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A Dangerous Con: Ignoring the Hospital Quiet Zone (Part 1)

Bookworm winced as she walked away from Ruby’s Pub, tentatively massaging her shoulder. She’d definitely wrenched it when the two combatants had knocked her aside. She decided to stop by the hospital on her way home.

She had to pause for a moment, though, and try to calm down. She had a tendency to walk rather heavily when she was annoyed, and right now, she was angry enough that every step jarred her body, up to her sore shoulder. But then, she had every right to be annoyed, she thought. The situation was getting completely out of hand, and it seemed that only the militia captain was interested in attempting to rein it in. After a pause of several minutes, though, and plenty of deep, calming breaths, she was ready to continue to the hospital.

Her approach to the east door was not the one she normally took, and in the dimness of the evening, with the heat haze and soot hanging in the air, she went more slowly than usual. That tardiness gave her her warning, as she heard voices – not loud, but definitely menacing – coming from the other side. She crept up to the door and peeked inside.

A huddle of nurses were gathered at the far door, watching Mr. Quillman, one of the fighters from the pub, swing a bloody knife toward… She glanced over, and saw Miss Domino, drawing her sword from her back.

“Put that down,” the man growled, “or I will crush you.”

“Is that an invitation?” she sneered.

“Do it, then!”

As Domino lunged, Bookworm threw open the door and fired. Her bullet grazed the woman’s forearm, throwing her attack off, so that the sword went into the man’s shoulder. Behind her, Bookworm heard Mr. Wright growl, “Oh, for the love of–”

“For goodness’ sake, is *everyone* in Babbage determined to kill each other tonight?!” Bookworm exclaimed. She could now see that Mr. Quillman was also bleeding from a knife wound in his leg.

“He hit me!” Domino exclaimed, indicating her freshly-bruised face.

“No, I did not,” Mr. Quillman countered haltingly. “She tried to kill me, and the nurses will attest to that.” The nurses nodded their assent.

Bookworm, though, was not sure yet that she could accept that at face value. Her encounter with the man at Ruby’s had certainly not given her a favorable impression of him, and she wondered if he might be intimidating them somehow. She’d have to question them more extensively… later.

In the meantime, she watched as Domino pulled her sword from Mr. Quillman’s shoulder. “Miss Domino,” she said levelly, her revolver still aimed at the woman, “put that sword away.” She endured the pirate’s glare as she sheathed the dripping weapon. Her attention was pulled away, though, as Mr. Quillman’s breathing grew more shallow, and he finally slumped to the floor, unconscious. Quietly, she told the nurses to take him away and tend to his wounds. They did so, and she couldn’t help but notice that they shied away from Miss Domino, even as they quickly swarmed the unconscious man and struggled to take him back to an exam room. One nurse stayed behind, cleaning up the blood dripping from Mr. Wright’s arm, and giving him a bandage.

Bookworm continued to stare levelly at Miss Domino. “What did I tell you last time we met?” The woman continued to glare silently. “I have testimony from Mr. Quillman, and the nurses, that you attacked without provocation. On the other hand, I have the evidence of my eyes, which see some very fresh marks on you. So what do I believe?” She was striving to demonstrate fair-mindedness, though she knew it was likely a losing cause.

“Whatever you like,” Miss Domino finally replied. “Doesn’t matter anymore, does it?”

“Until I know the truth… Miss Domino, I must place you in custody.” Bookworm stepped forward once, revolver pointed squarely at the woman. “Please walk in front of me, Miss Domino.” Domino didn’t move. “Miss. Domino.”

The pirate suddenly stepped forward, slapping at Bookworm’s gun hand. Bookworm kept hold of it, and let the momentum of the slap carry her around in a spin as she ducked down. She swept at Miss Domino’s legs with one of her own. The sweep wasn’t hard enough, though, and Domino kicked out at her face. Bookworm rolled away from the kick and bounded to her feet, ignoring the pain in her shoulder.

((To be continued…))

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