Mace Black, Page 323-329 by Wolfenshire ()
Members remain the original copyright holder in all their materials here at Renderosity. Use of any of their material inconsistent with the terms and conditions set forth is prohibited and is considered an infringement of the copyrights of the respective holders unless specially stated otherwise.
Mace Black, Page 323-329
The tigers couldn’t see what was happening at the surgical table where Sern lie, the Tarlock had placed screens around the table. He said it was to keep dust and dirt from contaminating the equipment. Batheba had doubts about the explanation, he was fairly certain something was happening the Tarlock didn’t want them to see.
Batheba raised his head and Saeber stopped pacing in front of Batheba as the Tarlock came out from around the screens blocking their view of Sern. Batheba gave her a smack to move the young tiger out of the way.
“He okay?” asked Saeber.
The Tarlock laid a hand on Saeber’s head. “He will live, but there were complications.”
“But he okay…yes?” asked Saeber.
Batheba rose and came to sit next to Saeber. “It’s best to just tell us, we can handle whatever it is.”
The Tarlock nodded. “I examined the snake’s head and the poison sac was empty. I think it likely there was very little, if any, venom injected during the second and third strike. All the venom was injected during the first strike. Necrosis was so severe and spreading rapidly from the first bite on the leg I had to amputate his right leg at the knee.”
“That will be very difficult for him, he is so young. Is he awake?” asked Batheba.
“Not yet, but he will need lots of support when the anesthesia wears off,” explained the Tarlock. “I’ve lowered the bed to floor level.” The Tarlock gestured at Saeber. “You can go lie next to him.”
Saeber didn’t have to be told twice. She shot off around the screen like a flash.
“Thank you for saving his life, and I know you must be tired, but there is another issue to bring to your attention,” said Batheba. “We came here looking for a Tarlock, before Sern was bit. There is a sick Darai egg at our farm that could die without medical attention.”
“What is the nature of the illness?” asked the Tarlock.
“Frost damage,” said Batheba.
The Tarlock’s eyes swirled as if a fire resided deep inside and his face tightened into a grimmace. He nodded his head. “We need to leave immediately. I’ll pack my medical kit.”
Batheba stood and stretched. “Is it safe for Sern travel so soon?”
“No, he will need several days to rest. I will leave medicine and instructions for his tiger. When the boy is ready, his tiger can help him back to your farm.”
Batheba twisted his head to the side and stared. “I cannot leave the boy here alone, I am responsible for him.”
“He is a Temple Raven,” explained the Tarlock. “We must not coddle or pamper him. He will need the freedom to work through his grief for the loss of a limb, and to discover his new limitations and strengths.”
“He’s not going to be able to continue as a Temple Raven,” said Batheba.
“Of course he can,” explained the Tarlock. “The loss of a limb is not the end of Temple Raven’s career. They can still work as pilots, instructors, technicians, armorers, research and development, and in some cases I’ve seen them continue as field operatives. After all, who would suspect a Raven with a missing leg of being a spy?”
Batheba turned his head understanding now the Tarlock’s unusual recovery plan. “You said, ‘you’ve seen,’ you’re a Temple Raven Tarlock?”
“I was the Senior Surgeon assigned to a Raven Hospital Ship for many years. However, I’m afraid the Cettise don’t distinguish between a Hospital Ship and a Battle Carrier.”
“I am still concerned about leaving them alone, but you are obviously more qualified to know the best way to help him recover,” said Batheba. “I will defer to your experience.”
Batheba had no intentions of leaving Saeber and Sern to just wander back on their own after such a devastating injury. He would go with the Tarlock to the farm, the egg was the next priority, but he would leave someone to watch over the two youngsters. Though, the choice of the only person available was distasteful.
The Tarlock motioned for Batheba to follow him. “If you remain here, the boy will be tempted to let you take care of him. He will want to ride on your back instead of pushing through his recovery by learning to become reliant again on himself, and his tiger. I believe by the time they make it back to your farm, his recovery will be complete.”
“Or those two will be dead in a ditch somewhere,” said Batheba.
The Tarlock smiled and tousled the fur on Batheba’s head. Batheba wasn’t used to being around anyone tall enough to scratch his ears. “Caring for someone means that sometimes you must force them to stand on their own.”
Batheba followed the Tarlock as he walked across the room to the Egg Podium. The Tarlock tapped the activation screen and the podium lit up with soft blue lights. “Melic, are you awake?”
There was a moment’s pause before a voice responded. “Huh…wah…Nesaik? You do know it’s the middle of the night?”
“I need an emergency surgical tent set up.” The Tarlock looked at Batheba. “Where is this farm of yours?”
“Roael’s Farm, it’s in the Forest of the Temple Raven,” replied Batheba.
“Did you catch that, Malic?” asked the Tarlock.
“Yeah, I’m checking the Crystal Map. What surgical configuration do you need…Holy Great Dragon’s Breath,” exclaimed Melic. “You should see the list of who’s residing there, and what the heck is a Winged Sherata? Have those tiger’s sprouted wings?”
The Tarlock turned a curious eye to Batheba. Batheba shook his head. “It’s a Falcon boy I taught to be a Rider.”
The Tarlock turned back to the podium. “I may need to perform surgery on a frost damaged Darai egg when I arrive.”
“Poor little thing. I’ll need to fetch a hypothermal incubator and subshell probe from Chapter House 23,” said Malic. “I can have you set up within the hour.”
“Thank you, my friend.” The Tarlock tapped the control pad and the lights on the egg podium went out.
“He is a Tarlock?” asked Batheba.
“Malic is a medical equipment technician, best I’ve ever known. He has been with me since I finished medical school.” The Tarlock finished what he was doing and Batheba followed him to a storage room filled with medications.
“I didn’t think to ask what I should call you,” said Batheba.
“I was not offended, it is normal under stressful circumstances to forget such things. I am Tarlock Nesaik, you may call me whatever you are most comfortable with.” Nesaik retrieved several containers of medication and began counting pills into two small bottles. “I’m going to leave medication for Saeber to administer, then we can go.”
Sern’s eyes fluttered open. He couldn’t focus, everything was just shapes of light and dark. His mind wasn’t truly awake yet, but he did know everything hurt. He tried to roll on his side but something was in his way. He turned his head, but he couldn’t figure out who it was. Someone he knew? Yes, someone he trusted.
“I’m here,” said a voice.
He couldn’t remember who it was that was talking to him. He couldn’t remember where he was. He tried to form words but even those wouldn’t work. The pain made him cry.
“Sern…hurt, Saeber got medicine,” said the voice.
He tried to focus on the person talking…the voice didn’t match the person he was looking at. He knew her, but didn’t know her. She put a hand under his head and lifted him up, then put something in his mouth.
“Swallow pill,” she said.
He couldn’t swallow, his throat was too dry. Then there was water and he swallowed. He tried to focus his eyes, but they still wouldn’t work right. A girl…yes, it was a girl…his mind barely registered that she was naked. Why was the girl naked?
“Who are you?” He blinked. No…it wasn’t a girl…it was a tiger. “Saeber?”
“It okay, Saeber here,” she said. “The sleepy stuff still in you.”
The pain lessened and he closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep. He woke up several more times, and each time his eyes were a little more focused. He thought he saw the girl again giving him something to swallow, but she was gone when he blinked his eyes. The next time he woke his eyes focused and he remembered everything. Saeber was lying next to him, watching him.
“Am I dead?” asked Sern.
“No, Lifegiver save you,” said Saeber.
Sern gave her a questioning look. “Lifegiver?”
“One you call, Tarlock,” she replied, shifting her head to lightly rest on his chest. “Saeber love Sern.”
“I love you too,” said Sern.
“This all Saeber fault, snake after Saeber,” she said.
Sern shook his head. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“Saeber have tell Sern something,” she continued. “Please…not hate Saeber.”
Sern lifted a hand and stroked her head. She was crying. “I would never hate you,” he said, trying to comfort her, he knew the snake bite wasn’t her fault.
Saeber sat up and looked down at Sern, tears falling from her eyes. “Lifegiver save Sern, but not could save Sern leg.”
“Huh? What’s wrong with my leg?” he asked, sitting up. He stared down at his legs, something looked wrong. He pulled the blanket back and an icy cold feeling of fear gripped his chest.
“Saeber stay with Sern, stay always, not hate, please,” begged Saeber.
Sern didn’t react as she thought he would. She expected him to shout, to scream, to pound his fists, but all he did was stare at the place his leg should have been. He stared for a few minutes, then laid his head down and didn’t say anything.
“Snake make leg dead, Lifegiver take leg or Sern die,” said Saeber. She lowered her head to nuzzle against him, but he didn’t react and only continued to stare at the ceiling.
He didn’t speak again for several hours. He wasn’t thinking about anything, his mind was blank, he just stared. “It’s starting to hurt,” he said. “You gave me a pill earlier?”
Saeber took a bottle from the floor and lifting it between her front teeth handed it to him. She bent down and retrieved a second bottle and laid it on his chest.
“It time…you take one blue pill…one yellow pill,” she said.
Sern struggled with the bottle to open the cap. “How’d you get the pill out of the bottle earlier?”
He didn’t really care, the pain at the amputation site was crashing back on him now. He took the blue pill, then the yellow pill, and lay back. The pain began to subside and he grew sleepy again. He tried to turn on his side, but pain shot up his leg and he decided it was best to just stay still. He turned his head away from Saeber.
“Sern hate Saeber now,” she said. “It okay, Saeber deserve it.”
“I don’t hate you, just leave me alone,” he said. “Where’s Batheba?”
“He go take Lifegiver to sick egg,” she replied.
Sern didn’t reply, but at least the egg was going to be taken care of. He could just wait until Batheba got back. He closed his eyes and slept. The next three days blurred between sleeping, eating, and staring at the ceiling. He knew Saeber was going off to the corner alone to cry, and he wanted to say something, but couldn’t find the words. She was being diligent and taking good care of his needs. Relieving himself proved to be the most challenging. Saeber brought him a bucket, but that proved to be impossible. He finally gave up on that idea and painfully managed to get up and use the crutches she brought him to go to the bathroom.
Restlessness finally got to him and he got up and started pacing back and forth, experimenting with the crutches. He got the hang of them fairly quickly, but they made his armpits hurt. He tried hopping, but that turned out to be a very bad idea. The first hop shot pain up his half-leg to his hips. He nearly passed out and had to lean on Saeber to keep from falling over.
“When’s Batheba coming back?” asked Sern.
“He not, Lifegiver say we have go farm alone,” replied Saeber.
“What? Are they crazy? I can’t walk, I’m missing a leg if you haven’t noticed,” said Sern with more anger in his voice than he intended.
Saeber dropped her head. She didn’t know what to do.
Sern went back to his bed and refused to get up again. On the sixth day they were both surprised when Kabath, Batheba’s scoundrel of a father, came through the door. He walked to the bed and looked down at Sern, then at the bucket full of waste, and wrinkled his nose. Sern had finally figured out how to use the bucket, more from stubbornness then necessity.
“I swear, that pup of mine hasn’t a bit sense in his head, and neither do either of you,” said Kabath.
“What are you doing here?” asked Sern. “I don’t feel like listening to another of your stupid cons.”
Kabath smiled. “Figured it out, did you? Yeah, I knew you were a smart boy. I’ll admit I didn’t catch it right away, but later I realized I’d had my con flipped back on me. I really could use someone like you as a partner, and that’s not me trying to hook you, just saying the truth.”
“Goody for you,” said Sern. “Now why are you here?”
“I was waiting for you to return, but then Batheba came back over the bridge with that Lifegiver fella, could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw him. Anyway, Batheba couldn’t stop to talk to me, but he did signal me to wait for you. Batheba would never ask me for help unless something really bad had happened, so I waited, but you never showed up. I figured I better come find you.”
“How was I supposed to get to the bridge, my leg is gone, I’m pretty much helpless here?” said Sern sulkily.
“Good thing I came then, if anything happens to you Batheba will never let me see Tarabeth and Maseth.”
“You’re just using them to get to the farm so you can steal my brother’s gold,” replied Sern.
“Okay kid, you want all the cards on the table turned over, fine. The day Batheba and my grandpups were murdered I was out running a scam. I could have got them out. Batheba isn’t a thief, but I am, and I knew where all the escape routes were. I want to ask for their forgiveness. I would never have wanted to see harm come to them, and maybe they still won’t want to see me, but…there it is, after that, I’ll steal the gold.”
Sern sat up on his elbows and raised a brow. “That’s the first thing you’ve said I believe, but you’re still an idiot.” Sern lifted the edge of the cloak folded up next to him. “This is the magical cloak you’re looking for, except it isn’t magical. My species is one of the most advanced species in the universe. This cloak is really very simple technology for us, it’s just condensed smart micro-fiber armor.”
Kabath’s eyes flicked down to the cloak. “And what if I decide to take it, you’re helpless to stop me now, it would be like taking candy from a pup.”
Sern reached for his dagger lying on the other side of the cloak, but he did it slow enough to let Kabath do what he knew the tiger would do. The guy was so bad at this line of work it was embarrassing, the fool didn’t even realize Sern had gone straight for the hook to prove the tiger was still a scoundrel.
Kabath didn’t disappoint. He leapt forward and put his foot on top of the dagger before Sern could grab it.
“Now what, kid?” asked Kabath.
Sern grinned and made a motion as if reeling in a fishing line. “You might want to check for a hook in your mouth,” said Sern, then flicked his wrist and said. “Return.”
The dagger appeared in Sern’s hand.
“Now what, old tiger?” asked Sern.
Kabath sat down and grinned. “You might want to check where that hook is.”
Sern’s mouth dropped open. Kabath had tricked him. The sneaky tiger had got him to prove he was still dangerous enough to defeat an eight-hundred pound tiger while lying on his back with a missing leg. Sern heard a rumbling sound and looked over at Saeber. She was lying on the ground with her paws over her eyes and laughing.
Sern glared at Saeber, then at Kabath. “Fine, I’ll just crawl home, are you all happy now?” Sern rolled over and pulled himself up on his good knee and started collecting his things together.