AlbuQorp Industrial Hospital
Free City of Foundry
Thursday, February 23, 2051
With squealing tires, the APC pulls into the lot of a big, black building labeled with the ubiquitous red cross. Above the entrance is a grim-looking sign, proclaiming it to be the ‘AlbuQorp Industrial Hospital’. To either side of the sprawling building – easily thirty stories tall and wider than a ‘regulation’ city block – lie yet more factories and other industrial facilities. The hospital is only a few miles from the mile-deep mining boreshaft/fusion reactor complex called the Steamworks that marks the city center and gifts the city its distinctive red glow, like iron in a hot forge. The ambient heat is already sweltering, reaching into the nineties, the result of the fusion reactor’s waste heat overpowering the meager southwest winter chill.
Wormwood looks around, “Feels like home, doesn’t it? Like Night City’s eastside only nastier, if that’s possible.” He checks his credit chip on his HUD and swears. This is going to hurt. Mac shrugs. “I’ve seen nothing like this. I know they’ll be able to patch you up, Worm, but… not sure if they have the facilities to treat me. Not sure if they should, for that matter.” “Almost reminds me of back home. Hell, it’s almost as hot here. Almost.” Pitbull growls as he steps out of the APC, lighting another cigarette off of his last one.
Mac dismounts from the vehicle. “Want me to go see if we can get you a wheelchair, Worm? A stretcher?” "On the bright side, my skills as a healer are more suited towards Mac, now. Then again, I think Worm need the most attention now.” Pacoy tosses out. “Check list: we need to get Worm and Eris some medical attention, see about umm… ‘parts’ for Siri and Mac, and look into resupplying what we can.” Wormwood shrugs, “They’ll have the facilities somewhere in town, Mac, and I really think you should.” He ponders pointing out how awesome Mac could be if he can unlock his full potential, then decides its too soon to hit his friend with more future-shock. He turns in his seat and makes a face, “A wheelchair would be good, Pacoy. Dammit, I hate feeling like a gimp!”
Mac heads into the hospital, where he puts on his kindest face to try and flag down a nurse to bring out a wheelchair for his wounded friend. Pitbull perks ups, his nostrils and cigarette flaring smoke as he does so, and reaches back into his coat for his bottle of whiskey. He takes in a generous mouthful, then passes it to Mac. “Man, you need this. Revelatory shit like that really needs something to chase down the pain, y’know?” “Personal opinion: Keep Mac’s secret a secret. Maybe hide out Siri until we can make her passable as well.” Pacoy says. Wormwood nods and grunts assent in Pacoy’s direction. Mac chokes down the whiskey. “You got anything stronger, Pit? That’ll help, though. Steel the nerves. Heh.” Mac’s face still looks vaguely uncomfortable.
When Mac pokes his head out, he finds that flagging down a nurse isn’t going to be easy. Unlike the hospitals in Night City that he’s used to, or the ones on the old vids that he’s even more used to, this one doesn’t seem to have any medical staff milling too and fro; certainly not any outside. There are, however, a number of robots in white-and-red, with stereotypical nurse hats affixed to their featureless skulls, standing in a line by the hospital entrance.
Mac heads over to one of the robots, snapping his fingers, whistling and waving. “Hey there, chap. I need a stretcher and a wheel chair – two injured civilians, stat.” That’s how these medical types talk, right? Pitbull strolls along in the hospital, cigarette still hanging from his face. He feels the reassuring weight of his Urban Fox in it’s armpit holster. Man, after what happened with Garrion, hospitals make me nervous.
The robot makes no response, but a sign next to the robot lights up as if seeking attention. It reads, “Courtesy RoboNurse Curbside Pickup: $25/Patient.” A slot on the chest of the robot attracts the eye; it’s just about the right size for a credit chit. Mac’s eyebrows narrow. “You’re kidding me. Fine.” He slots his credits into the receptacle. “The wounded man and the wounded woman – man has issues with his legs, woman has a broken arm.” Pacoy gives a short, sharp whistle to hail the now paid-for medi-bot “Assistance needed, priority ambulatory accommodations and pain relief.”
The robot stiffly moves forwards, its motions not nearly as fluid as those of Mac or Siri. As it goes, it pulls from a receptacle behind it a fold-out gurney. The slot in its chest, Mac’s credit chit still ensconced within, glows yellow for a moment.
Wormwood yells out, “Hey Mac, if it’s gonna cost us and arm and a leg make sure they take the damaged ones, OK?” Mac grins as he sends a silent message back to the team. “It’s okay, we speak the same language.” Pitbull sends a HUD text to the team in reply, “Is it 1010111011110111?” Mac, having been anticipating Pitbull’s response, sends back a hastily searched image of an old American dollar bill, the smile on his face visible from within the hospital.
The robot pulls its gurney up to the back of the APC. As it lays eyes on Wormwood and Eris, it moves forwards. The four fingers on each hand fold back and a small hypodermic needle pops out of the wrists. As this occurs, the yellow glow reappears around Mac’s credit chit. The robot pokes its new needle-hands into each of Eris and Wormwood, shooting them full of painkillers enough to dull their senses. Eris tries to complain, or at least say something, but isn’t quite fast enough – by the time her words come out, she’s already feeling the effects and it comes out more as a general moan.
Wormwood calls “Mac, that bucket of bolts is chewing through your cred like a Texan at a sausage-eating contest. make sure you get an itemized bill so we can square up afterwards, ok pal?” Then he passes out.
Mac winces. “Hey Pitbull, how much whiskey do you have left?” “Dudes, if ya guys need help, money wise, I might be able to pitch in. I’ve got like $22,000 if that says anythin’, yeah…” He trails off into barely coherent grumbles as he exhales another drag from his cigarette. He vaguely considers how stupid it was to call out how much money he had on his person. Heh. Like any mo’fucker would be dumb enough to tackle me. They’d be dead, that’s a promise. He perks out of his thoughts to answer Mac. “Oh. Still o’er half the bottle. Down yo’ self s’more, Mac.” He growls as he passes it to his android friend. Mac takes another quick sip as he watches the robot down his savings just as quickly. “Docbot, how long is it going to take to patch our friends here up? And how much is it going to cost?”
The yellow light flashes once again as the soulfires of the demon that runs this foul contraption rake in one more fatted calf to be slaughtered at the shrine of capitalistic healthcare. The robot turns to examine the two patients in more detail, first focusing upon Eris. A section of its arm opens up to a flat screen, which it waves over her arm. A dozen small laser dots scan her up and down before it finally stops and turns to Wormwood. It waves its arm over Wormwood’s two legs, carefully and slowly, as the lasers probe his entire body. Finally, the robot’s arm closes back up and it turns to Mac, finally vocalizing its findings in a simple, mechanical voice, devoid of personality.
“Patient A has compound fractures of both the ulna and the radius of her left arm. Her bones must be set and any damaged tissue repaired. Normal recovery time is projected at three months. Procedure time, four hours. With QuickHeal, recovery time may be significantly reduced to three weeks. The basic procedure cost is $8,000. QuickHeal treatment is an additional $16,000, or $24,000 for a private chamber while recuperating.”
Mac’s eyes get wide as his fingers subconsciously spin invisible dials on his pocket watch. “Say – can one of you lads give our dame a pat down? I don’t have the cash to cover her treatments. Maybe a corporate chit? If that’s just an arm… Wormwood…”
“Patient B has a penetrating trauma to his right leg which may require surgical intervention to ensure proper healing. He also has suffered both a penetrating trauma to his right leg and a fracture to his right femur, both of which may be treated concurrently. The left leg may heal to usable parameters within two weeks, or less with QuickHeal treatment. The right leg will take four months to heal. Possibly one month with QuickHeal treatment. Both procedures may be completed within eight hours. The price for the left leg procedure is $4,000. The price for the right leg procedure is $8,000. QuickHeal treatment is an additional $16,000 or $24,000 for a private chamber while recuperating.”
Mac winces. “Yeah – okay..” He pats his unconscious friend’s arm. “That’s… we’ve got to sort him out, guys.” “I got this, dudes! Since Wormie ain’t up for it, I’ll do it.” Pitbull starts searching her person, making it a point to check the corners of her bra as a starting point. “Funny, I thought she’d keep her wallet there. Remind me to tell an exaggerated story of this to Wormie when he wakes.” Pitbull growls, with the biggest shit-eating grin he’s yet to manage. Pacoy smiles at Pitbull’s antics “You know, we might be able top rent them put to a slot-shop while they are out to cover some of the expenses…”
Eris groans as Pitbull begins feeling her up – and then he feels a very sudden pain in his jaw as her fist comes flying through it. “God-damnit, Pitbull. They dosed me with a painaway, not a roofie. Go feel up Randall if you’re randy; they must have given him a higher dose.” Mac spits out the sip of whiskey he had in his mouth as he doubles over in laughter.
“Sorry, y’were out of it! We need some cash from you! We can either pay for you or we can pay for Worm with what we got, but not both!” Pitbull grates, blushing that he had been caught, though his jaw took a relatively superficial hit. Eris looks down at her knuckles, flexing them a little before leaning back down. “Damnit. Probably should be glad I’m still knocked up with those things; your jaw’s probably made of steel or something.” With a grimace, she pulls a card out from her pants pocket, holding it out to the robot. “I’m on a Platinum Vee-rated insurance plan. Hit me up with the best stuff you got, but my friends are on their own. Contract didn’t include paying their medical bills.” Pitbull starts stomping away with her card, before he turns around and growls an almost imperceptible, “Sorry ’bout that” and continues his stomp to the bot.
Mac sighs. “Able’ll forgive me, right? He’ll understand. Authorizing the withdrawal of the remainder of funds from my account to attribute towards Patient B.” Pitbull makes an exaggerated growl, before yanking out a credit chip. “Y’guys are makin’ me soft, y’know that? I’ll cover what you can’t. Eris gets the whole shaboodle, her own dime.” Mac smiles at Pitbull. “Soft tough guy eh? I’ll be.” Mac turns to the DocBot, “Can I get an itemized receipt, and the chit back? My friend here is covering the rest.”
The robot somewhat-gently – well, just careful enough so as to not break anything new – rolls Wormwood onto his gurney, then helps Eris to her feet, guiding the two patients into the big black hospital. There, they are quickly allocated to an auto-doc receptacle on the thirteenth floor, barely seeing two human staff members among a teeming throng of robots. The autodocs efficiently apply their trade, putting Eris’s bones back within her skin, stitching Wormwood’s muscles and skin back together and setting his bones. Both Eris’s arm and Wormwood’s right legs get rigid casts that contain a blue liquid that covers the wounded area, accelerating the healing process on the affected area. At just after 5 AM, the two patients are released to their caretakers, Eris walking out on her own while Wormwood is rolled out on the temporary loan of a wheelchair.
Mac lifts his head from it’s droop as he leaned against the APC. “Well I’ll be. Look who it is.” Wormwood looks up at his companions, “I can’t tell you how much this means, guys. I’ll make your credit balances right again, I promise. At the worst case, I know a couple of rich folks with nice stuff who are careless about ventilation ducts, back in Night City.” Mac grins. “You’re an expensive son of a gun, pal. Try not to wreck the new legs, yeah? Hey, you catch how much one of those wheelchairs are?” “I fronted a decent share of that, but I ain’ in a rush to get my money back. I got some jobs in consideration during our down time that should be enough.” Pitbull growls as he drags off of his eighth cigarette of the evening. Wormwood’s smile turns to a frown as he sees Mac. “What about you, my friend, and Siri? Pacoy, how do we get them fixed up?” “Found plenty of parts, we should be good to go. I didn’t even have to resort to hijacking a medbot.” Pacoy grins “I’ll get to work ASAP.”
Mac nods. “Pac, any chance you can patch us up on the road? I’m anxious to get some of this expense back in salvage if we can. Also, remind me when we get back to put an insurance policy on Wormwood.” “You expecting me to die, Mac?” Wormwood asks, a smile back on his lips after hearing from Pacoy. Mac rolls his eyes. “Not life insurance – gotta protect the investment I just made in your legs. You’re like Dame Monroe!” “Ach, whatever – I’m just glad to be on the mend and to hear you can be put to right too.” Wormwood continues, rolling his eyes. “Next step, get the new ride an oil change and a lobotomy, right?”
“Sounds like a plan, Mac. Pit can do a quick shopping run first, then we grab a meal to go, and start shoving bits of metal into you. Yep, completely normal.” Pacoy grins. Mac winces. “Forgot about the ol’ bangtails…” His stomach elicits a loud growling sound. “…and ol’ ironsides. I can’t afford to treat you guys to a meal, unfortunately.” “Pull through a fast-food place and I’ll treat everyone to Gnoxburgers and slushies, Pits.” Wormwood calls out as he wheels himself up the ramp and into the APC.
Pacoy sits in the back of the APC, attaching the hand he got off a Pleasure-Droid manufacturer to Seranya – the color is a bit off, but it’s nearly a perfect match otherwise. Once the hand is operational, Pacoy turns his attention to Mac. Mac’s a little more of an interesting case, as he has a semi-biological matrix surrounding an inner shell of hard machine and it was mainly that outer biological shell that was damaged. Pacoy was luckily able to find a fabricator that’s usually used to create faux-flesh meat and animal hides that can’t decompose for use in the new fashion of stuffed animals; they were able to spin off a layer of skin and flesh that matched the rough chemical and physical properties of Mac’s original skin, serving as a replacement for his burned-to-a-crisp bacon back. Pacoy was able to pick up a decent power-chair in the process. All-in-all a hell of a deal for under $1.3k.
Pitbull guns the APC’s engine and begins to drive to the nearest fast food joint, when Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” starts blaring through the speakers. It takes him some seconds for Pitbull to realize what was on, before it cuts out and is replaced by Knuckle Grinder’s “The Truth About Pain” roars into it’s place. A HUD message comes across everyone’s screens saying, “You heard nothing.” Mac laughs. “It’s all a cover, isn’t it… The bad music… it’s all an act!”
Wormwood is still laughing at Pitbull’s musical misfortune after the team have bought food and kicked the APC back into gear towards the nearest garage capable of handling the tasks needed on such a big beast as the Texan armored carrier. Pacoy enjoys an inconstantly heated Gnox burrito as he works on the androids, confident that his ‘patients’ have zero risk of infection. “Pits, remember: oil change, fuel it, get the GPS and radio taken offline. That’ll need to do for now.” Wormwood says around his last bite of burger. Pitbull stuffs a chicken strip into his already stuffed with food face, and nods at Wormwood as they drive on, his implant already routing them to the nearest garage suitable for maintenance.
Mac looks up from the carnage of wrappers strewn around him, looking back over his shoulder at Pacoy. “You done yet back there, or you need to book an extra bay in the garage?” “I was thinking of adding a phone-charger to you while I was back here, Ya know – make you useful and all!” Pacoy grins around a mouthful of nearly non-toxic foodstuff as he makes his adjustments. Mac grumbles. “Keep talking, tech boy. Just you wait.”
As they pull into the garage forecourt, Wormwood gets back into his wheelchair. “Can I help you disconnect those pesky transmitters, Pac? I want to feel useful again, dude.” “Yep. Between you, Siri and me, we should be road-ready in no time” Pacoy answers. “Worm-man, you’ll be a mobile firing platform! You can roll ’n shoot! And then roll ’n shoot again!” Pitbull guffaws at his own joke, chucking his cigarette out the window as he does so. “I’ll roll over your ass, you keep chortlin, Pits” Wormie retorts.
Pretty soon the team has negotiated with the garage owner for a full oil change and refueling, along with the loan of a bay to deal with the unwanted APC electronics. Wormwood happily forks over his own cred-chip to pay the guy then rolls over to assist Pacoy. He’s obviously just glad to be back doing something. Eris takes the opportunity to check on her bike and the remaining camera drones, several of which were lost in the action outside the city. She is being careful with her injured arm, but seems to be recovering well from the break.
As he was sealing Mac up, Pacoy noticed a lose wrapper under his shoulder blade and pulled it out just before setting the final seam – Mac’s skin was unnoticeable as unnatural again. With a few minutes of work, grumbling about Worms inability to hold a flashlight properly, the electronics suite of the APC was clean and ready to go. “We’re ready to roll” Mac manages to find an old shaving mirror in amongst the affects the soldiers left behind and uses it to admire the handiwork Pacoy did on his back. He then checks over Seranya’s hand, making sure she has full use of it.
Wormwood, looking morose at not being able to help Pacoy, rolls himself back up into the APC. He takes out his Valkyrie rifle and begins to clean it, muttering under his breath. “Fucking gimpy, crippled, useless….can’t climb, can’t run, can’t slither…this isn’t Art, this just sucks.”
Seranya proudly displays her hand to her brother, looking at it almost in awe. It’s been so long since she’s had two fully human-looking arms that she almost doesn’t know what to do, and she just hugs Pacoy long and hard.
Pitbull stomps up behind Wormy, and offers him the remainder of the whiskey. “Here man, you deserve some too. Drink your problems away!” Pitbull grates with a smile on his face. Wormwood takes the whiskey, grunts a brief thanks at Pits and takes a deep slug. “Y’know what, bro? Let’s go find something to kill.”
With that, the APC rumbles on into the morning light, the Lazarus team once again headed out into the wasteland – and finally, after possibly the longest day of their lives, leaving the Foundry behind.