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“I will make the diagnosis and prescriptions here,” said a strange voice. “I do not suggest either for the patient.”
Mariah saw a green-skinned, reptilian man step into the small room. She started a little in surprise; she’d heard of the strange doctor, but hadn’t had the opportunity to see him before. Lo made way for him, frowning a little.
“They don’t mean Book here, Dr. Viper,” Beryl said. “They mean the person who did this to her.”
“Yeah! We’d never electrocute Miss Hienrichs!” exclaimed Lo indignantly.
“Ah,” Dr. Viper said with comprehension. “Carry on.” He stepped to the side of the bed, looked Boowkorm over slowly, then looked at Mariah. “Nature of injury?”
“Explosion,” she replied shortly. He was obviously a… being… of few words, so she would reply in kind. “She’s unconscious, but I didn’t feel any broken bones.”
Mariah sighed. “Too close.”
“Proximity could have made her vulnerable to the pressure wave afterwards. We will have to watch her closely.”
Mariah nodded; she’d had some experience with explosions in her time, and knew what the some of the effects could be. Dr. Viper, meanwhile, directed a cold gaze at the two urchins. “The hospital is no place for children who are unwashed. Beryl should know that.” Over their protests of relative cleanliness, he continued, “I must insist you do not disturb Miss Hienrichs. The rest of the facility is open to you. Simply be aware that anything that is stolen I take out of Kasa’s wages.”
“Very well,” Jimmy said a bit sourly. “Tyke care of ‘er, doctor.”
Lo rolled her eyes. “Goodbye, ma’am. Sleep well, Miss Hienrichs. I hope you are better soon.” Beryl followed the two of them out, showing them to the door. Dr. Viper continued his inspection of Bookworm. “I do not see anything to suggest life threatening internal bleeding, but there is heavy bruising,” he said. “Her head shows no cuts or abrasions, and I do not see even a bump. If there was damage, it is under her hair, and I have not felt it yet.”
He moved on to treat the wounds on her back. While he was busy, Beryl came back and handed over the copy of ‘Uncle Tingley’s’ to Mariah. As he was doing so, she bent down and whispered, “Come back later. We need to talk.” He nodded slightly.
It didn’t take long for Dr. Viper to finish bandaging Bookworm’s back. While he was doing so, Mariah found a chair and set it next to the bed. “I’ll be staying here for now,” she said firmly. “She’s bound to be upset when she wakes.” Dr. Viper nodded, and left Mariah to settle down and wait.
It wasn’t long before Beryl came back. “What is it?” he asked, looking up at her expectantly.
“What do you know?” Mariah asked.
“Know? I don’t know anything,” they replied flatly.
Mariah sighed. The cat could be annoyingly literal-minded when he wanted to. “All right, then what do you suspect?” As Beryl remained silent, Mariah continued, trying to keep her impatience out of her voice, “Look, what I reported about that man saying his brain had been cut out triggered *something* for you. What was it?”
“How could it have triggered anything? I was shot in the head, remember.” Beryl replied flatly, angrily, and began to move away.
“Beryl, *please!*” Mariah said insistently. “This might help you, too, after all. From what Bookworm told me, this PJ is gunning for you as well.”
Beryl continued to move without a hint of halting, and then stopped as they added, “Tepic is in danger as well.” They remained silent a few more moments, “All right.” They moved to look at Bookworm closer as they started to talk. “There was an urchin named Gadget who already performed that procedure in this city years ago, using the notes of a Doctor Ambrose.” It had been a year now since Lisa had told them. “The notes were taken from him, and no, we don’t know if copies were made.” With a final comment they added, “What surprises me is how anyone else could have ever forgotten.”
“That was during the time of the Dark Aether, right?” At Beryl’s nod, she smiled a little wryly and said, “Bookworm’s never forgotten. She investigated the doctor’s death, and Gadget did tell her about that notebook. She’s been wondering about the connection ever since.”
Beryl moved for the door wordlessly, still angry. Mariah raised an eyebrow as the cat left. ‘Interesting,’ she mused. If there really was a connection between Dr. Martel’s notebook and the man in blue… She looked down at Bookworm. ‘I’ll have to decide later if I tell her that.’