Three men emerged from the hatch as the door slid back and recessed into the fuselage. The first figure to emerge looked oddly familiar to her, but Danny couldn’t quite place him. The next occupant was in a military uniform. Some sort of Special Forces, she thought as she watched the man conduct himself. The final occupant was a nondescript short man; he must have been a lab tech or other support staff. Their importance obvious, Danny focused her attention of the first two. As the trio got closer, she continued to have flashes of recognition of the first man, but her overtaxed brain was having the worst time identifying him.
When they made their way to the elevator door Danny was standing in, the helicopter departed with the same abruptness as when it landed.
Danny overheard one of the orderlies speak to two of the men. “Colonel Bishop, Doctor Mann, please follow me.”
Her flashes of recognition now made sense; Dr. Mann was an older version of Terry Mann. She had never met him, but he was a dead ringer for Terry, or more precisely, Terry was a dead ringer for his father.
Danny followed the group as they walked calmly down the corridor. She fought against demanding that the elevator club hurry to her friend’s side. No one stopped her from following when the trio conferred with Terry’s doctors.
“Miss Peterson here has been making decisions for Terry since her arrival,” the doctor informed the senior Mann. “But now you’re here Doctor Mann, you’ll be assuming that responsibility.”
Dr. Mann glanced in Danny’s direction, “Thank you Miss Peterson, you’re welcome to stay and be in the loop. My son has mentioned a fondness for you during your recent campaign.”
Danny smiled, despite her and Terry’s agreement to keep their relationship secret. “You’re most welcome, if you need anything, let me know.”
Dr. Mann gestured to the Special Forces soldier. “That’s what Colonel Bishop is here for, but I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless.”
Colonel Bishop looked in her direction, but said nothing. He was carrying a large metal suitcase, but he and the lab tech stayed in the background and did their best to stay out of the way.
The lead physician and Dr. Mann were in a heated debate. “I’m not sure we should be performing any experimental procedures right now.” He flung a curtain closed between them and potential eavesdroppers. “Your son is stable, but he is at risk for any number of infections. His chances for survival are too low.”
“That’s why we need to do this.” Dr. Mann jerked his thumb in the direction of the metal suitcase. “We can find out what his wishes are.”
Danny felt compelled to interrupt. “How can we know what he wants?”
Dr. Mann looked to Colonel Bishop, but the Colonel stoicly made no attempt to be part of the conversation.
“We have an experimental technology that allows us to switch bodies, transfer consciousness from one body to another. Joe here is volunteering to trade bodies with Terry for this procedure.”
Danny stared wide-eyed at Terry’s father and Joe. “You can’t possibly be serious? That sounds like science fiction.”
Dr. Mann sighed. “Miss Peterson, the only reason you are involved at all is my son expressed a fondness for you. He believes the two of you have a future together.” He stepped forward and placed a hand on the quarantine glass separating him from his son. “If you feel you are unable to control yourself, you’ll have to leave. The decision has already been made. Here is a federal writ of authority authorizing his transfer to our facility if needed. I would prefer to do this here, rather than risk my son’s health by relocating him, but I will if there are any disagreements here. We will start the procedure in thirty minutes.”
Danny knew not to push the issue. If she wanted to stay involved, she was going to have to go along with whatever Terry’s father had planned. She was able to watch the procedure from the next room through a glass window, but it was all very confusing. The device Colonel Bishop and Dr. Mann were connecting to Terry and Joe the Tech was the same dimensions of a toaster oven, with a bundle of wires and a harness with electrodes leading to both men. She was skeptical anything would come of this, but she diligently watched and waited as she was expected. If this experiment could save Terry, she would hope for the best.
Next: Cybernetic Mysticism