Connor sighed deeply as the door shut behind the Princess. They would need to examine her and determine if she was truly free of the illness of merely hiding the symptoms to take care of everyone else before herself. Add it to the list. He picked up the gloves. This would be his first solo autopsy in a long time. Natalie had taken them over without complaint.
His throat tightened. Natalie took so much without complaint, especially from him. She had once said that Frank would follow him into hell. The whole team would, cheerfully saying they understood the risks. The risks weren't supposed to include kidnapping by hostile forces.
But it's perfectly fine for Stephen Connor to be taken prisoner by rebels. He could almost hear her sarcasm over his hypocrisy. She would take care of Jack until help arrived.
Jack, he had failed to keep Jack safe. Connor closed his eyes against that pain. He didn't think he could cope with losing Jack too. He had to trust that the wet-behind-the-ears kid—younger than Miles—actually knew what he was doing. He shook his head and sent a silent plea to St. Barbara to watch over his family with a plea to St. Michael to help the younger Cain for good measure. Then he picked up the face mask and turned his full attention to the cadaver.
Connor was carefully stitching the cadaver closed when Miles spoke from the doorway. "Need any help?"
"About finished. You saw all the patients?"
"And helped put a passed-out princess to bed. You've been in here a while."
Connor tied off the last stitch and covered the body. "Let me clean up and we'll find Frank and Eva."
A small room in the main hall of the manor house and right beside the doors leading into the wing of the sick had been commandeered as their conference room and lab. Frank sat at one of the portable microscopes, marking samples. Eva had pulled chairs and sofas from other rooms and stretched out on a makeshift cot. She rolled over and rubbed bleary eyes. "Meeting?"
"Yeah." He perched on the arms of one of the more solid looking sofas. "What do we know?"
Miles set a case of filled test tubes on the table next to the microscopes. "Whatever this is, it's going through the patients fast with a high mortality rate. There's only twenty-seven villagers left since they first started getting sick in Neverdale ten days ago."
Frank swiveled on his stool to face Connor. "This house is clean and according to the butler, the only staff who got sick had direct contact with their sick boss or roomed with those who did."
Connor pursed his lips. "That's sounding more viral than bacterial. In the morning, will put everyone on antivirals, especially the not sick in this house."
Eva perked. "I can organize that."
"No, I want you and Frank to go back to Neverdale and find the source."
"Stephen, you expect us to swipe down a whole town?" Frank sighed. "How much are we getting paid again?"
"One of the villagers said that a trader moved into the boarding house before the outbreak," Miles said. "He was one of the first ones to die, so he might be patient zero."
Connor waved toward the door. "They set us up with bedrooms. You two go get some sleep. Miles, let's get started on the tests."