Day 32. 64 pages, 30,257 words. Actually wrote a bit!
Cold Recourse of Nothingness was not his full name, but it was about as much as most people had time and energy to get through. And that included his fellow Adluminal. The current crop of barbarians he worked for, in contrast, couldn’t even be bothered with that much. ‘Doctor Reco’ was apparently their limit. He had tried ‘Doctor Comfort’ and even ‘Doctor Delusion’, but they hadn’t been receptive.
He’d trained, from birth, as a xenoveterinarian. He’d attended as many legitimate, even prestigious, medical facilities and houses of learning as his grotty Blaran cultural markers would allow, and he’d done well. He’d even spent some time in Corp Sci, and graduated from the Fleet medical programs – the Fleet medical programs that permitted shit-dancers, that is, in these modern and enlightened times when a Blaran was just a friend you hadn’t met yet. Or some such whimsical drivel.
When he’d reached the culmination of his studies and begun to take on the Adluminal mantle, he’d thought he was happy. He’d thought he had found his place in the galaxy, where he would be accepted and his hunger for learning encouraged. And his belonging would only increase as he shed his Molranoid chrysalis and became one with the wondrous bloody kha flume and all the spectra-visual hoo-hahs of it all.
Nobody had told him that he’d be expected to turn his back on almost all of the medical knowledge he’d acquired, stop researching biology and anatomy and surgical procedures of alien species, which … well, when you took all that away, reduced a xenoveterinarian to a stonkwit in a white coat who was an occasionally-creepy downer at parties. Nobody had told him that his passion would be frowned upon by the Adluminal monolith, and any deviation from navel-gazing into the great Adluminal Becoming would result in his exile. It seemed like they could have told him that before he started studying, but apparently that defeated the purpose of following your star or whatever.
Also, nobody had told him how much the fucking augmentation nodes would itch. Apparently that defeated the purpose of following your star too.
Having spent the past few hundred years sealing up torn flesh and replacing burned-out organs and occasionally making murders look like just astonishingly unlucky accidents, Cold Recourse of Nothingness was beginning to understand why Happyface’s previous chief medical officer had burned off her own hands and thrown herself out of an airlock. He was also beginning to suspect quite strongly that she had not, in fact, done that. Not to herself, in any case. Admittedly, he had been pretty certain of this within hours of his arrival and engagement of services.
“Can you reconnect severed genitals?”
“Yes, I shouldn’t think that would-”
“Let me finish. Severed genitals that have been partially digested?”
“How partially, and by what?”
So no, it wasn’t really a surprise that he’d be called out of his lab to wrangle the untrained telecidal maniac Happy Gretchen had bought from a sleep-slaver. Well, alright, all of that was quite surprising, except for the part where he was the one who had to deal with it. That was just Happyface-variety un-fucking-fair.
He smiled at Pod 9, but not for very long because he knew the orb augmentation growing in his right eye socket and slowly crowding out the rest of his facial features made his smile slightly scary to children and – and this was important – this child was apparently capable of doing things to brains that made Cold Recourse of Nothingness regret eating a big bowl of lurgitlob before heading to his shift. Or at least he could do it to a human brain … if you could call the walking matrix of venereal diseases in a bad hat that was Captain Mortimer Flonk ‘human’, and the unstable network of bad instincts and deviant proclivities underneath the bad hat a ‘brain’ … either way, Cold Recourse of Nothingness didn’t want to experience what the kid could do to his.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi Doctor Reco,” Pod 9 said, gazing up at him with wide, almost entirely mindless greenish-yellow eyes.
Cold Recourse of Nothingness brought his damnably itchy lower arms out from behind his back. “I brought you a moko pie.”
The mindlessness in Pod 9’s eyes was replaced by a fervent, gluttonous gleam that would have sent an army of Bonshoon equality activists into terminal despair spirals. The tubby little cunt sure did like pie. “Thanks, Doctor Reco!”
“No worries,” Cold Recourse of Nothingness handed Pod 9 the pie, then sat down on the little table next to the kid’s chair and watched him gromf the sticky pastry down. “Want me to take a look at that bruise?” he asked.
Pod 9 shrugged, then nodded. “Okay.”
Cold Recourse of Nothingness leaned in and took a stim pad from his coat pocket. Apparently there had been some uncertainty as to whether Pod 9 was going to go pathonuclear during his interview with Happy Gretchen, so it had been deemed safer to whang him really hard on the head and drag him back to his cell while he was dazed rather than continue the conversation. Also safer to continue the conversation when it was Cold Recourse of Nothingness instead of Happy Gretchen and the Nadless Wonder filling the non-bonsh side of the conversation, he reflected sourly.
“That’s quite a divot,” he said in a sympathetic tone, dabbing at the injury with the pad. It would numb what little pain remained, and accelerate the healing process. There wasn’t really much else to do with Molranoid wounds. And the blow had clearly been expertly weighted to temporarily sit the kid on his broad behind, but not do any real damage. Of course, it would have reduced a human’s skull to lurgitlob, but never let it be said that Happyface’s security didn’t know necessary force. And when to exceed it. “How’s that?”
“Good,” Pod 9 slurred happily.
“Good,” Cold Recourse of Nothingness settled back, leaving the softly-glowing sensor patch resting against the kid’s head where he’d subtly applied it in the process of dabbing with the stim. The patch was glowing a neutral yellow at this point. “So I heard you were maybe a bit upset by what happened between Captain Flonk and Pod 12,” he went on cautiously, studying the patch for any sign of neural spikes. He’d seen one of these things on an aki’Drednanth once, and it had lit up like a year’s turn display. And that had been stuck on the outside of her envirosuit.
Pod 9 shrugged again. “Not really,” he said, “I think she was sad, and he was … I don’t know, I think he thought it was funny, but I don’t think it was anything – Pod 12 was – he had a lot of – and she…”
Cold Recourse of Nothingness watched in fascination but no great concern as Pod 9 attempted to express feelings he had never learned the words for. Something had happened with Flonk and one of Pod 9’s little sleeper buddies, but it was nothing the kid hadn’t experienced countless times since he’d been dragged out of his pod.
The important thing was, the sensor remained yellow. It was possible they were dealing with an entirely unprecedented form of psychic ability completely unrelated to any of the markers the patch was programmed to detect. And it was also possible Pod 9 was about as telepathic as the pie he’d just inhaled.
“Well look,” he said, “maybe it was nothing, we can talk about-”
His communicator gave a soft chime, and he called it up on his orb aug without breaking platitude. A minor medical emergency, he saw, a seizure. He paused, and frowned.
“Pod 12,” he murmured.
“Yes,” Pod 9 said.
Cold Recourse of Nothingness stood up. “I need to go,” he said vaguely, knowing that Pod 9 honestly couldn’t give less of a fuck if the manufacturers of fucks had decided to make them in special portable miniature sizes. “I need to perform an emergency coprotomy on myself.”
“That means I need to take a shit,” Cold Recourse of Nothingness couldn’t help but lean in and confide in a whisper.
Pod 9 giggled.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while in the carpark.