Nayla beamed happily at Mercy, and she couldn’t help but smile back. Then she glimpsed something sitting against the wall behind the girl that wiped away all of her tentative good feelings. A blue stasis field about the length of a person.
“Atrea!” Mercy moved to push herself down from the medical bunk she was sitting on, and a steely grip closed around her arm.
“Oh, dear,” said Vashti.
“Not so fast,” said Doc. “I’m not done.”
Maybe it was the way she’d been constantly moved and handled by Willem Frain and his people, but the sudden surge of anger the swept through Mercy shocked her. She realized she was actually shaking.
“Get your hand off of me.”
Doc frowned, but did remove his grip from her arm.
“You won’t do your friend any good if you collapse halfway across the room. She’s stable, for the moment.”
Mercy stared at him incredulously.
“She’s in stasis,” she said.
“Yes, which means her condition isn’t changing anytime soon.” Doc scowled at her. “Yours, on the other hand…”
“Is that a threat?”
Doc threw his hands into the air, one of them still holding the datapad.
“[Save me from fools!]”
“Let’s everyone just take a moment and calm down,” said Vashti, inserting herself neatly between Mercy and Doc. “Mercy, I assure you, everything that can be done for Atrea is being done. Her father would never settle for anything less. Doc, you must understand that Mercy has been through quite an ordeal. As yet, she has no real reason to trust us.”
“Yes,” snapped Doc sarcastically, “saving her life and returning her to health is certainly not enough of a reason.”
“Wolfgang is here?” Mercy asked, surprised.
Vashti smiled, tilting her head slightly in an inquiring look.
“Of course. Where else would he be?”
“Where—where is he, then?” Mercy couldn’t imagine why he wouldn’t be here, ordering someone to do something to help Atrea.
Vashti waved a hand in the air.
“I made him go and eat something. He’s barely left your side, or hers, in three days. You were clearly recovering, and no one knows quite what to do for Atrea yet, poor dear. There was really no point in his constant hovering and, well, roaring at anyone and everyone.” She gave Mercy’s hand a quick pat. “Now that you’re awake, I’m sure he’ll be here very soon.”
“You made Wolfgang Hades get something to eat?” Mercy asked, disbelieving. No one ordered the old Wolf around.
“Yes, dear,” said Vashti, as though it were the simplest thing.
Mercy just stared at this old woman with her easy expression and fond smile.
“May I finish my examination now?” Doc framed it as a question, but there was no mistaking the stiff irritation in his tone, or the fact that it wasn’t so much a request as an impatient demand. Mercy glared at him.
“Has anyone ever told you that you have the worst bedside manner?”
“Oh yes, dear,” said Vashti. “Everyone says that.”