This is a fan-fiction. The author does not own the property of the original concept, or any characters from Yu Aida's original.
Elio carefully scanned left and right, making sure he had not been seen. Decades of experience at evasion & dangerous espionage seemed to culminate in at this very moment. This day he was trying to evade someone who could see better than him, smell better, and hear a pin drop from 2 rooms away. Experience was all Elio Alboreto had on his side as he tried to avoid...his own cyborg.
_Mission Readiness Percentage_
There were a dozen steps from the sidewalk to the front entrance of the Section 2 administrative building, but they might have been the foothills of the Himalayas for all Elio was concerned. Still, they had to be surmounted. The old spy took a deep, ragged breath, making sure his lungs were filled with air to support his spine. He'd been taking ibuprofen since yesterday, but it only helped a little. Every step was painful. One...two...three...four...five...halfway there...seven...
"Hello Mr. Alboreto!" chirped a friendly voice. Elio swung around too fast, and painfully twisted his already weakened back. There stood Henrietta…Alboreto felt like an amateur for allowing her to sneak up on him. "You're moving really slowly, sir, is everything alright?"
"My back is just feeling a bit stiff, nothing to worry about" Elio assured her.
'Etta did not seem convinced. "When Giuse is hurt he has to go see a doctor..." she suggested.
"I'm not hurt, Henrietta, it's just a little back trouble" Elio grumbled, "It just happens sometimes. I'm a lot older than Giuseppe, remember?"
"That's more reason to go see the doctor" she replied with a smile, hoping to manipulate him with cuteness. It worked on everyone else.
It did not work on Elio, at least not while he was in pain. In fact he was getting annoyed. She was wasting his time, and potentially drawing attention to him. If Marisa saw the two together, even from a distance, she was sure to race over to see what another cyborg was doing talking to her Elio. Protective jealousy was a trait found in all the girls. Elio needed to get rid of Henrietta in a hurry, and that called for a dirty trick. "Henrietta, I assure you I'm fine...now I want this to be our secret, you are not to tell any of the other cyborgs that I'm not feeling well, especially Marisa! Understand?"
Henrietta was not sure about what she should do. She wished she could ask Triela for advice, but that would violate Mr. Alboreto's order to silence. "I don't know sir, I think..."
"'Etta!" he interrupted in a sharp whisper, "If you tell Marisa about my back trouble I'm going to do something mean to Giuse!"
She gasped, and her face turned red. The hairs bristled on the back of Henrietta's neck, "If you lay one finger on my Giuseppe..." she threatened.
Elio had been warned about the diminutive cyborg's dangerous temper, but he kept calm and explained, "Oh, I won't hurt him...maybe I'll shuffle all the important papers in his files, or trick him into putting salt in his coffee instead of sugar. You don't want that to happen, do you? You want Giuse to enjoy his coffee, right?"
"Yes" she muttered, realizing that capitulating to Mr. Alboreto's demands was the best way she could protect her beloved handler from the horrible fate of salty coffee. To demonstrate her acquiescence to their dishonest compact she offered help, "put your hand on my shoulder & use me as your cane, sir...I'll help you up the stairs."
Now that she was on his side Henrietta proved rather useful (she was just the right height to use as a cane). She got Elio up the steps to the front door, and up the flight of stairs to his 2nd floor office as well, before running off to find Giuse and ensure that his beverages were not already tainted.
Before Elio reached his office he was interrupted again, this time by Chief Lorenzo & Victor Hillshire, who were just coming back from briefing Secretary Petris via conference call, about the previous day's mission. Alboreto straightened his spine painfully, and tried to act nonchalant, but the Chief saw right through it. "Jesus, Elio, are you still gimping around with that bad back? You told me it would be fine after a good night's sleep."
"I just need to take it easy...I'm looking forward to a full day of exciting paperwork in a chair with plenty of lumbar support" he chuckled.
"Did this happen on our mission yesterday?" asked Hillshire.
Elio nodded, "Yeah, I tweaked the old frame-work pretty bad when I kicked that Padan in the gut."
"You should have just let Triela take care of him" muttered Victor, employing a patronizing tone that irritated the older man.
"Sure" Alboreto grumbled "Just wait right here buddy, there'll be a pig-tailed murder machine along any second now who can kick you in the stomach much more efficiently than I can. Have a cigarette while we wait."
"I just mean you didn't have to follow the cyborgs into that safe-house" added Hillshire, "they can handle it themselves."
"They don't pay me to sit on the sidelines and scratch my ass" said Alboreto.
"We don't pay you to sit on your ass and do paperwork either" retorted Lorenzo, "I want you to go see the doctor."
Elio threw his hands up in frustration, causing him more discomfort, "What's a doctor going to tell me that I'm not already doing? Drink fluids, get plenty of rest?"
"Well, Doctor Bianchi is on duty this morning" muttered the Chief, "so he's probably going to throw in something about your father issues."
Great, Bianchi thought Elio, that guy doesn't like me to begin with. "So am I correct in assuming this is a direct order you're giving me, boss?" he asked his old friend & house-mate.
Lorenzo was unaffected by the guilt-trip Elio was trying to lay on him "A direct order, sure, that sounds good" he agreed, "Look...the government spends a lot of money on this cyborg project and right now I've got an unusable fratello because Marisa can't deploy without you. That affects my mission readiness percentage that I have to report every morning, and the bean-counters hate low numbers. If the doc can get you mission ready a day or two sooner that works for me!"
Victor pulled out his cell phone and offered, "I can get Triela to fetch Marisa for you, so she can help you out..."
In discomfort & frustration Alboreto lashed out at Hillshire, regressing into a stream of politically-incorrect ethnic pejoratives; "Put that damn phone away you Bavarian kraut fucker, or I'll spike your bratwurst with strychnine! Nobody, and I mean nobody better tell that cyborg about this or she'll shift into psychotic-nurse mode and she won't leave me alone for a week! I broke a toe at the Dive Training Center once and she wouldn't even let me take a shit without following me into the men's room!"
Hillshire looked on the profane English-Italian with his German pride wounded, and considered retaliating by doing exactly what he had been warned not to do, but the Chief was already laughing at the tirade so he decided to take the high road and let it go. "Understood, nobody tells Mari..." chuckled Lorenzo, "I'll have Ramsey drive you over to medical in his groundskeeper-mobile."
Galeb Ramsey brought Elio to the hospital in a 4-seat Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle. It was custom painted bright blue, decorated luridly with religious tokens & medallions. Mr. Ramsey was Muslim, but he was far too courteous to see anyone's faith left out, so a statue of Krishna sat upon the dash-board along with a votive candle of The Madonna and a laminated portrait of the martyr Husayn ibn Ali beside a placid lion. Buddha & a Yin-Yang medallion shared space with a Native American dream-catcher hanging from his oversized rear-view mirror.
The affable Palestinian proved every bit as attentive as Elio feared Marisa would be, helping him out of the Mule, and practically carrying him up the wheelchair ramp with Alboreto's arm slung over his shoulders. The old spy felt guilty for gruffly insisting "Take it easy, just let me do this at my own pace, I'm not crippled!" but Ramsey just smiled...it seemed impossible to offend this man, or even to decline his help.
Doctor Bianchi was not as sympathetic. "Back pain, eh?" he muttered, "Why didn't you come in last night when you first felt it?" He was none too gentle as he checked the alignment of the vertebrae in Elio's back.
"I've experienced this a thousand times, Doc; it always just goes away with time & rest"
"A thousand times...does it not occur to you that if you got appropriate medical treatment all those other times maybe this wouldn't happen so often?" Bianchi offered, and then softly muttered "Typical tough-guy bullshit" under his breath. Elio felt that the psychiatrist had never forgiven him for the time he showed up to a counseling session drunk.
"Doc, what are you doing on call today anyway?" Alboreto asked, "I thought you mainly dealt with the psychological stuff."
"Every psychiatric doctor must first be a full-fledged M.D." he explained. Bianchi finished his physical examination and announced, "I want to do an MRI."
"For a bad back!" Elio exclaimed.
"Why the hell not?" replied the doctor, "We have a machine right here on site, might as well use it. It's the best way to check for soft tissue damage that an X-ray can't see."
As was Agency policy, Elio had to suffer the indignity of sitting in a wheelchair and being pushed to the technology lab by an orderly. He wore a short blue gown, and reflected on the many times he had admonished Marisa to sit with her knees together when wearing a skirt in public. Now that he had to do that, it was not so easy. Elio gave a quick check to make sure his balls were not hanging out, and thought good thing she can't see me now.
The Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine issued a humming drone as powerful magnets cycled around Elio's prone body. "Just a few more seconds," a technician assured him. It had already taken 40 minutes, but Alboreto didn't mind too much, the cold, flat bench was actually pretty comfortable on his aching back. "After that it shouldn't take long to read the results, few hours...new imaging technology, it's great." Dr. Bianchi was there too, but there wasn't much for him to do...the tech had it under control. He began to scratch notes on his pad; "I'm writing you a prescription for Flexeril and Tylenol 3..."
"That's codeine, Doc," Elio reminded him, "I can't do any opiates. I went through hell kicking that junk the first time."
"Okay, I don't blame you..." Bianchi consented, scratching the Tylenol 3 off his pad, "Flexeril and ibuprofen...600mg horse pills."
"That'll be fine" agreed the patient, who had been taking plenty of his own ibuprofen since last night. At least now they'd be free.
Just as the machine was shutting down, Marianna dashed in. "Bianchi!" she exclaimed, breathless from running, "You're needed in Trauma 4. Kara took a heavy-caliber sniper round to the shoulder and her right arm is hanging by a thread! She's coming in on the chopper!"
"Great...we just put that thing back on!" groaned Dr. Bianchi, "How is Michele?"
"Uninjured," reported Marianna, "but he's pretty shaken up. Have you ever heard of him leaving one of his Ferrari's in the field to ride in & on the chopper instead?"
"If only all the handlers showed that much concern for their girls" Bianchi lamented.
Elio defended himself; "For the record..." he called out from the MRI table, "...I have thus far managed to avoid getting by cyborg shot, even once."
That was true at least. Despite all his shortcomings as a human being, the psychiatrist had to admit that Elio Alboreto was one of the handlers who undeniably loved his cyborg. You're still a pain in the ass, Alboreto, Bianchi thought to himself.
_Lies & Fabrications_
It was almost lunch-time, but Elio was not looking forward to the long walk to the dining hall. Still, he'd skipped breakfast & was in need of some food in his stomach to take the muscle relaxers and anti-inflammation drugs that he had just drawn from the hospital pharmacy.
Elio was saved from that long walk by Galeb Ramsey, who had been waiting for him in the lobby this whole time. The grey-haired spy was still cranky from the nagging pain he was in, but when he saw the smiling grounds-keeper rush to help him he felt badly about the manner in which he'd been treating the folks around him. I never asked for a bit of help he reflected, but the best sort of people provide it anyway.
Ramsey dropped Alboreto off at the dormitory building, where the dining hall was located. It was a struggle getting his tray and carrying it to his seat, but Elio managed, and was soon seated. He knew he shouldn't be drinking coffee, it was a diuretic that would cost his body water when he should be staying hydrated, but he felt a good jolt of caffeine would improve his mood and help him soldier on through the difficult day.
As he ate, a gang of chattering cyborgs entered the dining hall. Among them was Marisa. Well, he considered I knew I would have to face her sometime today, this was inevitable. Let's see how good an actor I really am.
With seemingly limitless energy the red-haired cyborg bounded straight to her handler's table. Mari had been on the obstacle course this morning; she was sweaty and covered with a light film of dust. "Hiya Boss" she greeted breathlessly, "what's good today?"
"I'm having the linguine with clam sauce" he pointed out, "it's better than usual...I think they got fresh clams instead of canned this time." He stayed casual. Keep her focused on food...she doesn't suspect a thing so far.
"Great" she replied, twisting in her seat to check how long the line for the buffet was at the moment "I'll have to try some."
Elio gave her a grave look and said "I certainly hope you mean after you've washed your hands & face."
"Yes, sir" she groaned, embarrassed to be reminded how dirty she really was.
The handler asked "So how was the obstacle course today?" It was another tactic to keep her focused on what she was doing, and not him.
"Hot!" she responded, with a tired sigh for emphasis, "but I was fast...I was just 6 seconds behind Triela's average time!"
"Triela is a First Generation cyborg, she's stronger & faster than you," he reminded her, "if you want to compare times look at other the 2nd Gen girls."
"I'm 4 seconds behind Petra" she told him. Elio's eyebrows raised...he had no idea Petrushka was so fast, only 2 seconds slower than 1st gen Triela. Petra even smokes! Outright power isn't everything I suppose. After all, it was a 2nd gen who held the all-time record on the course...Monty, a cyborg he'd never met, set the mark a staggering 11 seconds faster than anyone else had ever achieved. Marisa continued; "Still, it's really hot out there today, I'll be glad to hit the indoor shooting range this afternoon. Sweet air conditioning..." She wiped her brow with the sleeve of her rugby shirt.
Elio felt guilty as hell for what he was about to do, but he had no choice. "Eh, yeah, about that Mari...would you mind finishing up the day at the obstacle course? I have a mountain of paperwork to do and I can't make it to the range with you."
"Awww, serious?" she whined. Marisa had been looking forward to some time with her handler as much as firing her Kel-Tech in the air conditioning. Cyborgs could not use the indoor range without a handler. "Have I done something wrong?"
Alboreto felt the gnawing of compromised conscience deep in his gut. He was sending his trusting student out to run laps in the hot sun just to cover his own lie. The old spy had lied about far worse things in his life though, so he was able to rationalize. He could not let Marisa learn about the injury to his back, she'd go insane. At least artificial skin didn't sunburn. "It's nothing you did...I'm just really swamped today."
The cyborg seemed to accept it, even if she tacked on a bit of over over-acted disappointment. Just then, Triela appeared, and almost blew the whole ruse wide open. "Looks like you need a re-fill, Mr. Alboreto" she said, topping off his coffee from a steaming pot that she had carried up from the buffet table.
"Um, thank you, Triela..." Elio replied with surprise.
"No problem," she chirped, with a knowing wink, "Cream? Sugar?"
Elio waved those off politely, and Triela left to return the pot to the buffet. "What was that all about?" Marisa asked. She'd never see Triela bring coffee to anyone else, even her own handler.
The old spy had to think fast. He responded with another lie, "I won a bet with her handler. He didn't know what year Michael Schumacher made his Formula One debut. Some German, eh?"
"1991, duh!" laughed Marisa, "Belgian Grand Prix. So wait...does that mean Triela has to do stuff for me too?"
"No" answered Elio sternly, hoping his fabrication would not lead to more trouble.
"Just as well" Marisa said with a shrug of her shoulders, "it's too hot for coffee anyway. I'll be right back." She dashed off to wash up for lunch.
Triela returned with her own tray, this time accompanied by Hillshire. They had both passed up the linguine in favor of veal with potato gnocchi. "How is it going?" Victor asked.
"Doc Bianchi enjoyed the opportunity to make a big deal out of nothing, as usual" Elio told him, "He gave me a full MRI."
"Why not?" Hillshire agreed with the doctor, "...we have a machine right on the compound. Might as well use it."
Alboreto considered his conversation with Hillshire this morning and resolved to apologize. "Hey, I'm sorry I flew off the handle earlier...I was in a really bad mood because of my back and you were just trying to help. I'd never put strychnine in another man's sauerkraut."
"Actually it was bratwurst" Victor corrected, "you threatened to put strychnine in my bratwurst." Triela's eyes grew wide with horror as she considered the possibility, although she had never seen her handler eat bratwurst or sauerkraut. It was sometimes hard to tell if grown-ups were joking or not. "It's no big deal" Hillshire continued, accepting Elio's apology, "after all, I was kind of screwing with you by sending Triela over with the coffee pot...making your life difficult. So did Marisa ever find out?"
"Not yet..." muttered the older man, crossing his fingers for luck, "...couple of close calls just now. I had to cancel our trip to the indoor range this afternoon...really thought she'd catch on then. I felt lousy sending her back out to the obstacle course for the afternoon in this heat."
"We're going to the range this afternoon..." Triela suggested, trying out her best puppy-dog eyes on Hillshire, "...you could supervise her, I never need much help."
"Sure" agreed Victor, "I never get to actually teach Princess here when we go shooting...it will be a nice change."
Elio grinned, "I really appreciate it, man. Mari will appreciate it too; she was looking forward to doing some rifle training today. Just give me a call if she gives you any trouble, I'll be in my office." Once again, the best kind of people had provided help, even when you didn't ask for it. "I think I'll get out of here before she gets back. The game is up if Marisa see's me trying to stand." With help from Triela, Elio struggled to his feet.
He picked up his tray, but the blonde cyborg objected, "Just let me get that!"
"Permit me this one final shred of my dignity" me groaned, carrying the tray to the dishwasher's clipper, "I can at least clean up after myself." Elio barely got halfway there though, before one of the kitchen help dashed out and took his tray from him with a smile. He thanked the man, but was really thinking Jeeze, does everybody know?
Marisa came back from the washroom, her hands & face clean, but her ears & neck still showing the noticeable tint of dirt. She was a bit disappointed to see that she had missed her handler, but he did say he was very busy with paperwork today. With a wave of her hand, Triela summoned Mari to sit with she & Hillshire.
"Hello Mr. Hillshire," she greeted respectfully, and with less formality "hi Triela. Did you happen to see Elio before he left?"
"We did" replied Hillshire, "he asked if we would take you to the range with us this afternoon...does that sound okay to you?"
"That's great, thank you" she answered, but with a little less enthusiasm than the more experienced fratello expected. She poked at her linguine; her famously ravenous appetite seemed subdued. "I really wish Elio could go with me. He said he had a lot of paperwork to do, but none of the other handlers seem to be that busy. Also, he was tense, sitting really straight and upright in his seat; like he does when he's mad at me for something...do you think...?"
"Oh, don't go all Henrietta on me!" Triela grumbled, "One of her is enough! Your handler doesn't hate you, he isn't mad at you, and for that matter he doesn't have a secret girlfriend that he's hiding from you!"
Hillshire looked at his cyborg with surprise. "Where did that come from?"
The blonde girl flipped one of her pig-tails back and muttered, "It's not important...just typical Henrietta stuff. Felt good to get it off my chest though." She ate a few bites of her gnocchi and said to Marisa in a more cheerful tone "We're going to have to get you cleaned up before we go to the range!"
"I can do it myself!" growled the younger girl, resisting Triela's maternal advances.
"Okay" Triela teased, "but if you go like you are you are now you're going to gum up your rifle before you even start to shoot!"
Although he normally considered paperwork a bothersome chore necessitated by the desire for a continuing paycheck Elio attacked a stack of it with gusto this day. The afternoon hours he spent in his office, seated in a comfortable chair, were the most pleasant he had passed since incurring his injury the previous day. He even managed to absorb some of Priscilla's information traffic commitment, for the nominal fee of fresh coffee delivery on each hour. Rest, painkillers, and muscle relaxers were doing their work efficiently...Alboreto felt as if he would successfully make it through the day.
Jean Croce stopped by. "Have you got those decodes from the morning NATO release? Priscilla said she gave them to you" he asked. Elio swiveled around in his chair to hand him a manila colored file folder. "Anything good?" the Field Commander asked, briefly scanning the decoded dispatches.
"Nothing that concerns us," muttered Alboreto, "mostly about that Russian Naval exercise up in the Norwegian Sea."
"Is that still going on?" Croce muttered.
Elio shrugged his shoulders. "I guess the Admirals in Kaliningrad don't like what they're seeing, so they're keeping the Baltic Fleet at sea until they get it right."
"Poor bastards..." replied Jean, in a rare show of sympathy, "...you wouldn't catch me dead on a boat that far north."
"I don't believe I've ever seen you on a boat" Elio laughed.
Jean looked up from his files "Sometimes...but only really big ferries" he replied, "and I prefer to stay in my cabin or the bar. I'll leave the small boat jobs to you. Speaking of jobs, the Chief told me about your back trouble, are you coming in tomorrow?"
"Sure," answered the older man, "I can sit around here and take painkillers just as well as I can at Lorenzo's house."
"Good" said the Field Commander, "we'll have plenty more paperwork for you then. If you're willing to take care of the decoding I can get Giorgio & Priscilla to work on those training records we're so far behind on." He cracked a sly grin and added "I think I like having you in the clerical department more than having you in the field."
It was quitting time by then. Jean offered to call Ramsey back to give Elio a ride to the parking lot, but he waved off the suggestion. "I'm feeling a lot better," said Alboreto, "in fact I'd better go over to the dining hall before I leave...my cyborg is probably feeling pretty neglected by now." Croce rolled his eyes & muttered something under his breath before leaving.
Fortunately for Elio, the office building was directly adjacent to the building which housed the cyborg dormitory and the dining hall, but the walk still took him 30 minutes. Many of the staff stopped and offered their help...it irked the old spy to be treated like an invalid but, remembering how he unfairly bit Hillshire's head off that morning, he maintained his patience and courteously assured them that he would be fine.
He was not the only adult agency member in the dining hall, but there were far fewer than there had been at lunch. By contrast there seemed to be many more cyborgs present for the evening meal. That was just an illusion though...there were still the same number of cyborgs, but at lunch they had only been stopping in to grab a quick bite and rush off to their afternoon training. Now that the day was over they lingered sociably over dinner, some going for seconds, all chattering with their friends. Elio was lucky to find an empty table.
Marisa had been part of a group listening to Savyna dissertate on the various distinguishing features of ceratopsian dinosaurs, but she excused herself when she noticed her handler sit down. This was nothing abnormal, and was not considered discourteous among the cyborg girls, all of whom would have done the same upon seeing their own beloved handler.
"Elio, did you finish all your paperwork?" asked the girl, hopefully.
"I got a lot done, but it never ends" chuckled Alboreto, put in good cheer by her enthusiasm, "it's like Padania cells...when you get done with one, two more pop up to take it's place."
A worried look crossed the cyborg's face. "Are you going to have time to train with me tomorrow?" she asked. "It was nice of Mr. Hillshire to take me to the range today, but I'd much rather practice with you."
It was time to be honest, Elio decided, at least partially honest. He took a deep breath and admitted, "I can't promise anything, Mari. The truth is I tweaked my back a little on that last mission, and I've been doing paperwork so I can give it some rest."
Marisa jumped to her feet in alarm. "You're injured?" she shrieked, causing many of the conversations around them to freeze. "Did you go see the doctor? Will you need cybernetic implants?"
Elio waved off her concerns and motioned for her to sit back down. "It's nothing to get worried about, I just need some time to rest and get back to normal. I didn't tell you because I was afraid you'd over-react. I might have to take it easy for a few days; you just need to be calm about it." Although she was suspicious, Marisa seemed to accept that.
A self-satisfied voice broke into their conversation; "Ah, good, you're both here."
"Dr. Bianchi!" the red haired girl replied happily, "I'm glad you're here, Elio hurt his back on our mission, maybe you could look and make sure he's okay!"
"I know, Marisa, Elio came to see me earlier" answered the doctor, with a sly grin on his face.
"Dr. Bianchi, good to see you again" muttered Elio, but he did not sound very happy, "How's Kara?" It was a feeble attempt to change to subject.
"She'll be fine" said Bianchi, "I had to give Michele a sedative though. That's not what I'm here to talk about…I have the results of your MRI." He waved a folder in the air.
Marisa leaped to her feet once more. "You had an MRI?"
"Why not?" Elio echoed the doctor & Hillshire, "We have a machine right on premises, might as well use it"
Bianchi rolled his eyes. He opened the folder slowly, relishing every second of misery he could put the aggravating Elio Alboreto through. "Your spinal column is not damaged, but you have torn muscle tissue, and several strained ligaments. Consider yourself on medical profile until I or another doctor approves you for duty. Now, Marisa…"
"I have a mission for you." Bianchi told the eager cyborg, "You are to be Elio's arms and legs until he is off medical profile. Don't allow him to lift anything, walk anywhere, or do any kind of physical labor."
"Bianchi..." growled the old spy.
The doctor smiled and continued "Don't let him out of your sight, Marisa. You know your standing orders, right?"
"In matters of medical treatment, a doctor's orders supercede even those of the Section Chief" she recited, proud of her regulatory knowledge.
"Right...although I doubt Chief Lorenzo will second guess my recommendations concerning this matter" explained Bianchi, "My car is outside with a wheelchair in the trunk. Your first mission, Marisa, is to go fetch it and make sure your handler uses it."
"Yes, Sir!" she chirped, giving the doctor an exaggerated military salute before rushing off. For the next few days she was going to be spending every waking moment with her handler, attending to his every need, and she was thrilled about it.
Alboreto glared at the smug doctor and threatened "Bianchi, when I'm through with you..."
"You've got to get better first" he answered with a grin, "so enjoy your convalescence. I'm sure Mari will be a big help." Bianchi walked out of the dining hall and crossed paths with Marisa once more, who was pushing the wheelchair inside, and had already knocked over several chairs & a potted fern in her eagerness to get it to her handler.
The psychiatrist now knew how the handlers & cyborgs felt when they returned from a mission flush with victory. His euphoria at having trumped the most stubborn of patients carried him out to his car, off the compound, and all the way to his cousin's home for dinner.