I stared down at the array of samples before me, eyes dry and itchy, vision blurred and mind in a fog. What was I doing again?
“Sample… P213, P665… T002 show significant… uuuuuuuuuh… spore, no. Significant growth… in spore… populations…” I mumbled into the closest recording screen, blinking slowly, as I continued to study the samples. “Solutionnnnnn… 40 deemed… failure. Sample O488, P211… Q117 display… significant spore population… decreases. Anomaly flagged for… ffffurther… study.”
I looked slowly down at my personal screen where I had a mess of scribbled notes and hovered my hand over the stylus, trying to put my vague, muddled thoughts in some kind of order.
Though the current cure had been successful, helping almost all the affected Icanthie, we still had so many problems as a result of the spores. Miraculously, no one had died, though it was a very close thing, but many were still sick, the cure slow to completely clear the fungal pathogen from patients. After effects were lingering in some individuals and the Healers were still swamped with patients. Despite this, production of the cure was at full capacity to make sure we can cover the entire population of the Capital.
The vaccine appeared to have been effective, as far as we could tell, no new cases had cropped up since we’d offered it but that could also be due to the cleansing methods the Capital had employed to try and deal with the spore. We knew that the spore count outside the walls was still high but thanks to a bio-filter field encapsulating the city and the use of targeted environmental nanites and bio-engineered algae, the entire Capital had been cleaned of the spores. Now all that was left where those inside of the many, many patients.
On a side note, the test results for my team and I had all come back clear. None of us has the fungal infection. I tried not to let it bother me but I still got looks, as if I were somehow to blame…
Now that the initial infection was mostly under control, the search for a better cure and more effective vaccines to counteract the spores, was ongoing but so far, nothing was anywhere near testing-phase yet, let alone live trials. I’d been working in the labs pretty much from the moment I arrived in the city. I’d needed something to occupy my mind rather than dwell on the ill feelings of some of the population, or my own anger with Healer Roake but regardless of how much I worked myself into the ground, a feeling of isolation and loneliness had slowly crept into my core, leaving me feeling very lost. The city I’d begun to see as a home was once more a frightening bastion of danger filled with those who held me in, at best, indifference and at worst, hatred.
It was a very familiar yet unwelcome feeling and I was dwelling in it far too much. But my mind wasn’t listening very much to what I was telling it and I was finding it hard to focus. My tail hung low, laying limp on the floor behind me and I could feel fatigue dragging at my shoulders and head. I was left feeling generally on edge, anxious and full of adrenaline, an uncomfortable mix, so I threw myself into the research efforts until something… happened. Then I could deal with it.
I blinked slowly and looked around, finally registering that someone was calling my name.
“Oh… hi Kine… I haven’t seen you for… a few rotations… have I?”
“A little more than that Sierra. Have you been sleeping at all? You look terrible.”
“Mmmmm…” I nodded agreeably. “A little bit… naps… on the cushion… there.” I wave vaguely behind me before my attention was caught by the figure in front of me. “Kine. You’re out of bed. What… shouldn’t you be… in bed? You were… sick.” Tears welled up in my eyes as I stared at Kine who should be in bed.
Suddenly I was engulfed in a pair of arms and Kine pulled me into a warm, familiar hug. His scent and the warmth felt so comforting. Something hard and painful in my chest that had been growing slowly, unclenched and eased. It was still there but it now long felt like it was choking me. A deep, long sigh escaped me and tingles rippled up my spine and across my back and I let it out, slumping in the strong arms that surrounded me. Kine was back.
My eyes dipped closed and I let myself just be, no thinking or worrying… for about a second.
A thought popped into my head.
“Kine… if you’re noth… thick anymore… you hab a cure. They din’t gib you… A117… dib dey?” I asked, speech muddled by both my tired slurring and the tight hug.
“Hmm?” Kine hummed. “No. A442 I believe.”
Kine chuckled. “You’re so tired I’m surprised you can make this much sense. C’mon, let’s head back to my mansion and get you some rest.”
“Nnnnnnnnope.” I answered adamantly. “You sick. You need… west and mon-monit- watching. And we can’t wisk… Seff.” I groaned. “I miss him.”
My mood turned a bit morose again as I thought about my little brother. I’d been checking on Seth through the observation window into the Isolation Halls. We communicated through our screens as well, like we did when I had to travel but it wasn’t the same. At least he had Lazot and Simeon with him. Still, we weren’t taking risks with anyone who avoided infection the first time round. A few more rotations and it should be safe to open up the Isolation Halls.
My attention returned to Kine. I tilted my head back to get a good look at him. Last time I’d seen him, he’d been the one who looked terrible, dark circles under his eyes, back bowed as he coughed and a pasty, wan cast to his skin that should have shone a deep tan. Now, he looked healthy, the signs of his illness all but gone apart from a tightness around his eyes if you looked close enough. He really was better.
“I know you do, but you can see him soon. And when you do, you won’t want him to worry right? So we can go get some more rest, like my Healer ordered, and before you know it, we can go see Seth, Lazot and Simeon as they leave their temporary homes. Sound good?”
I tried to think it through but my mind was refusing to work. I must have been thinking too long because Kine gave me a little bump to get my attention.
“… ‘Kay.” I mumbled sleepily.
With that, Kine let me out of the hug that had been doing more to keep me on my feet than I’d realised, and immediately wrapped an arm around my shoulders as he guided me out of my lab. We walked slowly as we navigated the warren of Halls in the Heart to find the entrance and head home.
“When did I gat back?” I asked, trying to calculate how long I’d been working here.
Kine smiled as he answered me. “You arrived back here nine rotations ago.”
“… oh. Long time.” I said, completely drained now that my focus had been broken away from the work. The only thing that registered now was my heavy tiredness and…”Kine, I hungy.”
Kine must have had enough as he started to chuckle at my predicament.
“Sierra, you sound just like a youngling. You’re so out of it your slurring your words. Come on, we’re nearly home now. We have a small bite to eat then a long sleep each I think. That fudgy dingle batting pathogen took more out of me than I want to admit.” His tone turned dark before lightening again as the entrance to the Heart came in sight, letting in the light. “We’re nearly there.”
I nodded acknowledgment as I grumbled at him. “Bad Kine… swearing.”
“Sorry.” I could hear the grin in his voice.
“Good.” I patted his hand where it rested on my shoulder before proceeding to immigrate my noising stomach in a whispered ramble of nonsense as Kine chuckled good naturedly at me. “Rumble, rumble, rumble gurgle, lurgle, mble, mble, umble.”
“I think you may be delirious.” He commented.
“Mmm, good music.”
Kine shook his head and waved to the guards as we passed them, our exit complete. It felt good to be close to kin again and feel his care through our bond. But it couldn’t banish the worries and hurt that had been my unwelcome companions for the last nine rotations. Ever since I’d found my kin, Kine especially, I’d been relishing the acceptance and comfort they gave me. But the world didn’t change just because I’d found some accepting kin. I may be the first Myath to be openly accepted, well somewhat, but that didn’t mean much. Kine May be willing to champion the Myath, but the rest of the world would have something to say about that. This had been my wake up call.
Yukitora-J L Wright
Voracious book dragon, been writing forever but only starting posting in 2020.
I have High Functioning Autism as well as dyslexia and dyscalculia. I find random tangents both tantalisingly intriguing and (at the wrong moment) very annoying. I love sci-fi and fantasy, humour, big cats (especially leopards and snow leopards), wolves, stoats (so tiny!), two-toed sloths and pangolins...
I am an optimist and mostly try to find some good in everything. So enjoy, have fun and see you around!!