The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(20) by Lynsay Sands
“Breathe,” Basil instructed.
Sherry grimaced. “I’m sorry. It’s just—”
“No need to apologize. I should have explained these things.” He smiled wryly and then admitted, “This is the first time I have had to explain our origins.”
“Really?” she asked with surprise.
Basil shrugged. “We are not encouraged to share our existence with others without good reason.”
“Ah,” she murmured.
“Atlantis was isolated from the rest of the world by mountains. I am sure there were some Atlanteans who traveled over the mountains to explore, but I did not personally know anyone who did. Most I think were happy to remain in Atlantis. Until the day Atlantis was no more,” he added sadly, and then took a deep breath and continued, “When I said it fell, I meant that literally. It suffered a series of earthquakes and crumbled, sliding into the sea. There was nothing . . . and nowhere, to rebuild. And precious few to rebuild it. The only survivors were those who had the nanos.”
“Everyone in Atlantis didn’t have the nanos?” she asked with surprise.
“No. It was only tested on a dozen or so people who were mortally wounded or fatally ill before the scientists realized the flaw. My parents were among them, and my brothers and I inherited the nanos.”
“The flaw?” she asked.
“The nanos were programmed to return their host to their peak condition and then self-destruct and disintegrate, to be flushed from the patient’s system.”
“So get cancer, get a shot full of nanos, they kill off the disease and then disintegrate and you’re normal again?” she asked.
Basil nodded. “That was what they expected to happen, yes.”
She arched an eyebrow. “So why didn’t that happen?”
“Because rather than have to program individual groups of nanos with different programs, like programming one group for cancer, another for damage to the kidney, another for damage to the arteries, etcetera, they went the lazy route and programmed the nanos with all the information on the human body,” he explained. “And, as I said, they then gave them the prime directive to return their host to their peak condition.”
She shook her head, still confused.
“While it may have been given to patients with fatal diseases or who had internal trauma, etcetera, the human body is at its prime in the early twenties.”
Her eyebrows rose. “So rather than just curing or repairing, it acted like the fountain of youth, sort of, making anyone older than that young again.”
“Yes, but even that was not the problem. Returning us to our prime is an unending process. Between damage from the sun, pollution, or even simple aging, our bodies are constantly in need of repair.”
“So once they repair one thing, something else needs repair,” Sherry said with understanding. “The nanos are always working and never dissolve.”
“Exactly,” he said, sitting back, and then he shrugged and added, “Once the scientists realized that, they stopped their trials and went back to work on the nanos in an attempt to find a way to handle that problem.”
“I’m guessing they never succeeded,” Sherry said quietly. “Otherwise you and the others wouldn’t be—”
“No,” he agreed solemnly. “The fall happened before they managed to do that, and the only survivors were the Atlanteans with nanos, the patients who had been given them in the trials, and their offspring. And then only about sixty percent of us survived.”
“So only seven or eight of you survived?”
“No. There were more than that by then. As I said, it was originally tested on twelve subjects, but those twelve married, had children . . .” He shrugged. “I am not sure how many made it out exactly. I know of at least twenty, but we did not all come out together. Others took different routes. For instance, no one knew the no-fangers had made it out. We are not even sure how they did. The conclusion we came to was that they were either released by one of the scientists, or perhaps just escaped and climbed out when the buildings began to crumble.”
“Released?” she asked with confusion.
“No-fangers were dangerous, crazy and sadistic, basically a bunch of Jack-the-ripper types. They were locked up,” he said quietly, and then admitted with distaste, “I suspect the scientists experimented on them, trying to remove the nanos.”
“So Atlanteans were enlightened-type people,” she said sarcastically. “Willing to experiment on the victims of their own inventions.”
“They were just people, Sherry,” he said quietly. “And as with every society, we had good people and bad people too.”
“Right,” she said on a sigh, then commented, “So if not all of you made it out, then your kind can die?” It had been sounding like they couldn’t.
“Oh yes, we can die. It is just harder to kill us. As far as I know, only decapitation or being consumed by fire can kill us,” he said quietly.
“I see,” she murmured. Sherry paused for a moment to consider that, and then went back to the original conversation. “So sixty percent of the Atlanteans with nanos survived—”
“That does not include no-fangers,” he inserted.
She nodded. “But those of you who survived were left with nothing. No home, no homeland, no transfusions.”
“So the nanos gave you fangs and . . . stuff,” she ended lamely.
“Fangs, extra strength, night vision, abilities and skills that would make us better able to get the blood we needed.”
“Okay, but I don’t understand how the nanos . . .” she hesitated, searching for the right words, and finally settled on, “knew to do that, I guess. I mean, you said they were programmed to repair injuries and stuff, but who programmed them to give you fangs and the other things?”
“I am very sure no one programmed that into them,” he said. “I believe it was just their solution to the problem when Atlantis fell and we found ourselves without any way to get blood transfusions to gain the blood they needed. Getting that blood was the only way they could carry out the directive to keep us at our peak. Without those abilities, we would have died. In fact, some of us did die without evolving.”
“So these nanos can think?” she asked with a frown.
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