Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Page 1834

He followed Garovel’s directions, pushing the pace while focusing on making the ride smooth. It didn’t take long to reach the nearest hospital. “UGR Health” was the logo on the side of the main building, though there were many accompanying it. Hector was glad that Garovel seemed to know where he was going, because there were about a half-dozen entrances that Hector could see from the air.

There were plenty of cars around, but thankfully, the place didn’t seem especially busy at the moment. Hector had no trouble walking right through the front entrance, even with all iron that he was materializing behind him.

A few shrieks rang out in the main lobby, but Hector didn’t have to be concerned about that. He went straight up to the reception desk and addressed the pair of wide-eyed women who were sitting behind it.

“Excuse me,” he said, keeping his voice calm so as not to startle anyone. He brought the iron pod forward so that they could see the person lying therein. “I think this man may be in need of medical attention...”

It took a moment for the nearer woman to blink and then respond. “Ah! O-okay! Um! One moment please!” Her hands fumbled for the phone on her desk.

Hector hoped she was calling a doctor and not security.

Garovel was busy observing the man’s condition. ‘When you get a chance, search his pockets. There are probably some clues on him.

Okay.

Hector noticed a couple of men in white coats walking through a small, indoor plaza that was off to the side. Or rather, he noticed them stop walking. They had noticed the commotion in the lobby. They had noticed Hector.

Hector might’ve liked to wave them down or something, but he figured there was probably a procedure to these types of things. And more importantly, he didn’t want to scare them.

Maybe he wasn’t doing such a good job of that, though. He wondered if they were going to just turn around and walk away. Judging from the looks on their faces, they wanted to.

The one on the right, a balding and bespectacled man, just kind of took a deep breath, bobbed his head forward a little, and then walked over. His companion soon followed.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Carlyle,” said the balding man. “Is there some way I can be of assistance?”

The receptionist from before almost leapt out of her chair. “Ah! Yes, this, um--this man here said--” She cut herself off when Hector looked at her.

Wait. Why had she done that? Aw, shit. He hadn’t meant for her to stop explaining.

Hector brought the pod closer to Dr. Carlyle and his colleague.

They both took a few steps back as the hulking iron contraption materialized its way toward them.

Dammit! Why was it so hard not to frighten people?!

Was it the armor? It was probably the armor. Argh.

He dematerialized it and tried again. “Sorry... I, uh... I’m just trying to get this guy some help.”

Thankfully, that actually did seem to ease the tension a little.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Page 1833

((Triple Monday -- Page 3 of 3))
The man slipped the paper into his coat, and then exhaled noticeably. The night air was cold enough that Hector could see breath, though only faintly.

Bah,’ said Garovel. ‘Couldn’t tell anything else about it.

After a short time, the man pulled out a cigarette and a small drink and began partaking of both.

Hector relaxed a little, feeling mildly irritated. ‘Back to waiting, I guess...

Hmm. Well, I suppose you could just walk up and talk to him, ask him if anything’s wrong.

You really think that’d work?

No. Just saying it’s an option.

I feel like he’d just run away if I did that.

I’m sure you’d be able to catch him and make him talk.

Uh... he’s not a bad guy, Garovel.

We don’t know that. We don’t know anything about him, other than he’s in danger. He could be the biggest son of a bitch in the world, for all we know.

I’m not sure that justifies torturing him.

I never said anything about torturing him. I said you could “make him talk.” That doesn’t mean torture.

...It kinda does, though, doesn’t it?

No, Hector. It could mean scaring the information out of him, for instance.

By threatening to torture him.

Hey, threatening to torture someone is not the same as torturing someone.

Garovel.

Look, I’m just spitballin’ ideas here. Not saying you have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing.

I don’t feel comfortable threatening to torture some random dude on the street, no.

Alright, fine. Geez. It’s not like I was--’ The reaper cut himself off, which drew Hector’s attention anew.

There was something different about the man now, Hector suddenly realized. The way he was standing had changed. He seemed unsteady. Weaker. After a moment, he leaned against the street lamp for support but struggled even to hold himself up and began sliding against it toward the ground.

Hector!

He was already leaping off the roof. He summoned a descending platform to soften his landing, and then he was in full sprint toward the man, no longer caring how noisy the iron armor might be.

Hector slid up beside him as the man was just about flat on the pavement. ‘What’s wrong with him?! He didn’t hurt himself, did he?!

No, I was watching for that. He might just be sick. Let’s take him to the hospital. And don’t carry him. Use your iron. You want to keep his body from flailing around and worsening his condition while you’re transporting him.

Okay!’ Hector did exactly as the reaper instructed and materialized a kind of small, stabilization chamber. A pod, basically--not so dissimilar to the ones that had been used to transport the non-servant Rainlords through the Undercrust. This one was just purely iron, of course, but it seemed to do the job well enough as Hector brought it along with him on its own, accompanying platform.

Page 1832

((Triple Monday -- Page 2 of 3))
It was too dark to tell much about the newcomer with just his eyes alone, but Hector was near enough for the Scarf to help him discern some of the details.

Short. Long hair. Long skirt. Slim, feminine figure. And he could sense the shape of her high heels, as well as hear them clicking against the sidewalk’s pavement.

Hmm. Hector focused harder and checked inside the purse she was carrying.

Wow, it was full of stuff. And not knowing much about the kinds of things that women carried in their purses, Hector found it a bit difficult to pick out any object in particular, except maybe--

Was that a gun?

He couldn’t be sure, but that shape definitely seemed like it could be the barrel of a small pistol. And considering that it was illegal for average citizens to carry firearms in Atreya, that didn’t bode especially well.

He’d have to pay close attention. In a place like this, at this time of night, there was a fair chance she was just carrying it for her own protection, even if it was unlawful. Hector wasn’t about to judge someone who didn’t have the luxury of superpowers on their side for prioritizing their own safety over following the law.

Or hell, maybe she wasn’t an average citizen. She could’ve been an undercover cop or something.

Sticking to the rooftops, Hector tried to stay close to her as she approached the man at the other end of the street. If nothing else, he wanted to stay in range of the Scarf so that he could react in time in case she went for that weapon.

Judging from the man’s body language, he had been expecting her.

Seems like they’re going to talk,’ said Garovel privately. ‘I’ll go eavesdrop. Make sure they don’t kill me, eh?

Hector clenched his jaw, wanting to tell the reaper not to, but he held his tongue. In all likelihood, neither of them were servants, and he was paying extra close attention to where their heads were pointing. If either of them turned to look at Garovel, Hector would know it immediately.

Hector waited and observed, ready move on a moment’s notice. The man and woman met below a street lamp and exchanged a few words. Pleasantries, according to Garovel. Neither one seemed to notice the reaper’s presence a couple meters away from them.

That was good, of course, but Hector did not allow himself to relax.

Whatever they were talking about, it didn’t take very long. The woman handed the man a piece of paper and a small bag, and then walked away, in the opposite direction that she had come from.

...What was that about?’ he had to ask.

Dunno,’ said Garovel. ‘They didn’t say much. Guess they didn’t need to.

The man was still there, reading the paper that he had been given. Garovel hovered up behind him, no doubt trying to read it as well.

It’s some kind of report’ the reaper said. ‘Financial in nature, looks like.