Bookworm entered the asylum building and found Mr. Canergak there in the entrance hall. “Ahh, Mr. Canergak. Good. I’ve heard that Kuga is doing worse?”
The diminutive administrator looked up at her. “I was about to send for you myself. I suspect that he has two days if his condition continues unabated. That will not do.”
“No, it won’t,” Bookworm replied wryly. “We’ll have to give him some of his medicine.”
“You mean the one on his belt?”
“You still have that, then?” Bookworm was relieved at that.
Canergak shrugged. “Standard procedure is to keep such possessions safe.”
“We do also have this.” She held out the package. “One of Kuga’s ‘siblings’ dropped this off – more medicine for him. She also apparently intimated that if Kuga dies, she’ll take it out of Tepic’s hide.”
“Well, we can’t have that.” Canergak’s tone turned dry. “He does not deserve that fate at least. Still, you suggest we give the subject his medication, knowing it will transform him, yes?”
“I don’t like it,” Bookworm replied, a little grimly, “but yes.”
Canergak shook his head a little. “I am not predisposed to accept this request lightly. Not without you administering the injection personally.”
Bookworm was a little startled at that request. Was this going to become a situation like the one with Myn? “May I ask why?”
“Because I know that you are capable of doing it, and because you have the tranquilizer gun should he grow violent.”
“Well, injecting him will take two hands,” objected Bookworm.
“Yes, but in his sorry state, I doubt you will need it ready immediately.”
She looked at Canergak dubiously for a moment, but finally said, “Very well, then.” With that, she followed the administrator to the elevator, and up to the third floor. Off to one side, several metal cells stood, and it was at one of these that Canergak paused. He drew out a ring of keys, selected one, and unlocked the door. Looking back at her to see that she was ready, he spun the heavy wheel mechanism, and swung the door open.
Bookworm stepped inside and looked down at Kuga. He was in human guise now, for sure, but still wrapped tightly in a straightjacket. It was obvious that he was unwell; he was sweating, and looked feverish and weak. He seemed barely aware of her presence, groaning once in distress.
‘He really is badly off,’ Bookworm thought grimly. She sighed and opened the package, finding several hypodermic needles inside. Selecting one, she inched forward into the cell, and squatted down at Kuga’s side. “I have your medicine,” she said softly. The only reply was another groan.
The familiar voice of Professor Vartanian came from behind her. “What’s going on, sir?”
“She is giving him an injection to keep him alive,” he replied as he passed Bookworm an alcohol swab. “She assures me it is necessary.”
“The formula they used on them, then? I was a bit concerned he wouldn’t hold out.”
Bookworm scrubbed Kuga’s neck with the alcohol, that being the only place she could see to do the injection. “This… is going to hurt,” she said softly. She took a breath and, as quickly as she could, jabbed the needle into his neck, depressing the plunger.
Kuga screamed at the pain, and Bookworm hurried the injection as much as she could, finally pulling the needle out, and backing away quickly against the wall of the cell. As she watched in astonishment, his form began to change rapidly as he struggled from human to cougar. She switched the needle to her left hand and pulled the tranq gun out of its holster, but the cougar was panting, and still looked quite weak.
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Canergak said, nodding at the tranquilizer gun. “This one is becoming stable.”
“Yes – it seems he can’t break free. Yet.” She still kept her eyes on the prone form as she backed out of the cell. From the sounds of Kuga’s breathing, though, he had fallen asleep.
“He was nearly done in without that. I expect, even with what they made him, it will take a while for him to recover,” mused the professor.
With a sigh of relief, Bookworm got out of the way of the door, which Canergak swung closed, making sure it was locked. “That was most enlightening. Would you not agree, Professor?”
“I would say so. I was beginning to think we wouldn’t be able to keep him alive much longer. His compatriots sent it?” He looked at Bookworm.
She nodded. “One, anyway – the fox.” She turned her attention to the administrator. “Mr. Canergak, I’d like to see the dose he had on him.”
“For what purpose?”
“Zaros Xue would like to study the formula.”
“Very well. Though why you don’t use the medicine you just received is… confusing to me.”
Bookworm smiled wryly. “It’s… complicated.” She didn’t feel much like trying to explain Tepic’s sense of honor just at the moment.
“Needlessly complicated, from the sound of it.” Canergak shrugged, dismissing that issue, and turned to Professor Vartanian. “Now, professor, I received a letter from you and Dr. Solsen about Mr. Eliot?”
((To be continued…))