Previously in Doc Passion and the Floating City, Doc and his assistant Brunt discovered the massive floating city Elysia used the imaginative power of children to power itself. Doc and Brunt needed to destroy four data pods and central processing before being able to release the children imprisoned in the core of the station. After destroying three of the pods, Doc had an allergic reaction to a drug he breathed in while passing through one of the zones of the station, called “pleasure spikes.” Rather than continuing the mission, Brunt chose to rush Doc to a doctor before his allergic reaction led to death. Read the entire adventure from the beginning by clicking here!
Brunt tapped his left thumbnail three times in rapid succession. The subdermal display on the back of his hand clicked in, displaying how much time they estimated they had left. He swore.
Doc whacked him at the back of the head. “No matter how bad it gets, we don’t need to foul our mouths. Dirty hearts, dirty mouths.” He tried shaking a finger at his assistant, but the other fingers were too swollen to be able to bend. He laid back down on the gravity sled, shaking his head. He coughed. The muscles in his neck rippled and grew, tightening the skin.
“Terra. Doc’s in bad shape.” Brunt scanned ahead of him, zooming the gravity sled right past their next destination. “I know you can’t talk to us – we’re going too fast for you to commandeer a speaker and we don’t have one on our transport. But if you can point out the way to Regan, or get her to the pleasure-spike of ‘whatever the hell they call a hospital,’ I’d appreciate it. And so would Doc.”
Ahead the white lights of the corridor blinked three times.
“Thanks, Terra. I’m glad I can count on you when Doc’s dying.”
The lights blinked twice more.
Beside him, Doc’s groaned. Brunt could barely see his eyes anymore, his face had swollen so much in muscle mass. Scarlet stains crisscrossed his lab coat. A meaty hand came up to rub his face and he groaned again. The groans became rhythmic. It took Brunt a moment to realize what they were.
“I’m sorry, Doc, I can’t understand you. I guess your jaw won’t really close anymore, huh?” He pressed his lips together. “It’s getting worse faster.”
The lump of Doc’s head nodded.
“I’m getting you to the docs here as fast as I can. I’m hoping they can patch you up. Just lay still. Don’t fall off, all right?”
Doc gurgled back an affirmative.
Brunt pounded the slick metal of the sled. It dented under his assault. The wind kept moisture from his eyes. Good thing.
The lights of a branching corridor blinked several times. Brunt angled the sled sideways, banking to avoid slowing down and keep his passenger from sliding off. The lights kept blinking after he shot into the tunnel.
Brunt drew his eyebrows together in concentration. Ah. Morse code.
He struck the sled again.
Doc gurgled an interrogative.
“Nothing. It’s nothing.”
Doc struck the sled. The skin on the side of his hand split open with the force, leaving a bloody mark.
“Fine. Terra can’t find Regan. I don’t know if anyone else can treat you. Stop it, Doc. You’ll only hurt your hand more.” Brunt sighed. “She’s not a ‘spiritual doctor’ like she led us to believe. At least, not only that. She has connections here that a lot of the natives don’t. She can get around a lot more than they can. And if anyone could get the doctors to help you without alerting Elysia, it would be her. And if there’s anyone who would know how to avoid detection, it’s her.”
“Oh, stop looking at me like that. You never got people the way I can. You’re passionate for science, not people, remember? Anyway, I figured it out at the core. She knew her way around the place way more than anyone else. And when we revealed we were going to take the place apart, she broke down. Only she has the right to break Elysia’s heart, running around. There’s a reason the AI sent us her more than anyone else. It wanted someone who might help us destroy it.”
Brunt turned to a groan from Doc’s direction.
“Oh, yeah. You didn’t know that. Yeah. Elysia doesn’t want to be sucking down natalic power. Stop looking at me that way! Now you’re gonna be all conflicted when we shut it down. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”
Another gurgled inquiry.
“Don’t ask me that, Doc. You won’t like the answer.”
“Fine! Yes! I do this all the time! I take away the grays so you can live in black and white and have your adventures. And now you’re going to die, because Terra can’t find Regan. We have no cards to get the doctors to help you. Not without Elysia’s security systems finding you.”
Two fierce grunts.
“Yes. You are worth the risk. You’re important, Doc, to so many people. I won’t let you die. Not if it’s within my power to save you. Yes, I’ll sacrifice myself for you.”
“I’ll do my best to save the kids after I make sure you’re in good hands, all right? But you’re worth the detour. You’re so very much worth the detour.”
Some lights blinked off the right. It was a sharp turn. Brunt slowed the sled.
Doc grunted again.
“No. You first, then back to shredding the AI.”
Brunt banked as he reached the corner.
Doc rolled off the sled.
“Doc!” Brunt lunged, grabbing for a hand, a part of the coat, anything. He caught some thick fingers, but they slid right out of Brunt’s grasp. He felt the slickness of fresh blood on his fingertips.
He spun the sled, nearly losing control. A back corner scraped against a shiny white wall leaving a dark gash in the splintered material.
Doc lay in a wet splatter on the dark floor.
Brunt put down the sled and rushed to the mass. Doc labored to breathe. He waved Brunt away with a grunt. He labored to squeeze words out of his lips. “There’s not time to deal with me and free the children. I won’t let you choose me over them.”
“I won’t let you sacrifice yourself, Doc. I’m getting you to a doctor. A real doctor. One who can fix this.” He grabbed an arm and tried hefting the scientist to his feet. His feet slid on the slick floor. Doc yanked the meaty hand back.
He breathed deep. “Time,” he uttered, “Time is short. Go.”
Brunt gazed into pleading eyes.
“Help kids. Go.”
Brunt laid him down. “Doc, we aren’t near a lab. There’s no one else to save you.”
“There’s no last miracles here. No more adventures. If I leave you here, that’s it. You’re done. No next season.”
He huffed a chuckle.
He shook his head.
Brunt closed his eyes. No wind dried them now. “I’m gonna miss you, Doc.” He stood and walked back to the sled. He sat on it, grabbing the controls. As he raised the sled into the air, he pounded the hard metal once. Twice.
He sped off to the final data pod.
Doc Passion returns (or does he?) here!