“Hold still!” Doctor O’Donnell beckoned as she took a screw driver to Professor Goodwin’s mechanical arm. The surgery of Jack’s leg had just been completed. O’Donnell was fortunate in that all she had to do was remove the metal rod that had impaled him, clean up the wound, and then bind it up – by this stage Jack was well and truly unconscious. The others were not so badly hurt that they required more than some bandages and anaesthetic. O’Donnell was, however, afraid that if left untended, the professor’s damaged arm could disrupt the nerves in his shoulder, so she endeavoured to give it a look. With quick jerking motions she jabbed the screwdriver into the arm, and at times scraped it around, and Professor Goodwin winced and complained, however O’Donnell promptly ignored him. “I’m sorry if I appear a little agitated, professor, but I’ve never had someone try to collapse a research facility on me before. This is the last time I shall ever accompany you on one of your ‘adventures’!”
Elsie tried to calm her down. “Easy there, Fiona. It only makes sense that you’re angry. We all came very close to dying today and we are just a little on edge at the moment.” She struggled to rid from her mind the memory of the great earthquake of Victoria City that nearly killed her as a child – and just when she had nearly recovered from her little phobia.
“Indeed,” said Goodwin, as his arm suddenly twitched due to O’Donnell’s meddling. “I am sorry, to all of you, for putting your lives in danger, although I did warn you Elsie that this mission might have been dangerous.” There was a feint click and O’Donnell stepped away, announcing that she was done, and Goodwin flexed his brass fingers and smiled. “One thing remains certain, that Charles has once again gone too far this time, and as much as it pains me, I fear he must suffer the consequences of his actions.”
With the arm fixed, O’Donnell left to check on Jack, and Mr. Adams departed as well, for reasons that were very much his own. When they were alone, and the room was filled with silence – save for the mechanical sounds of Goodwin moving his fingers – Elsie put forth a question. “Professor,” she asked. “Why did you insist so much on keeping all of this a secret? Surely with the threat that Vandenberg’s monster is it would have been safer to notify at least the military. What drove you to hide it all away?”
Goodwin gave her a grim expression. “It wasn’t entirely a secret. Those who knew the entirety of the truth were, actually, the members of your own family. You see, your father helped me in my attempt to eradicate Vandenberg’s initial research, and if I know Theodore and Mary Heartwing, there was nothing that they did not share with each other. As for your brother Jack, I notified him of most of the story one evening over dinner with him and Fiona, upon taking him under my employment. But what you must understand, Miss Elsie, is that all of what is and what was is a memory that I have wrought to be rid of ever since it’s very beginning. For years I have suffered the guilt of knowing that not so long ago I was just like him. I believed that it was our place to conquer the world through means of scientific progression, and because of that I drove Vandenberg into my service and guided him into the man he is now. Every night I drift into slumber thinking that every single one of Vandenberg’s creations was once of my own design, and had I not seen the error of my ways, I would have become just like him – a monster.” Goodwin stood up suddenly and moved to the door. “Unfortunately it is not within our power to change the past, and so I do not ask for forgiveness, but rather, a chance at redemption in the hopes that I can make this right.”
“Do you think Vandenberg can be saved?”
He pondered the question for a moment. “That is entirely up to him. Vandenberg is a damaged soul, but he has only ever done what he has done for the betterment of mankind. It is sad to say that, more often than not a man will set out to save the world, and in doing so he will instead plunge it into chaos.”ns220.127.116.11da2