Nothing is quite like having something to do … and today appears to be quite a busy day for Envoy. She has a bike to build, clothing to buy, and a hospital to visit! Not to mention a child to allow on his first date! Or 'not-date' if you asked Icarus, because Violette scares him. When asked, he blurted, "She licked my tonsils!" Still, there's plenty of time to get things done if you have a plan and stick to it and Envoy does. The morning is spent crafting a 'bike' for Icarus to use (without making anyone wonder just how it is he can fly).
It's taken a good bit of effort, but Envoy is happy with the result. It looks a bit like a motorcycle without wheels. In place of an engine there is a cylindrical nacelle that looks like one of the gravity thrusters, and actually has an enchantment on it nearly identical to the one on the original gravity disc which means Icarus could easily move it, but nobody else could. The saddle, fantail and windscreen flow like a feline body, although the front canard over the handlebars is more birdlike. The whole thing is shiny black ceramic with some glowing gold trim, and two eye-like lights in the front with high-powered forgelight enchantments. There are stubby wings and faux flight surfaces added here and there for aesthetics, and the whole things floats a few inches above the ground.
So … the crazy crew all head to town with Icarus on his bike and Thorndike riding on the back. Violette and Envoy can fly, of course, so that's what they do. When they reach town, Envoy insists that they go by the Silent-One consulate. Since they're recognized by the staff there, they at least encounter no difficulties in getting inside (aside from a little bit of speciesism-style prejudice, but it wasn't horrible). Envoy is able to establish an audience with both of the twins and naturally they both agree to go and keep Icarus company. This seems to deflate (or perhaps intimidate) the bat a little, but she doesn't argue. Icarus seems to feel better about it all: perhaps he's feeling braver now that he doesn't have to face another tonsil licking? In any event, they're able to leave Icarus and Violette there.
From there it is … shopping time! Fun for Envoy and torture for Walter Thorndike. Stores are designed to torture men. Not a single one has the compassion to put a chair outside of a dressing room, so Walter has to sit on the floor every time. After the fifth store, Walter claimed there were things he just remembered he had to buy for his experiments and scurried off towards one of the construction and hardware shops further down the street. So, alas poor Envoy had to finish shopping alone. Fortunately the staff of the stores prevented her from buying anything too outlandish, so she ends up walking out of the tenth store dressed like a rather severe-looking librarian.
She's wearing an A-line dress that flows down to her ankles, modest and elegant. That is combined with a frilly (and heavily modified for her wings) blouse, covered by an almost bodice-like vest that pushes up her 'virtues' quite nicely. Over that she wears a dark red velvet jacket, buttoned to just above her cleavage-line. Her hair has been combed and braided into a bun … and to top it off, she's wearing half-lens glasses that rest on the tip of her muzzle. They provide no correction at all (Plano lenses), they're just for 'the look'. The last shopkeeper claimed they were 'all the rage!' naturally. It was probably a sales pitch, but she bought them anyway.
At long last, Envoy is finally ready for the Hospital and Thorndike is still hiding in some testosterone-laden tools shop. So she's on her own for now! He knows where to find her anyway. So … off to the hospital she goes!
Our Lady of Forgiveness
This hospital has stood for near eighty years in the downtown New Zion. The story goes that it was started by a middle-aged woman who had 'come into' a large sum of money and being without family of her own established a hospital to care for sick, injured and orphaned children. It has grown over the years into one of the best hospitals in the city for treating illnesses that afflict children and has one of arguably the most state-of-the-art research laboratories for biosciences in the city, save for what the Expedition itself has. The building itself is a twenty-story mass of gleaming glass and white-painted metal with a large set of automated glass doors ready to part and allow the entrance of anyone at any time for nearly any emergency.
Well at least it was easy to find! It's huge and the two sliding glass doors loom before Envoy like some great maw waiting to devour her!
The Aeolun takes several minutes to gather her courage. She's never seen a building so tall, outside of the Temple of Rephidim… and that hardly has any windows. So, she takes a deep breath to quell her butterflies, and heads for the doors. She tries to look confident and purposeful, because people tend not to question that sort. Unless they are clearly alien, of course, but she ignores that aspect for now.
An entirely too perky blonde-and-blue-stripe haired receptionist dressed in all white greets Envoy as she passes through the pneumatically controlled front doors. "Welcome to Our Lady of Forgiveness!" she practicality chirps. "I hope you and your … " it's there she has to pause when the strangeness of the creature that just walked in fully registers "… and your … family? Are having a happy and healthy day! Are you here for services or to visit a patient? If you do require services, we'll do the best we can; we have the largest library of xenobiology of any medical center; but you aren't a species I recognize."
"I'm not a species at all," Envoy says, returning the smile. "Actually, I was hoping to speak with Dr. Alice Demara, if she is available."
"Don't be silly, everyone is a species of something," the receptionist insists. At the name, though, she bites her lips and chews thoughtfully. "Do you have an appointment?" she finally asks, "Doctor Demara is a very busy woman. She manages the entire Hospital."
"Oh, how can I make an appointment then?" Envoy asks, looking at the woman's desk.
"I can help you do that," the receptionist says, "The lead time is about six months. Is that acceptable?"
"Not really," Envoy says. "Can you send her a message sooner than that?" she asks.
The desk is metal and wood, with the wood looking like it is probably an import from Sinai. The surface has a glass top with what looks like controls for an intercom system beneath as well as a log book and miles of paper, all nearly organized in folders with colored tabs.
"A message? Certainly. She should be out of surgery in about ten minutes," the receptionist claims after checking a bound calendar-book. "I can probably catch her in the hallway before she reaches her office and personal research lab."
"Oh, that's not long at all!" Envoy says happily. "Can you let her know that Envoy of Lothrhyn is here, and would like to talk to her about the legacies of Doctors Daedalus and Von Bronson."
"Who?" the receptionist asks while she writes down a hasty note.
"I am Envoy of Lothrhyn," Envoy says, leaning further to watch the woman write, and see which parts she needs help with. "To discuss the work of Dr. Elsa Daedalus, and Dr. Von Bronson."
"Hm. Will she know who these other doctors are?" the receptionist asks. She's onto the part of writing down the latter two names. "I've never heard of them and I do know most of her regular associates."
"Well, if she knows them, then she may want to see me," Envoy says. "If she does not recognize them… well, that will tell me whether or not to make a formal appointment."
The receptionist finishes the note with a flourish! She even dots every 'i' with a little heart, too. "Please wait here!" she chirps as she rolls her chair back and hops out of it. She turns and walks through two doors that lead to the hospital proper. Her hips sure sway a lot … but it's likely due to four inch high-heel shoes she's wearing. With shoes like that, she will need to be a patient some day for foot surgery.
Envoy wonders if the use of high heels for non-digitigrade species is some sort of response to the height advantage of Silent-Ones. Or if it is just some bizarre fetish like corsets…
Envoy has a good fifteen minutes to ponder this before the receptionist returns. "Well, ah," she says a bit nervously, "It looks like you have an appointment … ah, now? If that is okay?"
"Ah, yes, I'm not busy right now," Envoy replies with a smile.
"Okay, go through the doors behind me. Go to the elevator at the end of the hall, then take it to the top floor. Doctor Demara's office is at the end of the hall," the receptionist explains.
"Thank you, miss," Envoy says, and heads through the doors and down the hall. She looks through any open doors curiously, of course.
All the doors are closed, alas. Presumably for the privacy of patients or staff. Up ahead is the elevator.
It isn't difficult to figure out the elevator. She wonders if automatic doors would be popular on Sinai. It really just needs the proper sort of enchantment. And they could talk too. She presses the button for the top floor… and holds her breath, just in case.
The trip up is slow, but uneventful. There is also plenty of air in the elevator, so holding her breath really isn't necessary. The bell chimes when the elevator reaches floor nineteen and the doors part. From the looks of things, this is definitely the administrative section of the hospital. The hallway is narrower and the doors are all wood and bear brass name plates. The doors Envoy seeks are ahead; a double door set made of some sort of deeply stained wood. Once Envoy steps out of the elevator, she becomes acutely aware of two human guards standing on either side of her; each armed with a rather sturdy-looking steel carbine-rifle. They say nothing to her as the look her up and down.
Envoy smiles and tries not to make any suspicious moves. She feels a bit relieved, having been worried about being shot at once she reached Demara's office. "I'm here to see Dr. Demara," she tells the guards. "I'm expected. And unarmed."
The guards don't even crack a smile. One of them motions for her to move along with his rifle.
Envoy doesn't linger, and heads for the far door. She realizes that the severe dress makes it impossible to run if she has to… but at least she isn't wearing high heels. Once she reaches the properly labeled door, she knocks gently on it, beneath the brass plaque.
"Come in," a decidedly female voice comes from beyond.
A bit nervously, Envoy opens the door and steps inside, not knowing what to expect. "Thank you for seeing me, Dr. Demara," she says politely. "I hope that I haven't ruined your day."
Envoy steps through the doorway and finds herself looking at … an empty desk. The room is massive, easily twenty by twenty feet and the walls are floor to ceiling books. She doesn't have time to look at much, though, as something cool and cylindrical presses against the side of her head. There's a click, then the whine of high-capacity capacitors charging up. "This device can disrupt the neural functions of any known species," the calm voice from a middle-aged woman still in surgical scrubs standing beside her and was apparently hiding behind one of the doors. "So, please, no sudden movements. I took an oath to heal; I do not wish to harm you."
"Ah," Envoy says. "Dr. Von Bronson had me shot in the head a few weeks ago, so I can't say I blame you for your precaution. But just so I know: are you really Dr. Elsa Daedalus? She certainly had the skill to fake her own death, just as Von Bronson did."
"No, I am Doctor Alice Demara," the woman claims and doesn't lower the weapon, "You requested to see me. Many do, but the particulars of your visit worry me. Those are two names I have not heard in some time. I take it you are one of Von Bronson's bio-experiments?"
"No, he isn't that good," Envoy says. "I'm the one that usurped his old base of operations, and… In any case, I consider him an enemy. But he has managed to survive, and has recreated the work of Dr. Daedalus."
"You had better sit down, then, and tell me everything," Doctor Demara says as she lowers the weapon finally. "Forgive my … paranoia, but Doctor Daedalus founded this hospital, though not under that name. She is my great-grandmother."
Envoy smiles at that. "I'm glad she started a family," she admits, and has a seat. Only then does she shiver in delayed reaction to having the stunner pressed to her head. "Before I say anything, I need to know how much you already know. For instance, do you know about Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen?"
The doctor puts her weapon away in the side-pocket of her scrubs and then walks towards and around, her desk. She settles down into her chair and steeples her fingers together, peering at Envoy over them. "They were the last three experiments in Sifran-organic fusion. Eleven and Twelve died horribly in experiments; Thirteen was … never grown to maturity. Elsa could not bear to go through losing another child. And yes, by that point they were children. They laughed, cried, dreamed, and hoped. What was done to them haunted Elsa; which is why this hospital was founded; penance for her actions," she explains.
"Tell me… did she ever refer to Thirteen as Icarus?" Envoy asks, looking for something to indicate her time-travel experience was genuine.
"She never spoke much of him; it upset her too much," Doctor Demara explains.
"He's alive, and doing fine now," Envoy says. "His name is Icarus. He's at the movies today, on a 'date' with an Eeee Chaos Mage from Sinai. I've adopted him as my son. Dr. Von Bronson does not seem to suspect that Dr. Daedalus escaped him, since he's been working for decades to recreate her discoveries. He created number Fourteen."
Doctor Demara reclines her chair and closes her eyes for a bit. "Can I trust you, Envoy of Lothryn?" she asks. "Tell me something that Elsa would have known that Von Bronson would not."
Envoy thinks, but her experience with Daedalus was short. "I… don't know what either of them knew about one another," she admits. "I haven't figured out how she managed to have the apparent recording of her own murder at Von Bronson's hands hidden in the wall of her office, behind the bullet that supposedly killed her. I know where she hid Icarus, of course, and managed to revive him."
Doctor Demara nods at that. "That tells me enough," she says, sits up, then stands. "I am not who you need to be talking to."
The Aeolun blinks at this. "Who… do I need to be talking to?" she asks. "Someone who knows how to fight Von Bronson?"
"No," Doctor Demara says. She goes to one of the bookcases nearby and pulls out what appears a sequence of books. There is an audible click and one of the bookcases slides back, then to the side, to reveal a hidden elevator. "You need to speak with Elsa," she says.
This news perks up Envoy, such that she nearly floats to her feet. "I'd hoped… I mean, she knew how to clone her own organs for transplant, I think," she babbles. "Von Bronson uses machines… I wonder… " Envoy swallows, feeling a chill. "I wonder if she'll remember me."