exposed to rhino virus.

Triu 26th

Only Fulki showed symptoms, and those were minor. Final testing on full-scale immune system reprogramming.

Anceathru 1st

The GHO dark suits descended again this morning. Turns out Dr. Pouli has been feeding them every scrap of our data that he could get his hands on, without telling us. Just like the little weasel.

There was no use telling the GHO how preliminary, how experimental ENCI is. They don't seem to care that it's a damn pie-in-the-sky treatment.

I heard from Coulson in the School of Genetics that they've been sniffing around their labs as well. The gen dept has some kind of black box experiments going on that only a handful of professors and research assistants are privy to. Not liking the connection.

Anceathru 10th

Immunity reprogramming is on-board for all ten subjects.

Anceathru 16th

Damn Fulki and her stubbornness. She's still sniffling and coughing from that mild cold, but she refuses to stand down from the next phase in the experiment. Says she'll inject it herself if she has to.

What damn choice do I have? I've been feeling peaked myself since the reprogramming and can't muster the energy to fight her, not when she's so damn determined. So tomorrow, we all walk through that dark doorway of Abeni together.

Anceathru 28th

So far, so good. No sign of plague symptoms other than Lael and Thomas's mild respiratory congestion. No worse than a common cold. Could even be a residual of the earlier infection. Tech group found a glitch in the pre-test programming, that could have allowed a fragment of rhino to slip through.

Fulki is elated. Says she's never felt better. That only makes me a little crankier—still can't shake this muscular weakness. Fulki says I've just been working too hard. Maybe. Short sleep these last few days. But some mornings it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed.

Cuigiu 8th

Something's gone wrong. Terribly wrong. We had to rush Lael, Vincenzo and Thomas to the uni hospital, under quarantine. Fulki went with them.

The other five volunteers are soldiering on, but none of them look good. Marisol's body is rejecting the interface, a horrible injustice to her beautiful face. Gunther can barely lift his fingers to the computer keyboard to work. My own lassitude comes and goes.

But in a major bit of comedic irony, none of them presents the least symptom of the Abeni virus. So you could say the experiment is a howling success.

I'm thinking we should begin the reversal process early, but Pouli's giving me hell. He says if we abort we risk infection by any residual fragments of Abeni. But we can treat for the plague as the immunity programming reverses itself and have a good chance of surviving. Better than killing ourselves with the supposed cure.

Cuigiu 12th

GHO dark suits are back. Made noises about seizing my computers. No justification other than "public welfare." Biggest pile of BS I've ever heard. They downloaded everything they could, cracking into secure files—passwords provided by our friend, Dr. Pouli. But I kept the main data safe—changed some of the passwords after Pouli's first betrayal.

Cuigiu 17th

A boulder is pressing on my heart. Lael, Vincenzo and Thomas have died. Lael a week ago, the others two days after her. Pouli only got around to telling me today.

I asked about the other five, but Pouli won't tell me. Changes the subject, or just avoids me entirely. Too tired to press him on it, sometimes it's all I can do to hold the pen to write.

Cuigiu 19th

Fulki's sick.

Tried to take care of her myself, but can't get out of bed. Pouli had her transported to the uni hospital.

Cuigiu 21st

Coulson came by. The other five volunteers are dead. Eight young research assistants, bright futures ahead of them, lives cut short by my hubris.

Coulson can't find out what killed them—whether Abeni or the ENCI process. Pouli's told him Fulki's getting better, more than what he's told me. If only I could get out of this damn bed.

Cuigiu 22nd

Coulson's been barred from his own lab. He says mine has been gutted—every piece of electronics, from computers down to thumb drives, have been confiscated. The GHO dark suits have been busy.

Cuigiu 30th

Fulki's dead. Died in the ambulance on her way to uni hospital. Gone eleven days and that damn bastard Pouli saw fit to keep it from me until now. Wouldn't have told me at all except I dragged myself out of bed to go see her.

I'm praying I'll follow her. But it seems the Almighty has left me behind.

Seu 23rd

Couple of government muscle men have taken Coulson. He was flapping his lips too much. Can't blame him. What they've done with Coulson's developments in the gen lab, with ENCI. Shouldn't be writing those words on this page. If they came for Coulson, they could come for me.

Joining Scene

Flood Scene

Coffee House Scene

Zul's Journal