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Questions and answers.

The asylums marble sheeting had been completed last week, and the forewoman had been placed inside a cell almost immediately afterwards.  Canergak had gaged the effect of the material now and it would likely be less harmful than spending all your time in ‘Clockhaven’.  As that was where Dr. Maddox and her husband were currently residing she should have no qualms with this arrangement. 

It was late Saturday evening when Director Harvey met Canergak in the asylum for the first time. The old man acknowledged his entrance with a nod, “There you are Director Harvey.”

“Hello sir. Is this a good time?”

“Any time was fine.” Canergak said dismissively, “It was about a recent patient of yours.”

Blackberry nodded his head, “Yes?”

“How is Miss Pippy?  Has she been found or made a recovery?”

“Oh, you heard about the transformation virus? She seems to have regained her wits, and the transformation is reversing slowly.”

Canergak nodded and then continued, “I was here for the duration, the asylum held several people who sought refuge.”

Harvey nods, “Good, this is a very secure place, I imagine.”  Mr. Harvey paused for a moment and after the old man did not continue he finally asked, “Was that your question?”

“Yes, I have a vested interest in her well being.” Canergak admitted as he studied the bunnies reactions, which were surprising, “Dr. Maddox’s pet could have told you why, as I made no secret of it.”

“I don’t know what it could possibly be…”

Canergak shrugged, “Then perhaps he does not trust you, and you can never trust one of them.”

“Well, I… what do you mean?”

“Things of his nature can never be trusted. They do not think like you do, and their priorities are always willing to change at a moments notice.”

Blackberry frowned a bit. “I will keep you informed of Miss Pippy’s health and recovery, but I don’t share your opinions though, sir. I’ve heard that you do not think highly of those persons of a nature not quite like our own. I should tell you that I was not born this way. An experiment created me as I am now. But that experiment would have been magic to someone even twenty years ago.”

Canergak arched an eyebrow at the Director, “Do you think I didn’t know that?”

Mr. Harvey seemed taken aback for a moment, “You’ve been researching me?”

“Nothing you had not been willing to share to anyone else in town over a cup of tea or coffee.  You hardly hid it well, and I researched the entire town.”

Blackberry thought about this for a minute and shrugged, “I’m of the opinion that facts can’t be used to truly harm me.”

“I meant no harm Mr. Harvey.  Only a fool would travel to a place without knowing as much as he could about it.”

“I wasn’t implying that you were…just that I’m glad that you judge me based on facts about me.”

Canergak nodded. “As you say.”

“I’m glad that there’s a brotherhood of medical facilities and professionals forming in town. It’s been rather lackluster and haphazard before I first opened the hospital, and even for the past year. People here are not eager to trust doctors.”

“I must admit that I have given them little reason to trust me.”

Harvey paused for a brief moment and then continued, “If I may, it seems that you don’t care much about that.”

“No, I do not,” he admitted. “However fear has led people to do foolish things in the past though.  Trying to threaten, bully, and sometimes eliminate me.”

“I think that people don’t understand you. I certainly don’t. They don’t know your motives so they suspect you of hiding them for nefarious reasons.”

“I’m aware of this, but if everyone did know everything about me, I doubt it would change anything.  In all probability it would cause more fear to spread.”

“But if you share just a few things, it would be a gesture of good faith.”

“Very well, I did offer you questions the last time we spoke, though you denied using them.”

Blackberry smiled, “Did I? I merely meant to reserve them for another time.”

It had in fact been a one time offer, but if a little information (that he was likely to request from Pippy anyways in the near future) would settle this matter then he could agree to extend the offer again, “Very well, as an act of good ‘faith’.”  He sneered at the word on purpose, but it appeared his beard had hidden it too well because the director didn’t react.

“How many questions do you think is fair?”

“I heard your entire facility was wrecked due to your patient, I think at least twelve would be fair.”  “That should be everything about me you would ever require.”

“All right.”  Director Harvey said and they went up into the Mezzanine, the ‘Sky’ room, to sit while they spoke.  “I’ve been gathering what information I could about you as well, which isn’t much.”

Canergak was not surprised by his ignorance, so much as how easily he had admitted it, “I expected you’d know more, but then you were surprised by my interest in Pippy.  That leads me to the hypothesis that your employee never told you what I said four months ago.”

“Which is what?”  Harvey asked, using his first question.

“That Miss Pippy is a friend of mine, who wrote back to me of all her new ‘friends’.  She is quite trusting, to a fault, and most of what she writes is useless and obviously not accurate to the reality. But sometimes she hears something or someone reveal themselves and their real nature.

“All right, a question. Is there more of you that’s artificial besides your eyes?”  Harvey asked, revealing that he had no idea he’d already used a question.

“Yes,” Canergak admitted almost mechanically.  This fact used to disturb him to his core, but he had ceased to worry about it long ago, “I’ve had to replace a piece of my mind at one point.” 

Harvey nods, “Which piece?”  That was the third.

“Almost the entire right half had to be replaced,” Canergak admitted.

Mr. Harvey blinked, “Oh my… I see.”

“I very nearly did not survive, in fact the degenerative brain disease I had was meant to kill me, but once again I thwarted those I call enemy,”  He waited to see if Mr. Harvey would ask how a brain transplant of any kind could have been completed successfully and out of what materials could such a feat be accomplished, considering all of the many factors and failed procedures that had gone before him, but Mr. Harvey didn’t ask and did not seem as surprised as he should have at this phenomena of scientific success. Perhaps it was more common a procedure than he had previously anticipated.

Harvey used his fourth question, “You told me yourself that you aren’t a psychiatrist. Why open an asylum?” 

“I already had an interest in Babbage, especially after Mondrago fell.  I had come to the steam lands to continue my work,” He had actually arrived the same day the city was devastated during his initial trip around all the steam lands back in that time, but there was no need to share that piece of information.   “I decided at a later date that I could build a base here that would be very secure thanks to the cities own nature.”  

Mr. Harvey nodded after a moment, but didn’t seem to understand, “That might have been an excellent place to study madness and obsession…”

Canergak shook his head, and decided to help steer his questions to something less incriminating, and more useful to the both of them, “I was seeking things of a supernatural nature, Mr. Harvey.” 

Harvey seemed surprised by the given information, and he took the bait and used his fifth question, “What for?”

“Experimentation,” Canergak explained.  “As you would test a new drug on a rat, there is much to learn when we dissect and experiment upon those creatures.”

Director Harvey blinked and sat back outraged, “I definitely don’t approve of that. I run a place of healing, sir, no matter what the nature. I can even call in a specialist for an injured clockwork.

“I am aware of this Mr. Harvey,” the elderly man said with a simple shrug.  “But you must not have gone to school for long if you never dissected a frog.”

“I didn’t go to medical school, or school at all really. I’m taking correspondence courses now, but I’m not a doctor. Much like yourself, I had a vision for a facility and built it when no one else would.”

“In some ways we are alike sir, but I did go to school, and at one point I was what you would call a Doctor. Now my proper title is Master,” Canergak shrugged. “But I understand that has something of a negative connotation here, so I do not insist on the term.”

“I understand that. However, that doesn’t make what you do morally excusable.”

Canergak scoffed, “Morally speaking we could argue all day about different cultures and practices from other locations all over the world and we would not get anywhere. It is a waste of breath to talk about morals from one culture to the other.”

Mr. Harvey was still obviously upset, his heart rate still accelerated, but he calmed down enough to ask his sixth question, “Fine…do you dissect these creatures here?”

“I have not yet had a subject in this location, no.”

Not deterred the director asked, “Do you vivisect?”

Canergak didn’t pause before telling him, “No.”  He didn’t consider these things truly ‘alive’ to begin with.

“You only dissect subjects which come to you deceased?”

“No,”  Canergak admitted, though there was no difference in how he had denied the seventh question as how he denied the eighth just now.

Harvey used the ninth question, “Do you kill them, or have them killed, then?” 

“I handle most of the work myself, though I do have associates and a few students now who are willing to learn.”

“Are you saying that you kill creatures and then study them?”  Tenth

Canergak let his eyes shift spectrum, knowing they’d make noticeable clicking sounds as they did, “I study them from start to finish Mr. Harvey.

“For what purpose?”  Harvey wasn’t even pausing before asking his questions anymore, eleventh.

“To learn Mr. Harvey. What other reason would I have if I already knew everything about the subject?”

Blackberry Harvey sighed when he heard that and sank in his chair a little, “If you end one life, is it to save others?”

Canergak wouldn’t say that was explicitly true at all, but every step forward in scientific knowledge was towards the betterment of all life so he did suppose he could make he would make the argument, “I have bettered the lives of many people through my efforts. And I have saved countless others.”

And that was it, the director had used his twelve questions though it appeared he wasn’t aware of this fact.  He nodded after a moment, “I don’t support your methods, but I won’t end the cooperation of our facilities, except that I won’t transfer any patients of a supernatural nature to you.”

“It’s really not worth protecting them, but as you say.”

Blackberry stood up and stared at the older man intently, “Some of my best friends are such beings, sir.”

Naive fool, the master thought to himself.  He would eventually discover the truth and he would not like it.  “Just remember if they ever show you otherwise, I am an expert at what you may refer to as paranormal extermination.”  He leaned in closer to make sure that Mr. Harvey understood.  “And I do mean, extermination.”

Blackberry Harvey frowns, “I’m afraid that if I find out that you are doing such things, except strictly for scientific study in order to save other lives from disease or hardship, we would find ourselves enemies.”

Canergak shrugged, “If that is how it must be.”

“Since you say you haven’t done that yet, we can still be in cooperation-” 

Suddenly there was a loud yell coming from the cells nearby, and Harvey turned and looked in it’s direction, “What’s that?” 

“One of the current inmates,” the old man explained dismissively.  “They both scream on occasion, though the forewoman is more intelligible.”

“Oh, how is she doing?”

“She does not think she deserves to be in here, but from the diseases she is carrying it is good to keep her locked away.” 

Blackberry nodded, “I agree, and unfortunately she’s dangerous enough not to keep in the hospital or to release.”

“Now, if i have satisfied your curiosity…”

Blackberry shook his head, “I didn’t count the questions, but you’ve been fair with me.  Do you have any for me?”

“Only one,”  Canergak said as he stood up as well and then stared intently at the director.

“Yes?”

“You said you did research on me as well.” 

“I compiled what information I could, yes.”

“Did you send that clockwork to inspect the facility, or those urchins?”

“No, but I asked some who had talked to them about what they found.”

Canergak nodded, “That confirms what I had suspected.”

“What?”

“That I was indeed being followed by them, but at anothers behest,” the old man said, though he didn’t stop there. “Also, you’ve told me that because the cat never told you about Pippy, despite his awareness that you were researching my past, I won’t believe that he didn’t know, he might not have told anyone.  This means that I did not need to discount any of his friends as suspects, as I had been.”  The director reacted as the old master had expected, and his hypothesis was now all but confirmed.

“I don’t think I should discuss Arnold with you at all, sir.”

“As you say, you are aware of his nature,”  the elderly man said and then paused.  There was one thing that he had been wondering about and reading the rabbits heart reactions might shed a little light on the situation, “Though I was surprised when I finally met Dr. Maddox.”

The director hadn’t been expecting that, “You were?”

“I was able to deterime what it was after I met the cat, and had been sure from that moment in May that he must belong to her.  However, when I did meet her I was surprised by what I did not see, as I had been expecting a sorcerer.”

The director seemed surprised by this as well, though there was no way to be sure why, “Well, that’s their business.” Mr. Harvey then added quite more fiercly than he had probably intended, “And they are good friends of mine.”

“It is of no consequence. I never meant harm to her.”

“Just to him?”

“I never cared if I harmed him,” he admitted.  “But at no point did I ever intend to, after all she does own him. It would be stealing.”  He had never forgotten his conversation with Beauchamp over forty years ago when he’d dissected his familiar.

Mr. Harvey looked at Canergak for a moment and then added, “May I ask where you’re from?”

“I could be from Paris even forty years ago and what I have said should still not surprise you.”  This was hardly an answer, nor was it the truth, but he had run out of questions and the old man had no intention to give up that information.

“I know that some people share the opinions you have for supernatural beings but against other sub-races of the human species.  So I suppose I don’t blame you or even scold you for having such opinions. All I can do is tell you my feelings on it.”

Canergak nodded to show they understood one another, “I have no problem with creatures that are not ‘human’ sir. Only things which defy the Mundus.”

“Perhaps sometime we can debate it further, but I think I’ll take my leave for now. Goodbye, Mr. Canergak.”

“Do be careful on your way home.”

The conversation tonight had taught him much, and one of those things was that he would have to completely sound proof his walls if the entire city was going to be that squeemish about his experiments. Well, he still had a week before he intended to leave on next Saturday.  He could get that and the equipment moved about before then.

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