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March 15 – Understanding… of a Sort

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Lisa got out of the elevator car and started toward her room, but the unwelcome voice of Canergak saying her name brought her to an abrupt halt. “Sir,” she said, turning toward him. “I was just going to change my clothing again.”

“That is unimportant to me at the moment,” he replied, waving his hand dismissively. “You said that he intended to kill you?” She nodded. “So that is why you killed him. It was you, wasn’t it,” he said more than asked. “I thought so after Lieutenant Bookworm confirmed the claw marks.”

Lisa’s eyes narrowed. “I have no claws,” she said insistently.

“I learned you have no claws, but with you being able to speak to felines I do not think you would have trouble convincing one to assist you.” His gaze fixed on her unnervingly.

She chose her words carefully. “He had another cat down in his lab, sir. When he took it out of its cage that day, it was scared, and lashed out.”

“And that same cat freed you?” he asked skeptically.

“I freed myself. I got his keys, and figured out how to use them on the doors.”

“When did you steal his keys?”

“When he was dead.”

“So you were able to move about, uncaged.”

“He had an underground room that he kept me in.”

Canergak nodded. “I don’t believe you, Lisa.” Her heart sank, though she tried to keep something of a stubborn front up. “But it doesn’t matter,” he continued. “Dr. Martel’s death was a loss to science, as were his notes. Did he kill all of his test subjects?”

“I’m the only one to have survived, sir.”

“What about the bodies? Were they categorized so any could continue his work by watching that progress?” When she shrugged, confused by his question, he tried another tack. “Did he have no students learning his work? The Lieutenant told me he didn’t, but perhaps they hid themselves?”

“No, sir. He worked alone.” She realized now how lucky she’d been in that respect, at least. She’d never have been able to escape if there’d been someone else working with Ambrose.

“What of the remains of his notes?”

“I… I don’t know, sir.”

“He had them though. Perhaps they survive and were confiscated…” He trailed off, muttering to himself for a moment. Then he focused on her again. “Lisa.”


“I am going to the militia to enquire about his lost work and what may have survived. But before I do that, I want you to be aware of something.” His voice again carried the underlying steel that made her shiver. “I would hate you if everything that man worked for in his life is lost forever… were it not for the fact that you were defending yourself. To me, you are a living creature. What he intended to do to you was murder. What’s more, if he had killed you and then died of natural causes, all his work would have been for naught. All the sacrifices of the brave volunteers would have been for naught.”

“None of us were volunteers, sir,” Lisa finally corrected him. “Not the humans, and certainly not the cats.”

Canergak looked her over. “I thought you said she agreed to donate her body to science after she died.”

“She did, sir. But she was tricked into it, and she didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Canergak waved that aside. “She was dead and signed her body away to be used after death. I would think that she would be fine with such. I know my body is ready for the same. You’ve seen the casket below, haven’t you?” Lisa nodded. “That is meant for me, after I die,” he continued, some pride in his voice. “There is one ready at all my homes. I will be dissected and taken apart so that they can study my brain and the other parts of me that failed.”

“That is certainly your choice, sir.” Lisa laid some stress on ‘your.’

“It is my obligation,” he corrected. “I must do it if we are to find more ways of fighting the creatures that did this to me.” He paused, looking at her thoughtfully. “Lisa, I believe that I finally understand why you hate me. You hate me for the same reason I hate them. Years of experience… and pain.” He nodded. “Good evening, Lisa.” With that, he turned and entered his own quarters.

Lisa started after him a moment, before entering her room and shedding her urchin clothes. As she changed into her uniform, she thought over Canergak’s parting words, and finally shook her head.

‘I don’t doubt terrible things have happened to him,’ she thought, though still sure he’d brought them on himself, ‘but how can he think that allows him to understand me? My experiences, my pain, are unique–as are his, perhaps.’ Fully clothed now, she went back upstairs, and back to her chores.

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