The door opened into a well lit, hewn cavern. In the centre of the theatre styled room, an operating table supported its final patient. Around its base, laid three more skeletons in undignified repose. Brad could only assume they were nursing staff. Dog tags on a string still attached to the patient’s neck, suggested a soldier. Four rectangular metal bands the size of cigarette packets were laid out in a row on a smaller table. Brand picked one up. It had a small slitted screen; blank. Three paces beyond the head of the table, a wall partitioned the operating room from a separate room. Bold words in red drifted like a moving banner just above the observation window in a continuous loop – Assimilation ready.
What were they doing? Brad asked himself.
He drifted toward the door leading into the observation room.
“Where are you going?” Teyata asked.
“I’ve just got to look at something.”
Turning the knob, he entered, finding a room crowded with electronic machinery which Brad could only guess as to their functions. A skeleton in a swivel chair slumped over a console. A black film of mould coated the inside of the coffee cup on a cluttered desk. The bones hindered Brad’s inspection of the console.
“Sorry,” he said, tilting the skeleton out of the chair.
He sat down, appraising the console. It’s abbreviations made it impossible to discern. The desktop computer denied him access as it was coded. At random, he began to press buttons on the console in hopes of finding any information that might solve the mystery of the operating room. He began going through them all. Nothing happened that he could see until he flipped a toggle switch. A hum ensued, then a column of light swelled from a holographic book pedestal. A metal band looked as if it hardened into being, forcing Brad to swing his head at the bands on the operating table. They were exactly the same.
“The stealth claw,” announced a tinny recorded voice from an unknown source.
A human hand materialised within the band.
“Is a newly developed weapon by the Australian SAS.”
The hand tensed and metal claws sprang free. They looked tapered rods of steel, extending beyond the hand and slightly curled over. As the hand wriggled and curled its fingers, the claws flexed with them as if natural appendages. Instantly, the claws retracted unseen, into the confines of the metal band, then the image faded, replaced by the face of a bearded middle aged man.
“Originally called the “Simpson Claw” after its inventor, Eric Simpson. A mere eleven months after he invented the weapon, it was improved upon by Aussie army intelligence and gone into production. It’s applications are two fold.”
Simpson faded from view as a mid rise marble building appeared. Brad’s vision rapidly swept up the side of the building via the camera’s view, then halted, focusing on an SAS soldier standing on the roof with an automatic rifle, also wearing the bands. Although unnecessary, the words “battle assimilation” flashed on the projection.