from "The Heart of a Doctor" by G. Dean Manuel

««Mei-mei, I have noticed a significant increase in your core temperature. Are you feeling unwell or is this because you are embarrassed?»»

“Not now, Hiratsu!” she subvocalized. Mainly to distract herself, she asked aloud, “Where are we going today, Doctor? You haven’t told me yet.”

The smile fell from Dr. Greymane’s face. She looked directly into Mei’s eyes for a moment, almost as if she was looking for something. “Bosing”—her eyes never left Mei’s face—“and don’t call me Doctor. Call me Linda from here on out.”

Mei’s eyes widened and her hand flew unbidden to her mouth at the mention of the squatter town. She didn’t know much about Bosing beyond the fact that it was a haven for lowlifes, and that it had been the district hardest hit by the great earthquake several years ago. “Yes, D—err, Linda”—she slipped her gaze sidelong to Linda. “Bosing is full of Discons and criminals,” she added, her voice low as she glanced from side to side.

“Mei, you say that as if they aren’t human.” Dr. Greymane’s eyes, normally a sparkling ocean blue, hardened to twin sapphire stones. “We are doctors. Doctors go where they are needed. At least they did before all... this.” She waved her hand in the air.

Mei glanced about. This—even though lower class—was normal. It may not have been perfect but at least it was connected. That would not be the case in Bosing, where only the most minimal of city services had been established, and most people lived their lives without the benefit of network connections. Mei couldn’t imagine being offline; willfully living where there was no CitySystem to monitor you. Without Hiratsu in her ear. Discons were as close to inhuman as one could get in Mei’s eyes. She gulped, trying to force down the lump in her throat. “Why me?”

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- from "The Heart of a Doctor" by G. Dean Manuel

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