Austin remembered having better facilities even when he was in in the most backwards depths of China and Africa during the drive to bring nanotechnolgical vaccine to the entire planet. In those times they had self-inflating army surgical tents, portable solar panels, and decent sleeping bags. Here they had the basement of a half burned firehouse, finicky generator running on methanol, and some old blankets. At least it was kind of nice next to the fire.
"How are you holding up?"
"Wah... oh, hello Clarice. Good, bad, indifferent. Better than Jeff and James at least. How are they?"
"J number one is sleeping, but still running a pretty high fever. The second has disappeared again, I was hoping he was with you."
"What the hell is his problem. You'd think after the fifth trip to the outhouse he'd figure something isn't right."
"He's got enough nano remaining in his system to take the edge off, and well, these are third world diseases thought to be extinct in this country. He simply doesn't know how bad it is."
"Wrong answer, you're supposed to agree with the doctor he is an ignorant bastard."
They both laughed. It was a pretty hollow sound.
"I also came out here to tell you, our two scavengers just radioed in. They go the goods and should be arriving presently."
"Thank god. It should help the J's and give the rest of a real boost. When you put the stuff to heavy use, it lasts maybe half the listed time before it meets its half-life."
"We go the goods, pulled them right out of the campus nano-lab. Place was pretty clean, and there weren't more than a few dozen reanimates to sneak past. If we can get a couple more rifles, we might be able to move to better digs."
"One thing at a time boys, lets just get this to our..."
Austin stared at the 1000 cc IV bag like he had never observed one before. The fluid was a dusty pink, with a slight oily iridescent sheen glinting under the flashlight. A white label simply read "Oncology - #222973 - 10/23/49"
Austin threw it as hard as he could against the side of the farmhouse. "F--!"
"What the hell? Do you know how much trouble we went through for that?"
"Dammit, its the wrong stuff! Its Stain! F--."
"And you throw priceless "stained" nanotech away because? Isn't it supposed to be pink - some sort of shelf life indication?"
"Bubblegum pink, 500cc is disease fighting nano-vac. One Liter bags are Specific Treatment Active Internal Nanotech."
"So use it to treat our friends specifically!"
"Thats not how it works. STAIN needs specific direction, from a computer hooked up to an MRI machine. It won't work on its own. If we had a f--ing hospital scanner we could cure them. We could remove brain tumors, suture a punctured lung, mend bones, rebuild a heart valve and separate conjoined twins while were at it! But right now it is useless!"
"So think of something that makes it not useless"
Austin opened his mouth, then closed it again, dropping his shoulders. "I don't think we've got much choice. We don't have much juice remaining in the truck, but if we take the batteries out of the other vehicle we can get most everyone to the school. If they were experimenting, they might have the scanners."
"So its either enough power to get the medicine, or leave our friends behind and make the rendevous."
"What are we waiting for? Those new guns might have been nice, but a good group with old stuff is still better."
"Of course, we need them now to clear the campus"
"I thought it was only experience that showed up after you needed it."