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A short story by

Antony Johnston

Lee smiled. "Well, we helped them out. I keep a little souvenir in our trophy cabinet, a jar of sap from — Look, never mind. It worked."

Brach's grip on her hand tightened. "Heh... goddamn... slugs."

Lee squeezed his hand in return. "Yeah. I know." She turned to the medics, and gestured at Brach's leg. "Now listen, this is a roach hit. The acid contains viroids that propagate through the nervous system, and a standard nanoscab just exacerbates the process. The only way to neutralize infection is put the whole leg in an alkali bath, shoot it up with bacteriophage virals, then clean and assess." She paused. "But honestly, you'll probably still have to amputate.

The medic gaped in disbelief at her frankness. "Uh, ma'am... thanks and all, but could we discuss this in private?"

Brach managed a thin-lipped smile. "She's my wife... you bozo. And she knows more... about roach wounds than... your professors ever taught you... Show him, honey."

Brach let go of Lee's hand. She held it up in front of the medic's face, palm out, and pulled off her glove. He gasped at the neosteel plating, the endoskeletal nerve clusters, the soft glow of status lights.

"A cyberlimb."

"Right up to the shoulder. Give you one guess how I lost it."

Brach laughed, coughed, hacked up phlegm, and took hold of Lee's hand again. She walked alongside his gurney while the medics wheeled it through the ship's corridors. "Like I said... a good match."

"I'll be right here, Brachyan." She squeezed his hand. "I guess that's two I owe you."

Brach smiled. "Ever get that... sense of déjà vu, Illyana?"

She held on tight as they entered sick bay.

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