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Daughter helps father to relax.
Erica's face went blank as he tried to absorb the information.
"That's twenty-seven, specifically targeted, retroviral packages, all in your injection for today," Pamala said, "not one."
Erica shook his head a couple times in denial, not wanting to believe what he had heard. His face twisted up as he wrapped his arms protectively around himself. He began rocking slightly, back-and-forth.
Pamala glared at him. "Maybe we shouldn't have said anything," she said to Julia with concern. She watched him more closely for a few seconds then stepped back a few feet, tugging Julia along with her. "This type of reaction... can be concerning," she said quietly. "I have seen it a few times before and I must tell you, it didn't end well," she said.
"I don't understand," Julia said.
Pamala looked at her soberly. "It's simple enough to administer AGen, Julia, little more than placing the nozzle of a jet injector firmly against his body and depressing a trigger. But, the protocol is for him to self-inject," she said. "It is important for you to understand that we won't force the injection on him. It's going to be up to you to get... compliance."
Julia nodded, deeply embarrassed by Erica's sudden posturing.
"You need to talk with him," Pamala said flatly. "I... need to check on the prep work. Assuming we're not wasting our time today," she muttered. Pamala spun away and disappeared, back through the door leading to the nursing station.
Erica was still rocking, eyes closed, looking like he was in some self-induced trance, making Julia more angry by the moment.
"Don't you dare mess this up, Erica," she hissed. She began pacing back and forth, fuming, pondering on how to calm Erica down.
As Julia paced, a women from the back of the room began rolling a cart towards them. A computer display and video camera were mounted to a post on the cart, the display at eye level, while the camera rested in a motorized mount on top. The woman stopped several feet in front of Erica, positioned the display in front of him, and plugged it into an outlet as Julia watched.
"What's that for?" Julia asked caustically.
The woman sneered back at her and said nothing as she walked away.
Julia groaned inwardly. "This is not how this day was supposed to go," Julia hissed to herself.
The display flickered to life as a computer in the cart established a video connection to a remote lab. A woman's face suddenly filled the display. Julia's heart skipped a beat. It was Dr. Joyce. On the larger screen, closer-up, Dr. Joyce looked even more imposing and severe than Julia remembered, like her face was made of stone, cut and weathered by time, growing more coarse, more harsh, with each passing year.
Julia took a deep breath and let it out slowly as the camera on the post moved, adjusting itself downward to focus on Erica. He seemed to be in his own world, oblivious. Dr. Joyce's eyes tightened ever so slightly as she stared intently at his antics. She stayed on him for a time, evaluating him, making Julia all the more nervous. Erica was ruining everything!
Without warning, the camera began moving again, this time panning towards Julia. When her body passed into the frame, it stopped. The lens then slid upwards, only stopping when the camera finally centered on her face. Julia flashed an awkward smile towards the roving eye, hoping to dispel her growing sense of dread. It didn't work.
"We seem to have a problem, Ms. Grant," Dr. Joyce said flatly, managing to make it sound like an accusation. "We had assumed that you would have better control over your... male by now." Dr. Joyce stared at Julia with an unnerving, penetrating, glare like she was preparing to pronounce final judgement. "We find this situation very disappointing, Ms. Grant."
Julia pursed her lips tightly, drawing a haggard breath in through her nose, not wanting to say the wrong thing. "This... it's something new," Julia said. "I'm sure he's just... upset right now and nervous."