“Yer know,” Tepic said thoughtfully, “if they’s bein’ made by some daft nutter somewhere… an’ we stops this lot… what’s ter stop the nutter makin’ more an’ sendin’ ‘em over?”
“I have bad news about that,” Beryl replied sourly. “Snow already counted nine over the past two years. But they left town… he thinks.”
“Snow mentioned that he saw a man at the Brewery fire, too,” said Bookworm. “Could *he* be their creator?”
“He might be.” Beryl shrugged. “Which means, if he’s in town, we can at least stop him.”
“They won’t stop going after Lilith until he tells them to. Maybe we can convince him to tell them to.” Though how they’d go about doing that, Bookworm didn’t know.
“He’d probably be more likely to act like he’d say that then tell them to kill us,” Beryl said wryly. “Unless we really had some form of control of our own.”
“They’s under his thumb ‘cuz of that medicine,” said Tepic. “If yer can work out a better medicine, an’ let ‘em have it fer free…” He trailed off, seeing their eyes on him.
Beryl asked, “What do you mean, Tepic?”
“Well, long as the bloke is the only one as can give ‘em the medicine, they can’t do but what he tells ‘em. If they could make it themselves, or get it no strings attached… well, they might not do what he says no more.” He focused on Beryl. “Yer saw how the Vixen were thinkin’ ‘bout that.”
“I think Tepic has a point,” mused Zaros. “If we could get a sample of the medicine, a large sample, we would be able to possibly make our own, given it’s not too reliant on some type of organism to grow any key parts of it.”
“But with that mind-altering drug they’re taking, would they have the will to accept anything from us instead?” Bookworm asked.
“Yes, it’s the mind-altering effects that would ruin that plan.” Zaros looked a bit subdued.
“Does they have ter be in the medicine?”
“Well…” Zaros pondered that a moment. “I could possibly isolate it, and replace it with a synthetic chain.”
Beryl saw Tepic’s blank look, and added, “She means it doesn’t have to be, maybe.”
“We have some medicine here,” Beryl continued, pointing at the package still in Bookworm’s hands.
“Can’t use that!” objected Tepic, sounding rather outraged. “That’s fer the big cat. That’s wot we were given it fer – ain’t fair ter use it otherwise.”
Beryl looked surprised at Tepic’s vehemence, and then turned thoughtful. “I just remembered something. Kuga had an injector belt on his body that was confiscated at the asylum. It would have had his medicine in it – at least, a little.”
“That might help,” said Zaros. “If you can give me the small amount from his belt, then I can analyze it. No promises, of course, but I’ll try my best to make my own version of it.”
“I’ll check with Mr. Canergak.” Bookworm looked at the package in her hands. “You all truly believe that Kuga needs this medicine now?”
“To remain alive, yes.” Beryl sounded very sure. “But it will be dangerous. He may turn into a full cougar, as she did a fox. That Moreau form is probably the middle.”
“You should have a tranq ready to subdue him,” Zaros added, nodding.
Bookworm sighed. “I hate to reinforce the mind control, but if there’s no other way to keep him alive…” She looked at the still-unopened package. “I hope this thing makes it clear how much the dosage is.” Her gaze traveled around the others. “Keep safe, and I’ll see you all later.” Their farewells followed her as she headed south toward the asylum.