The Casket Girls 2

Memo by Médecin Warton to the General Staff of the Île de Ré Bataillon Pénal.

We require a verdict on the following proposition.

After the engagement at ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓, in the Doubs Department, Legionnaire Mary Pelican was recovered from her Chassis d’Bataille and stabilized. However, her injuries have left her paralyzed with little hope for recovery.

Currently, legionnaire Pelican resides in the Île de Ré barracks. Formal procedure dictates when a legionnaire becomes disabled in the line of duty, the Empire is obligated to suspend their criminal sentences and discharge them from the Legion. However, legionnaire Pelican is bedridden for the foreseeable future.

The medical department attempted to find lodging at the veterans' home. Unfortunately, they only accept men in the employ of the regular army. Also, legionnaire Pelican claims she has no family to take care of her. Medical staff is currently inquiring about lodgings in nearby convents and similar institutions.

However, a second alternative has been raised by the Department de Bionique to use legionnaire Pelican in medical experiments that would not only remedy her condition but could also provide great advancements in the development of the BC-Program. For details and the intended outcome of these procedures, I refer to you to the addendum attached to this document.

Allow me this brief interlude to propose my perspective on the subject. Despite the possibility of a positive outcome for Pelican, we are talking about human experimentation that involves technology from a dubious source. Furthermore, as stipulated in section 7 of the document, her new body parts will be treated as the property of the state.

I do not wish to force this moral quandary upon you, but this is also a matter that affects how my department operates from this point on into the future. Let’s put aside mlls Pelican and her criminal history. Would the General Staff choose this technology to be introduced, most citizens could come to suspect the Imperial Army’s motives to turn its veterans into state property.

I understand making a cripple walk wouldn’t just be a scientific triompf but also a miracle. But I feel the need to stress that both the medical achievement and the prospect of creating a new breed of soldier might blindsight those responsible for both the ethical and realistic consequences of this decision.

We are in anticipation of your response.

Médecin E. Warton

April 15th, 1872

Little Cayenne, on Île de Ré, France. 9 am…

It was time for the Médecin to do the rounds again in the medical quarters of Little Chayenne. The bare brickwork of the pentagonal fort from Napoleon’s time made the narrow corridors appear like a basement illuminated by light bulbs protected by nothing but cobwebs. This prison housed the Île de Ré battalion of the Légion Pénale. And she was its chief physician.

The corridors of the west wing were peaceful, apart from the clattering of bedpans being emptied by the nurses. In the background, the rhythm of the Steam-powered generator was accompanied by a chorus of crying seagulls circling the ramparts. When she arrived here for the first time, she thought the unceasing thumping of the machine would drive her mad. But now she couldn’t imagine Little Cayenne without it, as the rhythm of the transmission song her to sleep every night.

Warton entered the final ward. A sleeping quarter intended for a platoon-sized unit. Now it just contained four sick beds. Still, it resembled a dungeon with only two small windows that allowed fresh air inside for the three immobilized patients in this room. The first patient’s legs had to be amputated after his many bite wounds were left untreated. Not that it mattered, for the limbs had been torn to fleshy strands by hound-like creatures in his attempt to crawl to safety. He should find himself lucky to have survived. The second was wrapped in bandages from head to toe due to chemical burns caused by a friendly fire incident involving white phosphorous ammunition. Then the third one...

With reluctance, Médicin Warton looked at the paraplegic woman whose appearance was intact, apart from a deep gash to the left of her eyebrow. An unpleasant character who happened to be one of the female pilots of the Chassis d’Bataille, better known as the Coffin Girls. During an engagement, her automaton got knocked over, the report said. The impact broke her neck, damaging the nerves and leaving her immobile. For support, her neck had been braced with a leather gorget holding her head in a place like a corset. An accessory a Paris eccentric would fancy to a gala. But in this particular case, it looked like the stem of a very unappealing flower. Unlike the other two, she didn’t wear a bomb collar. Despite her condition, the officers insisted on fitting the patient with the notorious ‘Dry Guillotine’ as protocol dictated. But the Médecin managed to convince them her patient wasn’t going anywhere unless carried - or thrown out of a window.

Warton’s thoughts drifted back to the cause of the patient’s injury. Every time penal troopers were brought in, the stories behind the exotic wounds became more outlandish and unsettling. Now, a monster strong enough to knock over a multi-ton machine-like toy had traversed a rift into this world. She feared during the next encounter, they would meet something that could swallow a CB whole. Still, she preferred being confronted by those facts to having to deal with her next patient. Marie…

Confined to her bed, the Coffin Girl scowling glare looked up as if the ceiling had wronged her somehow. It wouldn’t surprise the doctor if Marie found a way to blame the beams for her misfortune. She blamed everyone else, after all.

“Connards don’t have eyes in fucking heads,” she swore ad nauseam when she was brought in. Not to mention all the other verbal abuse her staff had to endure.

Dr. Warton put on her most encouraging smile as she approached. “How are you feeling, mademoiselle?”

“I need to piss.”

Dr. Warton sighed. At least her response was somewhat helpful. “A nurse will be with you shortly… Have you noticed any changes?”

Marie’s pupils shifted all the way to the side just to look at the doctor. “Just say what do you intend to do with me.”

“Well… We had an encouraging letter from a convent-”

Marie’s face writhed as she tried to move due to some involuntary reflex. “I am not going back!”

“Non, non. You’re not going back to Cayenne,” Warton assured her patient. “It’s one not that far from here.”

Constrained by the brace Marie inhaled with all her might. “I’m not going to no convent!”

The Doctor sighed helplessly. She wished the nurse would hurry up. Though she did regret not explaining the whole situation.

“Just let me have that operation,” mumbled Marie sullen. “Can’t be any worse than this.”

The doctor was silent for a moment. “Who told you about any operation?”

“The Creep.”