Chronicles of Chiron: The Monsoon Jungle | Scene 13

The air is fresh in the room where we parked. There’s a good amount of wind because the monsoon is still pounding outside. Sprays of water occasionally blow in through the large opening we drove through. There’s no danger from the gas leak out here, and the air is once again rich with the medium that transmits resonance energy. Not that I can do anything with it. Not while I’m shaking so much I’m worried about biting my tongue.

“All right, you’re going to be my nurse, Cleve,” Dr. Citali announces.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replies automatically. 

Leaving him to hold me up, Marina fetches the medical bag from the trunk of the rover and clears a space on the ground to work. Cleve lowers me to the sheet. “We’ve got various agents here,” Marina tells me, talking a mile a minute, “so we might be able to counter what’s going on before there’s lasting damage. The faster we can treat this, the better.” Her hand slips down to her jacket pocket but comes back empty. She frantically pats herself down, but somehow she lost her gum stash back in that fray. Marina turns to the medicine kit and starts to open it, but then stops herself. I’m glad she’s working to get her addiction under control, but I can’t even smile about it. All I can do is shudder.

Bluebell watches from the side, one eye on me, one on Marina. Dr. Citali does a quick inspection, taking whatever vital signs she needs to, and then she mixes up some concoction from the drugs available. As she loads them into a syringe, she tells Cleve to get me into position and hold me still. That’s kind of ominous sounding. Cleve props me up into a seated fetal position with my forehead resting on my knees. He brushes the hair up from the nape of my neck and leaves his hand sitting on the back of my head to keep it steady. “Mariah, I need you to breathe. Inhale,” Marina tells me. She draws in a breath, and I follow suit. “Exhale.” I breathe out and that’s when, without further warning, she stabs the needle into my cervical spine.

It’s a good thing that Cleve has me braced because otherwise I would have startled away from the pain. Aside from the needle, there’s the burn from the medicine Marina’s administered. My body then goes numb, which is just as scary as when it was shaking uncontrollably. After what feels like an interminable length of time, Marina pulls out the needle and feeling slowly starts to return. Cleve tilts me over onto my side so that I can just lie there and regain my bearings. I concentrate on just breathing for a while, and on gratitude for the friends who have gotten me outside and taken care of me.

Marina’s panting, too, as though she’s just run a race. I suppose I did put her through a scare. “What happened to you, Cleve?” she asks, still holding the syringe. 

His eyes are glued to the needle. He was professional and competent helping her use it on me, but he’s got no interest in the same kind of treatment. “It’s just my leg,” he assures her. “Pulled a hammy.”

“Okay, okay,” Marina says, more to assure herself than Cleve. She tries to enlist Bluebell as her assistant for his treatment and gets snapped at in response. I chuckle and am relieved that I can do so with control. 

By the time Dr. Citali has gotten Cleve’s leg elevated with a gel pack and his nicks covered with wound sealant, I’m feeling well enough to sit up under my own power. Marina’s sitting now, too, having finished treating all her patients. Her expression is pained and weary. Right, she got crunched by a claw, too. “So, would you like to feel what chironic healing is?” I ask her. “For science?”

“Oh! Yes, yes, let me get my notebook.” Excitement and exhaustion war in her voice. She’s too tired to speak into her voice recorder, but she ends up murmuring everything she writes anyway. “Heart rate elevated. About to undergo resonance field manipulation to restore flesh.” She looks up at me. “Okay, I’m ready,” she announces. “Conditions are rainy—you never know what’s relevant, okay?”

I shift so that I’m sitting alongside her stretched out legs, by the bloody base of her left trouser leg. “All right, I’m going to put my hands on your leg,” I announce, inflecting it as a question and waiting for her to signal that I have clearance to proceed. 

“Okay. Requires physical contact,” she murmurs and scribbles.

I shrug. “It’s easier.”

“Improved by direct physical contact,” she amends. She glances down at her bioscanner, which is now trained on me, and makes a notation. I carefully slide up her trouser leg, trying not to aggravate the injury beneath. Her calf looks a lot like mine did after our first run in with wolf beetles. There is a lot of bruising, but also open bleeding from a slash. I take a deep breath to center myself, and familiar purple sparkles gather around my hands. I lower my hands to her injury, and they sink into her skin, mending and soothing along the way. The fine wires of my brooch sway to their own rhythm, separate from the winds occasionally gusting into the garage.

“Tuning into natural resonance frequency… Accelerated regrowth… Reduction of inflammation…” Marina continues along those lines with lots of science terms I don’t know. She’s the perfect person to try to understand all this, knowledgeable of medicine and of the native Chiron environment. And now she’s experienced it first hand. “We just might have another paper out of all this, Mariah,” she says, sounding more pleased about that than about her pain-free leg.

“Well, I did already co-author one with Takuto and Cleve,” I reply with a grin. Deirdre will be surprised at the impressive list of publications I’ll have amassed by the time I see her. Although, that is probably not what will surprise her most. Seeing me at all, but also seeing me still young… I hope she takes it as well as Roze did with Cleve.

“Once we get back to the Garden of Chiron, we can start thinking about trying to replicate this,” Marina says.

“Replicate it how?”

“Like, synthetically. You have some natural way to do this, which I don’t fully understand yet. But there might be a way to do this with chemistry.”

“Ah, like some sort of injection?”

“Yes. Not to grant the power, but to do the treatment.” 

“Your device helps you,” Cleve points out, nodding at the booch pinned to my poncho. “So maybe there’s some Progenitor tech to do that, too.”

“That’s a good point,” I tell him. “The Progenitors clearly knew something about this, too.”

“So, are they weaponizing the local life?” he asks. Then he glances back at the labs. “I hope there’s not a briar beast in there.”