In the end, the procedure was quite simple.

Mr. Hanton arrived at the appointed hour, with his attendants carefully wheeling a trolley, bearing a coffin sized crate, in behind him.

“Leave us” Edward said, once they had maneuvered the crate into the centre of the gloomily lit laboratory “Wait in the corridor outside and see that we’re not disturbed”

Lilith smiled as the grim faced men nodded and silently retreated “I do like a man who knows how to wield authority” she purred.

Discomfited, Edward scowled, unsure as to whether he was being complimented or mocked; two things he was very unused to.

“Let’s get this over with” he said, blackly. He was used to being feared, damn it!

“Certainly” Lilith smirked “You’re the boss”

Plucking a Hoffman Torsion Wrench up from the nearest workbench, she rammed the chisel tip under the lid of she crate, but turned back to Edward before flicking the activation switch.

“I have to ask, Mr. Hanton. Does our deal still stand?”

“Yes” Edward nodded and smiled thinly, relieved, at least, to have the upper hand “You play your part, Professor, and I’ll make sure you’re granted leave to continue your research”

Apparently satisfied with this, Lilith thumbed the switch and levered the crate open; the bolts, securing the lid, shrieking as they were hauled free of their housings by the wrench.

“Ah, Mr. Cobbet” Lilith breathed as as the lid clattered to the floor. Heavily sedated, Westley lay within the crate, swathed in bandages and still in his hospital nightshirt. “You and I are going to have so much fun”

Reaching a hand into the crate, she traced his jawline with the tips of her fingers. “You lucky, lucky boy”

“Delivered as agreed” Edward joined her at the side of the crate to gaze down at Westley. The bastard’s damnation was so close to being complete, he could almost taste it. Gods how he hated him.

Lilith glanced up at him and raised her eyebrows “Have there been any change to the requirements?” she asked “Do you still want memories of his collusion with the Red Crew implanting?”

“Exactly as we discussed” Edward nodded “Nothing more, nothing less”

“Excellent” Lilith clapped her hands together “I’ll only need to integrate the memory matrix into the subject’s neocortex. It’s primed and ready to go, so make yourself comfortable, Mr. Hanton; we should be done in two shakes of a lamb’s tail”

Settling himself in one of the one of the armchairs near the fire, Edward watched with interest as the woman busied herself making preparations for the procedure.

First, Westley was wheeled across the gloomily lit laboratory, towards one of the bulky brass and leather devices dangling from the cables and chains suspended from one of the overhead gantries. Carefully lowering the device onto Westley’s head, Lilith strapped it in place and made a few adjustments to the potentiometers, studding the surface of the contraption.

After that, she busied herself, moving here and there around the bulky machines comprising her apparatus; taking readings and fine tuning the equipment in preparation for the procedure.

As Edward watched, in spite of himself, he could feel his excitement slowly beginning to mount. Once this process was complete, he was going to savour extracting the information Lilith was about to implant, in the most painful way possible; and after that, Westley would be history.

By the time Edward was done with him, Westley would be begging to sign his confession.

Eventually, finally satisfied with her preparations, Lilith activated the machine.

All things considered, the process seemed inordinately quick. There was the sudden roar of turbines; the crackle of electricity and the eerie green glow of flagesium, burning deep in the heart of the furnaces. Lilith, her eyes covered with protective goggles, hauled hard on a series of levers. There was a blinding flash and then just the sound of the turbines idling back down into silence.

“Is that it?” Edward asked, rising from his chair “Did it work?”

“Well, our subject’s brain isn’t spattered all over the inside of that crate, so I think it’s safe to say that it did”

“How will I be able to tell?”

Lilith smirked “I’d suggest simply torturing him”

Edward pursed his lips. He hadn’t considered that there would be no way of verifying that the procedure had been successful until Westley had recovered from his sedation.

Fuck it. He wanted this business over and done with.

“You’ve been most helpful, Professor Dawkins” he began.

“I have, haven’t I?” there was something odd about her smile “You will remember our agreement, won’t you? My research must continue”

Edward nearly laughed at this “Professor Dawkins, despite it’s obvious uses, this technology is expressly forbidden under the Elysium Accord. The new Regent is already aware of your work; so sheltering you would be extremely risky not only for me, but Councillor Corbet as well - That, I will not allow!

”No” he continued “You’ll be on the first train to Greymire tomorrow morning, along with all the other scum”

Turning, Edward was about to call his attendants in to arrest her, but a sudden agonising burst of pain inside his skull made him cry out and double over in torment.

“Oh, poor baby. Does it hurt?” Lilith asked, as she strolled nonchalantly towards him.

Blurrily peering up at her through tears of pain, Edward’s mind reeled “What-” he gasped “What is this?”

“Insurance” Lilith said, coldly.

Reaching out, she grabbed a handful of his hair and hauled him upright to examine him “I must say that I’m rather pleased with the results”

Agonised and infuriated at being treated like this, Edward swung out at Lilith with the intent of catching her by her throat and wrestling her to the floor to throttle her, but he had barely begun to move when another hammer blow of pain smashed through his skull.

“Now, now” Lilith released her grip on him as he twisted and collapsed to the floor “There’s no need for that”

Retreating to perch on the edge of a nearby workbench, she waited a few moments for Edward’s ragged breathing to calm “I was rather hoping it wouldn’t come to this” she mused “But there it is: You attempted a double cross, only to find that I’d already anticipated your move. I have to admit that I’m somewhat disappointed”

“What have you done to me?” Edward croaked, once he was able to speak again.

“A bit of conditioning. It’s like post hypnotic suggestion, but more deeply ingrained. You can neither harm, nor indirectly cause me to be harmed without being debilitated by pain”

Edward’s mind reeled “How - When did this happen?”

”You can blame the Clockwork King. He asked me to do a bit of work on you, while you were recuperating from old Mortimer concoctions. I just added in a few little extras of my own.”

Lilith paused a moment while this sank in ”You, sunshine, are fucked”

The worst thing, Edward realised as he clambered shakily back to his feet, was that she was absolutely right “What it it that you want?” he growled “What does the Clockwork King want?”

“I’m sure you’ll find that out what he wants soon enough. For myself: all I want is to continue with my research - As you may have surmised, it’s at a much more advanced stage than even my sponsor knows, and it’s imperative that it continues.

”If it makes things easier, you can ship some other unfortunate off to Greymire and claim it was me, while I disappear into the shadows for a while? - That way you can claim you’ve done your job for your Elysian masters, and your Councillor Corbet stays nice and safe.”

“That could work” Edward grudgingly agreed. He could delegate an arrest and falsify the documentation. The accidental deaths of the arresting officers would assure complete deniability later on. Once that was done, he’d have time to work out how to unpick what this witch had done to him and then torture her to death.

Lilith grinned “Excellent. Then it’s settled.” she stood and began pulling on a pair of gloves “Now, there’s just one more thing: Yonic propinquity”

Edward had just enough time to scowl in confusion before his legs gave out beneath him and he collapsed to the floor, black spots dancing at the edge of his vision.

“Wh-?” his voice was barely a croak.

As unconsciousness rushed in, the last thing he was aware was Lilith standing over him.

“Now, let’s just edit your recollection of this encounter, shall we?” her smile was hard and cold “I can’t have you remembering the bad things...”

Edward will wake, having apparently dozed off in the armchair with no recollection of the exchange, or any urge to double cross the Professor, after having agreed on a mutually beneficial arrangement
Westley is all yours ;-)

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