Standardized cirrus clouds overhead. A forest out of a Microsoft clip art archive, and some mountains from Fractint. The virtual looked amateurish, like something found on somebody's home page. But on the stereotyped hillside several engineering renderings floated in the air, reflecting the sky and trees in their metallic surfaces. Despite the kitsch, I was impressed. These were very advanced nanodesigns; NanoNemo might have lacked artistic skills in building virtuals, but these were artworks in their own genre, subtle sculptures made out of atoms and electron orbitals worthy a molecular Rodin or Michelangelo.

"Can you demonstrate them?" I asked the air.

The virtual hillside vanished, replaced by the black void of a simulation space. Several nanodevices were tumbling about, buffeted from all sides by invisible water molecules hinted by translucent shadows. Some proteins and other stuff floated about. An urchin-like device with long spines of carbyne collided with an irregular diamondoid blob. The spines quickly withdrew, propelling it towards the tumbling blob. As the core touched, it attached. More spines extended, this time tipped with protein patches. I watched as two other urchins attached, also holding out their messages. After a short while the simulation ended, and various graphs appeared in the space. I watched them carefully, and then dismissed the simulation. The hillside immediately reappeared.

"Want to see the others?" a voice asked from the air.

"No need, I trust you. Looks good. I assume you have tested that the lymphocytes can handle the stuff?"

"No problem. Both in silico and in vitro. The detectors attach to unknown nanodevices and make the immune system recognize them. The destroyers end up in macrophage lysozomes where they wait for tagged complexes and destroy them. Works fine, although it is up to you to see if the rats can take it."

I decided to tell him. "Actually, we can't wait. We have to try it on human volunteers first thing."

A short silence, interspersed with some sampled bird song from the Microsoft forest.

"Is it that bad?"

"Yes. Or rather, it is worse. We just don't have the time to play it safe any longer."