Character Origin: Doctor Amanda Winnen
Unlike the After the Collapse character origins posted so far, this origin is not a transcript of a role playing session. Doctor Winnen is a character I created as part of a pre-made crew for a space adventure, set in Ex Machina Future. She's been played once, but as part of generating the characters I wrote short backgrounds. And I mean short. Maybe fifteen sentences.
This story is Amanda's background blurb, expanded in to almost 2500 words. In the course of writing I decided to change the setting to Ex Machina (present). No space ships. Amazingly, all I had to do was change the location of Amanda's office from the planet Ocano to the city of Seattle, Washington. Enjoy!
Doctor Winnen paced around her office. Her furniture was specifically arranged to allow her to walk a wide, ponderous circle, keeping her face and torso toward the center of the room. Amanda was close to failing out of medical school and living as Miss Winnen until Karen, her college roommate, introduced her to the martial art of Baguazhang, an ancient martial art derived from several martial arts, including Taoist circle-walking, from 19th century China. It had seemed silly at first, walking in circles to go nowhere, but Amanda soon found herself looking forward to the discipline. Once the movements had become almost second nature, she could let her mind relax while the motions soothed the stress of the day. She graduated near the top of her class, and opened a private practice in Seattle.
She changed the direction of her walk, threading between two chairs to the open space near the center of the room, and walked a tight clockwise circle. Office hours were over, and the staff had all gone home. Amanda liked this time of night, when she had practically the whole building to herself. No one to bother her while she thought. No one to interrupt her walk.
She generally dealt with patients by appointment, rather than during emergencies, so the loud, insistent knocking at her door surprised her. The door opened and a figure braced itself against the doorjamb. He asked "What's up, doc?" then tumbled through to fall face first on her carpet. That the man on the floor was bleeding profusely was another shock. Patients usually came to her office to discuss their treatments. The examination rooms and operating theater were down the hall.
Amanda nearly walked up and over a chair in her rush to treat the injured man. He was noticeably pale from blood loss. She grabbed the emergency kit kept near the door and began treatment. Several gunshot wounds, superficial other than the bullet hole in his abdomen. Deep lacerations on his right forearm. Blood gushed from where his left arm had been neatly severed, four inches below the shoulder, with a sharp blade. When the bleeding was stopped and the bullet removed, she allowed herself to see the blood trail from the lobby door, through the waiting area, down the hall and to her office door. She was sure there was more to the trail outside the building. It was either luck or sheer force of will that kept him on his feet long enough to reach her, she decided.
He lay in the doorway to her office for hours. She was not strong enough to move him safely on her own, and no one else was available to help. She had wheeled an IV stand to the hallway and hung the few blood-bags she had in the office to replace some of what he'd lost.
Around midnight, he woke up. "Mornin, doc," he grumbled through exhaustion.
Amanda had been dozing in a chair nearby, and startled awake at the sound. "Feeling a little better? By all rights you should have been dead before you go to my door."
"Guess it's not my time. Thanks, doc. You got a phone?"
"Yeah, here you are." She handed him her cell phone, then knelt on the floor beside him and checked his bandages. "I hope you don't mind; I went through your pockets to try to find someone to call. All I found was this encrypted data drive." She pointed to the device on her bookshelf. "I patched you up as best as I could and hoped you would either wake up, or someone would come for you soon."
"You didn't ahh..." He inhaled sharply, suppressing a groan, as stabbing pains shot through his chest as he tried to sit up.
Dr. Winnen gently pushed him back in to lying on the floor. "No, I didn't call anyone, and I couldn't read the drive, so I have no idea what's on there. I do recognize you though, Mr Tyvek. Son of Peter Tyvek, CEO of Tyvek International. Your company makes most of the equipment in my lab." Amanda peeled back the bandages on his right arm and set about replacing them. "We met once, at a conference four years ago. You probably don't remember me, just one of thousands of doctors you spoke to that weekend, convincing us to upgrade our lab equipment to the newest line from Tyvek Industries." She playfully mocked him, adopting something close to the timbre of his voice as she repeated the phrase he used so often four years ago.
"I remember. Weren't you a redhead then?" He dialed a number on the phone, and waited for an answer. Amanda nodded and chuckled softly, checking the dressing on his abdomen. "It's Rick. Yeah, I've been better, but I'm here. Yeah, I got it. I need a pickup. Yeah, Winnen's. Okay, see you soon." He handed the phone back to Amanda. "Doc, I'd appreciate it if you --"
She interrupted him. "Don't worry, Rick," she winked as she said his name, "if your guys can clean up the blood, I can keep a secret."
He grinned. "You're sharp, doc. I'll give you that." His face contorted in pain, but he kept silent and still.
"What's wrong? Where does it hurt?"
"My hand." He spoke through clenched teeth. "I can't relax it."
"It looks relaxed to me..." she gently massaged the back of his right hand, resting palm down at his side.
"No, the other one. Fist so tight. Fingernails digging in."
"Rick. It's gone. I ... wait a minute." She stepped past him, down the hall to one of the examination rooms. She came back with one of the mirrors from the opticians' room, used to reflect the eye exam chart a couple of times, providing greater visual distance between the patient and the chart than the small room would allow. "Where's your fist?"
"Chest. Over my heart."
She set the mirror on his sternum, reflecting side facing his right. "Make a fist with your right hand, and put it on the right side of your chest, then look in the mirror. Now relax both hands." His face relaxed, and his jaw unclenched. "Better?"
"Much. Thank you again, doc. Neat trick."
"It's called phantom limb syndrome. Your brain doesn't realize your arm is gone, and processes random nerve impulses or otherwise makes up what it thinks it should be getting from your arm. There's not a lot that can be done about it, but as time goes by it should become less frequent and less painful."
A knock at the lobby door halted further conversation. Amanda let the team of four men in, dressed in the typical accouterments of paramedics, with a Tyvek Industries logo on their caps. She could see an ambulance near the door in the parking lot, and led them as they wheeled a stretcher to Richard. Before they were back out the door and in to the ambulance, another team came in. The second team were wearing white suits, covering them from head to toe. They busily cleaned up any traces of blood and within the hour Amanda locked the door on her clean office and went home.
The next morning, among her usual patients, Dr. Winnen found a man in a dark business suit and sunglasses sitting in her waiting room. He walked with her, uninvited, to her office and closed the door after they entered. "I apologize for not making an appointment, Doctor, but my employer would like this visit kept off the record." He drew an envelope from the inside pocket of his suit coat and placed it on her desk. "Compensation, for your services last night." He turned on his heels and walked out without another word.
Amanda opened the envelope and saw more cash than she had ever seen in one place before. Much more than enough to pay the bill if she had bothered to invoice Tyvek. She was still thumbing through the paper money when her phone rang. The receptionist said a man refusing to call himself more than Rick was insisting he be allowed to talk to her. "It's okay, Maggie. Put him through."
"Jim tells me you got a present this morning."
She smiled. "I did. Thank you, but you know you didn't have to..."
"I know, I know. My people tell me you did very good work and I should be right as rain inside a week. I told him you didn't need it, but Dad insisted. Said it was the least he could do for the woman who saved his only son's life."
"I would have done the same for anyone. Just knowing that because of me, someone is out there walking around right now is enough for me. Besides, I couldn't very well have someone die in my office after hours. That's terrible marketing." She hoped her joke would be received as she intended, and not taken as an insult.
Rick laughed. "Fair enough. The doc says I need more rest, so I'll have to let you go. I'll swing by when I get out of here though, take you out for lunch as a personal thank you."
"Okay. See you then!" She hung up and leaned back in her chair. She had been stressed yesterday about how tight finances had been recently, but now her money troubles vanished. She couldn't help smiling as she put the cash back in to the envelope and in to a drawer in her desk.
"Astounding news today, as we here at Channel Five News have reports of Richard Tyvek personally engaging in corporate espionage. Tyvek, son of Tyvek Industries CEO Peter Tyvek, reportedly lead a team of spies on Tyvek payroll to rival corporation TizerCorps to steal designs for a new operating table said to revolutionize the surgical field. Sources tell us Richard Tyvek was critically wounded in the attempt. His status remains unknown. Neither TizerCorps nor Tyvek Industries have responded to our requests for comments on this matter. We'll keep you updated to our ongoing investigation of reports of Richard Tyvek leading an armed assault on a TizerCorp research facility..."
Amanda turned the television off in disgust. She reached for her phone to call Richard to get his side of the story. He was supposed to pick her up for lunch in an hour, but she decided this could not wait.
The phone rang before she touched it.
"Hey doc! Something came up. Can we do lunch a little earlier?"
"Oh, hey Rick. I was about to call you. How much earlier? I have a patient to see in five minutes, but it shouldn't take long."
"I was thinking 'now' personally." She heard the voice in stereo as Richard Tyvek opened the door to her office and let himself in. He ended the call and put his cell phone back into his pocket.
Amanda hung up her desk phone. "Oh. Okay." He held her right arm in a firm grip with his left hand, firmer than she thought was reasonable, almost to the point of pain, but she decided he wasn't yet used to his new cybernetic arm and how much power it had.
Through lunch, he seemed distracted, barely making conversation and eating very little. She decided not to ask Richard about TizerCorp or the night two weeks ago when he had nearly bled to death in her office.
He drove her back to her office, but instead of turning in to the parking lot, he kept driving. "Rick, where are we going?"
"I have a surprise for you. Lunch seems inadequate as a thank you, especially after all you've done." The words hung in the air like daggers. Amanda surreptitiously tried the door handle. Though the door was unlocked, it would not open. She remained silent as he drove to a warehouse bearing the Tyvek Industries logo.
Richard got out and opened the door for Amanda, escorting her toward the building. "I left something in the car." He excused himself and walked slowly back to his car. "I'll meet you inside, just through that door." Amanda saw no easy escape route and entered through the door he indicated. He followed a moment later, a new-looking Entai pistol in his right hand.
"Richard ... we can talk about this. I didn't --" she raised her arms slowly, putting her palms up and keeping them level with her shoulders as she crouched slightly.
"It doesn't matter. For what it's worth, I believe you. I believe you kept quiet about that night, that you couldn't access the drive and that you don't have a copy of it. But Dad, and Gerard," Amanda wasn't sure who Gerard was, but thought this would not be a good time to ask, "they don't care what I think. Gerard says he has evidence you leaked the story to the LightNet, and that's good enough for Dad. 'You know her pretty well, Boy. You plug the leak.'" Richard imitated his father fairly well. "Just like that. Plug the leak."
Amanda sprang into action as Richard let the pistol droop slightly. She stepped forward and used dropped her left arm in a tight circle to push Richard's forearm to his right, aiming the pistol in to the distance. Her right arm shot past his neck and she used it to add a bit of leverage as she stepped past him and swept this right foot out. He fell. She grabbed his wrist and turned, placing her left foot between his shoulder blades. He released the gun and she quickly removed the magazine and slid the action back to release the bullet in the chamber.
In less than three seconds, she had her attacker disabled. "I'm sorry." A few tears rolled down her cheeks as she hit him on the head with the butt of the pistol, knocking him out.
She hadn't killed him, but she figured that wouldn't matter much to Peter and Girard. The fact that she had stolen his car probably wouldn't help her case. She left it at the airport, after a quick trip back to the office to retrieve the envelope of cash. With Peter Tyvek and his nearly limitless resources chasing her to "plug the leak," Amanda knew she had no choice. If she wanted to continue helping people and count herself among the living, she had to abandon the life she knew and head underground. Hopefully somewhere in the DarkNet she could find refuge from Tyvek's reach.