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She was offered the chance to be dropped at her apartment. Torri thought about it a good, long minute too. There was nothing she wanted more than to strip her socks, stand in a hot shower, and sleep in her own sheets.

She curled her hand around the plastic bag that held her tooth. "Take me to the Facility,"
she said with a sigh. She'd slept there often enough in the past. Sure the bunks were cold and the clothing standard, but there were also kits that could see to patching up her face. If the dentate printer didn't jam again, she'd have a new tooth by morning.

She'd been given a temporary Wallet until a new one could be issued. It buzzed in her hand and she shot awake.

She was still in the back seat of the car.

She cleared her eyes and frowned at the message.

"I'm on my way in."
She tapped out a brief reply. It was a good thing she wasn't going home anyway. It would have been a bitch to have gotten her hopes up for nothing.

Patients in the Facility died far too regularly for Torri to accept. The most recent dead, however, were all female. They weighed on her more than usual. All doctors had to callous themselves from death and suffering. Empathy got her into medical school, but cool-heartedness kept her sane.

She poured through pages and pages of data to figure out the cause. These women that were dying, girls, really, all succombed to the same symptoms of Sickness. Eventually cause of death was always heart failure. Since returning from Mecca, two more passed within days of each other. The first had been while Torri was sleeping the day following the return to Moscow. The girl was gone before Torri could even run into the room. For the second, a thin, young girl with honey-colored blonde hair that wisped around a sweet round face, Torri had been present to witness. Like always, she attempted defibrillation and eventually resuscitation. Like always, it didn't work.

She wasn't a pathologist by any means, but yet she found herself in autopsy holding a bandsaw and wearing a rubber apron. There were plenty of data to connect the male patients to one another: first by comparison with the Ascendancy's scans and second by ruling out the environmental factors obtained from Jacques' study. Of course neither man consented to her use of their personal health histories, but even the Ascendancy was pleased with her discoveries. Since he didn't inquire into the details of her logic, she was fine with keeping the train of thought to herself. It wasn't as though she were foolish enough to seek a publication on the matter. She'd be the next person to disappear if the truth of her work became public knowledge. The CCD took treason incredibly serious.

Hand saw powered up, she set it to the recently shaved skull of the corpse and pressed in. She flinched when blood splattered her facemask. Damn arteries.

After that, she wearily set the saw aside and pulled up an anatomy atlas on the overhead screen. That was, after wiping her facemask off with a wet cloth; she wasn't interested in peering through blood splatter like bugs on your windshield.

With the anatomy renderings pulled up, she powered on the bandsaw again and returned to work.

Four hours later, she had a fully dissected brain in a jar and the vertebral column opened up. The spinal cord still needed removed; it still sat in the pool of CSF that bathed it. At least the saw work was done. With the noise out of the way, she could crank on some music. It was far too quiet, and its not like someone was going to chit chat while she teased a central nervous system out of its bony casings.

She was tapping along to the music, seated on a stool and stooped over her work when the music suddenly powered down.

Behind her mask, she frowned when the door opened and in came Francis. His curly gray hair was capped with a scrub hat, a face mask dangled from his neck.

"You look like you could use some help."
He snapped on a pair of latex gloves and kicked another stool against the opposite side of the table.

"Could have used it a few hours ago, Frank."
Her reply jabbed, but he only smiled in return. She was almost done with the hard part.

"You won't get much help when you make people believe you're off napping. Imagine my surprise when I bring you a cup of tea and find your bunk empty."

He looked over the body and grabbed a set of tools. Torri shrugged and returned to work. "Couldn't sleep, and there's always another question that needs answered. What time is it, anyway?"

Francis replied and Torri blinked. She'd been down here since the girl's alarms went off shortly after midnight.

She suddenly felt incredibly tired. "Torri, you need to get out."

She looked up, eyes blank and weary. "Come again?"

He shook his head. "I know just the thing. He's as bad a workaholic as you."

Torri's heart sank, "No, Francis. No blind dates."

Francis tied his mask around his mouth, but Torri could tell from the wrinkle in his eyes that he was smiling. She hated that smile. The bloody old man.

Edited by Torri, Jun 30 2014, 10:28 AM.

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