RP:The Mercy Kill
This RP is part of the Great Reformation arc.
Synopsis: Ahab tracks down the Doctor to help figure out which of the captured Infected are going to recover and which are going to die, and brings him back to the Cross home base. While the Doctor is taken to the clinic to figure out which is which, someone from Croix's past tries to reach her but dies before the two have a chance to say goodbye.
Characters: Ahab, Croix, The Doctor, and Gilen
Location: Derelict Apartments, East Ankou Ennis
The apartment buildings crowding the factories of a once prosperous era look like brick hospitals; their architecture wasn't intended to charm but to be practical and inexpensive during their original construction. They boast a drab, box-like exterior, their bricks stained with the dirt of centuries' neglect and total abandonment. Their interiors also speak of minimalism and utilitarian design, but such is their selling point: they can house thousands of people. Some buildings are too far-gone and have been boarded up to prevent access while others are undergoing gradual renovations. The interior of one of the buildings has been demolished to create a makeshift stable, the windows always propped open to let the stench of horse manure out. Barbed fencing to protect the district's inhabitants surrounds the entire area, making it a safe zone.
Ahab had not visited the Doctor in quite a while, but of course still knew the way. Winding through the theatre's labyrinth and descending into the boiler room, he finally came upon him in that room he had considered something of a sanctuary. "Doc! Great news, forgot to tell ye, we kinda fixed the..." That's when he noticed the caged plaguebearer, who...by all rights and means looked significantly better. "...y'probably already knew that. Nevermind. But! But. 'n this is the good part. We need'jer help. Yer a doctor. And not just any doctor. Yer THE Doctor, the one with THE most knowledge on the infection 'n all its ins 'n outs..." Ahab took a breath, calming himself for a moment. "...okay, basically we've been roundin' up infected. 'n we need your help to, y'know. Figure out who's saveable, who's too far gone...people are turnin' human again."
It wasn't immediately apparent that the Doctor was in the boiler room beneath the old theatre at first, but then he turned and the silhouette of his overbearing presence could made out from the shadows. His wet boots fell heavily on the ground as he shifted, lifting his beak to focus black, reflective goggles on the strange breed of vampire. He returned his attention to what he was doing, hidden by the network of rusted old pipes. It seemed like he was ignoring Ahab, but then he resumed moving again, emerging from the pipes to focus all of his attention on the organism. Since his detailed study of it and its behavior, he had written up a description of it and named it a subspecies of vampire: Homo nosferatu upirus, common name: upir. The caged plagued individual the Doctor had with him had been showing gradual signs of improvement, while others he'd observed beyond his laboratory seemed to be slowly dying off. The examination table hidden among the shadows of the boiler room told its own story. On it laid an unmoving corpse with its chest sliced open for an autopsy. The organs had been removed and placed in jars of fluid for preservation. There were clear signs of internal rot all throughout the corpse's body and its organs. The Doctor didn't "help," though. He was not a medical doctor; he did not save lives or treat the sick. He had a purely apathetic and scientific interest in those with the infection. But he understood the broader implications of what the upir was offering, and he was intrigued. He turned lethargically to his shelf and began methodically pulling books off and stacking them on the corner of the desk beside it. Procuring a bag, he began to carefully place each book within the bag, and when he was done, he slung it over his shoulder and stepped forward toward the upir to begin following him. Indeed, the Doctor was intrigued.
Ahab waited, with bated breath, for the Doctor's response. The nonverbal one, of course. If the Doctor had said actual words to Ahab, he might just have a heart attack. When the Doctor began packing up books, however, Ahab quietly pumped his fist, ultimately pleased. As he was packing, he kept going. "Y'know doc...strange how y'been such a weirdly big part'o my life 'n yet I've never seen yer face or heard'ja speak. If you, y'know. Even have a face. Or can speak." A beat, as the Doctor stood before him. "Honestly I'm probably better off not knowin' the answers to those questions. Alright! Let's move out 'n figure out who's livin' 'n who's dyin'!" Turning on one heel, Ahab went to exit the boiler room, offering one last sentence before growing silent; "Wish you'd at least show me why the infected ignore yah. Damn if that wouldn't be useful, then I could help you do yer work..." It was strange, really. Ahab had grown quite fond of the Doctor and now just assumed he'd always be a part of his life. But for now, he moved onward, leading the Doctor out of the old theatre and back towards Croix.
The Doctor did not respond. He failed to acknowledge anything the upir said after claiming to have been gathering the Infected. He was not the talkative sort, after all, and as a result, the journey would tend to be a silent and long one.
Ahab had taken no detours, no sightseeing on his way to head the Doctor back to Croix. But a long, silent journey it was. He was mostly glad for the company. Company he could choose to talk at but wouldn't judge him for it. He could talk WITH Milon, though. So...there was that. The changes he saw at the apartments floored him. They had...a new building that smelled a lot like shit. And HORSES. He could smell them. His new favorite animal. Already he was hunting down Croix, and once he found her he was upon her with questions, babbling with excitement. "CROIXWHENDIDWEGETHORSESCANITOUCHTHEMWAITTHAT'SNOTIMPORTANT--" A deep breath, and he stood aside for the doctor. "Sorry. Got...carried away. THIS, Croix...is that doctor I been yammerin' on 'bout. He knows more about the infected than anyone on this island." And he knew that for a damn fact. "An' he knows ah...my condition, y'see."
Gilen was not inside of the apartment; he was entangled in the barbed fencing that protected the district's inhabitants. Blood stained his cheeks from his eyes and his chin from his mouth, he was bald, and the only few identifiers of the creature was his imposing height, the tattered, ragged remains of his clothes, and a few worn, weathered, barely-legible playing cards that were half-shoved into its pockets.
One of the workers patrolling the perimeter of the barbed fences was shocked to stumble upon the sight of man tangled and bleeding in the wire. He barked to the others that were nearby and several of them rushed over. They worked together to try to free him from the fence. Further away from the commotion, Croix cringed at the sudden attack on her concentration and raised her black, almond-eyed gaze to glare at Ahab. At her feet, she had several cans of pale-colored paint. If he looked around, he would notice almost every stoop of the claimed apartment buildings had their own stock of paint set outside for the next day's work. The old oil lanterns at the entrance of every building had been filled with oil and lit. She didn't respond right away but focused her gaze on the seven-foot tall creature. Her eyes lingered on the Doctor's peculiar mask and said, "How quaint," in her flat monotone. "Eithah you have a dark sense of humah or you're just an incredibly... peculiar man..." That was a nice way of putting it. She addressed Ahab, then. "We got them yestaday. Milon saved us a bunch of tahme with the stable bah suggestin' we keep the buildin' intact and just demolish the walls insahde to make room, but we still had to wait a whole day for the next delivery. We'll be gettin' more ovah tahme to make travel for everyone easier." Scrutinizing the Doctor again, she said, "Does he wanna rest or does he wanna see the Infected?" she drawled.
The Doctor moved at a lethargic pace until he came to stand behind the upir and resumed an unnaturally still demeanor. The light from the oil lanterns cast an eerie glare over his goggles but revealed nothing about what was behind them. Even so, they seemed ominously focused on the female before him. The burden of his gaze would be unmistakable. The Doctor did not speak.
Ahab looked to the Doctor, as if almost expecting an answer, but...silence, as per the usual. "Well Croix, gonna be straight up with yah, pretty sure our friend here ain't human 'n doesn't sleep ever. But! He knows what to do!" He looked to the Doctor, positively beaming. "Doc, yer gonna be markin' out which infected are gonna make a full recovery, 'n which are due to be 'put down' so to speak." Eyes went back to Croix, and it was clear Ahab was much more joyful than last night. "Let's get started! We got a lotta infected to go through, ehn?" It was a purpose. A small one, but it was one he could cling to.
Gilen could obviously be seen with the traits of the Infected that had plagued Ankou's lands, which was certainly baffling in consideration that he was not, in fact, infected; it would be impossible. Couple that with his lack of resistance to the workers trying to disentangle his lean figure from the barbed fence, gave only the indicator that one merely wanted it to look like he was infected. He gurgled blood disgustingly and bubbled it out of his mouth, and once one of his arms were freed it would be revealed that in a deathly tight grip was a sealed envelope, marked along the top 'La Croix'. Blood, unfortunately, soaked the rest of the object, from having run rivulets down his arm.
The men were only mildly reluctant to disentangle the man from the fence because of his unsightly appearance as a possible Infected, but they understood that although a bite would hurt, it would not infect anymore, so only the bravest willing to risk the pain of a bite reached in to free him. The more cowardly hung back with their weapons at the ready in case of an attack. Croix had specifically ordered they spare anyone who looked like they were recovering, but fear was a terrible thing. "What's that in his hand?" asked one of the ones hanging back, but everyone else was either too busy getting him off the fence or keeping their distance to bother investigating. The one that asked the question took several cautious steps forward and squinted at the text on the envelope. "Hey, that says '[i]La Croix[/i] on it, guys. It's for Croix!" One of the men trying to pull the man off the fence spat, "Shut the fuck up already! Can't you see we need to concentrate?" The other man fell silent as he watched, and the man who yelled at him finally freed the bloodied man from the fence. Croix stared at the Doctor and then nodded. Boots struck the stoop as she descended the short steps and began to lead the way. "We've got some on site we oughta take care of first. We set asahde several cots for them for when we figure out which are gettin' bettah. We're keepin' them in a different buildin' from the workahs for obvious reasons, but Ah'm hopin' to get someone to regularly check up on their progress and make sure they're taken care of. Is he up to the task?" Her steps led in rhythmic stride through the cobblestone street toward a narrow townhouse. It was one of the smaller buildings in the area. The building had two doors: one that led into the first floor living quarters and the second that led up a flight of wooden steps into the second floor living quarters. Croix led them into the first floor's door. Inside were numerous clean cots with pale white sheets. The glow of hung oil lanterns cast eerie shadows about. The cots had restraints attached to them, their purpose self-explanatory. They walked to the back of the room where another door waited, guarded by a couple of men. There was silence behind the door until Croix pulled a lantern off the wall and opened the door to lead Ahab and the Doctor inside. She waved one of the guards to follow with his weapon and walked inside. The Infected hissed and squirmed but all of them were securely tied. They were all at various stages of interal decay or gradual recovery, some more obvious where they were headed while others had very nuanced differences. "Give it to me straight, Doctah. Who's dyin'?" Her way of lightening the mood.
The Doctor followed at his slow, creeping pace. He paused just outside the townhouse to duck his head and step inside. He was forced to maintain that stooped posture as he lumbered along after the upir and the woman. His gaze only briefly skimmed the interior of the townhouse, but he was more interested in what might lay behind the second door. On the exterior, his demeanor did not seem to change at any point, however. His unerring apathy was absolute. Inside the room, he scanned every one of the Infected. He approached each one, prying their eyes wide to inspect their scleras and pupil dilation. He tilted their heads to the side to watch the pulse of blood from the artery there and then observed the coloration of their skin. All had clearing eyes, but some of them had their eyes turning yellow from liver failure: a sign of general organ failure. From his utility belt, he freed a needle and pricked each one to study the color of their blood. He straightened after the last one and there was a long moment of pause. In his lethargic manner, he turned his beak mask toward the upir and the woman and then back to the subjects. He began to point out the ones that were dying.
Ahab didn't even have to point out just how up to the task the Doctor was. He just let him do his thing. He watched as closely as he could without directly getting in the Doctor's way, making notes in his head all the while, almost like an eager student. He'd practically devoured the Doctor's notes. As many as he could cram into his brain. It fascinated him, really. The infection, human anatomy...hell, even how HE came to be. If Ahab found out the doctor had notes about Upir, he'd probably read that, too. Croix'd probably be able to see it, all in the way Ahab acted around this strange figure. It was a passion and interest to rival his killing instinct.
Gilen's hand had that sealed letter held in a white-knuckled grip, but could do nothing anymore; his blood loss was only part of his problem. As he was disentangled from the barbed fence playing cards fell from his ripped pockets, and his head jerked back for his body had fallen limp. Without having seen Croix again, the hitman's eyes opened slowly in a vain attempt to fulfill that promise, before his final breath escaped his lungs and he could not keep it.
The weight of Gilen's limp body brought the man to the floor with him. He cursed and everyone started scrambling again to either help him up or check for signs of life, but they understood when the point of no return had been reached. Many of them had watched people die, but for others that stood around the body, they seemed frightened and confused at what was happening because they'd never witnessed death before – not like this. One man checked his pulse and then shook his head. "Someone should get Croix..." spoke the young man who'd been told to shut up. The others looked at him with pursed lips and nodded. He turned then to go fetch Croix. Croix looked to the guard and nodded at him. He nodded once in understanding and lifted his rifle to begin firing at the dying so that they'd meet a quicker end. The process was slow because of the nature of flintlock weapons, and before he killed all of them off, the young man burst into the townhouse panting. "Croix," he breathed loudly. "A guy on the fence- he's dead, but he has a letter for you." Her eyebrows pinched together and she nodded. "Go on, lead the way," she drawled. To Ahab, she added, "When you go to the othah sites, make sure you take people who will bring the recoverin' ones back. Take a wagon and the horses so the return is easier on them, and make sure you let them know the next site so they know where to go when they leave here again, alright? Ah gotta go deal with this."
Ahab for once did not help in the killing. Strange, all things considered and how often he so enjoyed murdering things. But for now, his only interest was, perhaps, scientific. At Croix's request, he offered her a half salute, and the rarest of all things; a genuine smile. "You got it, Croix. By the time the week's out, we'll get it all sorted!" That smile turned to the doctor, then, and he spoke again. "Alright doc, let's go grab us a wagon 'n round some people up. We've got shit to do!"
The Doctor's agreement was communicated in the absence of a response. The Doctor would learn where all the Infected were being kept, and he would do so in silence.
Gilen was lain face up, arms spread and open eyes to the sky, both unblinking and lifeless. His pistol hung loosely at his hip, and blood stained his face.
Croix allowed herself to be led by the young man, leaving Ahab and the Doctor to their own devices. She didn't know what to expect when she came upon the crowd of people surrounding a bloody corpse. Stepping her way through, she made it to the front, expression indifferent until she saw to whom the body belonged. Her steps slowed to a complete stop. She was paralyzed in place, eyes burning as she stared in disbelief. Her lip began to quiver, and when she blinked, tears spilled from her eyes. The crowd bowed their heads to divert their eyes; some left to give her privacy while others lingered to watch. It was hard for her to move closer, but she managed, and then she lowered herself to her knees beside him. A trembling hand reached for his cheek and hovered there. A wretched sob escaped, but she fought with it, biting her lip to fight back the pain and the tears. The loss was overwhelming, though, and eventually she bowed her body over him and rested her head against his chest as she let herself cry. By the time she finally stopped, everyone would already be gone.
Gilen's face was frozen in pain and yearning, lifeless eyes open and unblinking as Croix bowed her body over him. He hadn't been able to see her again, though the evidence of his attempt was in his positioning, and the letter he clutched; only her name still legible -the rest was bloodstained too much to make out. The only card that hadn't spilled out of his pockets since his disentanglement laid halfway out his chest pocket, the 'queen of spades', its corner bent and sides fringed from weather.