warnings: some violence, blood and technobabble
"Stop squirming, Sam. You're gonna make me miss the vein." Ruby wrapped her small hand around Sam's forearm and held it steady. "You don't want these suckers free-floating around, trust me. They need to go straight to your heart."
Sam stared at Ruby's hand and marveled at the strength of her grip. 'Demons' were all strong, everybody knew that, but he'd never actually met one until tonight. Ruby was small, and pretty, and somebody that Sam would be all kinds of interested in if he wasn't on the verge of bleeding to death. She didn't look like a bio-tech enhanced fugitive, but that's what she was. That's what all Demons were.
Ruby pushed the needle into Sam's arm and clicked the button at the top of the syringe. The liquid inside (a nano-bot suspension in colloidal silver) lit up with an odd yellowish light. Sulfur, the signature of all Demonic technology.
The moment the nano-bots hit his system Sam let out a gasp. He couldn't help it. His blood felt like it was on fire, and the back of his head throbbed as something deep in his brain lit up. He looked towards Ruby, blinking away the lights dancing in front of his eyes.
"There we go." she smiled at him and pointed at his leg, at his torn and bloodied thigh. "Knitting together already. You'll be good to go in about twenty minutes." She turned to walk away.
Sam grabbed her arm almost by reflex and said, "Wait. Please..." He winced as the muscle tissue in his leg rebuilt itself. The hole where the blast had taken out a chunk of flesh from his leg was getting smaller by the second. "Why are you helping me?"
She smirked and turned back towards him. "Because you're one of us."
"No, I'm —"
"Sam. We can sense our own. You know that don't you?" Her smile faded. "Your brother knows that."
"My brother is —"
"He's with the Angels."
Sam jerked up from the operating table and immediately regretted it when the pain in his leg flared back into overdrive. He dropped back down, defeated and said, "The Angels? No, he just— he just hates Demons. A Demon killed our mother."
Ruby raised her eyebrows. "Is that what you think?"
"What do you mean? That's what happened."
"No, Sam. It isn't." She walked over to the metal work table, picked up the stool standing next to it and plopped it back down next to Sam. "Your mom burned in the fire of '83, right?"
Sam nodded. Back in 2083 there'd been a whole lot of 'fires,' a military sweep trying to eliminate all the Demons in the country. Biotech had been the savior of mankind, allowing them to cure nearly every disease, prevent every genetic ailment, but it got all twisted when humans figured out what they could really do with it.
Modifying DNA led to specialized humans. Soldiers weren't volunteers anymore, they were made, and they were damn good at their jobs. They barely had to sleep, they were as strong as a human could get, they aged slowly, they didn't get sick, and they could heal quickly. They were made to kill. Of course it all backfired during the fifth World War. The armies they'd sent to destroy their enemy got redirected back at them. Nobody knew how, nobody knew why.
The government had to take drastic measures. Lethal measures. The result was a sky filled with ash and radioactive nano-debris containing all kinds of modified DNA. The debris was microscopic. Most people were not affected by it, but as it turned out, infants were. Sam had been born in '83, and six months later, his mom had burned when the Demons (the soldiers that survived) came to reclaim him.
"Azazel was trying to save you."
"Who's Azazel?" Sam asked.
Ruby smiled, "He was our leader, for a while. One of the first." she bowed her head, "The Angels took him out last week during the raid on Center-City."
"Wait you mean..."
"That's right." she nodded, "The raid your brother was on."
"They're trying to recruit him. I told him not to join, but he..." Sam shook his head, "he doesn't listen to me anymore." He looked down at his leg, and watched as his quadriceps finished reforming. The pain had subsided into a low ache, but the air around his leg felt ice-cold, the heat of the nano-bots making the contrast even more extreme. Skin cells started to form over the exposed muscle in perfectly symmetrical strips.
"Why doesn't he listen to you?"
Sam laughed bitterly, "Because he knows what I've been doing." He pushed back the same wave of guilt that threatened to overwhelm him every time he thought of Dean these days. He'd never wanted to hurt Dean, he didn't want him to worry. That's why he'd left in the first place.
Ruby leaned down over Sam's thigh to inspect her handiwork and turned back towards him, "What have you been doing, exactly?"
"Mods. I didn't mean to, at first, really..." He ran his hand through his hair and sighed, "After what happened with Dad, I just needed to get away, you know? And then the dreams started. I wanted to know what they meant." He swallowed hard, "So I went to Crossroads."
"You found a seer?"
"Yeah, well...she found me, I guess. She said that I was different. Not a Demon, but not a human either. Something in-between. She told me she could make the dreams go away, or I could learn what they meant."
"You chose knowledge instead of ignorance."
"Nothing wrong with that."
Sam let out a huff, "Yeah there is, when it involves hypothalamus modification."
Ruby's eyebrows shot up, "Did it work?"
"Yeah. It worked. Really well. I went back to her...a few times."
"So what were the dreams about?"
"Demons, mostly. It was like..." Sam closed his eyes remembering, "like I was one of them. One of you. I'd fall asleep and be someone else. I was...strong and I could do things. Crazy things." He opened his eyes again and saw Ruby staring back at him.
She looked at him oddly, "What kind of things?"
Sam laughed, "This one time, I dreamt I was an Angel, but I was protecting Demons. Hundreds of them. I held up my hand..." Sam lifted his right arm and spread his fingers wide, like he had in the dream. "...and all the other Angels stopped moving. It's like they just...shut down."
"Can't shut down an Angel. They have self-perpetuating power cells. They're networked, you can't —"
"I did." Sam shook his head, "I mean...in my dream."
Ruby stood up and grabbed Sam's hand. "Come on. Get up, your leg's as good as new."
Sam took her hand and swung his legs over the side of the operating table. His leg felt good. He felt good, better than he had in years. "These nano-bots. Are they disposable?"
"Hell no." Ruby laughed, "Demonic technology is built to last. They run on X5 cells. They'll outlive you." She winked at him "All five hundred years or so you've got ahead of you."
"What — what do you mean?" Sam stopped walking.
"Sam, I told you, you're one of us."
"But I —"
"How many mods have you had, altogether?
He hesitated. "Too many."
Ruby let out a low whistle. "Well I'll be damned." She laughed. "Yeah, you can't come back from that. When was the last time you passed a scanner-check?"
Sam shook his head. "Over a year ago."
"How many gene-hacks to your neural network?"
"I —I lost count."
"Okay." Ruby nodded, turned her back on Sam again and walked towards the door. "There's some people I want you to meet."
Sam followed her out the back door of the lab, into a huge room filled with...servers. He turned and stared at the walls, counting dozens and dozens of computers. The processor power in the room had to be massive.
"Pretty cool huh?" asked a man with dirty blond hair. "Hi, I'm Brady." he added, holding out his hand. "You must be Sam."
Sam shook his hand and peered over the heads of the other people circled around them. "The computers. What's all this for?"
Ruby grinned at Sam and said, "This..." she gestured at the countless servers, "is Lucifer. Our Angel." She put her hand on Sam's shoulder. "And he needs an avatar."