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Dr. Sonnerstein crouched down beside the prone figure of Dr. Solsen, stilling his trembling hand as he inspected the old man’s wound. Lisa stood by, holding bandages ready for him. He took a deep breath, turning his head to Lisa with a nod as he reached for some of the gauze to stem the bleeding. “Where is the shooter now? And where are the wounds on the others?”
“Cortman is dead,” Lisa replied fiercely. “Arnold and Ten–Rasend are shot in the head. I think there are others hurt, too, but I don’t know how badly.”
Dr. Sonnerstein’s ears flicked back in dismay. “In the head?! Are they still breathing? And has someone tried to stop the bleeding?”
“Miss…Miss Hienrichs is upstairs,” Lisa said, stumbling over the woman’s name. “She’s with Arnold. And so is Tepic.” She watched Dr. Sonnerstein working. “Is there something I can do, so you can go upstairs?”
Dr. Sonnerstein leaned in close to Dr. Solsen, turning his ear to him for a moment as he fished in his coat for a few supplies. “Finish wrapping these bandages. It’s near his heart, but I don’t think it penetrated anything major. I’ll have to remove the bullet once Arnold and the other are stable enough.” He stood up, swaying a little unsteadily, as Lisa nodded and took his place, filling her hands with bandage ends.
Upstairs, Bookworm was still tending to Arnold. Tepic held Rasend’s paw while pressing a cloth to his head and humming soothingly.
Cyan, his young heart breaking at the scene before him, turned to Avariel desperately. “Don’t unicorns have magical healing powers?”
The unicorn’s hooves rang on the tile floor as she turned slightly to look back at Cyan. “I am scanning Arnold’s head to analyze the extent of the damage. The path of the bullet appears to have avoided most of his brain. He will require surgery to repair the damage.”
Bookworm looked at Cyan. “Hold this to Arnold’s head while I get Dr. Sonnerstein.” The lad held the bandages to Arnold’s head wounds. He closed his eyes and tried not to cry while Bookworm made her way down.
She found the doctor at the stairs, looking disoriented. “Doctor, this way. We need you.” She beckoned him up, glad that the girl–Bookworm still didn’t know her name, though she looked vaguely familiar–had locked this gate open.
As they neared Arnold and those grouped around him, Bookworm heard Avariel say, “I can use the Falconite crystal in my horn to try and repair some of the damage. The structure of Arnold’s brain is rather delicate though. This is still a rather experimental technology, but has worked out well with micro clockwork constructs.” She looked at Dr. Sonnerstein, who had just knelt down by Arnold. “Would you like me to proceed?”
Dr. Sonnerstein leaned down, pulling the gauze away briefly and tipping his ear towards the wound. “Constructs, but living tissue? Are there any sterile instruments on hand?”
Cyan volunteered to gather what was needed. He listened carefully to Dr. Sonnerstein’s instructions, and some tips from Lisa on where he might find things, and scurried out on his mission. Avariel, in the meantime, volunteered to use her technology to sterilize Arnold’s wound. Dr. Sonnerstein agreed, and held Arnold’s head still.
Bookworm checked the other cells while Avariel and Dr. Sonnerstein worked on Arnold. She found two bodies–Marcus Flint and an unknown man labelled John Doe. There were bullet holes in the cell of a woman named Elizabeth Winters, but she, and the rest of the cells’ inhabitants, appeared to be all right. Even Henry Holms, whose room seemed filled with blood.
Returning to those grouped around Arnold, she heard Avariel say, “Done! Invasive micro-organisms have been eradicated!” Dr. Sonnerstein let out a shuddered breath and threaded the surgical needle Cyan had brought, before picking up some of the clean gauze to wipe around the wound. He pulled out a bottle of iodine from his coat to soak into a pad of it and dabbed it around the area before working to suture up first the entry wound.
At that point, though, they were all startled by the sudden appearance of a large raven flying inside. It flapped its way to Cortman’s corpse and landed, picking once at it. Then it hopped to the door of the cell that had been John Doe’s, and cawed.
“Don’t let it near,” Dr. Sonnerstein said agitatedly. “Its dander could contaminate the wounds!”
Bookworm made shooing motions at the raven, but it stood its ground, cawing insistently at the cell door. She frowned. “If you think I’m opening that for you, you’re crazy,” she said in a voice layered with irony. Strangely enough, her words seemed to work–the bird leaped up and flapped heavily back through the cell block door.
Dr. Sonnerstein snipped the suture thread and started on the wrap to bandage Arnold’s head. “Ms. Book, can you finish bandaging so I can see to the other?” Bookworm nodded, and took his place at Arnold’s side.
“Yer can come an’ have a look, Dr. Sonner… Sonn… errr…” Tepic, still at his post at Rasend’s head, trailed off as Dr. Sonnerstein took a sharp step back from the entrance to Rasend’s cell, his eyes flying open to stare blindly.
“Doctor, are you okay?” Cyan asked. Avariel stepped near, almost nudging the doctor. He jumped, exclaimed sharply, and stumbled aside. He tripped over Cortman’s corpse, and had to put his hand out to the wall for support, but almost immediately jerked it back, as if burned by the wall. He looked around, seeming nearly in a panic, as Beatrixe Rouse came out of the washroom, looking very confused.
“Did the raven pick up the beard man yet?” she asked.
Bookworm blinked in surprise. “How…” She trailed off, and shook her head sharply.
“We scared it off,” Cyan told her.
“I think you’d best get back to your room, miss,” Bookworm said kindly.
“All right. Hopefully the raven got him where he deserves to be!” With that, she wandered back to her room. Bookworm followed her, and saw that her cell had no lock. The others did, though, so she checked them to make sure they were all secure.
As she came back, Dr. Sonnerstein shook his head hard, and said sharply, “I’m sorry, I need some air…” He bolted from the cell block before Bookworm could say anything. She stared after him, then stepped inside Rasend’s cell to look at him herself.
“‘Ello, Miss Book,” Tepic said. “Think ‘e’s on the mend, actually.”
Bookworm was startled. “Really?”
“‘E ain’t bleedin’ no more, an’ breathin’ reg’lar…”
“Hmm. Perhaps we can leave him here, after all.” Bookworm sighed. “Especially as it appears Dr. Sonnerstein can’t attend to him.” She turned her attention back to Arnold, and where he should be moved.
((See Tepic’s post for the continuation.))