“How’re you doing?”
Propped up in an infirmary bed, amid pillows and tubing Cass regarded Jade with weary disdain “How do you think?” her voice was little more than a croak.
“I see you’ve still got your sense of humour”
“Piss off”
Smiling, Jade busied herself with pulling Cassandra’s bio-schematics up on the hologrid, suspended above the bed “This facility’s great” she remarked as she swiped through the data “I’ve never seen anything this advanced”
“Do they have any nanites?”
“Yeah, I already checked” Jade glanced away from the display to regard her friend “Grovely said he’d pull some out of stasis for you this morning. He should be here soon”
“Great” Cass shifted her weight uncomfortably. Everything hurt “When?”
Shrugging, Jade turned her attention back to the readout “He didn’t say. Soon
“Any shortness of breath?” she continued “Chest pains? Dizziness? Nausea?”
“The machines should be able to answer all that”
“Oh, cut me some slack” Jade irritably jabbed a finger at the display “This is all new to me”
“I’m sorry” Cass sighed and closed her eyes. She looked pale and drawn “It hurts. It hurts to breathe; it hurts to move; it... it just hurts”
“That’s to be expected” Jade frowned up at the display, taking in the array of neurological stats blistered across its surface “In addition to everything else, Tara punched straight through a rib with that knife. Hard light holograms are monstrously strong; you’re lucky to be alive”
Cassandra’s eyes slid open again at this “She’s dead” she said flatly “Where is she?”
“Dunno – Security has been dramatically increased across the resort, but nobody’s seen her since”
“Once I’m fixed up, I’m going to find her and then I’m going to kill her”
“Yeah, what she did was inexcusable” Jade shook her head and looked back towards Cass “But how much can be blamed on a flaky processor or... or something?” she paused “Did any of us ever really ask how she was doing?”
“I don’t give a shit”
“Yeah, but…”
“Nothing justifies what she did” Cass snapped, with something of her usual fire “Nothing!” she fumbled beneath the sheets to drag her hospital gown up, one hand covering the breast exposed as she revealed the raggedly stitched knife wound, the bruises and the drains still puncturing her skin “Look at me! – Nothing justifies this” she let the gown fall and raised a hand, her thumb and forefinger held only fractionally apart “I came this close to dying”
Jade grimaced. That was much closer to the truth than Cass realised; another centimetre or two lower and the chances were that they wouldn’t be having this conversation. “I know” she soothed, reaching a comforting hand out to grasp her friends shoulder, leaving her to dejectedly straighten her gown “She just made me feel bad about not asking after her”
Shaking her head, Cass closed her eyes for a moment and took a few painful breaths.
“Her memory’s screwed; she’s just making shit up as she goes along” she said eventually “Reactivating her was a mistake; Jay asked if I could do it, and the same as ever...” she raised a hand and let it fall in a helpless gesture “I’m going to have to apologise to him”
“What on earth for?”
“For what I said and did” Cass looked away, unable to meet Jade’s eye “I can’t believe I did all that”
“For what it’s worth, I didn’t see him fighting too hard to get away”
“He was drunk,” Cass retorted glumly “and in any case, that’s not the point. I can’t believe I offered you a threesome with him – I’m so sorry”
“I was flattered,” Jade laughed “and besides, you weren’t to blame; you’d had your drink spiked with some weird Bliss derivative. I checked; they sell all sorts behind the bars here. Tara slipped some into your and Jamie’s drinks”
“Offering him a foursome was even more embarrassing” Cass said in a low voice “I think we’re both mentally scarred by the experience”
“Are you going to apologise to him as well?”
“I already did” she wrinkled her nose “Even after having this fucking psychic link for the last month, he seemed genuinely relieved that I was still alive; it was touching”
Switching the display off, Jade turned to regard her friend “You may well be a pain in the backside,” she said gently “but you are nowhere near to being the awful person you like to think you are”
This had been intended as a compliment, but to her surprise, Cass just seemed to crumple; her eyes screwed closed against the sudden prickle of unbidden tears and she clamped a hand over her mouth and coiled her knees up in front of her, retreating into silent misery.
“Hey...” Jade soothed, moving to her side, to try and draw her into a tangled embrace; this one act of simple kindness proving too much for Cass who collapsed into her arms in floods of tears.
It took more than five minutes of painful sobbing before she finally cried herself out.
“Why’s everything shit?” Cass eventually bubbled “I can’t take it anymore. I’m only human”
Jade pulled away to smile at her friend; all puffy eyed and tear streaked blotchiness “This is the comedown talking, isn’t it?” she asked, gently smearing the tears from each of Cassandra’s cheeks.
The harsh sound of Tara’s laugh startled them both “You pathetic, snivelling whore” she sneered as she stalked into the room

Jade: Cass isn’t in much shape for a scrap – How do you fancy your chances against our resident crazy?
Resident Crazy: I’ll leave this one up to you and Amy to sort out between you.
Jamie: No idea where you are, who you’re with or what you’re doing, but due to that damned psychic link, you’ll be aware that Tara has made her reappearance.
Everyone else: To all intents and purposes, Tara is still on the loose, but resort security has been dramatically increased and she’s not been seen or heard from since last night’s events, so what are you up to? – Maybe Tara has been busy, sabotaging things, overnight?
I guess if you were passingly interested in Cass’s wellbeing, you could get involved with whatever’s going on in the infirmary by dropping in for a visit, but get creative and give us something to work with :-)

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