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Dead Man's Hand - Family Values (Chapter Cover Art) 1

Chapter 16[]

Dead Man's Hand: Family Values[]

Dinh Ngo Medical Center
Hue, Kowloon
Bucklands Province
Lyran Commonwealth
6th March, 3058

"Oy-vay..." Joker blinked: her entire body ached, but she could feel soft sheets and a surprisingly comfortable bed beneath her.

Looking round slowly, she could see various pieces of hospital equipment, most of it bleeping away happily, while the line from an IV bag disappeared under the soft, warm blanket covering her. The room was painted a soft, calming blue, and soft sunlight flowed in a large picture window. Much to her surprise, she could just about see the outline of a second bed through a thick privacy screen to her right.

"What, I don't even rate a private room?" she muttered groggily, her mouth dry, her lips painfully chapped.

"Ungrateful bitch!" a voice from the other side of the devise responded, "I'll have you know that this is my private room, I my families private ward of the best equipped hospital this side of Arc-Royal!"

"Liz?" Joker struggled to look over, but her body was too weak, "I had the strangest dream..."

"The tea was surprisingly good, wasn't it?" the Duchess cut her off, "Take my advice, don't tell anyone. They're only look at you funny."

"...that was real?" Joker asked, "Really real?"

"You forget, I've read the report into what happened to you and the other on Tamar. What really happened." Liz countered, "After that, is a little near death experiences so hard to believe?"

"Well... Shit!" Joker sat back, then somehow found the strength to sit bolt upright, her entire body protesting, "THE BABY!"

"Alive and well, with a hell of a set of lungs on her." Liz assured her friend, "They have her next door. Under, well, you have some interesting friends."

"My team?" Joker asked, confused.

"Are highly capable, but no, not them." there was a click, and the privacy screen folded back on itself, allowing the two woman to actually speak face to face, "I don't know how, but it seems that the Spacer's Guild is in your debt. As such, their local representative, and I didn't even know they had one on planet, has made it clear that your daughter is under their protection."

"The Spacer's Guild?" Joker blinked, "But they just train DropShip and JumpShip crews, right?"

"Oh, I could spend the next few hours explaining just how wrong you are, but I don't think you'd enjoy it." Liz chuckled, "Just believe me when I say that your daughter is perfectly safe with the Guild watching over her as payment for a life debt." she paused, "Speaking of which, you're going to be have to name her eventually..."

"Alexis." Joker carefully settled back down onto the bed, "Her name is Alexis Lucy Kobe."

"So glad you didn't go with Kerensky, not a very popular name around here." the Duchess reached for a call button, "I did promise to let them know, soon as you woke, but I had the feeling that we should talk in private before hand."

There was a faint buzzing sound somewhere out in the corridor, and the door opened to admit Dr Wah.

"Good. You're finally awake." Wah walked over to Joker's bed and lifted her chart from the slot at the end, double checking the latest ops, "How do you feel?"

"Like shit." Joker admitted, "What happened?"

"I'll save you the medical jargon and skip right to the important bits." The doctor held the clipboard to her chest, "There's no easy way to say this: your daughter was breach born, and you suffered a serious hemorrhage as a result."

"And that's when my heart stopped?" Joker asked, then saw the look of surprise on the medics face, "Long story."

"Unfortunately, yes." Wah nodded, "But there's no apparent sign of permanent damage from that."

"Tell her." Liz ordered, "You tell her or I will."

"Unfortunately, there were further complications from the hemorrhage, and they were forced to perform an emergency hysterectomy." Wah looked genuinely sad, "I'm sorry, but you'll never be able to convince a child naturally again."

"Just as well I wasn't planning on it." Joker looked up at the ceiling.

"Now give her the good news." Liz insisted.

"While they had to remove your uterus, they were able to salvage your ovaries." Wah continued, "They're viable, and should you wish, you could secure the services of a surrogate..."

"Not interested." Joker shook her head, "Give them to someone who needs them..." she paused, then looked at Liz, before back to Wah, "You sure they're viable?"

"It's not exactly my area of expertise, but from what I have been told, yes." The doctor nodded.

"Interesting." Joker thought for a moment, "I need a terminal with access to the HPG station."

"What?" Liz sat up, "What are you thinking of doing?"

"I'm going to make Phelan Kell an offer he can't refuse." the mercenary looked the Duchess in the eye, "If he wants my genetic legacy so much, it's going to cost him."

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