[22] Sage

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The medical room looks innocent enough upon my first examination. Five cots line the left wall. Against the right wall are a few large pieces of equipment such as X-ray machines and an MRI scanner. The back wall sports several X-ray films and MRI scans of various portions of the human body, mostly limbs and brains, although there's a good mixture of torsos thrown in. There are also tables full of medical tools that are heavily leaning towards torture devices pressed against the back wall.

"Go to a cot," Maggie instructs us. We do as she asks, Nicole and Xavier lying on two cots side by side and Deirdre settling in between Jake and me.

"Are you okay?" I whisper to her.

"I'm fine," she snaps, revealing her lie as she tells it. "Why wouldn't I be?"

I shrug, the Voice slipping into place to push all the right buttons. "Isn't it obvious? You're in last place for scoring."

"Not for long." Her young voice is laced with determination.

"You're right. I'd bet my money on Lack 'o Legs over there taking your spot."

Deirdre smiles and I feel as though I have actually done something right for once. I offer up a grin as well.

"Deirdre first," Maggie decides, and the child gets up from her cot and crosses the room to where Maggie stands by the X-ray machine.

"We're just going to X-ray you and then you're free to go," Maggie explains. "We're not expecting much."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Deirdre asks angrily, crossing her arms. "You think I'm stupid?"

I sigh slightly. "X-rays don't scan your brain, MRIs do," I hiss under my breath, and I see Jake glance warningly over at me from the other cot.

"Not at all, child. Just...underdeveloped." I wince at Maggie's heavily patronizing tone. This doesn't look like it will end well.

"I'm not being X-rayed," Deirdre announces haughtily. I know some of her frustration is spilling over from her being in last place in the Trial rankings.

"Not worth fighting, kid," I call as I stare at the ceiling. Lifting my head, I advise, "Choose your battles."

Deirdre glances at me before taking a long look at Jake. He nods encouragingly and she sighs, accepting the apron Maggie offers her.

Deirdre and Xavier only receive X-rays. Then they are allowed to leave. I hope they can find their way back to the cafeteria, or wait for us all to travel together.

"Nicole," Maggie says, "I want to take an X-ray and an MRI. Also, I believe you hurt your wrist. We can fix that quite easily."

"It's not a big deal," Nicole says as if on instinct, extracting her right wrist from within her left hand. I see that it's bruised - ugly, dark bruises that looks like someone grabbed her much too hard.

"What happened?" Jake breathes at the sight of the previously unnoticed injury. She shoots him a venomous look.

"One of your clones."

Jake closes his eyes. I watch as Nicole holds deathly still for the MRI. She truly looks vampiric with her eyes closed and unmoving.

"Jake," Maggie says as Nichole leaves. Jake stands and plods over to her. He takes a little longer to examine, and Maggie also checks his pupil dilation in addition to the other tests. Finally, she releases him, and I am left.

"Come on, Sage," Maggie says, voice unbelievably gentle. "Your turn."

I get the feeling that I will be here for a while.

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