I wake up in a hospital room. A handsome young Indian doctor is writing notes on a chart at the foot of my bed. Wombat is slumped in a chair in the corner with a bag of chips on his belly, sleeping in front of a TV. Canadian news is on.
"Ah, good morning Mr. Marauder," the doctor says. "I'm Dr. Naghib."
I try to sit up but my left shoulder erupts in agony. Damn, that smarts. My head hurts, too. And my chest. And my right shoulder. I'm a mess.
My hand flies to my face - I'm not wearing a mask!
"Wombat, goddamnit!" I yell.
"Whu!?" Wombat pops to his feet, startled, scattering chips everywhere. "Whuzzat? What?"
"My mask, my goggles!" I yell.
"Please, calm down," Dr. Naghib says.
"I've got a fucking secret identity to protect here!"
"I didn't do nothing!" Wombat says, still half awake.
"Mr. Marauder, please," Dr. Naghib says. "I removed your goggles prior to treating you. It was quite necessary; your headgear is attached to the rest of your costume."
"...oh," I say lamely. "Well, still..."
"Your injuries were quite serious," he says. "You're very fortunate that your friends brought you to me right away."
I'm calming down now. "Right," I say. "Right. Thanks, Wombat."
Wombat waves, distracted. He's watching TV again. Wombat has A.D.D.
Dr. Naghib continues. "You're in the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, in our research wing. My team repaired your shoulder last night."
It's coming back to me now. The blimp. Baron von Blitzkrieg. Getting stabbed from behind. Getting shot. Falling out of the blimp into the Bay.
I turn to Wombat. "Hey, how did we do? We won?"
"We kicked ass," Wombat says, grinning.
"You had multiple injuries," Dr. Naghib says. "The most serious was the wound in your left shoulder from the, uh--" He consults his chart. "-from the chainsword. It cut your posterior deltoid, which we had to sew back together. You also had blunt force trauma to your right lateral deltoid -- I'm told that was from a gunshot -- as well as two minor injuries to your torso, which should be sore for a little while. Oh, and you had a concussion.
"A normal person could have succumbed to any of those injuries, particularly the gunshots. However, your parahuman physiology is remarkable..."
"So we won?"
"Mr. Marauder, I have a regimen of physical therapy I'd like you to follow," Dr. Naghib says. "It's important that you don't exert yourself or put any stress on your shoulder, so I'd advise against any crimefighting or whatnot for the next two weeks. At the same time, you need to keep your shoulder moving so that it doesn't freeze up on you. I'm giving you some painkillers and a week's worth of antibiotics... Are you listening to me, sir?"
I'm looking at the TV, too. The sound is off, but the Canadian anchorman is obviously talking about the Space Zombie Apocalypse up north. Behind him there are shots of army trucks and Humvees rolling through a tundra landscape. A graphic reads: CRISIS AVERTED.
"I'm sorry, Doc," I say. "So the space zombie thing is over?"
He sighs. "Yes, I suppose so."
"That's awesome," I say, then slowly rise from the bed. Wow, I am sore. "Listen, Doc, I really appreciate your help..."
"I want to see you back here in a week," he says. "Here's my card."
Wombat pops to his feet. "We going? Good. Kestrel got us a suite at a hotel dowtown. Come on, I'll bring you up to speed, tell you what's been going on."
Dr. Naghib shakes his head a little and makes a note on his clipboard.