Bills to Pay


An ambulance pulled in to one of the few public hospitals in the Sprawl and a small, unassuming woman got out on her own, then paused, listening. Behind her she could hear the driver talking to the intake staff.

“Yeah, we picked her up in the Drydocks. Yeah.” Here he paused for a long while. “Yeah, she probably does. But she already paid the transportation fee, she’s probably good for it.” And after a final pause: “Are you people a hospital or what? Do you want us to take her to North General? Fine.”

She turned around and looked back inside the vehicle, face carefully impassive. The young medtech in the back of the van looked apologetic. “Sorry about that. They’re ready for you inside. Don’t worry, the intake nurse is a beast, but they’ll take care of that shoulder for you.”

Cami turned around and started walking towards the lobby, already able to see an increased stir of activity inside. A patient with a puncture wound from the Drydocks called for careful handling. She brought a hand to her throat and cheek to make sure she wasn’t imagining the first hints of a fever.

- -

When Jack came by later that night, the virus was well underway. They’d doped her up against the pain, but it was still obviously intense.

“Viruses as a rule are difficult to combat medically, and HMHVV is one of those we still can’t guarantee much against. About all we can do is give her body the help it needs to do its best fighting off the disease.”

The doctor standing next to Jack snuck a sideways glance at him, then returned his view once more to the hospital bed inside the glassed-in quarantine room. She was writhing in slow motion and her sweat soaked the sheets. The doctor began to make a motion towards clapping Jack on the shoulder, then thought better of it and walked away.

- -

While Cami and Jack were in the hospital, Val and Patchwerk were making the rounds of the sprawl. Val made contact with Doc Rock for a couple light implant jobs. That was easy enough, but looking for the next thing was more difficult.

She chased down electronic pathways while Patchwerk chatted up some old friends here and there, but where ever they went, weapons of all sorts were drying up. Eventually Val found some sort of broker online, being very careful about screening his traffic, who offered to sell her what she’d need to smartlink her pistol. Too bad he wanted almost eight hundred nuyen for the thing, even without installation service.

“Look, lady,” he said, “with those goons in gray showing up, there’s a run on everything that goes bang. They ain’t been able to actually shut much down yet, but people are panicking. If you ain’t willing to pay, someone else is.” Val could hear the sound of something metallic bouncing against something plastic in the background. “Hey, I got an idea. About a week ago, someone jacked some stuff I was moving. Don’t know how they found out about it, but I wasn’t about to let myself get killed over a bunch of guns. Tell you what, though, after they jacked me I did some asking around, and I think they’re selling the stuff as a lot way off to the West, right on the edges of the sprawl. If you were to obtain that shipment, I’d be willing to buy anything you didn’t want to keep. Half price. Interested?”


2 comments. It was Jack, not Xiaofeng, who spotted the vents at Warren’s, and I don’t know if you want to bother with it, but Guei was hurt breaking into Warren’s system and spent part of the night during prep for our hijacking asleep in the Van. I like the way everything flows, though. It has a great feel. :) – Lissa


Oops. Wrong entry. :( I is fail.


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