"Injectors planted in her arm deliver a dose of adrenaline that keeps her alert, lucid." - Pixabay

Every day at 5 p.m., find a new episode of Mortal Derby X on 20 Minutes  , Rocambole's soap opera, the app for reading differently. This series of SF projects us into a post-collapse world, the king sport of which is Quad Derby, a confrontation halfway between Roller derby and Rollerball. Its author, Michael Roch, is not an unknown. He has already published science fiction novels and hosts the YouTube book brigade.

Summary of previous episodes:  During a Quad Derby match, Molly Pop, star of this sport, is violently kicked off the track by another competitor.

EPISODE 2 - Rabies and anxiety

In a bed in the Hospitia, Molly Pop wakes up with less legs. She is convinced of it. This image gives her nausea, and this nausea almost sends her back into unconsciousness. Injectors planted in her arm deliver a dose of adrenaline that keeps her alert, lucid. She wants to scream, but instead of the cry, it's a moan that crosses her throat with the same slowness as a tear on her cheek. Hands rush over her to comfort her.
A hospitière, firm grip and angelic smile, keeps her on her bed while she struggles. Under stress, red curls escape from his functional headgear. The woman has a few reassuring words, adds a dose of sedative at the press of a button, and specifies that the family is there, that she will pick her up as soon as Molly has regained all her calm.
Morphine relaxes the body of the jammer, but it has no effect on the rage that boils in it. Molly Pop's gaze does not take off from the opaque window, the one that diffuses a soft light, reflected by the sanitized white of the cybersecurity room. Interstices mark the location of sliding panels behind which motorized arms are used for surgical repairs. The bedroom door closes quietly and reopens almost immediately. Molly's family enters, accompanied by another hospitière.
Her mother dares not touch her and keeps her hands in the crook of her neck. She sits on a seat that emerges from the wall in a fluid movement. His father, standing, holds his wife by the shoulder without looking at his own daughter, and his little sister, still a teenager, stares at the sheet, where his legs should have been. His fucking legs.
- We really fixed you, then.
Molly stares at her violently. Under the sheet, a relief extends to the end of the bed. These are not his legs. She lost them. She saw them tear apart and separate from her own body. She went through the pain until she passed out - the pain of death that is going down, actually. Beside her, her mother gives her a frightened smile.
- The Hospitia did a great job of bringing you back with us. He had to. For you, for all that you represent to us. You’re going to start again with that, that’s good news.
"That" is the pair of artificial legs that we implanted. What we can never name or look at. "That" does not change anything: crippled, Molly Pop can never roll on the Track. "This is good news," repeats her mother, tears in her eyes. Molly doesn't lift the sheet. She knows the horror she will see there, between the scars still swollen, and this "other" half of herself, a puzzle of electric jacks and mechanical springs.
She said nothing for long seconds, her breathing cut by this anguish of a new life, this life turned upside down, and this shame at not being what it used to be: the fastest jammer in the Cocoon. The hospitière who entered with her loved ones advances towards her. A red braid marks his headgear.
- I'm Nova Benhi, the main Hospitière of the Biotonic Implantation Service. At your family's request, we kept you in an artificial coma for five days. This delay allowed us to proceed with the transplant of cyber prostheses that will replace your legs lost during your last race. First of all, know that I am a fervent supporter of your team and sincere admirer of your sporting prowess. The Roller-Quad Derby is so exciting that we forget that it can be dangerous. Your accident, as horrible as it is, is the exception that proves the rule.
- Where's that Stevna whore? spits Molly.
The hospitiere sputters before the stunned looks of the family.
- The Requisitors concluded that she was charged with willful misconduct on the Track: she deliberately pushed you against the edge of this glass wall, knowing that speed and shock would lead you to an accident, if not death . The race will be replayed later.
- And Stevna, tell me!
- She was condemned to live in recluse, outside the Cocoon, as required by the Code of Requisition. You no longer have to worry about it. Justice has been done. Also, I wanted to bring your attention to another point that I have already mentioned to your family.
Molly's mother holds back a sob.
- We took advantage of your sleep to scan your mental state. It turns out that, according to our psychosensors, your brain activity has slightly changed following your accident. You contain an abnormally high rate of molecules linked to emotions disowned by the Code of Requisition. Unconsciously or not, you experience aggression, anger or revenge, unstable feelings that have no place in our society. Which brings me, now that you are awake, to have to clear up this point: are you experiencing these types of emotions or are you consciously creating them?
Molly remains silent. Her father suddenly stares at her.
- Molly, answer, damn it!
- If you answer in the negative, we will send you a new test battery in seven days. If, however, you do not answer, or if you answer in the positive, or even if, after this period, the psycho-sensitive results are still the same, the Requisition will be obliged to exclude you, in turn Cocoon. You will live among the recluses.

To be continued…

Discover the next episode on our site on April 29 at 5 p.m. or on the Rocambole app for iOS or Android.

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