Bookworm and Mr. Wright followed Canergak inside and upstairs to the third floor, where the other two of the Bear Gang had been housed. Once there, Mr. Canergak handed over a set of keys to Mr. Wright, giving him access to those special cells. Mr. Wright entered the cell of the newly-captured wolf and examined his burned arm more closely, performing such first aid as would keep him stable until a doctor could come.
Mr. Wright came back outside, closing and locking the cell door behind him. “This is the door for your Freya,” Canergak said, nodding to the center cell.
“And the cougar is to the right?”
“How is Kuga doing, Mr. Canergak?” asked Bookworm.
“He is alive, stable, and wretched. He insists that they will be rescued, and refuses attempts to help him realize he has been deluded.”
“Hmm. I’ll have to check with Miss Xue, and see how they are doing with altering the medicine.”
“I believe that I have some correspondence from them, not that I could read it myself.” He took a letter out of his breastcoat pocket and handed it to her.
Bookworm scanned it quickly. “The proverbial good news and bad news.”
“What’s the bad news?” Mr. Wright asked.
“The bad news is the Cabbits are dealing with, and I quote, ‘personal complications,’ and so will have more difficulty in aiding us. The good news is that they have finished their version of Kuga’s medicine, without the mind-control elements, and will have it delivered shortly. Hopefully, that will put Kuga in a better frame of mind, so to speak.”
“Good,” replied Mr. Wright. “I’d like to see the effects of this medication myself.”
“What?!” The voice came from the center cell.
“Seems Miss Freya is awake,” commented Mr. Wright.
“What’s going on?” the girl called, her voice agitated. “What are you doing to Kuga?”
“Freya, it’s all right.” Bookworm got out her own set of keys and opened the cell door, setting aside her rifle, though she propped it nearby. She saw that the cushioning on the walls and floor was ripped, with several shreds hanging down, revealing bits of the metal walls. Freya had evidently been exercising the claws on her feet, while her arms were still imprisoned in a straightjacket.
Mr. Wright, seeing her actions, removed his own gun belt and set it on the floor, making sure Freya could see him. He also unslung his rifle, and removed his other weapons, before following Bookworm into the cell. “Your brother is safe,” he said. “In fact, we’ll be getting him better medicine soon.”
“Better?” she asked dubiously. “What do you mean, better?”
“Freya, we may have a way to free you of the mind control,” said Book gently. “That way, you can make your own decisions.”
“It may be a chance at redemption for you and your kin,” added Mr. Wright.
Freya looked from one to the other of them. “You’re… you’re lying. How?”
“Some people who are experienced in such things have been studying the medicines you all take. They think they’ve found a way to make them without the mind-controlling chemicals.”
Freya grimaced. “Prometheus knew you would do that.” Her voice sounded as if she was torn – perhaps between her loyalty to her family, and her tentatively-seated desire to help Bookworm and the others. “Take our shipments… use them… he…”
“We’re going to try it first with Kuga, and watch him carefully. I promise, if it looks like it’s doing him harm, we’ll put him back on his regular medicine.”
Freya looked up at her, aghast. “You mean it could kill him! You don’t know yet!”
“We’ll be very careful, I promise!” Bookworm hastened to say. “This may be the way to free you all.”
The fox looked up at her with something of doubtful hope in her eyes, but then Mr. Wright interrupted. “Miss Book, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask some questions of Miss Freya.”
Bookworm nodded. “Freya, this is Mr. Wright. He wants to help, too.”
“Do you have medicine capable of repairing dead tissue?” he asked.
“Dead tissue?” She looked at him suspiciously. “What happened?”
“We’ll get to that in a moment,” he replied a bit shortly. “After you answer.”
“We can restore as long as the heart is pumping.”
“And if the heart is destroyed?”
“That depends on if we can get to that one in time.” Dawning realization came over her face. “You shot one of them in the heart, didn’t you?”
Mr. Wright nodded solemnly. “From what i gathered, his name is Percival.”
She growled, her gaze, directed at the wolf, beginning to fill with anger. “Did my brothers take his body right after?”
“One of them, Lucas, dropped a smoke bomb and ran with the body.”
“Then he is probably still alive, if not moving anytime soon,” Freya replied with some relief. “He was probably dead for about… three minutes. Lucas would have put the shot right into his heart, and then pumped his blood directly.”
Mr. Wright looked a bit angry himself, though he took a calming breath before continuing. “It wasn’t my intent to kill either. It’s better if we can help your lot. But Percival jumped in front of my gun. Was he always so twichy and unhinged?”
“No, that was after his…” She stopped.
“Go on,” Mr. Wright urged.
Freya curled up in a ball on the floor. “After we added the new mind drugs…”
Bookworm looked at the wolf guard. “We’d best not press her more now.”
Mr. Wright nodded. “I think removing the mind control drugs from their medicine is the best course of action to help them now. If we can bring more into our care here, we may be able to reverse the effects.”
“That won’t… Prometheus won’t…”
“Won’t?” asked Bookworm.
Freya rolled over, turning her back to them, her head just shaking. Bookworm nodded once, backed away, and closed and locked the door.