"What is the nature of your emergency?"
"Medical, my uncle appears to have had a stroke. Please send an ambulance." Axel knelt by the old man. He was gasping irregularly, his right-eye blinking and confused. "No I do not need to go through your list, the left side of his face is sagging, and he is unable to sit or stand. Ambulance. Now."
"Medical assistance is enroute. Ambulance is enroute."
"Thank you." Axel looked around. "Harro. Turn on all the front exterior lights and open the gate, stand out there and flag down the ambulance." A quick glance at his watch. Twenty-two hundred hours, fifteen minutes . . . Damn.
"Andre, Nikoli, let's get your father off the floor and out to the couch in the large parlor."
"You don't give orders around here!" Nikoli glared. "And you sure as hell don't inherit anything!"
"Your father is not dead, and there is very little in the house that I want."
His Lordship was still breathing when the ambulance arrived.
God! Brain chipped medics with programmed responses?
Someone finally woke the chauffeur and told him to get the car out . . .
Axel's autocab arrived as the fully uniformed chauffeur finally walked out to the car . . .
Axel was first to the hospital where a doctor with an executive chip was shaking his head at a screen with . . . too many rather flatish lines.
Nikoli and Andre rushed up as the doctor spoke. "There's nothing to be done. There's minimal brain activity, and declining. I'm very sorry, but I recommend we remove life support."
Axel glanced at his watch. 22:56. "Lord Vinogradov is a Head of Family. I think it would be wise to have a Council Observer here, to remove any doubts."
Andre and Nikoli swapped glances. "What the hell? What are you up to, you slimy bastard?"
"Guys, think! It's quite obvious; we were all there at dinner when he had the stroke. The doctor recommended we remove life support. But you two are going to fight over the inheritance, the tabloids are going to love it . . . we need an official observer." Axel pulled out his phone and started tapping.
Nikloi leaned and tried to loom at him. "And you're not going to try to get any money out of us?"
"That will depend on the will, and I think we all know that Uncle Vladimir will have left me a tiny pittance, if anything."
A ting from his phone as the Council Hotline answered.
"This is Lord Axel Vinogradov. My uncle, Family Head Lord Vladimir Vinogradov, Councilman for First Plat region, has had a stroke and is not expected to live. We need an official observer, to . . . witness all decisions made. We are at Central Mercy Hospital, IC4."
"We will send an Observer, immediately."
The doctor shooed them out and into a waiting room.
Andre and Nikoli eyed each other hostilely. Axel sat and tried to not watch the clock.
Fifteen minutes until a man walked in. "I'm Lord Evgeny Vitorov, sent by the Council to observe the medical decisions being made here."
Two more men. Apparently a Councilman was important enough to get people out of bed . . .
"Thank you for coming so promptly . . ." Axel blinked at a familiar face.
Andre elbowed him out of the way. "Shut up you unctuous weasel."
One of the observers stifled a cough. "Can you tell us what happened?" What the hell is my boss doing here? Oh. Shit Dear Uncle's on the Intelligence Committee.
"We were eating dinner." Nikoli shrugged.
"And father's chair fell over." Andre butted in.
"Axel was calling for an ambulance before he hit the ground." Nikoli rounded on Axel. "You knew! What did you do to him?"
"I was looking at him when half his face sagged. Then he went over in a crash, and I hit the emergency services button." Axel tried to not sound exasperated. "Time matters, with a stroke."
"Yeah, that's what you say, now!"Andre.
"I demand an investigation!" Nikoli
"An autopsy!" Andre.
"And poisons! Exotic poisons!" Nikoli.
"For God's sake! You two were on each side of him. I didn't get within ten feet of Uncle Vladimir. If you two don't shut up the police are going to be investigating which of you killed him."
They both started yelling at once.
Axel pinched the bridge of his nose. Glanced at his watch. 23:35.
One of the observers was clicking at his phone. Odds are he's calling the police.
"If you two are done . . ."
"You cold blooded murderer!"
Axel ground his teeth. "What sort of stupid mystery books have you been reading?"
"Well researched ones!" Andre yelled.
"You wanted Father dead before we turned fifty!" Nikoli yelled.
Axel looked over his shoulder as the door opened.
A tall man, young, blond, off the shelf suit. Intelligent eyes. "Senior Detective Lord Vlad Gargarin. Homicide. Who has died?"
Andre and Nikoli launched into a rather incoherent tangle that ended with them both pointing at Axel.
Axel looked at his watch. 23:52. He looked at the detective. "My uncle Lord Vladimir Vinogradov suffered what looked like a stroke approximately two hours ago. The Doctor has recommend we cease futile efforts to revive him. I called for a Council Observer to avoid the exact mess my cousins seem determined to create."
"So . . . is Lord Vladimir . . . officially dead?"
"He is still on life support. And may I point out that apart from my cousins' over emotional . . ."
"He's my dad! Of course I'm emotional! You . . ." Nikoli looked ready to leap on him, and Andre looked just as angry.
"You poisonous little shit! Sitting there gloating! I'll bet you'll be sorry when they arrest you!"
"Or when they read the will! You're not going to get a thing, do you hear me?"
"The entire hospital hears you, Nikoli."
"Let's all just calm down." The senior detective was backed up by a Cyborg in a police uniform.
The cousin's breathing hard and glaring, did at least, shut up.
"Thank you." The senior detective eyed the brother, then Axel. "Now. Where is Lord Vladimir?"
"Down the hall in IC4. Perhaps the observers should talk to the doctor." Axel stepped to the door and held it for all the officials.
The twins led the way, restarting their demands that he be arrested immediately, twice.
In IC4 there was a single nurse, the screen was showing even more flat lines. The doctor hustled in. "I'm sorry, but his brain activity is well below all standards of brain death, and the body systems are shutting down."
"Do you have brain scans?" Axel asked, from barely inside the door. A quick glance, 23:57.
"Of course." The doctor picked up a remote and brought up pictures on a wall screen. "Right there. An aneurism. The dark spots are blood that has escaped the blood vessels, these lighter areas, brain tissue lacking blood. This second scan three minutes later . . . shows the progression. And now . . . well. There nothing we can do, there is no one there to save."
The three observers exchanged glances and nods. One of them nodded to the twins. "We've seen enough. You may give your father grace."
Nikoli and Andre exchanged glances and nods. "Give him Grace. Stop all life support."
A flip of three switches, an air tube removed. The doctor listened carefully as the last breath sighed out of the old man's lungs. A long moment, as the doctor listened for a heartbeat.
He straightened and stepped away. Checked the wall clock and his wrist watch. "Official Time of Death, 00:13, 15 November 3819."