Chapter 21

Michael did not like missing all the action going on around him: the new weapons, the upgraded shielding systems, the combat. But he was clearly going to be confined to bed for quite some time, until his new legs could be grown. Both he and Dr. Godsman were enthralled with the procedure. Using a DNA map taken from a single somatic cell, the doctors aboard the destroyer were able to provide instructions to stem cells that would be accelerated and told to become legs—his legs.

At first, he was nervous about the procedure. Where did they get the stem cells? Was he going to reap the benefit of new limbs as a result of someone else’s death? He didn’t think he could accept that.

But they assured him that newer models of morphogenesis had prevailed in this century, and the collection of stem cells from healthy adults was every bit as easy as the reduction of plasma from normal, healthy blood.

Of course, now he couldn’t get Dr. Godsman to leave his side. After the medics had brought him aboard the Terran destroyer for triage with the other injured, they had proceeded to amputate the portions of his legs that had been damaged and begun the regeneration preparation process immediately. Fortunately for Michael, the regeneration worked best if initiated very shortly after the traumatic event.

Once the surgery had been performed, the medical team had attached the stumps to twin feed machines, which recycled his blood through a special filter that removed platelet cells and induced them to become more genetically elastic through a process called de-differentiation. His own legs were being regrown at the cellular level using his own retargeted blood cells. And because they were his own cells, there was virtually no chance of host rejection.

Godsman had asked if the procedure could be completed aboard Adamantine, and the doctors had seen no issue with transporting Michael back to his own ship once he had been stabilized. As a matter of fact, once the procedure had started, Michael had nothing better to do than wait. And with the insistence of General Salabast, there was no way the attending physicians were going to say “no.”

In addition to the transfer of Michael and the limb repair machine back to the Orion ship, two of the medical technicians were assigned to Adamantine to help ensure that the process went smoothly. Dr. Godsman was soaking it all up—he would probably write a few papers on the subject if and when they got back home. Michael’s contribution to the process was to make sure he got plenty to eat and plenty of sleep.

As he was contemplating whether or not his legs were a few microns longer than the last time he had checked, no more than an hour ago, Traci walked into the medical bay.

“How is the commander doing, Doctor?” she asked.

“Simply brilliant! The process is amazing, in fact. He’s not only going to be walking in the next week to ten days, but his legs will feel like the legs of a twenty-year-old—no genetic aging!”

“That is good news. In fact, since he is recovering so nicely, I would like a word with Commander McKenzie, if you don’t mind.”

The older ship’s surgeon looked down over his glasses at Traci and raised his scraggly eyebrows at her.

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