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Shattered words, trust abused, maimed and slowly dying, who will hear the soliloquy of the silenced?
After the deaf-mute Duke Adrian of Ceila is injured in the same shuttle crash that kills his parents, he finds himself in an involuntary conservatorship and under the control of his vicious cousins Philip and Abigail. Their only interest in Adrian involves getting their hands on his considerable fortune. However, if Adrian dies, the money will stop because Philip cannot legally inherit his estate. Since Adrian's only means of communication is by signing, the first time Philip gets him alone, he smashes every bone in his hands with a hammer. Then he persuades the doctors on Adrian's tropical island the injuries came from the shuttle crash and that his deaf-mute cousin is mentally deficient. When Adrian realizes Philip is lobbying the Nublian Parliament to change the law that bars him from inheriting, he knows his days are numbered and that he'd better find a way to escape before that happens.
Adrian looked up at the viewscreen next to the table on which he lay. Out of the tail of his eye he caught the gleam of waiting instruments and the movement of blue-gowned figures. A nearby camera was angled toward his freshly-scrubbed claws and he shuddered. Now he was here he wasn't sure he wanted to do this after all.
Seamus's masked face came into view. "The doctor says they'll be starting in a couple of minutes. He's not going to put you under but your arms and wrists will be numbed. Do you want to watch, or would you rather not?"
"I, er.... Let me think about it."
"Don't take too long. If you don't want to, they'll have to move the screen."
"I'll.... Oh, leave it where it is. If it starts to bother me, I'll close my eyes."
"I'll let you hear what they're saying."
A light voice spoke. "Adrian, this is Dr. Leggett. Seamus says you can hear me."
He nodded, then shuddered again.
"I'm giving you something to calm you down. Then both your arms will start to feel cold. There, is that better?"
A feeling of extreme well-being came over Adrian. Floating on soft fluffy clouds and sinking into a bath of warm fragrant oil at the same time, he no longer cared what they did to him. An enlarged image of his ruined hands came up on the screen and he watched calmly as Jonah made his first incision.
With a slight whirr from the instruments, the doctor neatly severed the Duke's right claw just below the wrist. His assistants instantly went to work but Adrian couldn't see what they were doing.
The doctor picked something up from a tray and held it up to the camera. "This is your new hand and it's as closely matched to your skin tone as we could make it. All right, folks, let's do it."
Strains of music filled the operating room and after that he wasn't sure how much time passed. He saw an assistant mop the doctor's brow from time to time and could hear the murmur of voices next to him.
The music stopped and Jonah said, "Adrian. Look at the screen."
The hand looked extremely pale and at first he couldn't feel anything. Then the skin gradually tinged rose.
"This prosthesis is hooked directly into your blood supply. Your nervous system's impulses supply the power and it looks as if we have a good connection. Can you move your fingers for me?"
Adrian winced, trying to get used to the sensation. It was odd to say the least.
Gloved fingers took his. "Now, try harder."
Gingerly, he pressed back.
"Excellent. Artificial skin and sensors aren't the same as the real thing but you'll find they work quite well. After a while, you won't notice the difference. I'm putting a healing gel on the incision site. Then I'll bandage it. We use a laser tool instead of stitches and once your wrist has healed there won't even be a scar."
Jonah lifted his arm. "Here."
Feeling slightly nauseous, Adrian willed himself to look directly at his new hand. Tentatively, he moved first one finger, then another. The attendants applauded.
"Way to go, Adrian!" chortled Seamus. "Are you ready for the next one?"
"Now? Is the doctor up to it?"
When Seamus translated, Jonah chuckled. "I am if you are. Before I do your left hand, I'm going to grab some lunch. If you feel like taking a nap now would be a good time."
Adrian felt a slight sting in his arm and lulled by the drug, drifted peacefully off to sleep.
Now he knew what to expect, it seemed as if the replacement of his left hand took no time at all and, before he knew it, the attendants were placing him back in his bed again.