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Oct. 4 – More Bad News

Bookworm reentered the hospital and went upstairs. Nodding to the guard nearby, she knocked at Beryl’s door, eliciting a “Hmmm?” from inside. She opened the door. “Hello, Beryl.” Beryl yawned as she approached his bedside; he stretched a little, but then stopped abruptly, one paw going to his side. Still, she could see definite improvement in his condition. “You’re certainly looking better than the last time I saw you.”

“The last time?” Beryl looked confused for a moment. “Oh… yes.”

Bookworm waited, giving Beryl the chance to say as much – or as little – as he wanted. When he kept silent, she smiled a little. “I’m glad we were all able to help you. It really was touch-and-go.”

“More like hit and move,” he muttered.

Bookworm sighed, turning more serious again. “Especially since I think matters are going to come to a head soon. You’ll want to be able to move quickly, if need be.”

“I doubt that I’ll be much help against Prometheus or the weres… but I can move slightly again.”

“Admittedly, part of me would like to move you to the asylum. It does seem more… defensible.”

“It probably is,” Beryl replied dryly. “I’ll go.”

Bookworm was startled – and relieved. She hadn’t thought he’d agree so quickly. “Good. I’ll get someone to help you get there.” She found Dr. Sonnerstein and Mr. Wright downstairs, and informed them of her idea. Dr. Sonnerstein agreed, and got a nurse to bring a wheelchair, as they all entered Beryl’s room again.

Beryl looked at the chair with distaste. “I’m in a wheelchair again?”

“Yes, again,” Bookworm replied with a smile.

“I swear that thing follows me. It knows I don’t like it.”

The others chuckled, as they worked to get him settled in it, and carried him down the stairs and outside. Bookworm pushed the chair south toward the asylum, as Mr. Wright kept pace, keeping a watch for trouble. Thankfully, no trouble came, and they swiftly lifted Beryl’s chair up the front steps and into the asylum.

“Beryl!” The pleased cry came from Lisa, as the asylum maid rushed over to the wheelchair. “How are you?”

“I’m getting better now, Lisa.” That was all Beryl said, but Bookworm was sure their glances were conveying more. Before anything else could be said, though, Professor Vartanian came into the entryway.

“Ms. Bookworm.” His expression was grave, and he seemed reluctant to say what he knew he had to say. “I’m afraid we had an incident with one of the captives you sent us.”

“Oh?” Bookworm felt a sinking sensation in her stomach. She was sure she wasn’t going to like this.

“Which one?” asked Mr. Wright.

“One of the wolves. I’m sorry to say… due to an oversight, he’s dead.”

Bookworm bit back a curse. “What happened?”

“Their gang sent a new batch of formula for them today. But before I was finished analyzing it, one dose was administered to Jormung.” He sighed. “They sent poison this time – for all four of them.”

Bookworm, Beryl, and Mr. Wright all exclaimed in shock and dismay at this news. Beryl was the first to get out an important question. “Why?!”

The others paused, thinking that over. “They want to remove our bargaining chip,” replied Mr. Wright.

“And perhaps to prevent them from giving away their secrets,” ventured the professor. “These people are ruthless.”

“It also gives Prometheus the excuse to attack this place full on,” Bookworm added grimly. “One of his own has died in our custody. Never mind that *we* didn’t kill him.”

“But who?” asked Beryl, hitting on the other important question. “Who among their ‘family’ would send poison?”

Professor Vartanian shrugged. “The bear, perhaps. More likely their creator, I would imagine.”

Bookworm looked down at Beryl. “I’m wondering now if it was wise to move you here…”

“I’m already here, Bookworm. And I made a promise to defend this place.” He turned his attention to Professor Vartanian. “I want to speak with Freya now, if possible.”

“If she’s lucid enough, I don’t see why not – though she is still under the influence of her previous formula. She can’t willingly answer everything.” He led them all inside, toward the elevator. Lisa had, rather possessively, taken over as the motive power for Beryl’s chair.

“Professor, do you have any of her previous formula left?” Beryl asked, concern clear in his voice.

“Barely. After today’s dose of it, there is very little left. And I still haven’t isolated all of its components.”

Bookworm sighed. “Lovely. What about the others? Kuga and Percival?”

“Kuga’s formula is from the hospital. At least with his, they were able to work out a decent facsimile. We’ll be sure to work on Freya’s and Percival’s.”

They all entered the elevator at this point, taking it to the third floor. Lisa pushed Beryl toward Freya’s cell, with the professor close behind, while Bookworm and Mr. Wright hung back.

((To be continued…))

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