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Lianne Medway was conscious. The transition to awareness was familiar, the comforting presence of her internal systems presenting a status report. Medical supervision was detected, although her processors still maintained field drill: a convincing impression of continued unconsciousness until she ordered otherwise.

She scanned the evidence logs, skimming through a reprise of the last half hour before her shutdown. The original design permitted Cyber Enforcement Division medics to purge the evidence log to reduce trauma. In practice that now required authorisation from a chief superintendent: the absence of the last records often proved more traumatic than the actual content. It was comforting to know what the hell had happened, however bad.

Lianne accessed her function status, checking the additional information supplied by the interface to the medical systems. Power core restored, mild tissue scarring from the electrolyte leakage, bullet wounds responding to treatment, femoral shield repaired. Overall, her processors and the medical systems rated her fit for light duties.

She made a final foray into the datascape and requested status on Jaz. Her best guess was that he was dead, but she wanted confirmation before she faced the world.

Critically injured, prognosis good. A nice surprise. A relief. She was a cybercop going soft. Taking in stray kittens.

Lianne opened her eyes. A meditech was already at her side, but then the medical systems would have predicted her impending consciousness. His face was familiar, but she couldn’t place a name. A quick scan of her databases supplied ‘Greg’; he had attended her after her last serious scrape.

"How’m I doin’, doc?" she managed hoarsely.

"Up and about in no time." He did some of those reassuring doctorly things, like manually checking her pulse even though the monitors were displaying it continuously. "Super will be here shortly."

"Jaz?"

"Severe spinal." Greg almost looked away, but practice had taught him to look a cybercop in the eye as he reported bad news. They liked things straight. "Super authorised a bypass node. Be a week or two before we know if it took okay. Those nerve interfaces are tricky and there was a lot of abdominal organ damage."

"Super authorised it?" Medway couldn’t quite believe it. Greg nodded and left as Superintendent Morrison himself arrived, a short, bitter-looking man with a severe limp beyond the best skills of the medics.

"Survived another one." Morrison used a gruff directness for the same reasons Greg checked her pulse. "Any ideas what it was all about? Not exactly common to have a couple of mercs crash Peel House and try to waste one of my officers. Stupid. Suicidal. Must be a bloody good reason."

"Kyla Chamile." It had to be. "The ex-cybercop. Murdered a few days ago. Very professional."

Morrison narrowed his eyes. "Connection?"

"She freelanced for us. Or rather for Eleven. She was on to a major bootlegging operation, top quality cyber-ware."

"Evidence?"

"A file I shouldn’t have from Eleven," she offered tiredly. "Inconsistency with a statement from CyberLine."

"Nothing firm then. Just suspicion."

"Instinct. There’s something there."

His mouth twisted – it should have been a smile, but there was only so much the surgeons could repair.

"Good enough for now. You have motive." Morrison grunted with frustration. "Neither of your assailants gave us anything useful before they died. The records will be released to you."

"Light duties, sir?"

"Got anything better to do, Medway?"

Lianne laughed, a cracked cackle driven by genuine amusement. She preferred it out on the streets. The horrors of light duties whilst recuperating were a pet hate. "Do I get any help if I need some legwork?"

"None." Morrison shrugged. "There is a formal investigation. All spare resources will go to that." He leant closer. "But this is personal, Medway, for the Division, for me and especially for you. You usually piss people off when you go investigating, but it gets results." His mouth twisted again. "You have certainly pissed someone off already."

"Yes sir…" She hesitated before asking the burning question, but Morrison was the sort of superior she ought to be open with. "Why the op for Jaz? Bloody expensive."

"You prefer him dead? Well?"

"No sir."

“He has a reputation," Morrison explained softly. "A decision was needed. I made some enquiries. Maintenance rate him for fixing our kit, Medway. And they tell me he can clear up rednode faster than the medics. I don’t waste talent."

"No sir." Lianne smiled – Jaz had talent to spare.

"Take your orders from the medics. Once they clear you to start light duties, find out what the fuck happened. It pisses me off when my officers get shot out on the street. When some bastard does it here... I want their balls hanging from a hook over the front door. Alongside whoever sent them."

# # #

Lianne walked – shuffled – into the suite where Jaz was being treated, suspended in a gel tank, wired to a node trainer. She knew enough of the medical equipment to read the displays: Jaz was making modest progress as the spinal bypass was trained to bridge the severed nerves.

One of the medics appeared at her side, alerted to the intrusion by the diagnostic systems. Jaz remained oblivious, twitching in the gel as the node sorted nerve links and signals. The medic was not one she knew, short and stocky, a pair of nodes on her forehead like the nubs of a fawn.

"Slow," Lianne noted, faintly accusing.

"Only so much to work with," the medic replied blandly. "Trauma left us with few recent memories to work from. Not a lot of walking activity. Just hip movements really."

Lianne didn’t blush, but turned away from the sight of Jaz reliving their last fuck on a continuous loop as the medics salvaged nerve impulses.

"Call me if he needs anything. Or if you wake him up."

The medic looked as if she were bracing herself to say something troublesome. "Of course," she replied, ducking her own question.

"I want him back. Never met a man like him." Lianne lowered her voice. "He can touch your nodes so that the whole fucking universe moves."

The medic flinched and Lianne left her watching over Jaz.

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