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The agent had been a train wreck. Until just a few hours ago he'd been laid open like a can of tinned meat from his ear to the bloody stump that had been his left foot. Blue, the mechanic, had stopped counting the number of liters of fluid that had been pumped through him, gathered in the catch basin beneath, filtered and pumped through him again.

Messy business, special ops.

Along the side of the makeshift medical center hummed a bank of printers assembling replacement parts one micro-thin layer at a time. Several days ago they had produced a femur, a nearly full complement of ribs and the better part of a jawbone. Prior to the agents arrival they'd produced a complete foot mesh, from the cuneiform bones through the metatarsals to the phalanges, all from data retrieved from the agent's medical records at Langley. Blue's cultured tissue was rapidly turning that mesh back into what would soon be a working foot.

"We'll have you dancing again in no time," Blue joked, noting the pained look on the agent's face.

As the damaged man's body worked to assimilate the new components, the printers were now tasked with reprinting the missing body armour pieces and assorted tools the agent would require when redeployed. Assuming he made it through this rebuild.

"We're not going to win any prizes for thread-work I'm afraid," Blue tested the strength of the glue and suture-line holding the two halves of the agent together, "but then I don't expect you're out on many dates these days, are you?" Satisfied the seams were well on their way to healing, Blue crossed the narrow room to a workbench littered with freshly printed gun parts and the recovered barrel and firing assembly from a battle weary HK PSG.

At the end of the workbench, the quad-rotor recon drone chirped to indicate its batteries were fully charged, then silently disengaged its tether, lifted off the desktop and headed to the ceiling. A circular panel irised open, and the craft rose to hover again inside the light lock on its way into the night sky. There were two more agents unaccounted for.

"How... long...?" The agent spoke with apparent difficulty through a newly remanufactured face.

Blue walked back to the table where he could look the man in the eyes and ran down a deeply ingrained checklist.

"Twelve hours and we'll have your kit printed, polished and put back together, which should coincide with the growth cycle of your new muscle almost exactly." He checked off items on his fingers as he spoke. "Your gun, fortunately enough, is mostly intact and preliminary tests show your eyes are working fine with the fresh lenses, but we'll need to calibrate them once you're up and around. You've stopped leaking, which is always a good sign, so we've started pumping more specialized fuel into your system. I'm going to knock you out until we're closer to redeployment as I expect your brain could use the rest your body sure as hell needs."

Blue stopped there, staring into the blank yellow irises of the agent stretched supine before him.

"The only thing we can't remanufacture is your will to reengage, you're going to have dig deep and find that on your own."

There was a pause, then the agent's face twisted into a gross approximation of a smile.

"You sure I'll be able to dance when you're done with me?"

Blue laid a hand on the man's shoulder. "Like Fred Astaire," he said, hoping the reference wasn't wasted.

"That's great Doc," the battered man chuckled, "I was never able to dance before."
From Wikipedia: Flash Fiction - 'Flash fiction differs from vignettes in that the works contain the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to be unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline.'

In the case of 365tomorrows - Flash Fiction is a story of ideally 500 words, and new in the 3rd year a 600 word maximum.

An object in motion...
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sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
3d printers and quad-copters: are you an fan?

Cool story, as usual.
SRSmith Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013   Writer
I don't pay specific attention to Engadget, but I do pay careful attention to anything new and interesting on as many fronts as I can. I number of my friends have gotten heavily into 3d printing, and coupled with some scientific advances in that regard (printing sheets of live cells for example), I'm really interested in what the future holds.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
MSpaintdog Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oldest joke in the book, and you still
SRSmith Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012   Writer
Haha - thanks!
alapip Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
hah! i like your futuristic take
on an 'old one', Steve.

excellent 'detail' too!

SRSmith Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012   Writer
Thank you!
GrungeTV Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Professional General Artist
Great work Steve.
The brief, light-hearted dialogue between Blue and the agent contrasts hugely with the massive surgical procedure being undertaken. It seems in this particular environment, retirement isn't an option, as the determination to be the victor in this 'conflict' includes the ability to rebuild a man (somewhat akin to the creation of the 6 million dollar man!) although the difference being it is done on a much wider scale.
It certainly made me think of how the future of warfare will be altered when medical science has reached this level, and what will be happening as it advances further still?
SRSmith Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012   Writer
3D printers are already being used to aid in body part reconstruction and surgery - doctors can 3D scan a patient and then model a skull in 3D to practice surgical procedures 'dry' or have skull plates etc. manufactured to an exact fit on a plastic model of a patients head long before they get cut open.

I think once we can accelerate healing, and once we can print with biologically inert frameworks this will become much more common. There are already researchers printing cell meshes on this kind of printer.

It's really a crazy future on our doorstep.

Thanks for the great comment!
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