A black Cadillac zoomed down the busy streets of New York City, headed for the medical center.
When Zoe arrived at the hospital two men were waiting for her. They towered over the petite girl, a wall of well-toned muscle.
She was always reminded of the old song "Ebony and Ivory" when she saw these two long-time 'associates' of her father.
Nikolai was ex-Spetznaz and spoke with a heavy Russian accent, he was fair-skinned, blond haired and blue-eyed. The other giant, James, grew up in the projects and did most of the talking for the pair.
For reasons that were unclear, the odd pair had struck up a close working relationship, even more surprising they were good friends.
"Hullo, James, Nikolai. Is uncle inside?" asked Zoe
"He's not here yet, Zoe," the African American replied in his cultured voice as his partner nodded in greeting to her.
Zoe rushed inside the hospital and asked the woman at the reception where she could find David Ruster.
She had seen Dave's full name on the contract he signed with CCN. Not only that, she'd done some investigating into Dave's background and knew everything there was about him that was in public, and not so public, records.
The receptionist asked Zoe why she wanted to see Dave, and she answered that she was there to pay him a visit.
After filling out some visitor forms, Zoe was allowed to see Dave.
"He is in the VR therapy room, if he wants to leave he needs to get discharged," the young woman at the receptionist desk smiled at her.
Zoe beamed back at her and followed directions to the VR room.
The doctor that treated Dave had just finished doing a round of check-ups on the patients inside the VR therapy room.
When the doctor opened the door to leave, Zoe was just coming in.
Zoe looked over the doctor's shoulder and saw Dave sleeping inside a gaming capsule.
Her face brightened and she went past the doctor.
"Hold on there miss, what are you doing here?" asked the doctor.
"I'm here to visit a friend,"
The doctor frowned, he looked at his watch and said "Visiting times just ended, you'll have to come later," said the doctor.
Zoe became dejected and was about to turn back.
The doctor turned to look at the capsule his patient was in and asked, "He is your friend?" asked the doctor.
"Yes," Zoe answered when she saw the doctor pointing at Dave's capsule.
"What do you know about the accident that left him with those scars?"
"He never said, I just know he has scars, can't I see him?"
" Only in visiting hours, but you don't need to worry about him, he just needs to stay in recovery for two more days before he can be discharged," the doctor said.
Lone became more and more irritated, she then picked up her phone and called.
"Cellular phones are prohibited in the VR room!" said the doctor.
"Just a second!" she said "Hey Davey! I'm in your VR Therapy room right now, talking to your doctor!"
The answer she received was:"SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!!!"
Dave's voice was high pitched and he sounded frightened, something she had never heard from him.
"Hey! Davey! Don't be like that. You knew I was coming to see you. You asked for my help" Zoe was dejected from hearing Dave's loud curses.
"Not you! Dragon! DRAGON!" and then he disconnected.
"Dragon?" Zoe was bewildered.
"Miss, I said no phones! They can affect the machinery!" the doctor said impatiently.
Zoe apologized and turned it off.
"Visiting times are over for today, they start again tomorrow morning. You can fill out a visiting form at reception and come back."
A bit discouraged she returned to the waiting room. Minutes after she sat down she looked up and her face brightened.
Her uncle walked toward her, tall and impeccably dressed as always, he was known in professional circles as 'The Demon Barrister.'
"Did you see your friend?" he asked, his smoky smooth voice comforting.
"Visiting times are over and they're keeping him for two more days," Zoe pouted.
"I sent a couple of men to his apartment building to check on the old lady. Two goons from the Giovanni family were there, they trashed his--"
Zoe interrupted, "Oh no, if Dave had been there…" but she didn't want to finish that thought.
"He'll be fine as long as he is checked in here as a patient, the Giovanni thugs aren't going to get around patient security here easily. And James and Nikolai will keep an eye on things, just in case." her uncle reassured her.
The doctor overseeing Dave's case approached the duo, but when he saw the lawyer he stopped.
"The Devil Barrister," he muttered.
Looking up as if he'd heard the doctor, her uncle turned his charisma on full force. With a Cheshire cat's grin he asked, "Can I be of service somehow?"
"Ahh, yes. I know of you by reputation, sir. I saw you speaking with Mr. Ruster's friend, do you represent David Ruster?"
"I am here to look after his interests, both personal and professional. Yes."
"As I told the young lady, she can see him when he wakes up. But...could I speak with you privately for a moment? It concerns Mr. Ruster."
"Certainly, doctor." He followed to the doctor to a small break room.
The doctor gathered his thoughts for a moment, as if weighing what to say and how to couch the words he spoke next.
"When we were operating on Mr. Ruster, some irregularities came to light." The doctor spoke the word 'irregularities' with emphasis.
Zoe's uncle looked at the doctor sharply, "What exactly do you mean by 'irregularities' doctor? Speak plainly, it will not come back on you."
"Very well. The surgery done on Mr. Ruster immediately after the accident was badly botched. The 'cure' was almost worse than the original injuries to his legs and hands. My surgical team fixed Mr. Ruster's injuries and the complications from what those hacks did to him and we have set him on the path to a real recovery.
"I am all but certain who did the original surgery on Mr. Ruster. In fact I've been trying to get the medical board to revoke their licenses for a long time. Mr. Ruster's case is proof of their incompetence and malpractice and it is a perfect opportunity to do so.
"But, however much I would love to, I can't use Mr. Ruster's case because it would compromise my patient's safety and privacy. So, what I was--"
The Devil Barrister raised his hand to interrupt him.
"I will handle the legal end of things, doctor. It is what I do best, and my best is very good indeed. Just give me all the details of Mr. Ruster's case, and any other evidence you have on these... 'hacks' I believe you called them. Tell me everything, and I will ensure this doesn't happen to anybody else, one way or another," he told the doctor. The Devil Barrister's sharp featured face had lit up, eyes gleaming like those of a predator sighting prey.
There were people on both sides of the courts that would have recognized the look on the Devil Barrister's face. It promised things were going to go poorly for the Demon's victim and anyone who got in the way of his hunt.
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