Zatvor Penitentiary, outside of Eon City.
Carson Dale, making his rounds.
“I don’t know why I need to be here,” Dale said. “Zatvor has perfectly good doctors of their own. Haven’t you asked them about her yet?”
Sean Hannah, CEO of Pharos Industries, smirked as he shook his head. “I trust you more than any of those quacks,” he said, clapping Dale on the back. “You know that.”
“Still,” Dale sighed, “Zatvor Penitentiary is nae a place for someone like me. And that young lady is still dangerous, ye know.”
“I doubt there’s a prisoner in here that’s more dangerous than you, doctor,” Mr. Hannah said, grinning as if he were joking. “Your intelligence is unmatched. You could be a supervillain if you put your mind to it.”
“Aye,” Dale said, starting to smile himself. “And dinnae forget it.”
Sean Hannah opened a small door in the hallway, gesturing for Dale to enter first. Inside was a small clinic room. Dale shook his head, looking around at the sparse and outdated equipment.
“Pitiful,” he said. “With this kind of equipment, they cannae possibly be getting the same care as outside.”
“They’re prisoners,” Mr. Hannah reminded him. “They’re all here because they made a choice, and are now facing the consequences.”
“Tha dinnae mean we should treat them as less than human,” grumbled the doctor.
Mr. Hannah shrugged. “Most of them aren’t human,” he said. “Zatvor was specifically designed to house satyr and Third Gen criminals.”
“Ye know what I meant,” Dale said, glaring at the young CEO. “Dinnae pretend tah misunderstand.”
“Ah, well,” Mr. Hannah yawned, stretching and changing the subject. “We’re here about one particular patient. If she’s recovered from her surgery, then we can tell the board that our donation was well spent. Check her out quickly, and we can get out of here.”
“Aye,” Dale said, unpacking his bag on the small desk in the corner of the room. “As ye wish. I’ll just have to make do with what I brought.”
Mr. Hannah sighed. “Dale, I’d donate more if I could,” he said, reading between the doctor’s words. “The board agreed to help with this particular case due to its experimental nature, but there’s no way I could talk them into donating just for the sake of improving medical care for a bunch of prisoners.”
“If ye say so,” Dale said, still pointedly unpacking. Mr. Hannah was saved from responding by a knock at the door. “Come in,” the doctor answered.
A prison guard opened the door, leading in a girl with bushy, unkempt hair. Katie Cruz, known on the streets by the moniker Skadi, used to keep her hair coiffed in a wide cobra hood to match her scaly, snake-like appearance, but she didn’t have either the time, product, or inclination to keep it up in prison.
“Prisoner two-one-seven-five,” the guard introduced. “Want me to shut the door?”
“On yer way out, please,” Dale said dismissively.
The guard shifted nervously. “I’m not supposed to let her out of my sight,” he said.
“Yes, well, I cannae work with too many people in this cramped room,” Dale said sternly, folding his arms over his chest. “I need the patient here, obviously, and Mr. Hannah is supposed tah observe tah make sure everything’s in order fer his Board of Directors. That leaves ye, so shoo.”
“I can stand outside,” the guard capitulated, “but I need to leave the door open. You understand.”
“Fine, fine,” Dale said, waving his hand dismissively. “Now, Miss Cruz, if ye could please open yer mouth.”
Skadi narrowed her eyes at them suspiciously, biting her lip nervously. She was a snake-satyr, and one of the most accomplished thieves of her time, but she was still a teenager. Since being imprisoned in Zatvor more than half a year earlier, she had gotten the venom sacs that she had been born with – which had been killing her slowly since reaching puberty – removed. Pharos Industries had financed the operation, but Skadi had never learned why. Looking between the two men, she seemed to realize something; however, despite her age, she sat down on the table and opened her mouth obediently, not saying a word.
Dale looked into her mouth and prodded her cheeks and neck a few times. He took out a stethoscope and checked her breathing and heartbeat. He asked a lot of probing questions about how she had been feeling since the operation. The full examination took less than fifteen minutes, after which he declared Skadi to be in good health, and fully recovered.
“The scars are healing nicely,” he reported, “and the lack of symptoms say that ye probably will nae have a relapse. I’ll just take some blood from ye, and we’ll let ye get back.”
“You’re the Scottish one, right?” Skadi asked. When Dale nodded, she continued, “They said you’re one of the best doctors in the country.”
“I dinnae like tah brag,” Dale said sheepishly.
“And you’re Sean Hannah, CEO of Pharos Industries,” Skadi added, turning to Mr. Hannah.
“I am,” Mr. Hannah replied.
Skadi gave a short laugh, but refused to say what she had found so funny. As the guard came back in to take her back to her cell, Skadi gave both men an ironic smile. “My brother will come for me any day now,” she told them. “Just so you know.”
Mr. Hannah smiled back politely. “If you say so,” he said, “but no one has ever escaped from Zatvor.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” Skadi replied sweetly. “I’ll see you around.”
As the guard led her away, Dale turned to Mr. Hannah. “That was creepy,” he admitted. “Is she right?”
“Time will tell,” Sean Hannah told him. “Come on, let’s get lunch. My treat.”
* * * * * * * *
Eon City, Asylum Headquarters.
Frank Mejia, A.K.A. Shadow.
Next: Issue #17 – Fire and Water