“… And I am going to do a quick scan of your brain.”
It had only been a few minutes since the Templar had entered the medbay. Ameriya was busy placing anodes around Kat’s head–a crown of wires and sensors. Ameriya turned her attention to a number of monitors, her eyes deftly glancing over lines of data and graphs of various shapes and sizes. But voices were muffled, actions appearing sluggish or hazy. It was as if Reginald’s mind was collapsing in on itself, fighting an internal war that could only end with death or insanity.
Keep him away.
“Okay, Kat, you can put your shirt back on. You’re clean. As a precaution, I am going to test myself, just to make sure,” Ameriya moved to take the sensors off of Kat, “While I do that. Thally, can you go in?”
Thally. That was Ameriya’s name for the source of his torment. Bedecked in his full armor, Thal Vadam looked everything a Templar should have looked, but his mere presence sent searing headaches through Reginald’s forehead and temples. Ameriya continued to work her medical magic–the equipment alien to Reginald and well beyond his cursory understanding of medicine. A forcefield adjusted in size to cover an entrance into the containment unit.
Vadam moved forward through the field and into the containment unit, following Ameriya’s directions to begin scanning the Pax Amarria. Every step he took echoed through Reginald’s mind like cannon-fire in a cathedral.
He started to convulse, but he didn’t care about that. He only cared about the words he could force out of his mouth, “Please, please get him away from me!”
“Thal, step back just a sec,” Ameriya acquiesced. Through the containment field, he could hear her converse with his wife, “I’d say knock him out. Thal’s the only one I would really feel comfortable going in there, unless Shalee has a full containment suit around here.”
He pulled against his restraints–Thal was still in the containment unit, and even though he was stationary, the pain remained, growing in magnitude with every passing second as headaches ravaged his mind, “For the love of God!”
Katerina agreed with Ameriya, “If it’ll help.”
As Thal finally took a step back, Ameriya asked the Templar, “Your suit is gas proof, right?”
Though Reginald could care less for their conversation–he could barely comprehend the words longer than fleeting seconds–he screamed again, “Get him away! Get him away! Please!”
He turned his pleading eyes towards Kat, his cheeks already wet with tears, “I’m begging you!”
Thal responded to Ameriya, “Affirmative.”
With that, Ameriya pressed a few buttons, flooding the containment unit with gaseous sedative. The pain started throbbing harder and harder in Reginald’s head, “No wait! Don’t… don’t… d…”
He fought as hard as he could against the invasive gas, straining against his bonds, but there was little he could do to stave off the chemicals. Urging himself out of the bed, the restraints stretching tight against his wrists, his body finally collapsed in a moment of abject failure. His eyes rolled to the back of his head and he saw nothing but black.
Timestamp: 6.13.YC116. 05:37:34.
Location: Cerra Manor Medical Bay
Entry: Patient admitted into facility for nanite infestation. Extent of infestation unknown…
Arody stared at her computer monitor for several minutes, glancing from time to time at the videofeed from the medical bay. On a normal day, the wall of monitors in front of her would display a multitude of angles and approaches for purposes of Manor security–a small fleet of drones patrolling the sky and shoreline as well. Most of those feeds, however, had been relegated to secondary stations and redundant systems, most of them involving the automated tripwire system that detected intruders into the Manor.
The screens on the wall now primarily showed the medical bay, with numerous secondary cameras and observation devices activated now that one of the more prominent “regular” patrons was undergoing medical treatment.
It was the graveyard shift. That meant that only she and her immediate supervisor, a man named Noghy, were on duty, though the security headquarters for Cerra Manor could easily fit dozens of personnel. Lady Lianne spared no expense in the security of her guests–there were rumors that there were other security headquarters operating with different staffs and equipment just in case one was compromised. Arody shook the thought out of her head–it was most likely just a tale people shared around the water dispenser.
She leaned back into her seat, popping open a can of Quafe. The sound of metal cracking metal followed by the sharp hiss of carbonation broke the solemn atmosphere of the security center. Moreover, it drew the ire of Noghy.
“Really, Officer Dahiva?”
Arody turned to face her superior, a middle-aged man with thinning hair and spectacles upon his nose. Another set of rumors said he had been shunted into this shift for failing to properly integrate with Lord Reginald Sakakibara’s security details when Cerra Cathedral was being constructed. Noghy always rejected those claims, countering that the incompetency lay on Lord Reginald’s shoulders. Lady Lianne, through her household affairs department, didn’t take kindly to those accusations.
“Apologies, Supervisor Lalmesras,” She gave a salute, rolling her eyes before taking a long gulp.
Of course, she wasn’t truly sorry. The fact of the matter was that this job was immensely below her capabilities. She had placed highly at a number of important schools in Huola. As her teachers and professors often said, had it been any planet other than Huola, she would be serving on the immediate advisory council of a Holder. But because it was Huola and the planet was rocked by endless conflict in its bloodstained skies, there hadn’t been many opportunities to run the Minmatar blockade and receive a finished education in the Domain region.
That was the official story, anyway. In reality, the Minmatar blockade was porous–the Valklears simply didn’t have the manpower to keep an endless watch on the surface. Instead, like most things, it had been the matter of money. Gaining entry onto a smugglers’ vessel required that she pay an amount commensurate with her body weight–in other words, the volume she was displacing of something else. Of course, smugglers tended to claim she was taking up the space of religious texts, and since religious texts could basically be crammed into any shape container, their value was priceless. Arody only had one shape. Even if she could rearrange her arms and legs to convenience her would-be transporter, with the blockade ongoing despite Huola’s liberation, prices were as exorbitant as ever. Even if she liquidated all of the assets in her tiny apartment, she only possessed the equivalent of 0.25 ISK. A pittance.
Noghy just sighed, “Just keep tabs on all of them, would you? The Templar is on the move.”
Arody lowered her can of Quafe and typed a few commands into her holographic keypanel. The Templar appeared on dozens of cameras throughout the manor–she quickly filtered down the ones that provided the best angles to view him, then projected his likenesses onto the larger wall of monitors.
“What in God’s name is he doing?” Noghy asked aloud.
Arody raised an eyebrow, then glanced up at the monitors. The Templar seemed to be checking the door to Lady Lianne’s bedchamber, trying the handle. After several moments of examination, he grabbed the handle, pushing down vigorously. It broke.
At first Arody couldn’t believe her eyes. It was such a small demonstration of strength and yet she had never seen a man pull off a stunt like that.
Noghy ran over to a console and dialed for a household valet, “Come on, come on, pick up!”
Arody chuckled a little. She knew that Noghy would be deemed responsible for any damage to the Manor or surrounding properties during his shift. That chuckle soon disappeared when the Templar simply charged into the door, splintering it off of the hinges.
“Oh, damn it!” They yelled in unison.
Although Noghy would ostensibly be held responsible for the incident, it was common practice among the baseline staff to pay for damages out of pocket. It was their way of thanking Lady Lianne for her kindness–as far as Holders went, she was top-notch, and considering that they had once hosted a sociopathic Caldari that wore a coat of human skin onto the Terrace, as far as capsuleers went, she was benign.
Almost as soon as he had entered Lady Lianne’s bedchamber, the Templar was off, carrying a bag that Arody knew Lord Reginald’s sister had brought several hours earlier. Someone had to review the security footage, anyway. She sunk back into her seat, bemoaning the loss of another two weeks’ pay for replacing the door.
“Why couldn’t he have just called a servant to open it for him?” She rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands, thinking of how she’d have to cancel that date with Hanek. Again.
She sighed away the loss of money then returned to looking at the monitors, turning the audio up to drown out the despair settling in her mind. The cameras were focused on the patient and those attending him.
“How long was I out?” Lord Reginald asked.
“Not long,” His wife, Katerina, replied curtly.
Ameriya, the cat-woman doctor stepped over towards the containment unit, “Regi? Can you tell me how you feel?”
Arody rubbed her eyes again. She’d likely never be on a first-name basis with any of the demigods that visited the Terrace, let alone call them by a nickname.
“Exhausted,” He shifted a little, his throat clearly giving him discomfort, “May I have some water? Everything feels sore. Stiff.”
Ameriya replied, “When Thal gets back, I’m going to have him hook up an IV, okay?”
The Templar entered, carrying his quarry from Lady Lianne’s bedchamber in one hand. Reginald shook his head violently, “No, not him. Not again.”
Ameriya directed Thal towards a corner of the medbay, then turned to Katerina, “You want to explain to him why it has to be Thal?”
As Katerina mulled it over, the Templar had set the bag down in the indicated area. Ameriya quickly activated a forcefield around it.
Reginald didn’t even give time for Katerina to reply, “Please. Can it be Kat? Or a robot? Anything? Just please, not him.”
Ameriya blinked, “Do the Amarr with med drones?”
“What’s wrong with Thal?” Katerina began, then laughed at Ameriya’s comment, “Of course we do.”
“Just not him, please. Please,” He cast a pleading look at his wife, “Please. Not him.”
Katerina turned away from the gaze, instead looking towards Ameriya, “Up to you, doctor.”
“Well, med drones,” Ameriya started to glance around, eventually opening a door, “Well, med drones. And I thought that was the bathroom. See that little figure? I guess it means med drone in the Empire. In Caille, it means the loo.”
Arody snickered at the comment.
Katerina let out a martyred sigh that was loud enough for the microphones to pick up. Arody snicked again. What a life it was to be a capsuleer.
Ameriya hummed as the Templar took a position against one of the walls, “You know, I learned how to read Amarrish from Imperial erotica. So, that either mean turn on, or wet panties. One of the two. I’m guessing it’s the former.”
Arody felt her face turn red at the comment as Ameriya activated one of the medical drones. She tried to hide her blush from her supervisor, who, thankfully, was busy assessing the damage of the splintered door that led to Lady Lianne’s bedchamber. Imperial erotica? Did the Empire even produce erotica? Why was she thinking about erotica? She shook her head to clear her mind, slapped her cheeks, then took a long gulp of Quafe. She wondered if Hanek read Imperial erotica.
“Oh, thank God,” Lord Reginald sighed in relief.
“Okay, robot,” Ameriya said to herself as she took the helm of a medical drone control panel, “So. We’re going to do a few things here. Firstly, you’re going to give the patient some water to drink. Kat, can you get the water?”
Katerina fetched a plastic pitcher and handed it to the machine, Ameriya beginning to walk it into the containment unit, “And it’s good you’re going to get stoned, because the robot is also going to set up a cath for you. But we’re going to have you good and drugged before sticking tubes up your…”
The audio flickered along with the monitors, but Arody was already blushing at Ameriya’s frankness. She shook her head again and started to run a diagnostic on the security system–it was rare for everything to flicker at the same time.
She glanced up at the monitors, watching the scene unfold as the humanoid robot slowly entered the containment field. It was a standard medical drone–pristine white plastic offering the look of a nurse or a doctor. It had no face to speak of other than the intricate camera systems meant to perform and assist in surgeries, but a large pink, stylized heart was prominent on its chest–a drone to provide aid and to save lives.
Lord Reginald attempted to sit up, licking his lips in anticipation for the water, but the water never came. The drone dropped the pitcher onto the ground; the hard plastic echoed off of the floor, punctuating the softer sound of water being spilled. Everyone seemed to look towards Ameriya, wondering if this was a joke she was playing, but her face was dead serious, her own eyes glued to the drone inside the containment field. The robot’s left hand retracted into its arm, a sharp scalpel specialized for accurate incisions replacing the appendage. Time froze.
Then, with little warning, the robot’s arm plunged directly into Lord Reginald’s chest.