As the chopper lands in the hanger bay, it’s engine smoking after the relentless push back to the mountain, where its doors were flung open by Codsworth who leaps out carrying Martin in his arms, his suspicions confirmed that the lad was so underweight that even Dave could have carried him with ease. As he placed the starved and drugged boy onto one of the stretchers that had been brought out. A team of medics are already waiting for them as Erilatir falls out of the chopper glad to be on firm ground once again. The doors to the hanger open up and Vernon and Nick come into the hanger bay and walk up to the stretcher that Martin is lying on still out cold and oblivious to the world around him.
“Is he going to be alright?” Vernon asked looking up at Codsworth who had turned to help Charlie haul the unconscious Jimmy onto a stretcher.
“We think so.” Charlie responded, as Martin and Jimmy were wheeled of to the medical centre by the dwarven medics. “We’re raking him to the lab right now.” Charlie finished gesturing at the stretchers being wheeled away.
“Where are the others?” Nick said looking around realising that there was only one chopper here when three had departed.
“We took a shorter route than they did lad, they’ll be here soon.” Codsworth said looking around at the hanger area, he had some questions for the three kids that had gotten into the medical chopper. He continued to stare around until he saw them looking out at the landscape and starts to walk up to the trio.
“Never thought I’d see anything outside that camp again.” Olly said looking at the scenery of his homeland, he sat down on the ground and just continued to stare out. As Charlie walks over to the three of them and Russel turns around.
“Doc, make sure to keep sparky asleep until you’ve finished.” Russel said whilst glad to be out he was still slightly queasy after the ride back, that was something that he had to get out though.
“Why?” Charlie said, she had known Martin since he was a child and the lad had never seemed afraid of medical staff before. Although she hadn’t been counting the past few months which the trio quickly filled her in on.
“Because if Martin wakes up and sees a room full of strange doctors, he’ll probably panic.” Jeanie said, she had only been in there a short time, and even that was enough to force her to come to that conclusion.
“That place where we were, the docs there were more like mad scientists more than anything else.” Olly said, agreeing with what his friend had just said.
“Thanks for the heads up.” Charlie said nodding as Codsworth arrived, looking gravely at the trio.
“Charlie, they’re ready for you in the med bay now.” Codsworth said. Charlie only nodded and walked off as the aged commander turned to the three kids. “Right, you three, I need you to tell me exactly what has happened these past seven months.” Codsworth asked looking at the three kids in front of him. He needed answers and fast, and with Martin still out cold, they were the only three who could fill him in on what had happened.
“That’s a long story sir.” Olly said looking nervously up at the commander, if he were to tell it, they would be here for the next few days.
“Then you better start soon then.” Codsworth said smiling slightly, he realised that he had been a bit too harsh in his previous statement and was trying to make up for it. He had no idea what these people had done to the trip in front of him, let alone Martin, and so he hurried them away from the hanger and back into the mountain proper.
Charlie enters her lab and starts rummaging around inside before picking up two syringes, one containing the antidote of clear liquid and the sample of the blue drug that Barca had given to her to examine, she holds it up to her eyes and nods, once out in the corridor she rushes towards the bigger of the surgery rooms, however pauses and walks in on the dwarf operating on Jimmy who’s shoulder no longer resembled a shoulder as it had been cut open revealing an artery that a dwarf called Bariddeth Wargrog was currently stitching up.
“Is he going to be alright?” Charlie asked looking at the young scientist.
“Yes. Hopefully. The bullet only grazed the artery, so it only requires a simple stitch, but he ain’t going to be going anywhere for the next month.” Bariddeth said, before getting back to his work and Charlie exited the room, as there was nothing that she could do for Jimmy right now.
As Charlie enters the room where Martin was, she saw that the dwarves were already starting to get to work. Herfouck looks up and walks over to Charlie who hands over the vile of the antidote as well as the drug.
“We’re ready to begin Charlie. Are you ready?” Herfouck said putting a mask on her face.
“Yeah. But I don’t know how effective the antidote is going to be.” Charlie said, this was going to be a very long day. Herfouck only nods and walks over to Martin who was lying unconscious on a metal table, the monitors next to him indicated that he was alive, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking at him. Herfouck voice brought Charlie back to reality.
“Get ready to inject the serokine, after that we can begin the brain scan.” Herfouck said and a dwarf injects a green substance into Martin’s vein. Nick and Vernon enter the room and wait at the observation deck, a small space in the surgery room only separated by a pane of glass. The dwarf turns back to Charlie. “We’re going to need you to give us some space. Rest assured we’ll do everything we can.” Herfouck said looking grim. Charlie was on the verge of arguing, before quickly realised that she wasn’t a doctor, and that this was well beyond her knowledge, so she simply nodded and walked over to join Nick and Vernon but turned back remembering what the kids had told her.
“Okay, just keep him under for the whole procedure. He’s apparently likely to panic if he sees a room full of strange medical staff.” Charlie said, the dwarf nodded, and Charlie made her way to the observation deck.
“What are they doing?” Vernon asked as Charlie walked over.
“Checking his vital organs to see if there are any foreign contaminants in them. It will only take a minute.” Charlie said looking at a screen which had just come on, after a few moments green lights appear on the board.
“What’s happening?” Nick said who was also looking at the screen, his limited experience with this sought of stuff had told him that flashing lights were normally not a good thing. He was put at ease though by Charlie.
“Good news so far, there’s nothing in his major organs so far.” Charlie said, continuing to gaze at the screen until all six lights flash. Herfouck gives a visible sigh of relief.
“Stage one down. Get the kid ready for the brain scan.” Herfouck said looking slightly less nervous at the situation. But still apprehensive as two of the doctors place a metal cylinder type of object around Martin’s head.
“This is the big one.” Charlie said, to herself as well as to Vernon and Nick. “So long as nothing is found here, Martin should make a full recovery.” Charlie said looking at Vernon and trying to smile.
“And if something is found.” Nick asked looking nervously at his younger brother.
“Then this procedure will become a lot harder.” Charlie said, she didn’t know why she was telling the blunt truth other than a gut feeling that it was the right thing to do. The machine begins to turn around Martin’s head for a minute before suddenly stopping, the results come up and Herfouck collects them. After a few seconds the screen in the observation deck flashes green for a seventh time.
“Good… Good, wait.” Herfouck said looking down at the sheet of paper that the machine had just spit out. Hearing this Vernon’s stomach dropped. “Give me his vitals again.” Herfouck asked one of the doctors who produced the vital signs, Herfouck looks down as a frown appears on her face. “Give me a minute.” The dwarf said and walks over to the observation deck.
“What’s the problem?” Vernon asked looking grave, he had been in enough medical rooms to know that the doctor coming over to the visitors was never a good sign.
“The kid’s blood and body temperature are way below what they should be.” Herfouck said, looking up at the three onlookers.
“How?” Charlie said. that shouldn’t be possible, and if it was, then how in the gods name was Martin still alive.
“I guess the drug he was given somehow lowers it as a side effect. But this presents a problem, we can no longer bring him of the drug so easily.” Herfouck said sighing deeply as she did so.
“Explain it in lay-man’s terms, doc.” Vernon asked, he was not used to all of this medical mumbo jumbo, all he needed to know was the kid going to make it through this procedure, yes or no.
“Well, basically in order to help the lad we need to bring his blood and body temperature back up at the same time as we take the drug out of him.” Herfouck said.
“Is it complicated?” Charlie asked she had heard vagally of this procedure but didn’t know the full details of it.
“No. But we’re going to need to know the kids blood type and get some of it.” Herfouck said looking around, hoping that one of the three people in front of her would share the blood group.
“Why?” Vernon said.
“Because we're going to have to drain about eighty percent of his blood and heat it up which should kill whatever this drug is and dilute whatever drug is left. But we need someone to give him their blood to keep his brain and his other vital organs going whilst the procedure is taking place.” Herfouck said, looking at the old butler, trying to gage a reaction from him however, he was a very difficult man to read.
“But surely his body should be able to fight the drug off on its own.” Charlie said, her research supported this conclusion and none of the other inmates were in the same state as Martin.
“Normally it would, but Martin's been injected with a much stronger dose. He can't fight it on his own.” Herfouck said, that was only a guess however, as they really had no idea what they were dealing with here. “Once the procedure is done, he should be able to fight back and finish it off on his own, however. So, I suggest you find someone with his blood type and quickly.” Herfouck finished. Vernon turned to Nick.
“Nick, find the rest of the group and bring back the first person that has the same blood type as your brother, understand.” Vernon said looking down at Nick, who nodded and left the room as Vernon turned back to Herfouck. “Is it dangerous?” Vernon asked looking down at the medic.
“Only in the first stage, after that, it’s a simple case of recycling the clean blood back into his system.” Herfouck said before walking back into the main part of the surgery room.
After fifteen minutes Nick returns through the double doors, back into the busy operating room, behind him follows Codsworth looking slightly confused at the situation.
“What’s the problem?” The commander asked looking around at the odd scene in front of him. He had been halfway through getting the story of the prison from Martin’s friends when Nick had come pelting towards him, demanding to know his blood group. Herfouck walks up to and examining him before she responds.
“Do you share the same blood type as this boy?” Herfouck said looking back at Martin.
“Yes.” Codsworth said, he knew that he was in the same blood group as Alan from their days in the imperial army, and thus he knew that he had the same one as Martin.
“Good. Come with me please.” Herfouck said and walked over towards a table followed by Codsworth, when the two got there the dwarf begins to speak with Codsworth for a few moments, Nick couldn’t hear what was being said but saw Codsworth nod and lie down on the adjacent table, before taking of the gauntlets as Herfouck injects a tube into his wrist and begins the process of draining a portion of Codsworth’s blood.
After a short period of time the tube is removed and Codsworth makes to stand up but staggers around like a drunkard. “Please remain seated, sir.” Herfouck said making to help Codsworth up but he initially refuses.
“I’m fine.” Codsworth said a little louder than he had intended to, but as he tried to sit up, he felt his head begin to spin.
“You’re not fine, you’ve just given three units of blood. You’ll collapse before you make it to the door.” Herfouck said in a more serious tone. Codsworth relented and lay back down on the table, feeling a lot more exhausted than he had felt in a long time.
As the commander closed his eyes due to the exhaustion he was feeling. Vernon observed as a large contraption was wheeled out and placed on Martin’s right side. It consisted of two glass cylinders on top of heaters with a tube connecting them together, with two further tubes attached to each of the cylinders which weren’t connected to anything. The medics injected the two open ended tubes into Martin’s veins and turn on the contraption. The heaters start up and the first units of blood are drained from the boy and enter the first cylinder.
“Vernon, you and Nick might want to leave, this isn’t going to be pretty.” Charlie said looking at the old butler with some trepidation, she had seen this procedure done only once before, albeit on a rat, and it had made her sick just to watch the thing continue on.
“Nick go back to the quarters.” Vernon said not moving, his full focus was on the ongoing procedure. “But I’m staying.” Vernon finished looking at Charlie. Nick begins to get the look in his eyes that was a clear sign that he was about to argue back, but a look from Vernon stops him and Nick walks towards the door before Charlie calls him back.
“Nick, if you want to help, get a locksmith down here, we’re going to need to get those cuffs of your brother.” Charlie said, wanting to give the boy a job which would keep him away from this room as long as possible.
Nick walks down the medical corridor passing the room where Jimmy lay as unconscious as Martin, with a blood-soaked bandage across his right shoulder. “How is he?” Nick asked looking in.
“He’ll live.” A stern looking dwarf said. “We repaired the artery, but he won’t be using that arm for a few weeks that’s for sure.” The dwarf said before leaving. Taking that as his cue to leave, Nick exits the medical wing and heads out into the mountain’s entrance hall.
Once outside the door he noticed the golden marked letters reading ‘Lorbath Graypike, Locksmith since 2550 AS’. Nick opens the door to see an ancient looking dwarf siting behind a desk, he was thick set, with the only hair remaining to him being the short white wispy beard that barely reached the end of his neck.
“Are you the locksmith?” Nick asks before he even enters the room. The dwarf looks up at him a small smile on his face.
“That I am.” Lorbath said in a croaky voice. “What can I do for you, my young imperial?” Lorbath continued, looking up at Nick, who quickly began rambling immediately before the old dwarf raises his hand, causing Nick to stop. “Stop their lad, speak slowly and clearly, these old ears aren’t what they used to be.” Lorbath finished smiling slightly whilst Nick takes a breath before starting over.
“We need you to come and remove some cuffs from my brother’s wrist’s.” Nick said speaking as slowly as he could but still at a mile a minute.
“Right then lad, let me get my things.” Lorbath said, getting up out of the stone chair and collects a couple of items placing them in a bag and slinging it over his shoulder, before grabbing the pickaxe to his left and using it as a walking stick and limps out of the room. Grabbing a pair of small glasses along the way, once at the open door he turns back to Nick. “Come on then lad, you’ve got two feet and about one hundred and thirty years on me by my guess. I should not be in the lead.” Lorbath said grinning as Nick runs to his side and the two walks towards the medical wing.
It took a while, due to the elderly dwarfs old age, but Nick didn’t make any comment about hurrying up. But eventually the pair walk through the double doors into the medical centre, as Lorbath looks around at the room his eyes quickly fix on Martin.
“Hurfim’s beard, what happened to him?” Lorbath asked limping over to Herfouck who stands next to the contraption with the first cylinder filled to the brim and the second half full, slowly injecting the clean blood back into Martin’s body. At which Lorbath returned to his senses he had been called. “I believe you called for my services, however.” Lorbath said trying and failing to remove the shocked look from his face. Herfouck, looking up, walked over to the locksmith.
“Yes. You can start on the boy’s left wrist now should you want, but his right will have to wait until the procedure is complete.” Herfouck said stepping away from her patient as Lorbath stepped forward, examining the lock closely.
“I’ll get started then wait. No kid should be chained up like an animal.” Lorbath said as he proceeded to attach a telescopic monocle over the right eye and began to re-examine the lock. “Looks simple enough.” Lorbath concluded as he took out a small pick and slowly moves it about inside the lock. After a few seconds there is a small click and the cuff falls off, crashing to the floor, revealing a dark red band around Martin’s wrist where the cuff had dug deep into his skin, joining the other bruises and burns that lined the boy’s arm. “One down. One to go.” Lorbath said, more to himself rather than anyone else, the elderly dwarf walks towards the observation platform and watches as the procedure continue.
Six hours had passed since Lorbath had arrived at the medical wing. Nick had long since retired to the quarters where he was now sitting along with Dave, Olly, Russel and Jeanie. Along with Bruce and Abi who had arrived three hours ago after their long return journey from Broken Mountain institute. Bruce, Abi, Dave and Nick had made small talk whilst Olly, Russel and Jeanie had been content to listen for the most part, when Barca walked in from his patrol, unlike the others he had returned to his duties straight after his chopper had returned. “Any news on Jimmy and Martin?” Barca asked, he had seen Erilatir on his way back to the quarters, so he knew that the injured dwarf was okay.
“Jimmy’s stable.” Abi said, she looked relieved at the news. “It was a clean shot through and only grazed the artery. Martin is still in the operating room however.” She finishes at the look from both Dave and Nick. But at this news Barca nods, resting his gun against the wall looking more tired than the rest of the huddled group combined.
At that moment Vernon comes through the door, Dave looks ups from his stupor having just dozed off a few moments beforehand. “What news?” Dave asked looking groggy, it had been a long few days, with nobody sleeping a wink.
“Well, the procedure at least was a success and Martin is out of the danger zone and Charlie is running some additional tests.” Vernon said not trying to hide his relief. Nick shoots up at this looking at Vernon.
“I wanna see him.” Nick said. Vernon only smiled, having been forced to leave the operating room, he thought he was owed that much at least.
“Very well, anyone else who wishes to go are welcome, although I won’t blame you if you want to get some rest.” Vernon said, addressing the last part in Barca’s direction, who only nods at the old butler before proceeding to his own room. Vernon looks around as Dave also gets up and walks over to Vernon, followed by Olly, Russel and Jeanie.
A small amount of daylight came through the doors and windows of the mountain, dawn had not long past as Vernon, Dave, Nick, Olly, Russel and Jeanie walk down the medical corridor towards the large set of double doors that led to the medical centre proper as the doors open Lorbath exits the room carrying the set of chains that had been attached to Martin over his shoulder with ease despite his age as Vernon walks up to him.
“Lorbath, thank you, how much do we owe?” Vernon asked looking down at the old dwarf, they had little money on them, but were still willing to pay what little they had for his services. But the old dwarf merely shook his head.
“Nothing, just doing my civic duty. Plus, no kid should be chained up like that.” Lorbath said looking back at the doors before turning back at Vernon sighing. “Now I must insist that I head back. I’m not a young dwarf anymore.” Lorbath finished before walking past the group down the corridor towards the main hall and his study whilst the group head into the medical centre.