Welcome to day 9 of the Immanion Press blog hop for the new Wraeththu anthology, Para Kindred. Every day until 25th June the PK authors will be posting a blog post about their story in the collection. Read every contribution to the blog hop, answer all the secret questions about the posts, and you will be entered into a prize draw to win an item from the New section of our Café Press store.
Authors who don’t have blogs of their own will have their articles posted here. Today’s featured author is Martina Bellovičová. The secret question is at the bottom of this post, along with details of previous contributors’ questions.
Maria’s question: Where was Chenga’s servant Dolah planning to escape to?
Earl’s question: Who do the spirit wolves watch over, according to legend.
Storm’s question: What can Cherrah do in the mountains that ordinary hara cannot?
Nerine’s question: What birds fly past Taym’s window as he’s staying in the garret?
Wendy’s question: What is the name of her alter-ego?
Fiona’s question: What colour did Kethoak turn when he mused on the fundamentally linear nature of time?
Daniela’s question: What was the name of the first har who arrived after Sapphire and Julee had founded Serenity?
Storm’s question: What does the peacock har liken Ashmael and Fernici to before he walks away from them?
Martina’s question: Where have Satoru and Kiyoshi met again for the first time since they parted at Neo Osaka?
Link to E. S. Wynn’s 16th June http://www.eswynn.com/2014/06/ghost-wolf.html
Link to Maria’s 17th June https://ipmbblog.wordpress.com/category/articles/
Link to Storm’s 18th June http://dreamsofdarkangels.wordpress.com/
Link to Nerine’s 19th June www.nerinedorman.blogspot.com
Link to Wendy’s 20th June https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/6490018-para-kindred-blog-hop-day-4
Link to Fiona’s 21st June https://ipmbblog.wordpress.com/category/articles/
Link to Daniela’s 22nd June https://ipmbblog.wordpress.com/category/articles/
Link to Storm’s 23rd June https://dreamsofdarkangels.wordpress.com/
Looking at the har, I could immediately tell he was gravely ill. He was pale, with chapped, dry lips and dark rings under his eyes, which had the vacant expression that signified a long lasting fever. His skin was clammy to the touch and unnaturally hot. I held his wrist briefly, in order to determine his pulse, and once I was finished, he let his hand fall limply onto the covers. They had sent for me to Hiroshima when Amiyu, the elder healer of the Nara tribe, failed in his attempts to improve the patient’s condition, hoping my education in the medical field could make a difference.
I wasn’t that certain. Without a lab and the necessary medical equipment, it was impossible for me to figure out what exactly had caused his current state. I could try to use some of the medicine I had brought with me when I left Neo-Osaka, but a trial-and-error approach hardly seemed promising. The har was definitely having difficulties breathing and he broke into a wheezing cough in irregular intervals. Had this happened several years ago, and he had been a human patient, I would have guessed one of the more vicious types of influenza or a similar kind of virus. Except he was har and Wraeththu could never be ill, not in that way.
Becoming one of the ‘mutants’, as I used to call them back then, had given me a one of a kind opportunity to study all our medical particularities first hand. One of the most fascinating things I had learned was that our bodies are immune to nearly all poisons and illnesses known to man. The impossibility to contract even a simple cold is something one could get used to very easily. That, in combination with our unageing, reliable bodies, made us feel almost immortal. I understood why everyhar in the room seemed to be so nervous. They were used to enemies that wielded blades, not the unseen and microscopic kind.
“When did this happen?” I inquired, my voice oddly rough in the strained silence of the infirmary.
“Several days ago,” Kiyoshi said, stepping forward from the circle of onlooking hara. “When his state started to get worse, I sent for you immediately.”
I nodded, applying the stethoscope to the har´s chest. I only had to listen for a short while to discover unmistakeable signs of pneumonia. Perhaps I should use those antibiotics after all.
“Did anyhar else get ill?”
Given that I was the only individual in the infirmary thoughtful enough to wear gloves and a surgical mask, this seemed indeed curious.
“I would still prefer if all the hara, who have nothing to do here, left the room. We don´t know if they can contract it, and the patient needs as much peace as he can get anyway.”
Kiyoshi nodded. He made a decisive gesture that included the entire room, and hara began to trail out of the door. One of them stopped at the threshold, reluctant to obey, and proceeded to give me a spiteful and superior glance.
“You too, Amiyu,” Kiyoshi ordered. “He will return into your care later.” The healer granted me one last scowl and walked out without a word. “He doesn’t trust human science.” Kiyoshi shrugged apologetically. “But we have tried the harish way repeatedly and his condition didn’t improve. At this point, I am willing to give a chance to any method.”
“I have acquired some knowledge in magical healing, but I trust that Amiyu had done better work than I could.” I said, careful to put the right amount of respect into my voice. When I first joined the tribe in Hiroshima, I had presented myself as a doctor, so as to show I had useful skills, worth keeping me for, and the leader of the tribe decided that I would be taught to become a healer too, combining the scientific element with the natural one. It requires some understanding of how the physical and subtle energy systems work. As I learned, hand movements and light touches helped me direct the life force, but now I could correct its flow with my mind alone.
“We will start by taking a few blood samples,” I announced, opening the suitcase I had brought with me. “I’ll do my best to analyse them as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should instruct someone to prepare a cold wrap for him. The fever must go down immediately.”
All the time, I felt Kiyoshi´s eyes on me, keeping a close watch on each move I made. He even stepped forward in what seemed to be a protective instinct when I poked the needle into the poor har’s arm. Concentrating on the task at hand was becoming increasingly difficult under his judging stare; one I knew too well from when I first saw him, caged, but never defeated. Finally, I lost my nerves and turned around to face him.
“Kiyoshi, is there a problem I am failing to see?”
He swallowed heavily, moving closer as he fixed me with an intense stare. “You are the scientist. You tell me! Is this… can this be natural? You have studied the virus. You know exactly how it destroys every hostile cell or organism in a harish body, the principles on which it works its magic of immunity. Can this illness be anything else but someone highly intelligent trying to get back at us and evolve a malady we don´t have an antidote for?”
I understood his concerns then. From what I heard, Kiyoshi had become the sole chief of the Nara tribe and all the responsibility rested upon his shoulders. Finding out someone might have been ingenious enough to beat our genetic set-out and unleash a virus that would annihilate large numbers of hara in the same way smallpox had destroyed whole tribes of Native Americans when white men arrived was frightening even to me. How worried Kiyoshi had to be, I could hardly imagine.
“I will definitely keep it in mind as a possibility,” I said carefully, “but we cannot exclude other options as of yet. Viruses are highly adaptable and often mutate, which makes them capable of infecting previously immune species.”
I was sure both of us wanted to hope this illness was nature’s work, not a bioterrorist weapon. He allowed me to work in silence from then on, but sat down on the other side of the bed and kept watching as I administered a drug that I believed could make the har feel somewhat better. So far, it only enabled him to fall into a restless sleep. It was a strange situation, him and me, suddenly the only two conscious hara in the room, yet not really alone. There were so many unanswered questions I had for him, so much to say, but the occasion didn´t allow for that.
I looked at Kiyoshi over the har’s body. The anxiety written in his face wasn’t something I was familiar with; he had never shown even a sign of fear in Neo-Osaka, when his own life was in danger. That made his sudden vulnerability and the sympathy he felt for another all the more precious and heart-breaking.
“You worry about him a lot, don’t you..?”
He sighed, oblivious to the fact that I was attempting to pave a path for him to open up in order for me to comfort him. He looked away from me. I waited through a minute or two of awkward silence before getting up. There were samples for me to analyse. Sensing the motion, Kiyoshi lifted his eyes again and rose too; almost as if he wanted to prevent me from leaving. Something about him changed – it was a subtle shift that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but the hostility I had sensed from him before was gone.
“I am sorry, Satoru,” he said silently. “I thought that Hideo had been targeted on purpose. That his illness was someone’s personal revenge against me. But I don´t think so any more.”
What he was saying, or rather what he wasn’t saying, nearly made me smash the syringes in a wave of rightful anger. So this was why I had to come?! I didn’t know what exactly I had hoped for when I learned I would meet him again, but it certainly wasn’t this.
“Seriously?! You thought I had done this?” I snapped, not caring in the slightest if Hideo would wake up or not. “Care to tell me why the fuck would I even bother after all the years living in Hiroshima, during which it became blatantly obvious to me that you were never going to appear?”
He bore my outburst with utmost calm and leaned down to Hideo, making sure the har wasn’t too upset. There was something deeply personal about the way he stroke the har’s tangled hair, comforting him, and deep down I realized I knew the answer; maybe I had even known it all along, but I still wanted to hear it from him. Finally, he looked up, one of his hands protectively placed over Hideo’s limp one.
“Because he has just recently became my chesnari…”