The Consequences (Part 5)

“Teknight, wait.”

The edge to Doctor Spiner’s voice chipped away at Zahir’s resolve as he came to a stop just near the airlock doors to Sophie’s apartment at Raven Ridge. Mustering his courage, he turned the suit around to face the specialist. “Doctor, I was going to come and see you afterwards.” He spoke, the suit modulating his voice to help hide his identity.

“She could have died.” Bradley Spiner’s brown eyes bored into the hero’s visior, even if he had to strain his neck to look up at Teknight’s head. He looked in his mid-thirties, with soft brown hair gathered at the back in a ponytail and an athletic build.

“I know. If we were aware then of what we were now, I would have taken more support with me.” Zahir replied, doing his best to keep his tone level.

“That’s a little too late. In any case, if you’re here to offer her more work you can forget it.” Brad snapped. “Until she turns eighteen, Sophie is under our protective care. It’s dangerous enough for her as is without going into situations like that.”

Taking a deep breath from the cleaned and cool air that the suit’s systems re-circulate, Zahir drew himself up. “I am here to apologize to her, and to see how she is doing.”

“Come see me afterwards, Teknight. We’ve been having some issues with the monitoring equipment.” The Doctor said, walking away with hands in his lab coat pockets.

 

“You can come in.” Sophie called from inside the room, not quite as excited as the first time Teknight came to visit her.

Stepping through into the hospital room, his eyes were drawn to the assorted items littering her bedside table. She was sat up in bed, her hair rather messy even when tied back. Sophie managed a wan smile at him, her eyes glowing softly.

“Presents from the staff here?” Teknight inquired with a gesture of one large white and black metallic gauntlet.

“Oh, they’re… um, Santa.” The girl lied, eyes looking ever so briefly to the monitoring equipment. Minute little reactions like that were easily captured by the vision analysis software in the helmet.

“I… see. Well, I was going to bring you something, until I could not work out what to get.” The hero shrugged, crouching down by the bed to avoid causing any more neck aches to anyone at the facility. “I’m sorry, Sophie.”

“Don’t be.” Sophie smiled weakly. “I mean, I got to go out for a day and…” Her eyes were starting to brim as her voice trailed off into pained sobs, a hand clasping against her bandages.

Zahir’s armour-clad hand hovered helplessly, halfway between trying to pat her shoulder and backing off to give her space. Glancing about, he quickly grabbed several wads of tissue paper to wrap around a metallic finger. Reaching out, he carefully wiped the tears from Sophie’s grey cheeks. “You did well in that situation, given your circumstances and experiences. I’m proud to have worked with you that day.”

Sniffing loudly, Sophie plucked the tissue from the finger to finish drying her eyes. “Can you stay for a while?” She asked in a small voice, radiant blue eyes locking onto the pale blue of Zahir’s visor. Gesturing up with the patient-controlled pain relief device in her other hand, she explained “It makes me tired, but it takes a bit.”

Zahir took a moment to peer at the radiation tolerance levels of the Teknight suit. She was putting out less than she had been on his first visit. “I can stay.” Glancing about, he picked up one of the albums from the table near him. “Do you think I would like ‘Her Darkest Shadows’?”

Turning a little to better face the hero, Sophie caught her breath before pursing her lips. “That depends. Do you like symph-metal?”

Teknight laughed. “I have no idea what that is, but I’m willing to learn.”

Reaching for her bottle of fruit juice, a quick sip was all she needed to start lecturing the scientist on musical sub-genres and trends, the pain of her wounds soon pushed to the back of her mind.

 

“You were in there for almost five hours.” Doctor Spiner stated, a cup of coffee in his hand. He was separated from the hero by the wall of the decontamination unit.

“Time flies. She is putting out less power currently, so the suit was able to handle the radiation.” Teknight shrugged, an array of nozzles squirting a mixture of liquids over the armour.

“Even so, you may wish to limit your exposure for a while, just in case.” Brad counseled. When the decontamination procedure had finished, he waved Teknight through.

“Let’s take a look at the monitoring equipment.” Zahir spoke, ignoring the rumbling sound from his stomach. Breakfast had been skipped on account of his nerves, and lunch had long since been and gone. “I’ve something to discuss with you while we do.”

 

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The Consequences (Part 4)

Sophie Reynolds remembered going to hospital in pain for the first time. She had been nine, fell over while rollerskating and had broken her wrist. The physical pain was beyond any stubbed toe or cut from playing about, and at the time her young mind thought she’d never feel anything that bad ever again.

Now she was laying in a secure and rad-shielded hospital room back at Raven Ridge, an IV drip hooked up to her arm and the latest in medical dressing technology protecting the gunshot wound to her stomach. The staff that came in to visit her were on loan from VIGIL, robots designed to look like humans and provide medical care in emergency situations. They were polite, and wouldn’t come down with radiation sickness due to her presence, but she still preferred talking to Doctor Spiner.

A knock at the door roused her attention, though it took a lot of effort just to look towards the door rather than staring at the ceiling. A dark-haired woman poked her head around the door, blonde streaks dyed through it and her eyes a most vibrant green. She looked around furtively before slipping into the room. Her outfit was the same black and white jumpsuit that the ‘Vigilants’ wore, but her mannerisms?

“You… aaah, shouldn’t be in here. It’s dangerous…” Sophie weakly warned, trying to shift her position on the bed to sit up.

“I will be fine, Miss Reynolds. It is you that I am concerned about, so I thought I would bring you a care package.” The gynoid replied, before touching a finger to her lips. “If anyone asks though, you did not see me. Santa brought them early.”

The mix of injury and painkillers made Sophie’s head feel packed with damp wool. Rather than try to formulate a reply, she just watched her visitor stroll towards the bed with a bright pink gift bag she procured from behind her.

“I must be quick, so there will be little pizazz or fanfare.” The woman winked. The new Her Darkest Shadows album was out of the bag first, along with what looked to be a bulky CD player and headphone set. “Rad-hardened.” Her visitor commented. “The box provides additional shielding too.”

Sophie’s head swam, weighing heavily on her neck as she tried to shake the fog from her mind. “Who are you?”

“A friend.” Came the reply, along with a stack of assorted CDs, many by groups she’d never heard of before. Then there was a couple of dark fantasy books, a bottle of apparently home-made juice judging by the handwritten label, and a soft plush cat dressed in a raver outfit complete with spiked collar.

“I don’t have many of those, being in here.” Sophie admitted quietly, her tiredness trying to draw the darkness over her vision.

“I do not have many either.” The gynoid spoke. Her hand reached deep into the bag to pull out a make-up gift set, then a bottle of “Steady” by Tia Henderson. The gifts were piling up by her bedside table.

“Sorry.” Sophie yawned. “I just can’t seem to keep my eyes open.” Another yawn brought a wince of pain with it. “You didn’t have to get all this…”

“I did not have to, but I wanted to. I shall leave the last thing in the bag for you to see later, then.” Her mysterious guest replied, placing it on the pointlessly placed chair near the bed. “You will heal up soon, Miss Reynolds. Try not to let what happened stop you from getting out.”

“Sophie? Is everything all right?” Doctor Spiner’s voice sounded over the comms system. “We lost communications for a little bit.”

Forcing her eyes open, Sophie saw the gynoid with her finger pressed to her lips again as she started towards the door. “I’m okay… I think I’d like to get some more sleep though.”

A soft laugh sounded throughout the room. “Get as much sleep as you need, Glow Bug. Huh, someone forgot to turn the camera back on after your dressings were changed.”

Sophie just managed to mumble out a “Night, Doctor.”

“It’s eleven in the morning, Sophie, but sleep well in any case.” Brad replied.

 

As the camera feed came back online Doctor Bradley Spiner blinked rapidly before mopping his brown hair back, a confused expression over his face. “Where did all those presents come from?!”

More Than You Can Chew

“You need to stop picking fights with things larger than you, Sergeant.” Admiral Roland said, her tone and look pointed. Zaha was in her white Admiral’s jacket, though underneath a peach-coloured sundress could be seen.

“I know, Admiral. It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Jena coughed, trying to clear her throat. A quick check on her map subsystems indicated she’d been moved to the Asrat City Hospital, and it was early the next morning. “How bad was it this time?”

“New left arm, new right foot, repairs to your bio-generator and blood processing systems, a pulmonary cleansing pump, and general system repairs. Exoframes can handle small arms projectile fire, but Servitor-class firearms? You are lucky it didn’t knock your head off.” The Admiral chided. “If you’re still feeling foggy now, that will be the concussion from landing head first in the sand. Avoid bright lights, loud noises, stressful exertion, and any narcotics.”

“Sorry to be a bother, Admiral. How are the others?” Jena resisted the urge to try and shake the haze from her mind.

“Agent Huang’s getting a new leg from the knee down. Agent Durand plans to make a necklace from the bullet they removed from her shoulder and is healing well.” Jena was about to ask before Zaha cut her off. “She’s fine, Sergeant.”

Jena’s shoulders relaxed. “And the mission?”

“Priya Arnold and Adrian Spieler have both been arrested and, once they’ve recovered from their injuries, will be tried for their crimes.” She pursed her lips. “If, in the case of Mr Spieler. He put up quite a fight and after they put him down it’s been a little touch and go.”

The soldier started to push herself up off the bed, pausing to check if she had anything on under the sheets. A pale blue hospital gown covered her, which was a pleasant change from the last time she woke up from recovering. “I’ll try my best not to fight any more Servitors, Admiral.” She offered, before adding “At least while on shore leave.”

“See that you don’t. It’s bad enough dealing with Treshka, let alone another one who likes to bite off more than they can chew.” Stepping forwards, Zaha placed a small punnet of port-coloured grapes by her bedside. “I have other errands to run now, so eat these and wait for your next visitor.” She ordered, then headed for the door.

Feeling the pounding in her skull, Jena sipped at some water before deciding laying down was preferable to sitting up.

 

It didn’t take long for Handler to show up. She had changed into a fresh shipsuit, though her hair was still done up in a tight bun. “Simone shouldn’t have called you in, Jena. It wasn’t her place to, and you had no obligation to-”

“You helped me to rid Farringdon Three of the Volsta. I’d try and extinguish a sun by spitting if any of your crew asked me to.” Jena interrupted. She popped one of the berries in her mouth then offered the punnet in Handler’s direction.

What the intelligence officer was going to continue with was lost as she laughed, shaking her head as she took a seat and a grape. “A colourful description.”

“I kinda liked it myself.” The cyborg replied, brushing her fingers through her short hair. “I know we need to have a talk about some things at some point when it comes to work and us, but I think it’s for when my ears aren’t ringing.”

“That may be for the best.” Handler agreed. She reached up to take one of Jena’s hands in her own. “Thank you, though. It could have been much worse if you didn’t assist.”

Squeezing the hand in hers, Jena shuffled up the bed a little to she could sit up against the pillows. “How did they get the drop on you? It’s not like the team to miss four weapons platforms and a unit of defense droids.”

“We suspect they have some friends in various places who may have given them a heads up.”

“So, you’ll be busy tracking them down?” Jena felt her heart sink a little.

“No. That’s down to Internal Affairs. I’m bringing forwards booking the Shuck in for service, and giving the crew their shore leave to recover. It was built by Armitage Technologies for the GFIA, after all.”

“And they’re working on the Herne as we speak.”

Handler nodded.

“It makes sense.” She smiled. “Got anything nice planned?”

“I’m hoping to spend some time with a slightly reckless blonde.” Handler took another grape from the punnet. “Once she gets out of the hospital.”

“I guess I better get on that now then.” Jena said, clambering out of bed. She could feel the bedsheets on her bare skin as she sat, her gown open at the back. “Once I get pants.”

 

Discharging herself from the hospital involved more than just the acquisition of pants. There were forms to fill in, some tests to run and a lot of waiting about for some doctor to return with her results. During that time, Jena took her grapes in to go and see Simone. The brunette was propped up in bed and humming along to some music she was listening to.

“I get shot by an old pistol, you just had to go and one-up me by taking three shots from a railgun.” The agent grinned.

“I know, I’m terrible.” Jena chuckled, perching on the side of her bed. “Next time, you can fight the old Servitors and I’ll fight the ancient history fetishist.”

“We have a dea- wait, no we don’t.” Simone’s laugh was cut short by her wincing. “Don’t try and cheer me up with jokes. I’m still a little tender.”

“When are you getting out of here?”

“Tomorrow. They want to keep me in overnight. Fixer’s going to pick me and Tony up at the same time.”

“The Admiral said Agent Huang’s getting a new leg.”

“He’s being fitted for it now. I’d say you’d remember what that was like, but…” Jena had lost a year and a half of her life to the medically-induced coma she’d been put under while Fixer worked to transform her into a cyborg. “I was the one who found you, you know?”

Jena nodded. “It took me a little while, but I remember hearing you speak after the explosion and before I woke on the Shuck.”

“You looked like hell.” Simone stated.

“Thanks.”

“I didn’t think you’d last a day of the medical procedures, especially given our resources.”

“If you ever leave the GFIA, you should apply for a job here. You’ve got a great bedside manner.”

Simone laughed again, then shot Jena a wincing look. “I said no jokes.” She rubbed at her shoulder. “I didn’t mean it as… even blown up and beaten down, you still hung on and came back from the brink.”

“Where are you going with this, Simone?” Jena asked a little wearily.

“It impressed me, that’s all. And I never had a chance to say that.” She replied with a little shrug of her good shoulder.

A notification flashed up in vision, letting Jena know her test results were good and she was ready to be discharged. She placed the punnet on Simone’s bedside table. “I’ve always had good reasons to fight. I need to finish getting discharged, though.”

“Jena?” She called as the soldier reached the door out from the private room.

“Yes?”

The agent looked over her for a long while, silent before shaking her head. “It’s nothing.”

“Drop by the apartment sometime. If you bring the bullet with you, I can use my tools to make it into jewellery. The Admiral said you wanted it on a necklace.”

Agent Durand flashed Jena a bright smile at the offer. “I’ll take you up on that. Go get out of here. I’ve a new album to get back to listening to.” She said with a little tap at the side of her head.

Handler was waiting for her outside, an eyebrow quizzically raised at the contemplative expression on the blonde’s face. “Something up?”

“No.” Jena shook her head. “Let’s go home.”

Hands of Blue

He had her cornered now, his stance wide to stop her escaping and his arms outreached. The uniform he wore made him stand out against the rest of the sterile environment, compared to the slightly drab robe the young girl was wearing.

She backed herself into the corner, shaking her head rapidly. “Hands of blue!” She sobbed, her blonde hair sticking to her tear streaked face. “Hands of blue!” Came the repeat.

He was baffled. “I don’t have hands of blue, see? They’re just white gloves.” Crouching down a little, he reached out towards her. “We need to get you treated and out of here, to someone who can find out who your family is.”

Jerking her hand away from him, the little girl just repeated her mantra over and over. He’d not heard her say anything else.

“You could hurt yourself if you don’t calm down.” He chided, doing little to stop her histrionics.

A boy in the nearby bed chimed in with a suggestion, “Perhaps you need blue gloves?”

“What does glove colour have to-” The nurse paused. His white gloves weren’t technically white, more of a very pale cream made of latex. There were blue gloves in the hospital wards. Nitrile gloves.

Peeling the gloves off, he put them in one of the nearby bins. He was quick to scrub his hands, making sure she wouldn’t run off anywhere before putting the non-latex gloves on. “There, see?” He said, crouching down again as he flexed his fingers. “Hands of blue.”

Just like that, she took his hand in hers with a big smile on her face. Carefully leading her down the ward he tried not to glance out of the window, the smoke plume from the stricken space cruiser still visible in the distance.