This is taking on a life of its own. Just as most of my stories do. I’m not letting myself get dragged into a discussion of biomechanics for pt3, so I’ll deal with that as quickly as I can. Especially as I’ve heard Gary’s last words in the last scene. I must return to the 2nd edition of Echoes of Family Lost and the copy-edit of The Saga of Nichole5.
I also must keep writing each day. Tricky, that.
Finally left alone, Gary knelt next to her bed in the ER and rested his chin onto his left hand. His right gently touched Henge’s face. I love you so much.
“What really happened?” he asked.
At the conclusion of the Rosary, the priest opened his eyes and, staring at the Hartmann family, gestured down the central aisle. Three fourths of them genuflected as they departed at a trot.
“The lights are still in our favor,” Faustina muttered as her father pulled the small car out onto the road. “Still hurts, though.”
“Enough, sister,” Gary said, taking her right hand with his left in the back seat. “You’ve made your point.”
He watched her irises slowly return to normal. She smiled.
“So the next time you and Dad leave me behind on our marches – !”
“Quiet, please,” their father said, in a tone that expected no reply. They made it to the hospital in just under fifteen minutes.
Fausta was here in four, Faustina spoke directly to his mind. Why’s Dad being so cautious?
I’ve an idea. I’ll tell you later.
She squeezed his hand.
Parking, they all tumbled out and made for the Emergency Room main entrance. A retiree from the Society, John Hanks, was there to greet Leslie as he led his family in.
“Stable. That large woman, from our Huntsville trip, Fausta, called in a phenytoin drip just before they arrived…
“The pharmacist will do what I say!” they clearly heard Fausta’s shout from behind him.
“They’re in Pod A, room two, just there.” The family moved as one. “Just… one into the room now, please, Les!”
He nodded and gave a single look to his wife.
“Faustina, Gary! Let’s wait in these uncomfortable chairs here!” She watched her husband duck around the hanging curtain. “I think we’ll be able to hear everything.”
“Geez, mom!” Faustina said quietly. She dropped into a chair and partly raised her hands, as if praying.
“Do not push yourself, sister,” Gary said sharply to her. “One emergency in our family is too many.”
“Ahhllll… beeee… ffffine!”
He surmised she, alone or with the machines, hacked through the hospital’s Walls to pull all information about Henge.
Behind the curtain Leslie saw Henge in a bed. Her shirt was off and tele leads had her vitals on the monitor over her head. Fausta was again at her left, clearly unhappy; she must have retrieved her large sunglasses at some point. The girl who’d acted as a hero in the church was in the corner to his right, her left hand in bloody gauze. In green scrubs, doctor or nurse, he didn’t know, was opposite Fausta and just ahead of him.
“For her height and weight the pharmacist said she needs a loading dose!” the young man, maybe thirty, replied to Fausta.
“Her body is too new; too young! It will likely damage her nervous system!” Seeing Leslie, Fausta reduced the amplification of her voice.
“’Likely?’ Let’s leave this to the professionals, ma’am!”
Leslie felt the air about him grow cold. He recalled what Fausta was designed to do. Kill people and break things.
“Do you know this girl?” Fausta’s voice was even lower. Leslie shuddered and was about to take the man’s shoulders in warning…
“No I don’t! It doesn’t matter – what?!” He turned sharply at Leslie’s hand on his shoulder.
“The girl was born less than a week ago from nanomaterials and fire from the sun,” Leslie’s eyes brought him up short. “She is a new creation. And her machine family…”
He nodded with his chin at Fausta. When the man in scrubs turned, she took off and tossed aside her sunglasses. Her array flickered.
“…can think faster than we can imagine. I suggest you listen to her. And them.”
The medical staff had lived with the P-kids for over a dozen years now. Understanding dawned.
“I’ll tell the pharmacist to adjust the dose and timing,” he said quietly.
“If there’s a problem with that,” Fausta rumbled, “I know where the Pharmacy is and will take my own action!”
“Let’s hope, Fausta,” Leslie said, making a small wave with his right hand, “that shan’t be necessary.”
The man in scrubs stepped out beyond the curtain.
“Status?” Leslie said for the second time, expecting better answers.
“We knew I would be flawed, father-in-law,” Henge barely managed from the bed. “It’s a matter of finding those flaws…”
She coughed once and was still. Suppressing panic, he saw her chest was still moving.
“And correcting them as best we can,” Fausta concluded for her niece.