A Patient Collection

10th October - Beneath the Rose District - Late Morning

Eris walked slowly through the dark passageways of her masters home. She could not call it her home, never that. Her true home was far away and far beneath them. Her arm was repaired and held in a sling. Much of the flesh had been removed but that would be fixed easily enough. She glanced at her reflection in a glass door as she passed by one of the holding cells and was shocked by the cuts and bruises that marred her features. They would fade in time she realised, but more shocking was her sudden attachment to such vanities. She was functioning and not long ago that would have been sufficient for her needs. She shook her head and moved on.

First on the left she saw the young boy she had saved from the Sprawl. Gill was unconscious, kept that way by a steady regime of drugs. When he was brought too, great care was taken to ensure he remained calm and trusting in their good intent. The master had an important task for the lad, but much work would be required to prepare him for it. She touched the glass and cocked her head to one side as she watched the sleeping boy. So peaceful.

A sharp thump on the glass of the cell opposite tore her from her thoughts and she turned to see warped and bloated form of Lucas Eli staring down at her with his one good eye. The other buried beneath a mass of putrid flesh. He was angry and she did not blame him.

"Why am I here?" He demanded, "Why am I here?"

"You are safe here." she replied refusing to pity the man. The feeling welled up within her, sickly and unwanted and she thrust it away.

"I want to die. They keep me here and they wont let me die." he wailed and she made to take a step forward before stopping herself.

"You are needed." she replied.

"I dont fucking care if I am needed," he raged starting to thump on the glass over and over again, "I want to die!" he continued to repeat the last again and again while attacking the glass and finally Eris could stand it no longer. She pressed a small green button to the side of the cell and thick grey smoke was released into the air about Lucas' head. He began to cough and flail about. She did not stay to see him pass out.

Three cells on the right and she came to an open door through which she could see the naked form of Edward Hanton on an operating table. He was on his front and his right leg had been removed at the hip as had much of the flesh leading up to the base of his spine. Two surgeons were hard at work clearing the exposed joint and lower vertebrae. The skeletal structure of a new leg gleamed on a nearby trolley. A familiar design she noticed with an interface designed to integrate with the human nervous system. One of the surgeons looked up and gave her a nod of recognition.

"Is he responding well?" she asked.

"As well as can be expected." the women replied with the thick accents of the Ashen.

She moved on then to a cell near the end of the corridor where she found Captain Phineas Steelhart perched on the end of his bed looking frustrated. She noticed with some amusement that the glass looking into his cell had been shattered. He looked up sharply as she approached.

"You!" he exclaimed, "Thought you were a dream, or dead. Maybe both."

"I assure you I am neither." she replied stepping through the shattered frame. The glass crunched beneath her feet as she closed on him.

"Woke up a little confused and tried to get out." he shrugged apologetically. "Didn't notice this until the glass was done for." he gestured towards the shackle around his left ankle fastening him by a chain to the far wall.

"Just a precaution. You were delirious and that thing can do some damage." she flicked her hand towards his mechanical arm.

"Then why leave it on me?" he asked and she stepped back in confusion.

"Because it is your arm." she replied as if no further explanation were necessary, "We would not remove your legs to stop you from running either."

"Yes but..."

She cut him off with a wave of her hand and knelt down at his side to remove the shackle. It came away with a sharp click and she straightened to see him staring down at her in confusion.

"Soooo.. I am not a prisoner?"

"You are not." she confirmed.

"And I can leave."

"When ever you like."

"How long have I been here?" he asked after taking a moment to compose himself.

"Just under three days."

Phineas made to stand but she pushed him back down to sit on the bed. She stepped up and sat next to him.

"How am I still alive?" he asked, "There were holes in my the size of the Nexus."

"They are gone." she replied matter of factually.

"I know they are gone and I also know I feel like a stallion on heat. I have never felt so alive and healthy... so..."

"We repaired you." she edged away from him.

"But why?"

"Because you were broken." she replied being deliberately evasive now.

"My ship." he exclaimed suddenly in a wild change of tack, "How is she? and my crew?"

She gave a sigh, he would not take this well. "She... it has been impounded at the Roost along with seven other vessels. Two more escaped out into the Darklands."

"Lucky bastards." he said with a wishful look.

"Your crew as far as I know have evaded capture and gone to ground."

"Good... good. Yes that is good."

"So who is feeding green to the gods with so many ships down."

More bad news, "The military have taken full control of Roost operations under..."

"Marshall cock sucking Maynard." He finished for her, "That star studded bastard was moving in before all of this happened. Tell me is he married?"

"I er... do not know." she replied confused my the sudden turns of this mans mind.

"There is a warrant out for your arrest," she went on, "there is a reward and pictures up all over the Sprawl and Steamwork."

She was stunned. The mad man actually looked pleased by that last bit on news.

"We think it best you lay low for a few days more. Make yourself at home. If you need anything just ask... food, drink."

"Company?" he asked and she smiled.

"That can be arranged." these people and their strange obsessions. Although she had to admit there had been moments since her arrival that she had considered such distractions.

"Well we will see." he said sitting back on the bed at his ease.

"When you wish to leave just ask and you will be escorted to the streets above. In the meantime I will have this glass repaired."

She stood and made to leave but he stopped her with a firm hand on her arm.

"Tell me," he said with a grin, "How much are they offering for my hide?"

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