Weave of Life
The intensive care room lighting was dim, and the only sounds were from the sigh of air through overhead vents and normal operations of the various pieces of medical equipment. The patient lay in the bed motionless, except for the slow rhythm of subdued breathing. The adjacent observation room was completely unlit, but in a way far more active.
Sir Roger sat there, in the dark, looking on unseen through the glass, his cane hooked over the left chair arm. The night shift knew he was there, but not why. Though they might speculate among themselves, they would not ask. He was the boss, and they were only half joking when they said he moved in mysterious ways.
He heard the door open behind him, saw the brief reflection in the glass in front of him from the light coming through the opening, silhouetting a familiar figure. Then it closed. In the glass now the only thing he could see behind him was a faint nimbus around the newcomer's head. Like a multi-colored corona.
"'Ello, love," said the researcher, in a deliberate variation from his usual accent.
"What are you up to, Roger?" said the figure in the shadows. The voice was feminine, but unusually deep for a woman; her accent was southern West Coast US. Perhaps the Florence area of California, though she had obviously been away for a long time.
"Why do I have to be up to anything?" Sir Roger asked, tiredly, resuming his native accent.
"Because that's the way that augmented brain of yours works. You just can't stop thinking."
"True," he admitted, smiling a bit.
The woman moved beside him and put a hand on his shoulder. This made obvious the fact that she was nearly as tall as he.
"Even you need sleep."
"I'm about ready to leave," he said, putting a reassuring hand over hers. "You know how much I hate hospitals."
"I know you hate the smells," said the woman, with amusement in her voice, as they both retracted their hands. She gave a playful grimace. "I'm not fond of them either. Even with all the measures those of us with heightened senses have insisted on, this place is very unpleasant."
He stood, still looking into the room at Theosophilus Guild.
"So still, yet so full of potential."
"What is it about him?" said the woman, as Sir Roger retrieved his cane. "You have your whole psych staff and half the medical doctors furious at you for doing this. He's had no evaluation, no training. This goes beyond simple gratitude."
"He showed courage and determination," said Sir Roger. "Oh, and don't underestimate my gratitude. This was an important mission, and he salvaged it. On top of all that, he saved Sandra's life. You know how I feel about protecting my people."
"Even all that doesn't merit this level of attention from you."
"I noticed something. Some of the doctors did, too. Something... interesting."
"That's all you're going to tell me."
"For now," said Sir Roger, with an impish smile.
"Come to bed," said the woman, firmly.
"Is that an invitation?" said Sir Roger.
"You wish. Come on, now, or I'll carry you."
"Better and better," he joked, as he and the woman left the observation room.
* * *
Theo awoke slowly, reluctantly. He could hear people talking nearby, though, and wanted to see who they were. He wasn't used to sleeping among company. After several attempts he opened his eyes and looked around. He saw the doctors who had been working him, and Sir Roger. That's when it hit him.
His eyes. He had opened and was seeing with two eyes, again!
He began to laugh, though weakly.
"How are you feeling?" said one of the doctors - Singh, that was it - leaning in, looking both curious and eager.
"Like I have a new lease on life," said Theo, in a quiet, hoarse voice. He looked at Sir Roger. "It worked."
"That it did," the man said, smiling. "Congratulations."
Theo started to say something, but Dr. Singh moved a straw extending from a plastic cup to his mouth. Theo took a few sips, and when he next spoke his voice was stronger and clearer.
"Thank you. What else did I get?"
"We probably won't know that until we get you back on your feet and run some tests."
"After you came down from the C and we saw you were regenerating we put you in an artificial coma," said Dr. Singh.
"I remember... you folks talking about that," said Theo, trying to nod but not having much success yet.
"Yes. This is standard procedure for such cases. Not only because we had to deal with new tissues threatening to grow over your sutures and staples. Regrowing major amounts of tissue is both painful and excruciatingly itchy."
"You had to mention itching," said Theo, stirring uncomfortably in the bed.
Dr. Singh laughed politely and a few of the others smiled.
"The actual regeneration is not quite complete. However, we need to begin the physical therapy soon, otherwise the healing will actually take longer. So we woke you."
"How long was I out?"
"Six days," said Sir Roger, smiling with satisfaction. "Six days to grow a new eye and hand, and repair some other damage. Not bad. Rather biblical, in fact."
"So when do I get out of this bed?"
"Before that there will be a few days of in-bed therapeutic exercises," said Dr. Singh. "First performed laying, then sitting up. If those go well, you will be walking in perhaps a week."
"Another week?!" said Theo, looking rebellious.
"I'll see what I can do to speed things," said Sir Roger, smiling. His expression grew more sombre, and he tapped the handle of his cane against his thigh while he decided how to break something to Theo. "Meanwhile, I'm afraid I have some bad news. Your car was broken into at the scene, then burned, the same day of the encounter which brought you here. Three days later your apartment building was burned very completely. We believe this was to cover your domicile also being searched. Fortunately, in both cases no-one was killed and there were only a few minor injuries."
"Damn," said Theo, stunned. "That's... like half my life, gone."
"We've asked the police to report you as missing," said Sir Roger. "The problem is that you're the only lead for those who are after what Sandra was carrying. She was operating under a very thoroughly constructed false identity, so they don't know who she really is - presumably don't even know that she is augmented - but you they could trace."
He shrugged, looking apologetic.
"That's something else we owe you for."
"So, how do we handle this?" said Theo. "I have family and friends who will be worried about me. Hell, my boss will be, too."
"Contacting any of them would not only endanger you but us, here, as well as those contacted," said Sir Roger, firmly. "I'm afraid they'll have to remain worried until we can see those responsible for your injuries in prison."
"Any idea how long that will take?"
"I hope not long," said Sir Roger. He suddenly looked very determined. His voice took on an ominous tone. "We have resources no-one else has. As well as good reason to apply them to this matter."
Theo noted that expression and shivered a bit. There was something hardcore just barely showing through the usual mask of equanimity. He was starting to understand some of the things he had heard - and overheard - during his time here.
"If you are through delivering bad news," said Dr. Singh, "we have work to do. Including tests which we could not run while he was unconscious."
"All right, all right," said Sir Roger, laughing, the mask again intact. He put a friendly hand on Theo's shoulder. "I'll talk to you some more when they are satisfied you won't grow gills or turn to liquid."
The next hour and a half were... interesting. In the sense of the Chinese curse. Dr. Singh and the others kept apologizing for various things, but Theo was still repeatedly put in severe discomfort, and a few times in real pain. Theo managed to take advantage of pauses by the doctors as they discussed their findings to examine his new hand. While his right eye was working fine, his hand felt like it was asleep. So far, making the hand do anything, even twitch, was difficult.
His right leg wasn't quite that bad, but still obviously not working properly. Part of the physical therapy would be to train the new nerves and muscles. Finally, the doctors were satisfied, for the moment. Sir Roger moved in as they left, discussing mysterious things among themselves with cryptic remarks and opaque jargon.
"Okay," said Theo, a bit tiredly. "What's next?"
"To begin with, we still don't know exactly what the Crescendin did to you." Sir Roger sighed and shook his head, then gave Theo a wry grin. "It has been said, with much justification, that third-class Triggered are just barely explainable via existing animal biology, that second-class Triggered require radical changes to the subject's biochemistry but can be explained by conventional science, and that first-class Triggered casually violate the laws of physics. All first- and second-class and many third-class Triggered display alterations to their DNA. Many are no longer genetically compatible with normal humans."
"So how is my DNA?" said Theo, a bit concerned.
"Still completely human. We're currently running a before and after comparison, but the preliminary results show no major changes."
"That's a relief," said Theo. "Though if this managed to get rid of my family's tendency towards early baldness I wouldn't mind."
They chatted for a while, mostly about what Theo could expect. Soon, though, Sir Roger's watch beeped and he excused himself.
"Could you hand me the remote?" said Theo, reaching with his working hand.
"Certainly," said Sir Roger, complying. "Just be aware that they'll be back in here soon, to start your physical therapy."
"So soon? Well, I'm the one who was worried about being bored."
End Part Two
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