Saturday, March 30, 2013

Another Day, Another C-Note


                “Yes, Mr. Fahra, you have an enhanced filter in your blood, but even that has limitations.” Declan sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Which is why you ended up here, unconscious.”
                “Well, I paid damned good money, it should be guaranteed.” Mr. Fahra protested.
                “Take that up with your biotechs, it isn’t my responsibility.” Declan said with a practiced calm. “Alcohol may be a fuel for machines, but humans run on nutrients, and common sense.”
                The patient mumbled a few admonishing complaints as Declan wrote up a file, resisting the urge to shove the stylus directly into the man’s eyeball. He slipped the file into the man’s face, detailing a rather expansive bill.
                “What’s this?”
                “I am not a charity; it took valuable resources to revive you. Go home, drink water, and go to sleep.” He didn’t wait for the patient to respond as he walked brusquely out of the exam room.
                His eyes briefly met his assistants, Delrah and Abatha, organizing the supplies. They had stopped their quiet gossiping as he looked at them, watching him close as he ignored their antics. He sulked into the corner, grumbling bitterly as he checked records on holodisplay. Once they were sure he was focused on his task, they continued their banter.
                “Great, looks like we have to be careful where we step today,” Delrah began.
                “He’s lucky he’s so talented, otherwise he wouldn’t have a license.” Abatha whispered.
                “I know, he’s so callous, it’s like he doesn’t care about anyone at all.” He replied.
                Upon hearing this, which his chatterbox associates seem to be blissfully unaware of his augmented audio perception, he swiped his display clear and raised his head, burning a hole in the wall with his sudden angered eyes.  He snapped around, glaring at the two mockingbirds as he stormed over to them, his nose inches from Delrah’s personal space.
                “Say. That. To. My. Face,” He growled. Delrah swallowed hard, hiding his shaking hands as he clutched onto a bottle. “Right. I thought so. You lot, come with me.”
                He stormed into the back room, and the two obligingly complied, terrified at the doctor’s ire.
                “Astin!” He barked and a man came running over.
                “Sir?”
                “You have the office, try not to kill too many unless you have to.” He said as he made his way to a door, passing a card over the lock, revealing an elevator inside. “You two, in there. Now.”
                The associates slinked into the back of the chamber, a place they never knew existed, but saw the doctor disappear behind many times. Declan followed the insubordinates and entered a code into the console. He stood there in silence as the elevator descended, leaving them to stare at his back in childlike apprehension.
                Their fear increased as the two realized they were about to cross the Haze, and land deep into the mire of the Undercity. This would be their first visit into the crime-riddled streets.
                The doors opened up and Declan stepped to one side, jutting an angry finger out into the darkness.
                “Get out,” He ordered. “And don’t stare, you’ll look like fuckin’ tourists.”
                They walked for what had seemed like an eternity through the black alleyways; the two shaken assistants jumping at the slightest of sound. Declan finally stopped in front of a huge metal door, flinging the massive structure open effortlessly with his false arm. He stabbed at the bowels of the building with his hand, silently ordering his nuisances to step inside.
                While the office in Uppercity was a pristine, welcoming, and comfortable environment for the ill, this place was the polar opposite; a haven of suffering. The shelter was a converted warehouse; instead of white walls, neatly organized tools and medicines, and separated examination rooms, the walls were dank, and each patient rested in makeshift divisions. There were rooms in the back were reserved for the more terminal cases.
                Echoes of crying, whimpering, and anguish filled the warehouse, pierced by the occasional scream of pain as the macabre scene slapped the assistants with shock. Declan’s squad was hurriedly running from place to place, patching up gunshots, shrapnel tears, burns, and then some, along with cleaning up the gore and fluids that resulted from such injuries.
                Though the supplies were limited and the environment less than helpful, the workers did their damndest to get people out of the hospital and back to their homes as quick as possible. Declan ran a tight ship under here, and he only trusted the most competent and promising acolytes to maintain the facility in his absence.
                Suddenly his head lieutenant Varga came running to him from one of the back rooms.
                “Doc! Fucking hell, so glad you came down here, I got a fucking mess back here that I don’t have the knowledge to handle.” Varga said, panting in between words. “Hydra Syndrome.”
                “Aww fuck,” Declan said and ran to the back room Varga had indicated, the other three followed closely behind.
                Strapped to a gurney was a shirtless man, his arm and part of his chest enveloped in strands of metal, digging deep into his flesh, blood trickling down in a multitude of trails across his body. He was screaming in agony as the barbs appeared to be digging deeper.
                “I knew enough not to sedate him, but other than that I can’t touch this thing without making it worse,” The lieutenant said.
                “Good work.” Declan responded as he examined the patient closer.
                “Why can’t you sedate him?” Delrah asked boldly.
                “Because if those muscles relax for an instant, those barbs are gonna bore into internal organs. That’s a botched hack job from a shitty cyberdoc. This one didn’t check his sources and got exactly what he paid for.”  He stared at the two stunned associates, and suddenly grew agitated at the stupefied display. “You lot, get your fucking jaws off the ground! You, get me a Model 4563 from the store room, there should be three left. And you, get water and a shit ton of cloth, there’s gonna be a lot of blood. Get a fucking move on it now!”
                The two ran in an uncertain direction.
                “Varga, run after those two useless sacks and make sure they don’t knock anything over.”  He knelt down in front of the wailing victim and dragged a tray of tools nearby. “Sir, I know this hurts like a fucking bitch, but I am going to need you to try and stop yelling. It’s taking too much of your strength, and I need you to stay awake as long as possible so this doesn’t become even more serious.”
                The man simply looked at him as if he was insane. His gaze was broken as another wave of pain surged through him, the barbs digging deeper.
                “Look at me, don’t look around, look at me.” He ordered. The associates came back and set his requests down nearby, watching intently as the doctor began working. “What’s your name, sir?”
                “K..K..Kathar.”   The man sputtered, sweat dripping down his forehead.
                “Alright, Kathar, I’m not gonna lie, you fucked up pretty good. But I think I can get you out of this mess.” He took a probe off of his tool tray, and poked at the palm of the man’s hand. He jolted against the restraints, and made a faint cry as he tried to contain himself like the doctor ordered him.
                Declan took another tool that emitted small, controlled electrical discharges and dragged it across on of his fingers. The man gasped once more as the finger twitched. Declan put the tool down and rubbed his forehead in frustration.
“Shit. I was hoping the nerves didn’t attach properly. Looks like the fucker did one thing right,” He breathed. He undid the restraints of the arm and stretched it away from the man. He then attached it to a support rack that held the arm steady. The associates looked at him in fascination.
“Either of you two performed an amputation before? During or before a cybernetic installation?” He glanced over at the bewildered associates. “Never mind you are fucking useless. Stand over there, out of the way, and don’t touch anything. Varga, you’re authorized to do this while I work on the shoulder.”
The patient looked at him with wide eyes.
“It will slow down the growth process so that I can work, Kathar, otherwise I will be racing with the regeneration rate this thing has. While it works on repairing the missing limb, I got half a chance to pull everything up out of you. Not gonna lie, a missing arm is way easier to live with than a missing heart, lung, and whatever the hell else.” Declan nodded over to Varga.  “He’s going to use a cauterizing saw so the pain shouldn’t linger after the first cut. I need to know what you need to make this less shitty for you.”
“Don’t…tell..me..when...” The man began, but Declan picked up the hint before he finished his sentence, giving Varga a quick signal with his hand, indicating to make the cut now while the patient was distracted.
The man’s last syllable was cut short as Varga swiftly cleaved the offending limb above the elbow. The associates in the corner held their wide open mouths as they watched the stump fall to the ground. The man screamed once more, trying to flail away from the pain.
Declan grabbed him by the jaw and pointed the man’s face to his.
“Hey! Look at me. That’s over now. Stay with me We’re gonna get you out of this.” The man’s eyes met his, focusing on every syllable of his words. “Alright, you’re good. I’m going to get this off of you now.”
He released the man and sat back down into his stool, extracting a few tools from his tray.
“Varga, can you calculate a regrowth rate now?” Declan asked.
“About an hour and a half till a new one comes back.” He reported.
“Alright, you know what to do.”
“Yes, sir.” Varga replied. The man looked at the two men looming over him, panic quickly rising into his face.
“Do you like stories, Kathar?” Declan asked as he tested out the electrical probe once more, pushing it against one of the smaller barbs. It released a tendril of energy at the metal, causing it to slow and pull away from muscle and bone.
“Gaahhhh,” The man began as he felt the prickles of the barb scraping out of him. He tried hard to focus on what the doctor was asking him, no matter how absurd. “I…I…guess...so…”
“Good.” Declan said as he carefully extracted the point of the barb completely out into open air. He began on another barb by shocking it again, then extracting with delicate tools. “Have you heard of the one about the maiden who could not laugh?”
“I…no…” The man uttered with confusion in his voice.
“Well,” Declan said as he extracted another barb. “I guess you will have to, then.”
Declan, being an adept multitasker, regaled the patient with the tale. And he didn’t stop there. Once he finished with that one, he immediately began another epic saga, ensuring the room was filled with the sound of his voice, instead of the sounds of the patient’s anguish. The man focused on the words, letting the obscure knowledge fill him, distracting himself from the persistent agony driven into his extremety.
After four long, tedious hours, Declan had finally removed the last barb from the man’s shoulder. The mass of metal dropped lifelessly onto the floor, next to two other iterations of the arm, which Varga had to cut off as well.
Varga’s swift hands implanted a sedative into the man’s neck as soon as the metal was cleared from his shoulder.
“Alright, you’re good, you can relax. You’ll be fine in the morning.” Declan assured the man, who had already slipped away in an exhausted, sweat-drenched sleep. Declan stood up and gave an exasperated sigh. “Varga, can you install that 4563 please?”
“Yes, sir.” Varga replied as he began to install the new cybernetic arm in place.
“He’s got no bill, but he owes me a favor.” Declan breathed. “And he goes nowhere else for cybernetics.”
“Got it.” Varga responded.
“When I don’t have two doormats tripping me up, I’ll talk you over how to fix that, should there be a next time.”
“Aye, sir.” Varga chirped. Declan spotted the two associates trying desperately to stay awake now that the suspense is over.
“As for you two.” Declan stormed over again. “You see? You see why me being up there is a total fucking waste of my time?” He jabbed at the ceiling, causing the associates to flinch.
“I…” Abatha began, but Declan raised his hand, cutting off her words.
“Shutup.” He snapped. “You two have the next week on leave to decipher your priorities. For now, get the hell out of my sight.”

*****
A.K.A. Declan's gettin' real tired of yo shit.

Wrote this one up for the hell of it, I kinda use this blog to delve int o the side characters of my universe. Anyhow, enjoy?
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