Iscariot Ep 5: On The Hunt

Started by Lomari, May 14, 2020, 02:58:43 pm

Octavia Wynn

Octavia followed the Salon Woman into a back room. It was less than she had expected for the money and more than she had expected for being in the back of a hair salon. She'd wanted big rooms, white walls, bright lights, squeaky floors, and the clean, hard smell of antiseptic. She got the last one a little more than she wanted. The whole room burst with the smell of bleach so strongly her nose burned at little. Well, at least she knew the room was clean.

She sat in the chair as indicated and out of habit and nerves more than anything else she slid her arrow out of her boot and began twirling it between her fingers while the other woman typed away on her data pad. With the repetitive motion making her brain go blank, her body began to physically relax.

The woman paused in her typing and looked up from the pad. Octavia remembered the agreement no weapons. She hadn't really considered it a weapon when she was doing this exercise, but she could see how the other party would.
"Sorry," she said in a meek tone, "I know, no weapons." As she put the offending piece of alloy away she said to herself, "I really need to learn to do that with a coin one of these days."

Finished typing, the woman handed Octavia the datapad full of questions. She also finally had a name to call the other woman: Moira.
She could answer all of the questions with one word.
Her answer was flat and lifeless. "Explosion."

The irritated look on Moira's face let Octavia know that she was probably looking for more information. It was the same look she'd cataloged thousands of times when she answered questions with only the minimum amount of information while still giving the answers requested of her. She exhaled a quick breath and tried again.

"There was an explosion. I think I was very near the blast site. My ears rang for quite some time. A friend helped me equalize the pressure, which stopped the ringing and replaced it with absolute nothingness."
 
Let's see, she thought. What else might Moira need to know?

"The doctor on the ship gave me this medicine that would help for a short time before going back to silence. I didn't get a peak at the name but it came out of a purple and blue bottle. The pill was mint green and a small round shape with a score groove down the middle on one side. On the other side was printed 42." In her answering, Octavia made sure not to mention specific places, times or names. Even though she had done nothing wrong, she didn't want a repeat of the wedding.

Octavia looked at Moira's questions again. She'd answered all except how recent the injury was. She was sure there were lots of explosions lots of places for many reasons - legitimate and otherwise - but she didn't want to give any information that could help pin specifics down.

After one last consideration she added, "I've been out of the medicine for a week."

Hercules Holliday

Holliday would have laughed at the kid if he wasn't holding sharpened instruments so near his head. The kid was nervous enough it was obvious some back room stuff was happening in the... back room. What that could be was anyone's guess, but Holliday wasn't just anyone. Trained in the art of detection, with a lifetime spent on both sides of the law, he was uniquely suited to finding out just what that might be and how it might most benefit him. "Sure, I'll take the shave, kid." His soulful, puppy dog eyes found Orville's and he grinned. "I trust you." He hoped it would have the desired effect.

Effects, rather. Plural. One would be to actually inspire the young man to give him a proper shave, which he hadn't had in years. The duller by the minute electric razor he had next to the sink at Gary's rarely did the job to his satisfaction. But it was quick and efficient, kept his fine blond beard in the sink where it belonged. Winning Orville's trust was his second goal. Holliday would find out what was in that back room.

Before he could admire, or admonish, the shearing he'd received from the apprentice beginner barber, the chair fell back again, this time on purpose, though no less jarring. "Does the whiplash cost extra?" He joked, though corrected quick-like to soothe Orville's no-doubt fragile ego. "Kidding. I know you'll do fine." Charm didn't just extend to those he was determined to bed.

"That's nice." He said, as the kid whipped out a hot towel and smothered his cheeks with it. Technique was a little rushed, but the thought was there. Getting a proper shave out on the rim was a godsend, and Holliday wasn't about to complain. If the kid knew to towel him down first, and remembered to do it after, he was well trained. "Your boss teach you to shave, kid?" Steer the conversation, roundaboutslike, back to the girl. That's how it was done.
Dialogue Color - Cyan

Moira Chambers

September 29, 2020, 09:10:35 am #22 Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 11:58:25 am by Moira Chambers
"Sorry. I know, no weapons. I really need to learn to do that with a coin one of these days."

Moira flashed a very brief, tense smile in response to the quip before putting her serious business face back on. At least Octavia seemed to be relaxing a little, contrary to her fear that the backalley establishment would freak her out. Poor girl had to truly be desperate.

"There was an explosion. I think I was very near the blast site. My ears rang for quite some time. A friend helped me equalize the pressure, which stopped the ringing and replaced it with absolute nothingness."

Moira listened attentively. This was familiar ground to her; back on Osiris, she'd had to tend to the injuries of bystanders after a vehicle bomb went off in the street. Even those who had been spared from the shrapnel had sustained various degrees of inner ear damage from the blast. Octavia's sounded like an extreme case.

"The doctor on the ship gave me this medicine that would help for a short time before going back to silence. I didn't get a peak at the name but it came out of a purple and blue bottle. The pill was mint green and a small round shape with a score groove down the middle on one side. On the other side was printed 42."

Moira nodded. Tuxerin. It was primarily intended for temporary hearing loss, or to tide over someone with permanent hearing loss until they were able to get into surgery. It was not a long-term solution, only a band-aid. She waited for Octavia to finish her story, then typed up her message.

"I'm going to examine your ears now. This might feel a little uncomfortable but it should not hurt."

The otoscope supplied by Sebastian's black market contacts was an older model -- not that a layman would have been able to tell at a glance. It had all the functions Moira needed to examine her patient's inner ear in addition to the ear canal. Her initial suspicions turned out to be correct; while Octavia's eardrums seemed to have healed fine, the scanners confirmed cochlear trauma, the kind that wasn't likely to fix itself. Thanks to the advances of modern medical science, it wasn't all that big of a deal --  a fairly routine operation back on the Core, one that she'd performed before.

Correction: it shouldn't have been a big deal.

Dejected, Moira set the otoscope aside and picked up her datapad. For a second she'd been so caught up in the excitement of getting to tackle something more intricate than your standard patch-up that she'd forgotten where she was. All the high tech medical equipment she'd taken for granted back home was beyond her reach. She typed up the first two sentences of her message on her datapad and stared at them, at the spark of false hope followed by the harsh reality that snuffed it out. Was that it then? Surely she couldn't help this woman. Surely it was a pipe dream.

Surely she didn't actually care.

Moira tapped the second half of the message, then handed the datapad to the woman.

"The good news is that you should be able to regain full hearing with the correct implant. The bad news is that I don't have the implant or the equipment to perform the surgery.

But I can try to acquire them. I'm sure it will take some time and I can't make any promises this far out on the Rim, but I can try. How long will you be staying on Iscariot?"


---

Holliday's soulful puppy dog eyes may have had some effect on Orville; if he seemed a little antsy before, now he seemed a little antsy as well as a little flustered. He managed to go through the motions of his job anyway, mostly as usual -- he wasn't that easy to crack. Sebastian wouldn't have trusted him this precarious position if he was. Still, he hoped the customer dropped this line of questioning soon.

"Your boss teach you to shave, kid?"

"Oh, no, I used to apprentice with a barber back home." Orville removed the warm towel and set it aside. "I'm mostly on Iscariot to practice my technique, expand my horizons, you know, learn the business side of things. I'm hoping to open my own shop one day."

He lathered Holliday's face, taking the opportunity to casually shift the conversation away from himself.

"How about you, Sir? Are you staying or just passing through?"
Dialogue color: mediumpurple
Owner of Prime Cuts

Hercules Holliday

"I've been around." Holliday said, a touch of the cryptic to his answer. In truth he'd only been on Iscariot full time for a couple of weeks, though it wasn't his first visit to the station. He'd been in and out a few times over the years. It wasn't the most welcome place and he'd gotten on the wrong side of Lil Sebastian almost immediately, so sticking around wasn't the most appetizing prospect. Not to mention Holliday tended to find scenery tedious, especially when around it too long. But this time was different.

He had nowhere else to go.

There were prospects, he told himself. Opportunities. Maybe he could make a life here. But he'd heard that one before. Many times. Was this time different? Probably not as much as Holliday hoped, but he was the optimistic sort. When he wasn't being cynical, skeptical, misanthropic, derisive.... He tried to think of my synonyms. Pessimistic. Suspicious... His eyes strained to see the door the women had disappeared behind. He was getting bored of the mystery. "So what's behind the door? Special services for special clients?" There was no implication of ill-repute, but he felt Orville finish his shave and put the towel back on his face, as if to stop the line of questioning.

Hrmph. Kid was loyal, Holliday had to at least give him that.

The towel was removed and Orville seemed to blush, but didn't mention it.

Let's try something else. Holliday sat up in the chair and glanced quickly at the mirror to admire Orville's work. "Listen, what's your name?"

"Orville." He squeaked.

"Orville. That was my grandfather's name." Was it? "I'm not looking for trouble. But I know the folks who run this station and if your boss is up to something, and I think she might be, wouldn't you want her to be safe? Or at least have some help? These are bad guys, man. Bad bad guys." He leaned back and threw his hands back and cradled his head. "Of course, if she's not, then you have nothing to worry about."
Dialogue Color - Cyan

Octavia Wynn

October 22, 2020, 10:41:14 am #24 Last Edit: October 22, 2020, 10:47:53 am by Lomari
"I'm going to examine your ears now. This might feel a little uncomfortable but it should not hurt."

Octavia flinched when Moria began to examine her ears. The woman was right, it didn't hurt but it required more touching and close contact than Octavia wanted. She felt her body tense again. Partly from the closeness and partly from the stress of wondering what Moria was seeing through her little scope.

Her lids closed and in her mind's eye she was looking over the anatomy texts she'd had to learn in school. She saw the little 3D hologram of the inner ear. The names of each part jumped out at her as she focused her gaze on them. She saw an image of a healthy eardrum, then next to it one that had burst. It looked like it would be painful. Of course, she had no idea if it really WAS painful. It just looked that way. Octavia set out her hopes that because there was no pain - only an initial press that had long since passed - that her eardrums were still intact.

It felt like years before Moria was done with the exam and had typed up her findings for Octavia.

"The good news is that you should be able to regain full hearing with the correct implant. The bad news is that I don't have the implant or the equipment to perform the surgery. But I can try to acquire them. I'm sure it will take some time and I can't make any promises this far out on the Rim, but I can try. How long will you be staying on Iscariot?"

In a good news/bad news situation Ocatavia really wished that people would give the bad news first, but they almost never did. So, she became elated at the news that her condition was fixable, before she read that by all intents and purposes it might not be since they were so far out on the rim.

Octavia addressed the last question first and then worked her way backwards.
I am here as long as I need to be, until you tell me this isn't possible here and then I'll go somewhere it is possible.
What type of implant? Where would it go? What are the risks?"

Moira Chambers

"I... don't..." Orville was more confused than anything. If would've been one thing had the man just been a belligerent customer, or an obvious crook, but he couldn't get a read on this guy's motives. Moira had scolded him in the past for being too quick to call her for help when a customer gave him trouble, but this was different.

"I think you may want to speak to Ms. Moira instead." He dug out his communicator to send a wave, keeping his gaze fixed on the man.

---

Moira was in the middle of typing Octavia a lengthy run-down of her options when Orville's cry for help came through on the small communicator she kept in her shirt pocket, announcing itself with a loud beep that went unheard by her patient. Tucking the datapad under one arm, she pulled out the device and frowned. Couldn't it wait? Orville was a good kid, but sometimes she really wished Sebastian had given her an assistant who was able to deal with difficult people on their own. Maybe a gentle giant who was happy to indulge in their secret hairdressing passion but able to throw down if a customer gave them lip.

It was probably too much to ask. She made a couple of hasty additions to her message and handed the datapad to Octavia.

"In a Core hospital we'd be able to surgically insert a completely internal cochlear implant, but those are difficult to come by on the Rim, and it's a complicated operation for a small one-doctor establishment like this. It may be easier to find a more old-fashioned implant which includes an internal receiver and an external processor. Excuse me, it seems like I am needed at the salon, would you mind stepping outside for a while? I will get back to you after I deal with it. Sorry for the inconvenience."

As sincere as she believed the woman's despair to be, she wasn't willing to leave her alone with all her medical equipment and supplies. Once Octavia finished reading the message, she led the woman back to the salon side of the establishment and gestured for her to go sit on one of the waiting benches next to the complementary tea (she reminded herself to brew a new patch once she was done with whatever nonsense this was) and pile of magazines.

She walked up to Orville, who was looking even more uncomfortable than usual, and his freshly-shaved customer, who was the picture of cucumber-like coolness. Whatever the issue was, it didn't seem very urgent, which made the interruption all the more irritating. Focusing on Octavia's case had momentarily made her forget about the liquid lunch waiting for her in one of the storeroom cupboards, but now she was feeling its pull again.

"And what seems to be the problem here?" Moira looked at Orville, then at the man lounging in the chair. Although she looked short next to Orville's lanky frame, she dwarfed him in demeanor; calm and willing to be civil, but with a palpable undercurrent of I swear to God I will throw your ass out if you cause any trouble.
Dialogue color: mediumpurple
Owner of Prime Cuts

Octavia Wynn

Location: Prime Cuts

"Excuse me, it seems like I am needed at the salon, would you mind stepping outside for a while? I will get back to you after I deal with it. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Octavia sat on the bench and waited. She was less than happy about it. Could money not buy good service this far out? Was a haircut really more important than her injury?
She balked at Moira's assistant and the customer's stupid shaven face while she waited. Here she was in the middle of being briefed about possible SURGERY and she had to come out and sit by the dumb magazines (Did anyone ever read these, anyway?).

Cochlear implant. It certainly would be expensive, either here on the Rim or in the Core. She took out her data pad and did some research. Obviously the internal implant would be better. She pulled up the best doctors and facilities for this type of surgery.

Months.

It would be months before anyone could see her at any of those hospitals. And that was just for the initial appointment. The procedure would take even more waiting. She thought over her time in her room, missing the "thud" of the arrow each time it connected with her target. It had only been days to get her into that state and the only reason she had left her room was for this appointment.

Months.

What would happen in months? Would I go completely insane? Would I acclimate? Would old traumatic memories begin to resurface if I don't have any sound in my new memories? Do sounds take up memory space? What if every new thing I see and experience stays at the top of my brain forever until there is no more space in this stupid, seemingly-infinite memory of mine and that makes me go insane?

Her thoughts spiraled into a chaotic tangle practically shouting insider her own head and pinging off the walls of her skull. She put her face into her hands and made a frustrated sound.
"Ugghhh. Shut up!" she shouted into her palms. She smacked her self in the forehead with the heal of her hand a few times for good measure.

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