Meanwhile, in Haven. Taiyoko was being 'welcomed' by several armoured and masked men who said nothing and stood like statues at the entrances to his more austere accommodation.
After a few minutes, during which Tai made Ichiro comfortable and was about to feed him, the door opened and another, more ornately armoured, Light-Bearer stood in the doorway. He bowed deeply.
"Taiyoko San. Welcome to Haven. My name is irrelevant, but you may call me Bob."
Nurse Maisie is a formidable woman who runs her wards the way they should be. Ergo she is as straight and solid as the well-starched uniform she wears.
Her 'hospital corners' are textbook and she firmly believes that everything under her domain should and will run like a Swiss watch.
Which, is quite an achievement when you consider the butterfly nature of her boss, one Doctor Tukiko Troy. All in all, though, it all worked and she was content, usually.
Similarly, despite her public persona as a party-loving 'It Girl'.
Away from parties, public gaze and in her work environment, Mayor Hyle Troy is also a stickler for routine, efficiency and possesses a not so much 'can do' attitude, more a 'get it done, now!
' attitude. Ask any one of the staff at Hope Springs Town Hall.
Consequently, when these two great forces are placed in close proximity to each other, it is more than an odds-on certainty that tensions will arise.
By ten in the morning, Nurse Maisie's inner bottom lip was starting to suffer from the rising pressure from the teeth which were set upon the more and more frequently clenched jaw.
Miss Troy was taking charge.
Unfortunately, in the pecking order of Hope Springs Maisie knew she was several tiers below Mayor and although diplomacy was never her strong suit.
Bit by bit, Nurse Maisie was slowly learning that skill.
By about half-past eleven, things were a good deal calmer about the clinic.
By the time had got closer to twelve,
Hyle had withdrawn to the office and seemed to be spending her time either pacing up and down or had her face pressed against the window that looked out onto the street.
By quarter past the hour, Maisie felt her first pang of sympathy towards Hyle Troy. Tuki was overdue.
Time went on, still nothing.
It was heading towards 1 pm when Hyle finally snapped.
Leaving Maisie strict instructions to call her the moment Tuki showed up, Hyle leapt into her car and the dust cloud headed away in the direction of Haven.
The two heavily armoured Lightbearer guards watched as the pink car screeched to a halt outside the gate and an ominous Scandinavian storm cloud clad in tight blue jeans started marching
towards their gate. Silently the two guards closed shoulders, denying Hyle access to the compound within.
The ice blue Scandinavian eyes glared. "Let me in, I need to see my daughter!"
Nothing. The two guards stood their ground. Silent, immovable.
"I am Hyle Troy. I need to see if my daughter is there!" Hyle demanded.
The left-most guard looked at his colleague. His colleague spoke in a deadpan voice.
"Your name is not on the list."
That was not the first time Hyle had ever heard that phrase, her eyes widened with anger.
"Gahhh!" Hyle angrily spun on her heels and took three strides toward her car before stopping dead, turning, and marching back to the guards.
"I am the fucking Cursed Tech Mother of Seeker Troy for fuck's sake! Let me past!"
Guard right was visibly stunned by the Nordic fury and rocked on his heels.
The other guard was the first to recover.
"Wait here." He said and went to find someone of a higher pay grade, leaving the other to watch Hyle, arms folded, march up and down in frustration.
It was the one known as 'Bob' who returned with the guard to the gate.
"Esteemed Mother of Seeker Troy," Bob said by way of welcome. "It seems Seeker Troy had not arrived as we expected. Although Taiyoko San and the blessed child of Seeker Troy are safe inside."
The news hit Hyle harder than an overloaded freight train, and the world started to gyrate around her. She felt her knees buckle.
The next faces she saw were Taiyoko and 'Bob' looking down at her inside a spartan room within Haven.
Miss Brown glared with teary eyes at the slimy bile sloshing across the bottom of the plastic bucket.
Not for the first time, she cursed LifeNet, its creators, their parents and anyone else who had anything to do with the fact that she was violently ill whenever she emerged from cloning.
But at least she was safe. Well, safe-ish.
She had hoped for the indomitable Mr Yellow, her right hand man from the Spider Hill, but it had been Lucile Slater, Aunt Lucy, the unpleasant old whoremonger, madam and, oh yes,
mass poisoner from New Flagstaff, who had responded to her request for assistance. So, 'safe-ish' was the best she could hope for at this point.
But at least she could be sick in comfort, despite the pervading smells of stale alcohol, stale tobacco and stale sex that was to be expected when being housed in a brothel.
The said old whoremonger was currently sitting at an overcrowded desk in the back room of 'Diamond Lil's', the mainstay of Lucy's business in New Flagstaff.
Ostensibly a bar and strip club, Diamond Lil's also conducted business in the dozen or so upstairs bedrooms.
Or, for those customers so inclined, in the spacious and soundproofed dungeon-like cellars below. Like all places of business, Diamond Lil's had overheads.
In this case, the most substantial overhead being the considerable remunerations made to City Hall to keep the establishment's clientele safe.
No policeman or Union guard ever stepped foot in Diamond Lil's on business... unless it was house business of course.
Lucy wasn't sure yet if the sudden arrival of Beatrice Brown was a blessing or a curse.
She had worked with the woman before when Brown had been building some doohickie or other up at the Spider Hill radio station.
Well, that had eventually all gone south but Lucy had had plenty of opportunities to see just how Brown worked up close. Dang, she was smart as a whip for sure, and not just book smart.
Miss Brown had a plan, she always had a plan, but she was also mean as a Mama wasp.
Lucy's compatriots on the Spider Hill thing had called Brown a borderline psychopath but Lucy was pretty dang sure Brown has crossed that particular border a long time ago and was now deep
into crazy land.
And now she was here, upchucking her guts in the Diamond Lil's honeymoon suite after escaping from some damn hole Joe Spivey had put her in two years ago. Why he hadn't just killed her...
Walked her out into the wilderness beyond the range of LifeNet and just blown her head off. But he hadn't. So maybe she should? She'd have a talk with Brown, see if she 'had a plan'.
If the bitch did then maybe, she'd put off that little walk for now.
As it turned out, Miss Brown did have a plan.
Such a plan that if Lucy played her part in it, then she could finally expand her business into Hope Springs and all the new meat that regularly arrived there from the south.
Both women smiled as they shook hands.