It’s been such a BORING few days since we started the treatment. Ya know, aside from fighting to keep Priscilla alive. Technolutionary knows his robotics and genetics, but sometimes he gets too caught up in watching stuff happen to stop it. Like this nasty infection in Priscilla’s fingers. I poked and prodded at the darkened flesh, flinching at the smell.
“What are you doing down there? My hand hurts like hell. Is something wrong?” Priscilla asked, weakly.
I got up in her face. Well, a few inches from her face. I then reached down and pulled up a can of silver spray paint. “Well, I gotta tell ya, you could look better. If you’re really determined to go, I could give you a shot of this to get you pumped while you pull some big stunt. Or, if you’re too big a baby for that sort of thing, I can do something about this infection to your hand.”
Priscilla squeezed her blue eyes shut.Yeah, she could be better. I walked over to Technolutionary, who watched something on a tablet instead. It looked like cells infecting other cells, over and over again.
“Hey, what’s that?” I asked. When he looked up, I sprayed him in the face with the paint. He sputtered and fell over.
“You’re making me miss the best part!” he said, jumping to his feet. “What are you doing with paint in here, anyway? This is a delicate medical area.”
“I ran out to improve one of the monuments. I was thinking about Abraham Lincoln recently and thought I’d give him a cool reboot.” The news, meanwhile, speculated on the vandal who painted the Lincoln Memorial statue’s face silver, gave him a mohawk and upside-down skull for a mask, stuck giant spiky football pads on him, and left giant spears embedded with points sticking up all around the place. There’s also the fire hazard of someone leaving all those burning coals to form a barrier around the base. Unfortunately, I didn’t get leave a customized Lincoln town car nearby. Moai suggested it too late into the project, but there’s still a chance to pimp out Thomas Jefferson’s memorial.
“Aaand,” I continued, “you sound like you’re missing the forest for the trees in your delicate medical area. She’s got an infection in her hand. Smells gangrenous.” I pointed over to the offending hand with my can.
As much as Technolutionary liked staring at my ass, it helped draw his eyes to the area in question. That got him in motion. He walked over, tapping the tablet. It switched to different cells, showing a very different picture. They didn’t look healthy, and were being swarmed by bacteria. “Yes, gangrene. That shouldn’t have happened.”
“What are you doing to me?” Priscilla asked.
“Hush, we’re fixing you,” Technolutionary answered.
“Is this happening in the other cells being converted?” I asked him.
He swiped through a few images, then brought up about a dozen more onscreen at once. “No. I think we have an isolated case. The immunosuppresants left her vulnerable. She’s infected, and it’s attempting to spread to her blood. She’s at risk of sepsis and septic shock. That is not good.”
“No, no, no, no, no…” continued Priscilla.
“Normally, there’s nothing more I’d do than listen to you say ‘No’ in just that tone, but this is no time to flirt,” I told her. Then I walked out of the room. We’d used a guest room of the private suite to hold her, not far from a fully-furnished kitchen. It helped that kitchens often have interchangeable tools with operating rooms. I walked back in with a big bottle of vodka in one hand.
Technolutionary took one look at it while hooking up a new IV line and shook his head. “That’s no good. Alcohol will not sterilize this. In fact, it can cause this very infection if used on surgical instruments!”
“Shut up,” I told him, then took a long pull of vodka. Then I held it out toward Priscilla. “Want some?”
“Germs,” she answered, looking at the mouth of the bottle.
I rolled my eyes, then set it down. “If not that, then do you want something, anything for the pain in your arm?”
“There’s the magic word, starshine.” I nodded, pulling a kitchen knife from my pocket. There’s a trick to keeping sharp knives there safely, folks. I recommend you learn it before trying any of this at home. I knelt down underneath the table we had her on. One quick stab later, she jerked against her restraints and I had to lay a cereal bowl down to catch a small drip.
“What did you do? I can’t feel my arms. WHAT DID YOU DO?!” she screamed over and over.
“Geez, the thanks I get. Just trying to be nice. ‘Hey, Psycho Gecko, save my life please.’ ‘Oh, sure I will. I’m awesomesauce at that.’ It’s almost like you wanted to be able to feel this.” I brought the knife down hard, getting a spurt of nasty blood all over me. “Moai, we need suction over here!” Priscilla watched, mouth agape, as I hacked a second time. Right about the first time I heard the knife stick into bone, her mouth bulged then released a fountain of spew onto herself and some onto us.
“Wonderful job, Gecko. Have you ever heard of tourniquets? We only have so much blood!” Technolutionary wiped the puke off his face. Not like it was all that gross. Slightly-yellow stomach bile, mostly, though not something you want to leave on you or your clothes. He grabbed a strap he over on his cart and started tying off the arm while I wiped my own forehead.
Impatient, I yelled for my chief minion. “Moai, where’s that suction?”
He rushed with the vacuum cleaner, trailing the cord. “Ah, good. Get her face. She can’t be puking all over herself, not in this position.” Moai pulled off the hose attachment and used it on Priscilla’s pretty and pale physiognomy. When it looked like she had another big vomit incoming, he raised the entire vacuum and held it up against her mouth for it.
Most of the blood problems stopped once Technolutionary got the strap hitched up nice and tight. I had the hand mostly off, too, but this one last section of bone refused to give. I even dropped the knife and tried muscling it off with my hand in hers, really trying to get some leverage with my elbow on the table. With a snap, I fell forward and took the disconnected hand with me.
I jumped to my feet. “And the new Extreme Arm Wrestling Champ is…Psycho Gecko! High five, everyone!” Technolutionary and Moai ignored me, so I high fived the severed hand instead. Then I pointed at it, “This guy knows what I’m talkin’ about.”
“Your methods were not ideal, but I believe she can be stabilized until the transformation is complete. We planned to fix her legs then. Do you want to make her new hand, or should I?”
“You work on keeping her alive, I’ll handle the cosmetics.” I answered. “Does she have any other trouble spots?”
“Good question.” He raised the tablet and scanned her with the camera. It took a couple minutes, time I spent helping Moai clean up the table.
“There, there,” I said, brushing Priscilla’s curly hair out of her freckled face with her own hand held in my right.
She stared up at her former digits. “Is..is that…?”
“Nope,” I tossed the hand away.
“Hmm,” hummed Technolutionary. “Her appendix doesn’t look good.”
I raised the knife I still held in my left hand.
He frowned and turned so he couldn’t catch me in his peripheral vision. “I believe the antibiotics will prevent appendicitis. I’m more interested in what you did to numb the pain of your impromptu surgery.”
“Oh, right, I’ll have to fix that my own way. Just gave her a little nick in the spine. Nothing much. Just can’t move her arms now.”
“You paralyzed me?” Priscilla broke down into tears.
Technolutionary didn’t bother looking up from the screen. “We can fix that.”
“My hand!” she yelled.
I shrugged. “We can fix that.”
“You can’t treat me like this. I’m a human being.”
“We can fix that,” Tech and I said simultaneously, then glanced at each other.
She started sobbing again after that, mouthing words like “Dad” and “Mom” to herself.
I turned to Technolutionary. “Would it hurt anything to sedate her?”
He still didn’t look up from his tablet. “Why? I doubt she can feel much now that you damaged her spine.”
I walked over and gave Priscilla a good, long sip of the vodka.
There’s a cliche that the night is always darkest before the dawn, which is bullshit. The sky lightens gradually, since the light is provided by the Earth rotating toward a star. It’s not like flipping a switch. But in this case, that was Priscilla’s lowest moment. Her condition improved considerably that night, and the next day.
I kept a close eye on her, too. I stayed in the room with her, watching over her, assembling a new hand out of materials I sent Moai out for. To better help me, and to get Technolutionary out of the room part of the time, I stole the med tablet and hung it over her to allow a constant scan, then steamed the feed to the television in the living room. When she got well enough, I even fixed her spine with a few of my nanites.
And when she had moments calm and lucid enough to ask, I answered her questions about what we did to her. And why. And even why we didn’t take her wheelchair. “Eh, he probably had some sort of tracer on there. Ever heard of a lo-jack? Hijacking is taking a vehicle, lo-jacking is planting something on it to track its location. Why did you even ride in that thing? I’m sure you could have gotten some good legs, like those ones you can run races in.”
“My dad didn’t think fake feet were necessary. Um, it’s more convincing than that when he says it.” She sniffled. “God, you only did this to me to get to him.”
“A lesson well-associated with superheroes. Not to say he is one. He just has a daughter who lost part of her legs to a superhuman fight, then convinced you to stay in a nice, wieldy wheelchair so he could start campaigning on superhuman control and registration. I know heroes can be dicks, but I’m not sure of many who would stoop that low. Ooh, speak of the devil.”
On TV, a reporter with a weird name like Major, or Wolf, or Brit stated that Senator Powers would be addressing the press about his daughter’s disappearance in thirty minutes. “Hey, look at that. Your dad’s going to betray his own bill, all to protect his darling daughter.”
When that press conference started, amazingly, Powers was back in his home state, with his wife and son. He got out of here in a hurry. Then again, the Senate only stayed in session like one day this entire month. The man looked ill, looking more thin in the face. He must have had some really bad bags under his eyes for them to look that visible after makeup. “Ladies and gentlemen of this great nation, I stand before you a battered man. As you all will have heard, my daughter was taken from us on New Year’s Eve. A madman named Psycho Gecko, a superhuman who has been left unchecked for far too long, kidnapped her. Recently, he contacted me. I expected a list of demands. Instead he showed me…he showed…he murdered my little girl.”
Speaking over the speech, I muttered, “Wow. He REALLY wants to be THAT much of an asshole on this.” I shook my head, thinking what this means. He’d probably spin Priscilla as, I don’t know, a cyborg under my thrall? A clone? A surgically-altered lookalike? Otherwise, he’d pretty much have to kill her.
Hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I called up Moai and Tech. “Moai, check the halls, see if we’ve been made. Technolutionary, en garde. The Senator is saying I killed his daughter. I think we’re in the crosshairs.”
I grabbed Priscilla’s table and IV hook and wheeled them both out to the living room. I stopped when Moai tossed me my armor on his way out to check the hallway. While I slipped into it, I expanded my mind and tried to sense anything unusual. Nothing, really. Except, wait…a single cell phone for the entire floor below us. A maid?
Taking a risk, I stepped over to an out of the way portion of the floor and punched my way down. I landed in a heap of dust, drywall, and insulation, with wiring trying to hold onto me.
The suite below looked smaller, but the biggest difference was the stack of C4 sitting on a cable. At first, I couldn’t see the detonator. Then I figured out they actually rigged a manual detonator up to it. The cable. I started following it, stepping past the dead body of a maid. At first, I thought I’d find a guy with one of those plunger boxes from cartoons. Instead, it stopped at the ceiling just above the elevator. I stopped to puzzle that out, then called up to the others. “The elevator’s rigged. The next time someone on our floor calls it, a bomb down here goes off and blows us the fuck up. Technolutionary, let’s take our guest down the stairs.”
“She won’t go on this table,” he told me.
“Unstrap her and lower her down with her medicine. Moai, make sure to grab the feet and hand.”
Technolutionary chimed in. “And the tablet. It has all the relevant medical data we need to recreate the process.”
Technolutionary carried Priscilla down, having suited up in his own armor in the meantime. I let the girl ride me piggbyback as we headed downstairs, Moai taking point in case whoever planted the explosives thought to watch the stairs as well. About halfway down this tedious exercise, I had a flash of a magnificently evil idea. In my head, I called down to Room Service and requested more towels.
We were easily clear of the explosion when ripped through the building high above us like a constipated dragon. Funny thing is, I jumped without meaning to. I don’t mean I was startled. I was expecting the blast, but then I jumped forward and had to catch myself, then my helmet started flipping through its vision modes like crazy. I hadn’t been paying attention, otherwise I should have noticed it. It had been years since I’d been on the same planet as anyone who could do that. “Our little butterfly has emerged from her cocoon,” I sent out as message along the circuits.
“What’s going on?” Priscilla asked out loud behind me. “I can feel your armor like it’s a part of me.”
“That it is,” I told her, also out loud. “Moai should carry you from here.”
The rest of our descent even gave time for emergency services to arrive. They spotted my little entourage as we exited in full gasping fanfare, but stayed back. Priscilla, the doll that she was, looked into the nearest camera she could find in the crowd. Big Brother doesn’t need to watch anyone when they’re all willing to record their own lives, but this time it helped me. “My name is Priscilla Powers. I’m not dead. Psycho Gecko kidnapped me, but I’m alive, see?” she waved her handless stump for people. “My little brother’s middle name is Juneaux, but he hates it. My mom’s best dish is her spinach shells. I wanted to call my first dog Sparkles, but Dad put Zeus on the tag. It’s me! I’m alive! It’s me!”
I walked over and slid the replacement hand onto her stump, then turned to that same camera. “Trying to assassinate me AND your daughter at the same time while claiming I killed her? That’s low, even for a politician. Now, everyone, let’s get some room so Cinderella can try on her glass slippers.”
Priscilla’s face lit up as her body made the connections and the hand came to life. I made a small improvement on the fingers. They were boneless, more like finger-shaped tentacles. Those things had lots of nifty little tricks. While she played around with her new range of motion, Technolutionary handed me one of the prosthetic feet. We both knelt and slipped the three-toed feet onto the ends of her legs, then stood back. In a matter of seconds, they flexed and curled then moved about.
“I can walk!” Priscilla declared just before Moai eased her to her feet. Then, of course, she fell down and we had to help her up.
“The muscles in your legs have atrophied. You need physical therapy to regain your ability to walk,” Technolutionary told her.
“Get away from the girl!” called out a pair of DCPD officers. Behind them, I noticed a reporter and cameraman rushing to the scene, who stopped to get a view of the cops with more sack than brains. Moai, Priscilla, Tech, and I all turned to these officers at once. They sheepishly removed their hands from their holstered guns and stepped back.
“What do we do with them?” asked Technolutionary, stepping toward them. The crowd and officers took a step back in response.
“Nothing for now. This part is done. More publicly than I hoped, but her own father blew up my original plans the same time when he tried to blow up his own daughter.” I threw my hands up to the sky. “What sort of man tries to kill his own daughter?! What foul agenda was he willing to advance through such a murder plot? Oh, may the Furies pick the flesh from his bones!”
“If you do not wish to engage in a fight with the police, we ought to leave before we have no choice in the matter,” Technolutionary interrupted.
I lowered my arms. “Good call. You’ve been a wonderful crowd, folks. I’m available for parties, Bar Mitzvahs, even the occasional adult diaper commercial.” Feigning a sniff, I pointed at one of the cops. “This guy knows what I mean.”
And with that, we disappeared, leaving our metaphorical butterfly Cinderella behind as we fled to one of the bad neighborhoods of D.C. where crime is rampant and police fear to tread.
Truly, it’s a tale fit for Disney.