I’ve lost track of day and night as of late – it is hard enough to get around the lab on two feet let alone one. It all happened on the night I decided to find Bianca; the plaguing questions in my mind were making me weary. I found her, on the street near the Bucket of Blood.
I walked up to Bianca, sure it was her profile I was seeing from behind, yet still questioningly spoke her name aloud, “Bianca?” She turned, greeting me as courteous as could be, and gave off the most optimistic of attitudes when I inquired as to her recovery. Her face gave off no indications as to a lie, yet she hid her hands behind her back, and what for? Why hide them from the woman who takes partial credit for saving her life?
All pleasantries aside, I grew nervous and hesitant, my mouth turning dry as I continued with what I had really come for. “I.. I spoke with Rusty, after, well after your accident.” It took a good shake of my shoulders and a deep breath to psych myself up enough to continue on, “Well, what really happened that night, Bianca?” Surprise writ across Bianca’s face at the fact that I spoke with Rusty, at that point I thought perhaps I was getting somewhere, and then in the coldest voice she responded, “As to what happened…dare you ask a girl who has had such a horrid ordeal to remember that horrific night….or do you care to see it…” I recoiled, mostly out of shame, fearing perhaps I had been wrong in my assumptions that something else had happened that night. Regardless, I still had that nagging feeling and continued, “Please! I don’t mean to offend! I only… your ordeal affected more than only you, Bianca…” Bianca retorted, “Really? Who else suffered so horribly that night? If so perhaps we can take thereapy classes together?” At this point she brought her mechanical arm forward, showing it to me for the first time, the motor hissing as she continued, “Never wish this on any soul.”
Now, I admit to being an emotional person. I am a bad liar, and in the face of fear I am prone to screaming, or even shaking. Ephraim’s seen me cry on more than one occasion, and in this instant, tears began to well in my eyes. Perhaps Bianca was being truthful, perhaps it was really Rusty’s doing – perhaps she really was as innocent as I hoped. Yet, there was one piece of the puzzle that made no sense. Only a handful of nights after the accident, when she should have been lying in the hospital recuperating, I know I saw her wandering the streets of New Babbage! Not the Bianca we all know, but someone in rags, with cloth tied across the face. A disguise? I lowered my voice to barely a whisper, “I saw you, a day or two after… on the streets here, you should have been in the hospital. I know it was you! It had to be, yet… yet it makes no sense…” I turned my gaze up towards Bianca, I’m sure showing all of my emotions right there on my face for her to see. I asked, “What’s going on? Please?” Bianca merely offered a small smile, replying that I was correct, that she had been found deliriously wandering the streets and passed out at Brunel after searching for some precious teddy bear. I’m sure in my emotional state, this response would have pleased me, had it not been for one thing… Miss Namori was not even headed for Brunel. Bianca quickly replied she was with fever, a tiny patch for a big hole in a story. Most oddly of all, Bianca continued. “However Ms. Bovarro, whatever is going on with me is not on your radar of concern….but as kind and sweet as you are I can only suggest one thing….do not worry…all for you and yours will be well in this town…” I was unsure as to what to even say to this, it seemed a strange statement from a woman I was previously concerned for. Was there something for me to be concerned of instead?
It was then that Mr. Moreau and Miss Xenga joined us in the growing darkness. Mr. Moreau approached from behind, the sheer surprise of his voice jumping me. He tilted his head, asking if everything was alright. I turned my gaze to Bianca, staring at her for a long moment. There was something there, something I was missing, though I was still unsure what, I was sure it was best to leave everyone else out of it. I smiled back to Mr. Moreau, “Yes, of course, I just wanted to make sure Miss Namori’s recovery was going well.”
That is when it started. Mr. Moreau’s nose twitched, I assume he can smell far better than I, for it took a while longer for me to notice the smell of hot metal and burning fabric. Bianca’s arm, it was malfunctioning, and she seemed more concerned with everyone believing she was just fine than with the rapidly heating metal attached to her body. “Oh my, your new prosthetic isn’t malfunctioning, is it?” Mr. Moreau asked. Bianca smiled in reply, “No…not at all,” while her arm smoldered and grew hotter. Miss Xenga grew concerned, “You don’t seem too well, Ma’am, if you don’t mind my saying.” Bianca took offense to this, “I -do- mind you saying such my dear, and as for my arm Mr. Moreau, it clearly is…” just then she was cut off by a high-pitched sound, something akin to a whistle, emanating from her hand. Bianca only stared and murmured lightly as her glove and sleeve started to disintegrate, until the pressure built up and sounded off with a much louder whistle this time as she held her arm out from her bottom, cringing in pain. Miss Anatra wandered up at that very moment, as I took a step towards Bianca, insisting that she let me see – I only wanted to help the woman! Now, what Bianca said next remains a bit fuzzy for me. I know she warned me not to touch her arm, something of my skin melting off if I were to… and then she used the word detonating… in relation to her mechanical arm. Miss Xenga amd Miss Anatra, one of them gasped and they backed away, followed by Mr. Moreau quickly retrieving a bucket of water.
This bucket of water… how could an inanimate object turn a person so? Up to this point Bianca had still seemed at least mostly sane, yet after Mr. Moreau set that bucket down and insisted she cool her arm off, she merely smirked and rocked herself before raising her hand up and pointing it in Mr. Moreau’s direction. Her hand released the sound of two ticks before what appeared to be a small ball shot out of her hand. A slight frenzy ensued… alright, perhaps the frenzy was mostly me, I believe I was the only one to scream and ask the most obvious of questions: “What kind of arm is THAT?!” Mr. Moreau, ever caring asked after Bianca, “Are you alright, Miss Namori?” She plastered on that smile of hers, replying amid hysterical giggles, “Oh…yes! Quiet calm now! Drat it all… I have GOT to get that fixed.” Bianca’s arm now glowed red with heat and Mr. Moreau edged the tub of water closer. Bianca now took a step back, eyeing that tub of mere water like it would kill her instantly. I believe I asked her why she would need such an arm, though I can’t be sure I merely thought it in my head rather than speak it aloud. Regardless, I received no response.
I was far too busy narrowing my eyes at Bianca at this moment, now sure of all of my previous doubts. I muttered low, in Spanish to her that she was hiding something. I completely missed the words coming from Mr. Moreau’s mouth, but I assume he was again asking her to cool her arm off in the tub of water I was still standing near. Bianca then, without a second thought, raised her arm towards the bucket, “THIS is what I think of your method of help Mr. Moreau,” and let off another shot again. I’m sure everyone around felt the blast as well, but I cannot be sure as I was thrown to the ground. (I believe I screamed again, too…) Miss Namori walked over to where I lay on the ground, her head held high as though she was proud of what she had done as she replied to me clear as day in Spanish. I’m not sure quite why, but I’m glad no one else around understood her reply, though it revealed nothing new to me save for her reluctance to recant. Bianca gave me one last knowing look and nodded. “Buenas noches,” she said to me before walking off, leaving me there on the ground.
Just as the dust had begun to settle and everyone called around to be sure no injuries were sustained, who but Ephraim walks around the corner, offering his hand to me with a simple, “Get out of the dirt.” Standing up at that point would have been quite difficult without his assistance, and I would fallen back to the ground without his arm to cling to. Only later that night would I remove my boot and have him check my ankle to reveal the sprain. Just what I needed, crutches. Before I could flee the scene Mr. Moreau seemed piqued with curiosity as to what Bianca had said. At first I tried to ignore him, but he asked again. I merely shook my head at him, pleading with him, “Please, it’s not important…” His ears fell back at that, and I nearly caved, but I want not to place a burden of knowledge upon anyone, no matter how small.
And now I lay here, trapped in my Vernian room. Ephraim had warned me on more than one occasion to avoid wandering about on my own – I tend to find trouble, and for some reason he worries after me. At times I feel I am a burden. He has yet to procure crutches for me… I’m sure I deserve the captivity, at least to offer him a few days peace.
While perhaps Ephraim finds peace in my safety, I find none in my rest. My dreams are filled with hissing engines, sopping with blood, and part of Bianca’s words… her voice ringing out of darkness.
“…Who are you to stop the piper from playing?”