Feb 05, 2021
21 mins read
Jason awoke with a bit less pain than usual and he offhandedly wondered if all of his recent activity had something to do with that. He did his usual morning ritual and then checked his briefcase and shoulder bag to be sure he had everything before he left.
Jason was actually looking forward to the walk to the new Scientific Building which had just been completed on the campus a few blocks from his residence.
As Jason neared the newly completed Science and Technology Building, he saw scaffolds being disassembled and workmen packing up tools as they prepared to vacate the completed project for their next jobs.
One thing that caught Jason's attention, was the presence of military police, in uniform, in various places in and near the new building. As he neared the entrance of the building he was told to report to, he saw that there was a guard post just inside the doors with an armed Marine in Duty Dress with a holstered pistol seated behind a desk inside.
As Jason entered the outer doors of the new Science and Technology main entrance, the guard stood and picked up a clipboard with what was obviously a list of names which were allowed entrance to the building on this day. The guard looked Jason over and said, "I need your I.D and the purpose of your visit today, Sir." Jason retrieved his Identification from his back pocket and handed the guard his, ID card, his V.A. patient data card, his social security card and the 3X5 appointment card Dr. Swan had given him at the V.A. Hospital. "Here you go," said Jason as he handed the guard the items he had requested.
Jason was thankful for the extra security presence since he was about to become, as he thought of it, a "human TV Dinner" for the next month and would not be able to defend himself from any harm.
The CPL on guard, took Jason's offered paperwork, looked it over carefully and said," Mr. Stalk, you should get on the elevator at the end of the hall and it will take you to your appointment location. You will be met there, taken to your orientation and you will be informed of how to proceed further."
Jason walked down the hallway to the single door elevator at the end. Once Jason was within 3 feet of the door, it opened as if expecting him and Jason stifled an unconscious shudder at the automation. Jason was of the mind that A.I. was dangerous and couldn't be trusted, mostly because it was developed by men and he believed that mankind is inherently untrustworthy and self-serving. Money and political power as additional temptations didn't help in Jason's opinion.
Once Jason was inside the elevator, he looked around as was his custom, reconnoitering his area for alternate ways to escape the confined space, should the need arise. Jason did this unconsciously, and had since his active service in the Marine Corps. He was what they called in his old PTSD group a "hyper-aware" and "reclusive", "functional", combat veteran.
The elevator doors closed and Jason could sense the downward movement of the elevator for what seemed to be several floors beneath the surface. Jason was just beginning to become uncomfortable in the confined space when he felt the elevator slowing. As the doors opened, Jason knew there had to be other paths of entrance and exit into and from the area and wondered where they were.
Out of habit, Jason had moved to the side of the elevator that was shielded from view until the door was completely opened. When Jason looked into the vestibule he saw a Marine in Duty uniform rise and face him. "I need to see your identification and appointment card, Sir." The Marine Sargent said formally.
Jason took his identification from his shirt pocket where he had put it after showing it to the first guard he had encountered at the building entrance. As Jason handed the guard his ID he said, "There are other means of access to this level, right?" "Yes sir. There is a freight elevator and 2 stairways, Sir." He answered as he checked the identification, kept the appointment card and handed Jason's other IDs back to him. "You will be made aware of everything you need to know in orientation. Which is through those double doors, Sir." The Guard concluded in an official sounding manner, indicating a doorway behind him.
Jason entered a large room that looked like he expected a college laboratory would look like. Complete with slate top lab tables with sinks in them, test tubes in racks, gas hoses in the center island of the lab tables for various gases, computers and lots of electronic machines that did all manner scientific measurements and/or tests lined 2 of 4 walls. Dr. Swan was seated at the head of a conference table, laptop open in front of her, talking to another scientist about something and looked up when Jason entered the room.
Dr. Swan finished what she was saying, stood and addressed Jason smiling.
"Well, hello again, Mr. Stalk. I trust you made all of the necessary arrangements for the next 2 months as far as your rent and utilities are concerned."
"Well, yes, I did, Doc. I even gave it an extra month, just in case." Jason answered, giving her an under reported amount of preparation on his part for no particular reason.
Dr. Swan closed her laptop, picked it up as she turned and started toward another door at the far end of the room, saying. "If you will follow me, we'll get started with your orientation."
When she reached the door, she opened it revealing a short hallway with 3 doors in it. One of the doors had a sign on it, indicating it was an emergency exit stairwell. Directly across from it was a freight elevator door and at the end of the hallway was another door to which Dr. Swan was headed.
"First we'll need to get you educated on and then into your stasis suit." Dr. Swan continued over her shoulder as she walked smartly down the short hallway, as if in a hurry for some reason.
Jason was only partially listening to her as he was captivated by the sight and sound of her swaying backside and clicking high heels. He was smiling to himself, remembering his younger adult years, while half wishing he was 30 years younger, enjoying the jiggle of her ass as it swayed while she walked. "Too bad, she's married." Jason thought.
Jason came back to himself as soon as he entered the stairwell, followed Dr. Swan down several flights of stairs and into another room. This new room had the look of a board room, Jason's attention was captured, when he caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye.
He focused on a duty uniformed Marine, standing up and addressing Dr. Swan. "Staff Sargent Darvy, Ma'am. I've been assigned as the NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer In Charge) of this unit. I'll be here 24/7 for the next 30 days as ordered, Ma'am. I've been assigned this post because of my experience as a Corpsman before becoming a Marine. Is this the subject, Ma'am?"
Dr. Swan bristled slightly and said, "I'm Dr. Swan, Head of this project. And I wasn't made aware of the necessity for a 'round the clock guard on this project. Please explain."
"Dr. Swan, Ma'am, the U.S. Government takes this scientific research very seriously and has invested a great deal of resources, manpower, as well as time, in the effort in moving toward space exploration in general. The media has ignited another "Space Race" and other Governments as well as Individuals, would like to be the winners of this one.
Some will stop at nothing to succeed in that desired end. It is only prudent, where even one life could be lost, that there be someone there to prevent that loss, if possible, Ma'am. Therefore, I have been charged to monitor this man's condition and guard this area against compromise. In fact, me being here 24/7 in physical isolation, is also part of a Governmental Psychological test, on the effects of isolation. Uncle Sam killing two birds with one stone, if you will."
"Oh, I see", she said. "Well, yes. This is Mr. Stalk, he will be going into stasis for the next 30 days. I understand that you are going to instruct him in the suit and the procedures for entering and exiting stasis," she answered, almost curtly and continued. "I need to see to final preparations on the stasis pod and it's systems, Staff Sargent. I'll be leaving you two to get ready and I'll be in the stasis study pod room." She said and left the room through the door they had entered the room from originally.
SSGT Darvy nodded, looked through some papers he had in a folder, looked at Jason and said, "Says here that you're an inactive Marine. So, by the numbers instruction won't be strange to you, at least, brother. It's really pretty simple, we grease a couple of places on your chest, back, legs and arms with this jelly that conducts electricity for the sensors and paddle conductors for your re-animation after suspension. The suit is some kind of special spandex like stuff that fits like a second skin."
"Okay, I get greased up, put this suit on and then what? Jason asked seriously.
"Well, going into stasis is pretty straight forward. You'll get into the pod, I'll insert a couple of IVs and you'll receive a sedative that will put you into a deep sleep and then the pod will be closed. The rest of the operation is automated and you will receive an infusion of some kind while you are in stasis. Before you ask.” SSGT. Darvy said attempting to head off the question he was sure would come next. "You know Uncle Sam and "The Suck" like treating us "non-coms" like mushrooms. They feed us shit and keep us in the dark. It's "Classified". Apparently, it's above my pay grade to know what I'm hooking you up to receive via infusion." he said with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.
While SSGT Darvy was telling Jason what he was assigned to tell and teach Jason about the procedure, Jason was putting the jelly, used to insure proper electrode/sensor contact with his skin, on his arms and legs and preparing to put the shiny, high-tech looking under-suit on.
When Jason had put his legs into the suit and had it pulled up to his waist, he handed the tube, containing the contact jelly to SSGT Darvy, turned around to allow him to put the jelly on and around Jason's left shoulder blade and center of his back. It felt like the legs of the suit, somehow became even tighter than they had been when he first put his legs into the suit.
"While you're in stasis, I will be monitoring the suspension system to be sure everything is functioning within the prescribed specifications. In the event of some kind of emergency, I will preform required resuscitation measures and attend to you while medical personnel rush to this location to assist in your revival, if necessary." SSGT Darvy said confidently.
"Kind of like a body guard, huh." Jason said sarcastically "You're going to be the bodyguard for the first Human TV Dinner. And the funny thing is, you probably can't even talk about it. Don't ya just love the Corps?"
"Urah," SSGT Darvy grumbled comradely. "It's the revival from stasis that you need to pay special attention to, Marine. If you screw it up, you could end up killing yourself. Or worse, you could end up stark raving, bat shit for brains, crazy." SSGT Darvy said seriously and continued.
"There will be two oral compounds that you will need to drink when you revive from stasis. You will need to drink all of both sets, 4 vials total. There will be 2 vials of each type, to ensure no adverse effects are possible from whatever they infused into your blood system. I've read the highly redacted notes about this procedure and the effects on conscious animal subjects. My advice,” He said very seriously, “Is that you make sure you drink those neutralizer compounds."
"But, you're going to be here and make sure I do all that, right?" Jason asked mildly concerned.
"Of course but, in the event of a worse case scenario, I'd want to know what to do if no-one was there when I woke up, wouldn't you?" SSGT Darvy asked seriously.
"You've got a point, Staff. What else do I need to know?" Jason asked, suddenly paying close attention.
"Well, I don't know for sure but, I'd try to get my heart rate up a bit and try to keep it there for a while after your leave the pod. Unless the Doctor says anything different, that is. She'd be the one to ask about that. It's what I'd do in that case. And it's what they've told me to do after sleeping in zero-g." SSGT Darvy said conversationally.
"Are you going to be in the new "Space Force" arm of the military the President was talking about? Jason asked, genuinely curious and continued after SSGT Darvy nodded in answer. "What are they going to call those guys, anyway?"
"I haven't been told yet, officially, you understand. But, the scuttlebutt is that it will eventually become a Department of the Marine Corps. Like the Marines are a Department of the Navy. I think "Space Marines" has a good sound to it, personally. But, it'll probably be called something like "The Space Corps"." SSGT Darvy said ironically and continued informatively. "But, getting into the new "branch" is tough. I thought Recon was hard to get into. But shit, to qualify so far, you practically need to be officer material, you know, college degree in some science or another is preferred. Plus you need to have perfect overall scores in everything.” SSGT Darvy was saying in exasperation.
"Expert rifleman, perfect Physical Fitness Test score and their scholastic tests are a Mother-Fucker. And you have to take a shit-load of tests if you don't have a degree of some sort! I barely made the cut because of me already being a Recon Platoon Leader so, it's going to be the best of the best of the best individuals to start out with. Hell, with my luck, they'll probably make me a Drill Instructor again and I'll never leave planet Earth." SSGT Darvy concluded sadly as he helped Jason straighten the back of Jason's suit on his shoulders.
"So, you're gonna be one of the new Space Marines, huh? Cool. Go for it, guy." Jason told SSGT Darvy as he moved around, doing squats as best as he could and moving his arms so the suit, almost like skin, formed itself to his body and felt right to him after somehow feeling even tighter.
They had moved from the room where they met into a locker room and were getting ready for Jason to go to the stasis pod room and begin the experiment.
"This will be your locker, just stow your shit in there," SSGT Darvy said as he slapped an upright locker in the center row of the room they were in. "You won't need it for at least a month. It'll be right here when you wake up. Follow me and we'll go over the entire procedure so that you'll be aware of what we'll do in the event of an emergency in the different scenarios we've been able to plan for. In the case of an emergency that we've been able to think of, you'll already have an actionable plan to use in whole or in part on your revival." He said as he laid down the folder he was carrying on a desk and removed several sheets of paper, which he handed to Jason.
SSGT Darvy spent the next 5 minutes explaining what the procedures would be under a number of conditions. Most of the procedures had nothing to do with what Jason was supposed to do if certain things happened, as he would presumably be in suspension. But, in the event of a sudden power outage or an earthquake, he would be revived automatically by an on-board defibrillator in the suspension pod and he had to know how to open it from the inside and what to do as soon as he exited the stasis pod.
Namely, to drink the neutralization serums.
SSGT Darvy, showed Jason some photos of the serum storage unit with it's re-enforced cabinet and two circular, steel shrouded, glass doors. When Jason saw the photos he grumbled in comment, "Oh great. One red door and one blue door. As long as I don't have to choose one or the other pill, we'll be okay. You did say that they were vials of liquid, right?" Jason asked sarcastically.
"Yeah, they're kind of a milky greenish gray color, really. Both of them." SSGT Darvy chuckled, catching the reference to a popular sci-fi /action movie opening and continued.
"Besides, you aren't the only person who's going through this stasis study, Mr Stalk. You're just the one getting an additional infusion component while in stasis, that I know of. There is more than one way to put a person into stasis for periods of time and revive them successfully, I understand. Your study is one of many dual purpose studies, I'm sure, Sir. After all, it's Uncle Sam. Redundancy is his stock and trade. You know that, Marine."
"You got that shit right. Everything in triplicate." Jason chuckled in irony then said. "Well, hell, if this is the start of a sci-fi adventure, at least I'm the lead in my story. I just hope that it has a happy ending."
With that they both stood and Jason followed SSGT Darvy through the door that Dr. Swan had exited earlier, then down a long hallway to a single door at the end. They went through the single, steel reinforced, door and frame into a large, well lit room with what looked like some sort of high tech isolation chair The chair was sitting opened up like some sort of deformed clam, with large bundles of wires connected to it in various places along it's lower half sides. These were connected to the wall and several other machines which had blinking lights, digital indicators and gauges as well as a large printer which would print a few lines or characters occasionally but, mostly sat silent.
Jason saw the serum container with it's 2 round, steel reinforced, glass doors. One door had a bright red circle in it's center and the other door had a bright blue circle in it's center. Jason knew that he was supposed to drink the two small glass ampule vials inside the red one first, as they were the neutralizing compound for the nanites that caused aggressive, carnivorous insanity, in test herbivorous animals who didn't take it after revival.
Dr. Swan stepped forward and said, "Now, Mr. Stalk, you have been instructed as to what to do once you're revived from stasis under normal circumstances and told about emergency revival. If, there is an automated revival, you will need to hit this release bar which will release the locks on the door of the pod." She said indicating a green bar, about a foot long set into the top panel of the stasis pod. "The door is counter-weighted and will raise on it's own."
She then cast a sidelong glance at SSGT Darvy and said, a bit sarcastically. "This will be unlike sleeping in a weightless environment. Principally, because you will not be in a weightless environment."
Jason's suspicions about government surveillance practices had just been confirmed. Dr. Swan had not been present when SSGT Darvy had given Jason advice about revival and heart rate. Yet, she had clearly known what had been said between them when she had not been present.
Dr. Swan paused for effect and continued informatively, "The human body reacts differently in weightlessness and there are several reasons it is probably not advisable to purposely raise your heart rate any higher than it would be after an emergency revival. Not the least of which, is the possibility of breaking loose any blood clot that might have formed while you were in stasis. Although, the cell energizing nanites were developed to prevent this, there is always the possibility that they weren't fully effective in their intended function."
Dr. Swan had been subtly leading Jason toward the stasis pod as she was talking to him and he realized when she had finished, that he was about to get into the stasis pod without thinking about it.
Jason shrugged, stepped into the stasis pod and sat down while extending his arm for SSGT Darvy to insert the IV that would put him into a state of near death bodily functions.
Jason wouldn't actually be "dead" in the strictest sense of the definition. His bodily functions would be slowed to a state of "suspension" where his heart would beat at a rate of perhaps once in every 5 minutes. His body would also be cooled to near freezing but, never reach the freezing point to prevent the forming of ice crystals in his bodily fluids, which were largely water and would develop ice crystals if frozen.
This, in itself, is one of the reasons that interstellar travel was out of the reach of humans. The time to travel to another solar system, even at light speed, would take not just years, but generations, just to make the one way trip to another solar system. And the human race was a long way from faster than light speed, maybe generations from even being able to approach light speed in space travel.
Travel within our solar system, at our current technological level however, was within our reach, as it would only take perhaps 9 months to reach Mars using the Hoeman Transfer Orbit method which was considered to be the standard for travel within our solar system. And a return trip would also take 9 months but, a new window for a return to Earth launch, would take from 3 to 4 months.
That time could be used to explore the surface and the installation of a temporary way-station for living quarters and storage of construction materials on the planet's surface. These would be used for the construction of a more permanent way-station and launch complex for the shipment of materials gathered on the surface and other more intensive operations like mining, terra-forming and eventually colonization. Which were sure to follow due to the privatization of space exploration. There were already private companies building reusable launch vehicles with plans of mining the many asteroids within and around our solar system.
SSGT Darvy inserted the vascular catheter that would be used for Jason's sedation, then plugged a tube into it that was attached to the interior side of the stasis pod and whispered, "This is where you'll receive your sedation and be carried off into a safe and peaceful slumber, ya Fuckin' Jar-head."
Jason chuckled and quipped conspiratorially, "I didn't see a big bowl of water when I came in, ya Squid. Where are you going to sleep?"
"Very funny, Jar-head. I grew up and decided I'd rather be a warrior than a frog in BDUs. I've graduated to a cot in my quarters on dry land." SSGT Darvy Grumbled good naturedly as he inserted the infusion IV into Jason's other arm and taped it in place, like he had with the sedation IV.
This IV would administer the nanites that would keep Jason's cells active and energized while in suspension as well as the type that would hopefully resurface and repair any damage caused by the Arthritis that Jason currently suffered from.
After SSGT Darvy had inserted and taped the infusion IV into Jason's arm, Jason settled back into the chair getting comfortable while Dr. Swan gently closed the door. Soon, Jason heard some kind of gas entering the pod, started tasting a strange taste in his mouth and a warm sensation started at his feet and hands creeping up his extremities toward his chest as he lost consciousness.