Aug. 9 – Mistaken Identities (Part 1)
Mrs. Pritchard heard the knock at the front door, and opened it to see the figure of the asylum administrator standing there in the morning haze. “Yes, sir?”
“Tell your Captain that we need to discuss our latest ‘guests’ at the asylum.”
“Of course, sir. Please wait here.” Mrs. Pritchard wasn’t fond of Canergak’s manner, but as a good housekeeper, she never let that show. It was only a moment before Bookworm came down from her bedroom, dressed in her militia uniform. “Mr. Canergak.” She nodded a greeting.
“Are you aware of last night’s event in Port?”
“I’ve been told, yes.” Word had been sent to her of the Brewery fire, but considering that was on the other side of the city, there’d not been much she could do. She’d been planning to go over there momentarily to assess the damage by daylight, but if Canergak was here…
“The situation is that we have two guests in my halls that I have not seen to yet,” Canergak said, interrupting her musings. “A wolf and a bear, from the report that was read to me.”
“A wolf?” Bookworm frowned a bit. She hadn’t known that any wolves of that ‘brotherhood’ had come to the city.
“Yes. A wolf. They were captured by your men, fleeing the scene of the crime.”
“I see.” Bookworm decided the Brewery could wait. “Can we go now? I definitely wish to take a look at them.”
Canergak nodded, and led the way to the asylum. It promised to be another scorcher of a day, and Bookworm was not looking forward to traipsing across the city and inspecting fire-created ruins. But it had to be done.
Leading the way upstairs, Canergak poked his head into an office. “Professor.”
“Yes?” Professor Vartanian came to the office entrance.
“We have a visitor for our latest acquisitions.” Canergak gestured at Bookworm.
“Hello, Ms. Hienrichs,” said Vartanian.
“Good day, professor. Have they said anything? Or are you keeping them tranquilized?”
“I haven’t had the opportunity to try speaking with them yet.”
“Well, let us see now…” Bookworm was impatient to see the results of last night.
The professor nodded, and led them to one of the large, metal cells that lined the wall on this level.
“Are you sure this is safe Professor?” asked Canergak. “Are they drugged sufficiently?”
“I doubt it’s safe even if they’re sufficiently drugged, if I must be honest. But too much and we can’t talk with them.”
Bookworm took the tranquilizer gun from out of its holster. “Just in case.”
“It would appear that the Captain herself is prepared, Professor,” Canergak said sardonically. “Open the cage.” Vartanian nodded, a bit unhappily, threw the locks, and slowly opened the heavy door. Bookworm peered into the gloom of the cell, and gasped.
Inside, well wrapped in a straightjacket, was neither wolf nor bear, but a boy. A boy she recognized. He groaned weakly and looked about, his ears twitching. He squirmed a bit, but the straightjacket’s restraints were well in place.
Bookworm looked back at Canergak and the professor. “This is *not* one of them.”
Canergak looked past her into the cell. “Are you quite certain of that, Captain? It looks like a monster to me, and a particularly angry and savage one.”
“This is Snow,” she replied firmly. “He’s been a resident of Babbage, off and on, for some time.” She replaced the dart gun in its holster and stepped inside the cell. Snow looked up at her. “M… Miss… Hien… richs…” His voice sounded slurred, and his eyes were still dazed from the sedatives he’d received.”
“Then why was he captured, by your own men, fleeing the scene as a ‘rather large wolf?’” Canergak sounded very skeptical.
Bookworm, however, ignored that and squatted down. “Snow – what happened?
“That… that cat… the… cougar… the one… who took my eye…”
“You saw it? At the Rookwood?”
“Y-yes… as well as a man… and… the one… I was after… the… the one who is their messenger. Was… a trap,” he concluded softly.
Behind them, Canergak whispered to Vartanian, “I believe that even if this one was not part of the other creations, it is fine exactly where it is.”
For once, though, Bookworm overheard Canergak’s comment, and she glared at him over her shoulder. “He’s the one who helped me, and Kasa, at the hospital, when Dr. Viper was killed.”
Snow nodded. “I… been hunting… the fakes. They’re… they’re wrong.” He panted a bit, but was starting to sound more alert. “I was… gonna bring one to you.”
Bookworm sighed, sure he’d gotten that idea from Tepic. “You didn’t need to, Snow. We have a plan–”
“But do you know… how to find them?” Snow looked up at her, his yellow eye dilated. “I know all their scents… well, mostly…”
Canergak shrugged. “In this creature’s case, I do not think we should let him out of the cell. He in part had a hand in that fire, and you can tell that he thirsts for the others’ blood.”
Snow snook his head at Canergak. “They set the fire. They do not like me… keep calling me a pure blood…” He looked back to Bookworm. “I was there, hunting… for her… the one made from me.”
Bookworm, though, had suddenly been caught by something he’d said earlier. “Snow, you said there was a man there, too. Can you describe him?”
Snow shook his head. “I… can’t fully remember. The cougar… had got me good. His claws… burn… burn like silver when he claws me. And my body… it can’t heal… normal after.”
Concerned by this, Bookworm looked back. “Do you think there’s anything you can do to help him heal?”
“Why would I desire that outcome?” Canergak’s tone roused Bookworm’s ire, but she kept it in check, gazing levelly at him. “We may well need his help to find the dangerous ones. I’d rather have him strengthened for another encounter.”
“I would rather he not even leave the facility. You can’t see it, but I can see the rabid nature he is hiding in his words.” Seeing the look she gave him, Canergak shrugged. “If you insist, I will release him to your charge, but whatever he does will be on your head.”
Bookworm’s gaze flicked from Canergak to Snow, and back. “In this case, I think I will insist. I can take him to Dr. Sonnerstein.”
((To be continued…))