“Poor Freya.” Dr. Sonnerstein sighed. “That formula’s influence, even when it’s been long since her previous dose, is still too much.”
“I certainly would like to meet this master of hers,” Bookworm said with a growl in her own voice. “Give him a piece of my mind.”
“Yes. I wonder if he’s even in the city.”
“He is,” Beryl said. “Freya slipped… the other day… she said… he drove the ship.” He giggled, and Dr. Sonnerstein leaned forward, feeling Beryl’s brow. “Book, can you keep an eye on her for a moment while I get her an ice pack?”
Bookworm nodded, moving into the cramped space between the couch and a low coffee table. After a few minutes, Dr. Sonnerstein came back with a clean dish towel, ice wrapped inside, and rested it against the cat’s forehead. He sighed, turning his sightless gaze toward Bookworm. “We have two problems, then, aside from Beryl’s illness. Prometheus and his crew, and Snow.”
Bookworm nodded. “And we just–” She broke off suddenly, staring over the back of the couch. A low growling came from the door, and Freya came back in, her eyes fixed on Bookworm with grim intent.
“Freya, don’t…” Dr. Sonnerstein pleaded. Bookworm, though, drew the dart gun. As she did, the fox darted around the room – quickly, but not as fast as she’d seen her move before. Bookworm jumped up onto the coffee table to give herself more room to maneuver, following Freya’s movements as best she could, though she was reluctant to shoot until she had to.
Freya, though, took the decision out of her hands. She darted between the sofa and a chair, and leaped at her. Bookworm fired, and saw the dart imbed itself in Freya’s torso, just before the fox slammed into her, knocking her over. For a moment, the fox stood over her, growling, but then she crumpled to one side, unconscious. On her muzzle, though, there seemed to be a smile.
Dr. Sonnerstein leaned over, holding out his hand for Bookworm. “Are you all right?”
Book nodded, panting, and didn’t scorn to use his help to stand up. “Why did she do that?”
“She wanted our help. Perhaps she went back for her treatment, so she’d have more time. This way, they will think she came for you, knowing you were here. But now, if we can work out a better formula for her, we can free her of its control.”
“I… I suppose she couldn’t *ask* for help, could she? Not with that programming.”
“No,” Beryl said with a grin. “She… followed orders. She attacked Book… on sight.” He giggled again, and Bookworm shot him a sardonic smile.
“Well, then. What now?” she asked. “Take her to the asylum, too?”
Dr. Sonnerstein sighed. “I really hate to take her to that place. But where else could we keep her safe, both from them and from harming us? I can’t bear to set foot in there, though – even to bring her her treatment once we work the formula out.” He paused a moment. “I suppose a good future request for the hospital’s facilities would be one or two secure rooms. We can’t have the defenses of the asylum, but it would be something.”
Bookworm nodded. “So. We’ll need to work out how to get Freya safely to the asylum.”
Beryl laughed suddenly. “Wear a disguise! Then none of the brothers will know to shoot you!”
“Hmmm.” Dr. Sonnerstein looked at Bookworm speculatively. “One of Eochai’s suits might fit you. They certainly wouldn’t be the target your uniform is.”
“True.” Bookworm chuckled a little. “I think I know just what’s needed… if we can safely get word out to get it here. A cart with a hidden store space. We confiscated it from some smugglers a while ago.”
“Perfect! I’ll send Skald wherever you need.”
About thirty minutes later, a cart left the home of Dr. Sonnerstein. Bookworm, dressed in one of Eochai’s flamboyant suits, with a hood hiding her face, was in the driver’s seat, while Beryl was laid in the back. Freya, still unconscious, was stashed in the hidden compartment below Beryl. Bookworm drove briskly, as anyone would who was taking an obviously sick person to the hospital, but did her best to appear relaxed. They made it to the hospital safely, where Bookworm directed a few hospital orderlies to get Beryl installed comfortably inside, and then drove quickly to the asylum, taking the cart right inside the courtyard. In just a few minutes, she and two asylum workers had Freya out of the compartment and safely inside a third-floor cell, next to Kuga.