Good friends are hard to find
Bad ones are always there, asking for something
~ Unknown: saying written in the men's room of the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame
February 15th, 2061
0235 hours local/Seattle Metroplex time
DocWagon surgical center, 25th floor Executive surgical suite
Patient Wilbur Worthington the fourth, age twenty-four years, three months, five days. Blood type AB negative. Patient is admitted for trauma and involuntary loss of right lower extremity, leg, approximately four centimeters above the Nutrient Foramen. Additional injuries to be assessed by attending surgical staff. Full cybernetic prosthesis is authorized. Patient has a resuscitation order on file. Doctor Johnson and Doctor Smith attending. Artificial surgical assistant series nine assisting. Logging procedure.
"Heart rate is holding at forty-eight B.P.M., pressure is one twenty over seventy."
"He's going to need another unit of blood. How long before the prosthesis is ready?"
"Sizing is almost complete. Another fifteen minutes and it should be sanitized and ready for attachment."
"Right then, initiate the filament implantation sequence. We'll get the neural-threading done and the ganglionic interface initialized while we wait for the leg."
"Got someplace to be, Doctor?"
"We're going to need the beta-grade filament, this guy's coverage mandates the higher grade materials. Yeah, my daughter's recital is this afternoon so I'm taking some time off."
"How old is she now? Cauterize the vein there please, we'll need a clean fit for the reinforcing rods."
"Twelve. Hard to believe she'll be a teen soon. Grab a Fauci ring, fourteen gauge, the femur is cracked higher up. What happened to this guys?"
"Paracritter attack. Intake says his friend claimed it was a dragon. Fourteen is too small, I'm going to resize to fourteen point two, it'll be good and tight."
"Hmp. No way it was real dragon. Troll or no, he'd be dead already if that were the case. Surgical bot, apply calcifying epoxy on the lateral side femoral fracture and sterilize a six centimeter reinforcing plate for implantation."
"What is she performing in her recital?"
"I don't know, something classical I think. Her mother didn't say, just complained that her new boyfriend got fired again. Asked me if I could send her an advance on the alimony payment."
"No way. You didn't send her the money did you?"
"No." Beep... "That epoxy needs to be smoothed out some more, the surgical AI is getting sloppy. Work it into the fractures on the distal side."
"I see it. Ghost, this guy took a beating. What did she say when you told her 'no'?"
"The usual profanities. I think she's picking up some personality quirks from all the sims. The filament is threaded, ganglionic interface checks out."
"Good. Initiate the nanite cellular knitters."
"This guy's coverage is THAT good?"
"Apparently. Platinum card carrier. Good thing too. He won't even have a limp by the time we're done."
"Understood. Nanite cellular knitters, ten milliliters, applied. Running repair app."
Doctors, scans show foreign objects lodged in the Tonsor fasciae latae, adductor longus, sartorious, rectus femoris, semmembranosus, and adductor magnus
"Acknowledged. We'll begin extractions after attaching the prosthesis."
"Looks like plascrete and mineral fragments."
"Agreed. Street shrapnel is my guess."
"Looks like it."
"What about you, any big plans tonight?"
"Not really. I've got an event with my mmorpg clan tonight."
"AR or full sim?"
"AR. I never got into full simsense. My parents were scared of it and after med school, reading about simsense addiction really put me in the mindset to avoid it."
"I can understand that. I use a 'trode net when I do full sim. Never go more than an hour at a time. It's addictive if you're not careful."
"For a lot of people it's addictive even when they are."
"Unfortunately, that's very true."
"What are you doing after the recital?"
"I'll take her home to her mother's place then maybe check out Dante's tonight."
"Wild place, I hear."
"Is that Fauci ring on tight?"
"It will be once the calcification is done. Two minutes or so."
"I've only been to Dante's once before, I had a good time but someone stole my commlink while I was there."
"Damn! That had to have sucked!"
"You know it. I had fifteen fraudulent charges on my cred by the time I got home."
"Damn... Nanites are reporting tissue knitting is optimal.
Doctors, six centimeter plate is sterile and ready for implantation.
"Good, get it centered over the mid-point fracture and I'll set the pins."
"One moment, the rod isn't aligned properly yet, let me clamp and fix it into position"
"That looks good, nice work Doctor."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"Let's make sure the filaments aren't in contact with the rods or plates, we don't need any latency when we sync up the sensory suite and balance receptors."
"Looks good. I'll close up and get the nanites to work on knitting the skin back together on the stump and socket. Go ahead and start on the shrapnel removal."
"I'm going to have to excise some of the tissue here. Some of this shrapnel must have been molten when it hit him."
"No wonder they thought it was a dragon."
"Ok, nanites should be done with the tissue knitting in about ten minutes. I'll take a look at his hand."
"Good idea, I'm going to be here a while."
Doctors, full scan of patient is now complete, numerous foreign objects have been detected. Please see your AR overlay for location and analysis details. Scans of patient indicate a mandibular fracture as well as fractures of teeth numbers one, two, three, four, thirty-two, thirty-one, thirty, twenty-nine and twenty-eight. Oral surgeon Neil Parks has been alerted and will be ready to accept patient once current surgical procedures are complete.
"Yeah those are going to hurt for a while."
"I'll get that leg attached and start the software synchronization."
"I'm almost done with the shrapnel in his leg."
February 15th, 2061
1400 hours local/Seattle Metroplex time
DocWagon surgical center, 26th floor, Executive post-operative recovery suite
Nurse Emily Stillwater, patient Worthington is regaining consciousness.
"Mr. Worthington. Sir, you're in the hospital. Do you understand me?"
"Mr. Worthington, you're in the hospital. The surgeons have tended to your injuries. Do you understand?"
"Certainly Mr. Worthington. You'll want to sip is slowly. That's right, take it easy."
"My mouth hurts. Damn, my everything hurts."
"I'm so sorry Mr. Worthington, you were badly injured when you arrived. Good news is that the doctors saved almost half of your leg and you've got a brand new, state of the art cybernetic prosthetic so you'll be on your feet in no time."
"What happened to me?"
"I'm afraid I don't know Mr. Worthington. Your friend is waiting to see you if you're feeling up to visitors."
"Yes, he said his name is "Jeff" but that you call him 'Shade'?"
"Chill, yeah, let him in please."
Nurse Stillwater closed the door behind her with a final warning, "You can only visit for twenty minutes. He'll be able to have normal visitation hours tomorrow after we get him into his own room."
Shade smiled warmly. "Thank you nurse."
The room was quiet for several seconds as Shade pulled out a small white box and set it upon the tray next to Crank's bed.
"White noise generator. Give me a moment to magic up a bit more security against prying eyes and ears."
"Knock yer'self out, I'm not going anywhere." Crank muttered.
Shade's eyes grew luminous and translucent spirit forms began to dart along the corners and shadows of the room. "Warded, and warded well. That's good, means we've only got to worry about the staff magicians."
"What the 'ell happened?"
"Dragon got you. You landed on our friend and kept the worst from happening to him. We got you stable and he asked me to bring you here." Shade's face hardened as he added, "He said he's going to pay your bill."
"If he said that then that's a load off my mind." Crank glanced around. "Where the frag am I anyway?"
"High end DocWagon hospital in Bellevue. It's where I get my check-ups and such done. Best hospital I know of." Shade replied. "I'm sorry about your leg. Our friend carried you out from the flames and it was gone. I didn't have time to look for it or you'd be dead."
"Appreciate the not being dead thing. Thanks Shade." Crank winced. "Pain killers must be wearing off. I hurt everywhere."
"No surprise there. I mean a dragon did try to kill you." The faintest hint of a smile threatened to appear on Shade's face. "Look at it this way: you'll have one helluva story to tell."
"Tommy not here?" Crank asked.
"No. I haven't seen him."
"Doesn't mean he's not around. Tommy's a sneaky one." Crank groaned.
"No, I would have seen him. I've been keeping my third eye open and had spirits watching over you since we left the fire." Shade shook his head. "He went after the dragon. It took off with Aria and he wouldn't leave it alone."
"Damn." Crank swore. "Help me up, I've got to go help that crazy fragger."
"No. You're done for now Crank." Shade whispered, sending a fragment of power and will into his voice. The spell wrapped around Crank's tired, battered aura and lulled him into a dreamless sleep. "Sorry, but I made a lot of effort to keep your arse alive and get you here. You're staying put."
Shade picked up his white noise generator and thumbed the device off, then whispered into the spirit realm and sent his spirits back to whence they came. "I'll check on you tomorrow chummer." With that, the street sorcerer slipped out of the recovery room to inform the nurses that Mr. Worthington was asleep.
Sorry for the long wait everyone.
I've got a few more stories in the works for you but time has been scarce lately. I hope you enjoy this short piece that catches up on what happened to Crank immediately following the incident at the church.