“I feel like I’m really going to regret this,” Zaria muttered as Petrovich pulled a leather strap down tight over one of her wrists. He eyed her humorlessly earning a resolute sigh.
“Zaria, are you absolutely certain you want to go through with this?” Petrovich asked not for the first time. She nodded sternly and rested her head back against the medical bed she lay on. In addition to the restraints that locked down her wrists and feet, three large leather bands extended over her chest, waist and knees to prevent her from flailing and falling off of the bed during her augmentation process. A heartbeat monitor beeped away to Zaria’s side and near it an IV drip was inserted into her arm. The room, as sterile as it possibly could be, was adjacent to Petrovich’s home so that he would be capable of monitoring her without needing to step too far way from his other patients. Zaria coughs uncomfortably and bobs her head toward the heart monitor.
“That a Venni Eighty Eighty? Did you know it’ll calculate your drug concentrations and print a vital report? I used to mess with one when I would get sick and keep a log of blood pressure effects and heart rates based on different--”
“Zaria,” Petrovich interrupted. Zaria’s mouth snapped closed into a grimace. Her eyelids closed over pale blue eyes for a few moments before reopening to stare blankly up at the tin ceiling.
“I know. Its dangerous, its gonna hurt like hell, blah blah. Lets just get it over with, okay?”
Petrovich triple checked the straps holding his patient in place before drawing a small syringe of a silvery, metallic liquid from a hidden pocket in his jacket. He removed the clear protective cap from the end of the needle and took one last look into Zaria’s mortal eyes. She smiled back, her lips opening to form the words-
The doctor pushed the needle into Zaria’s vein and pressed the plunger, injecting the Augmentation Serum into her blood stream. It may be the last time that Petrovich or anyone, Zaria included, would see this version of her. Her life would be forever altered.
“It’s done,” Petrovich murmured. Zaria took a tentative breath and released it cautiously.
“How long after post-injection does-” her words were silenced by the scream of pain that scoured her throat. Zaria’s body flailed against the pain that was the Augmentation Process, the only thing keeping her in place were the leather straps bolted to the table. Petrovich’s hands flew to his ears as he stumbled backward. He took one last look and stepped outside to the prying eyes of New Kennedy.
“Sounds like the fun’s started, Doc.”
Petrovich nodded to Virus who, in typical fashion, appeared out of thin air. The Scout was dressed quite casually. No body armor or fatigues. Just a pair of jeans and a thermal shirt, though Petrovich could make out the telltale bulge of a 1911 tucked into his waistband.
“The screaming will grow quiet when her trachea fractures, but it won’t stop her from trying.”
Virus pulled a cigarette from his pocket, put it into his mouth and lit it. He took a long slow drag before puffing a series of rings into the air.
“I didn’t know you smoked.”
“It’s definitely been a minute... Do you think she’ll make it Doc? Like, in a not clawing at the padded walls kinda way?”
“You’ve an unusually grim way of looking at the world, Virus.”
“It’s part of my charm.”
“Well, that being said, yes. She will make it. If she’s anything like her mother, she’ll hold on and keep fighting until what needs to be done is done.
“Her mother... How do you know her?”
Petrovich smiled, his expression distant.
“Let’s just say we had a long history together.”
“Gross,” Virus joked, but there was no humor to behold in his eyes. He took one last, long drag from his cigarette before dropping it onto the ground and stamping it out. “If you don’t mind, I’m gonna sit in there with her.”
Petrovich's mouth opened to object, but the old man caught himself. "I'm sure she would appreciate that," He settled with. Virus shrugged and stepped past Petrovich, the sounds of Zaria's screams blaring down the street as the door swung open.