The wounded warrior on the Eastlake bridge thanked Rhyme for the rotgut whiskey with which to dull the pain. In exchange for a promise to let him live, and drop him off by the old Lake Union power plant building, he told Rhyme that the former inhabitants of the bridge were mostly killed or driven off, but that all who could be taken alive, including most of the women, were taken to the old ruined University hospital building. Rhyme and a grumpy Firestone drove south to drop the wounded man off, but they rapidly realized that the Lake Union power plant was a bastion of the King’s Gang, who normally don’t come that far north, and they opted to drop their wounded passenger off a few blocks away. Notwithstanding the blood Firestone was bleeding on the upholstery they opted to scout the hospital. Sadly, they got too close and a gang of about six guys on motorcycles engaged them in combat, getting a lucky shot on one of Firestone’s tank’s wheels.
Rather than drive on the rims, Firestone opted to pull into a defensible alley to fight. Sadly, even notwithstanding Rhyme’s strange facility with weaponry, two against five are not good odds. Badly wounded, Firestone drew on hidden reserves of focus to pull off some amazing driving on a badly damaged vehicle to flee. They returned, whereupon Firestone was taken to Missed, the local mechanic / medic, while Rhyme informed Mice that if his sister was still alive, she was being held in the old hospital.
While the daring duo was scouting, an Academic named Millions showed up at the Tower. He informed Miss Stockton that a gang had started encroaching on the territory of the Suzallo Palace and that, in lieu of the usual tribute payments, he would prefer it if she would get a posse together and roust them. Millions was then diverted by Silver, where he spent the rest of the day eating strawberries and enjoying the sensual company of one of Silver’s employees named Dustwich. Carver developed a sudden, strong need for the strange metal gauntlets borne by Millions, but was unable to cajole them out of him.
Miss Stockton put together a strong posse, bringing most of her gang, the “Have Rats”, along with Rhyme and Carver who was convinced to help so as to get in good with Millions. Carver even produced an ancient blueprint of the old hospitals electrical systems which showed the gang a way into the hospital’s basements from the old, collapsed Triangle parking garage. Firestone spent the time getting patched up by Missed, although to pay for it, he had to owe Silver, who payed the tab on his behalf.
Miss Stockton and her posse set forth into the black rain, the particular, oily, foul rain that comes when the weather is from the south-west. The black-needled pines of the south University campus provided excellent, if moist and creepy cover for their approach. The plan went off fairly well. The Have Rats, being generally better equipped than the faction of the King’s Gang present in the hospital, and armed with knowledge of the basements of the sprawling ruin, routed their foes. The King’s Gang tried to use some of their prisoners as human shields, but Rhyme convinced them to flee and leave the hostages, none of whom were Mice’s sister.
A more thorough search discovered a sub-basement with a captured Academic and Amy, Mice’s sister. The Academic was an unconscious older woman. Amy was a gaunt girl with dead, vacant eyes. This didn’t seem to strike Mice as unusual, but when Rhyme attempted to calm or understand the girl, she reached out and touched Rhyme on the forehead whereupon Rhyme fell into a sudden slumber. Amy’s touch had a different effect on Carver, who had a sudden epiphany that the Academic prisoner may well have gloves just like Millions! Which she did.
The Have Rats, under Miss Stockton’s command, took Amy, the unconscious Academic, and the slumbering Rhyme back to Mount Safeco.
Meanwhile, Silver was conducting business as usual. She managed to procure a pristine can of coca cola for Mutual, a man she owed for connecting her with Kitty her bouncer. The coke was a strange “new” variety, that didn’t appear to satisfy his pregnant wife as much as had been hoped, but she did her best. She effectively held down the fort while the rest were away.
Firestone, recovering thanks to the unorthodox methods of Missed, was overseeing repairs to his vehicle when the posse returned. He attended to Rhyme’s unconscious form while looking askance at Amy’s weirdness and Carver’s sudden clingy attachment to the odd girl. Rhyme suddenly awoke, having experienced a vivid dream where she was dancing at an elaborate masquerade ball wearing a lemon-yellow sun dress. Suddenly there was a hush. The attendees muttered about the King arriving. Rhyme saw in her dream a tall man in gold brocade and a smooth, porcelain mask enter the room. He reached up to remove the mask and… she woke up.
Silver gave the Have Rats permission to enter her club (although they still had to pay) as a reward for a job well done, whereupon Millions emerged from the private rooms where he was enjoying Dustwich’s company. He seemed pleased that the Academic prisoner was still unconscious, but when he went to prepare his departure, the woman opened her eyes and made a plea to Miss Stockton for asylum, or at least escape. It seems she didn’t want to go back. After a bit of a verbal altercation, Stockton let her out the back much to the dismay of Millions, who huffed and puffed about it, but couldn’t come up with a way to punish Miss Stockton immediately. He went back to the Suzallo palace where, unbeknownst to all but Silver, he succumbed to a mysterious fatal illness just a few days later. The Academic, named Visage, was concealed in Silver’s establishment after giving Miss Stockton a mysterious book…