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Paeosfu woke up in a chilled chamber and to the soft whirring of the machine piecing her legs back together. As viaete drained from her open wounds, tubes connected near her core pumped more into her system. She blinked groggily and looked to her right. Past the tinted shield, she saw doctors shuffling around with robots in tow, patients moving toward the exits, and worried friends searching the bay for familiar faces. The medical bay always sprung to life after a mission no matter the size. Some like to hear the survivor stories before the rest of the unit. Others enjoyed watching the machines tear Tayans apart and put them back together. A handful actually wished to see an acquaintance, a friend, or even a lover recovering to near or full strength.

Admittedly Paeosfu was often part of the first crowd. She justified the visit to learn possibly more about missing Tayans. On occasion she’d glean some leads, but most of the time she’d hurt over the situations the rebels found themselves in. They were fighting a war against gods. The longer they fought the more they’d lose.

“See? It’s true. Even gods do bleed,” a disembodied voice warbled into the dome. “You’re living proof!” Her capsule was sucked into the wall and away from the public eye. She coasted along rails until her chamber rolled to a stop. The cover ceased its chilling and pulled away, leaving Paeosfu exposed to even colder air. The robots continued to piece her together while another slinked onto the table.

“And to have the pleasure to operate on a god, well,” she laughed heartily, “Let’s just say I, Daya, am honored.” The doctor leaned in with a large smile on her freckled green face. Her shiny brown curls bounced just above Paeosfu and had a sweet scent to them. The princess wished to move away, but her body was unresponsive.

The doctor continued, “The Tayans in the kingdom will be jealous if they weren’t so worried about your safety.” She looked down at Paeosfu’s legs. “Thankfully it doesn’t seem like you are in any danger. You’ve only sprung a leak and parts of your legs shattered.”

Daya straightened up. “We had issues with you changing to your 2D form on multiple occasions, but we programmed the robots to work a little faster to keep up.” She touched her pointer fingers together and smiled. “It was interesting to observe really. Your body would recover a teeny bit after you returned to your normal self. It would then fall apart! After each transformation, your recovery time shortened until your body simply gave up and permitted the professionals to take over.”

Paeosfu was wondering why she felt exhausted. So her body could phase even when she wasn’t conscious…Interesting.

The doctor hummed and the machine beeped. “Ah! The robots are almost done! Once they finish, I’ll reconnect you with Tayavon, and we’ll see if everything works fine.” The brown-haired Tayan glanced at her robot assistant scanning her body and nodded. From the projected readings, Daya deduced, “Your vitals stabilized. That foreigner’streatment helped the fluctuations. Had they not interfered, you would have been a core too,” she chuckled, holding her face. “Then I suppose I would be the only doctor to hold a god’s core in my hands! Oh, how delightful.

The princess narrowed her eyes at the doctor. Whether the Tayan forgot it was her parent whose core was ripped out by the Third Ruler or Daya was well aware and wanted to make a point, the excitement about holding another core—her core—was distasteful.

As the robots made the final attachments, the Tayan allowed her fingers to fall down the side of her face, her neck, and to the center of her chest before holding her hands in front of her. “Ah. That would be truly delightful,  but having saved a god would be much more rewarding. So you will live, princess. Live for me, the rebellion, and all of Tayavon!”

The operation robots retreated into the pod, and Timoti cleared his throat. Paeosfu looked over to the field medic dressed head to toe in layers of clothing. She suspected he was wearing at least two gloves beneath his medical ones like how he had a face mask over the scarf about his mouth. His body was different from theirs. Tayans welcomed the cold with bare skin. It kept them from overheating or worse from spontaneous combustion. Timoti’s body would start shutting down, or he’d become ill. At least according to him, that’s the reason for why he preferred being a field doctor than working in the medical bays.

Seeing him here surprised her.

“Three other patients have woken up and require your attention,” he said, pressing something on his digital read out and sending the information to the robot on the table. The vitals’ windows were reduced as the patient list appeared on the screen.

The Tayan swiped it away without sparing a glance. “I have my way of doing things,” Daya grumbled, folding her arms. “The princess is my priority. If Fourth Princess is not on a path to total recovery, Third Ruler may send a recovery team. Who knows what damage they’d cause to headquarters?”

Paeosfu twitched on the table. The numbness was beginning to fade.

“You were only going to check to see if everything reconnected, right?” Timoti asked, stepping closer to the table. “You can leave your R-isk with me, and I—”

“What do you want with Fourth Princess?” the doctor asked sharply.

“I want her to be better. Same as you,” he answered without missing a beat. “You will still be giving me orders through your R-isk. I’d be using my hands, but it’ll still be your brains,” Timoti continued.

The Tayan stepped between Paeosfu and Timoti. She had drawn her scalpel. “You only helped her because you were the only doctor on the scene. Now that there are multiple Tayans who can help her, we don’t need you to touch her or anyone else,” she spat, pointing the weapon toward the foreigner.

“I-it’s okay,” Paeosfu croaked as the relaxant wore off. Surprised at her own voice, she continued, “H-he just wants to help.” She looked at the little one-eyed robot reporting her stable vitals. “The R-isk will report if anything goes wrong, right? I…I’ll be fine. I can’t have others suffering anymore because of me.”

The doctor looked at Paeosfu. Seemingly ready to compromise, she sighed and lowered the blade.

Inviting her R-isk to climb up to her shoulder, the doctor tapped the side of her cell, and the shield went up. “I’ll check in on you after I see the others,” she said stubbornly, her voice again distorted. Daya said nothing to Timoti as she moved to greet the other patients and sent Paeosfu back to the main hall.

Timoti soon joined her with a couple jackets in his arms and his mouth uncovered. “Man, you’d think I’d be used to this by now,” he huffed in a foreign language. Nearby Tayans looked at him suspiciously. The rebels never really liked it when he spoke strange words. Paeosfu would secretly try to recreate them when she was alone.

The medic tapped the wall to which her pod attached and made a little chair appear. After draping his effects on the back, he took a seat.

“How are you feeling?” he asked in her tongue.

Paeosfu wiggled her toes and pulled up her legs. They tingled, but she had movement. “Better,” she reported. She touched the tubes attached to her core. Some were warm while others were cool. “I’m no longer overheating. My head feels clear.” She looked back at Timoti who had a faint smile on his lips. “If it weren’t for you, I probably would have overheated and be in the Incubator by now.”

“If they trusted me, I’d be making sure you synced with Tayavon and get you on your way,” he sighed, placing a hand to the cell.

Paeosfu raised an eyebrow and laughed carefully as to not disturb the tubes. She didn’t completely understand the procedure, but she had a vague idea. When a Tayan or other creature edged to the critical state, their bodies prepare to be reabsorbed by Tayavon. The spontaneous combustion burns off anything that would be hard to consume, and the planet would digest the husks and leave the cores behind. Eventually the cores would be carried away by beasts or winds or transported to a core stream to meld with the memories of others. Eventually, a new core was made and a new Tayan or creature would emerge. That was the circle of life.

However, the rebel Tayans figured out how to interrupt that circle by essentially removing Tayans or the afflicted out of the circle using medicine and technology. Tayans were extensions of Tayavon. The tayeet flowing through Paeosfu wasn’t the tayeet that has been with her since she emerged. To Tayavon, she wasn’t Paeosfu but a different, hostile entity. If she was released from the tubes now, Tayavon would reject her and cast her out. Her body needed Tayavon, and without that support, she would die. Her core wouldn’t be recycled. Her body would rot in the heat. The memories and experiences she had would forever be lost. She’d be launched into space to join the Tayans too rejected from their home.

The doctors had figured out a way for Tayavon to refamiliarize itself with Tayans. They’d take a piece of the core from the patient and take the patient into a bath connected to Tayavon’s liquid source. The core fragment is ground into a fine powder which is poured into the bath. The patient then enters the bath. The idea was to have Tayavon reconnect the essence of the Tayan with the physical body—the cyber enhancements, the new tayeet, the different flow of energy through the body, etc. During the process, certain steps must be taken to achieve a successful synchronization.

She only heard of vague details from Roskavna about the procedure. It certainly wasn’t enough to help guide Timoti if he needed help.

“Have you done that before?” she asked.

“No,” Timoti admitted with his own soft laugh. “I was hoping Doc would permit me to assist. I doubt she’ll even allow me to watch. Unlike the others who can barely tolerate me, Dr. Daya refuses to look at me unless she holds a scalpel to my throat.

“Nobody leaves the operating table until she looks at them, and she prefers to do all the check-ups in the Freezer, er, Qwinqwinsata. It’s hard to concentrate when everything starts to go numb,” he said, running a hand through frazzled hair.

“Keep learning what you can. Me and team Timoti are always open to you practicing on us,” Paeosfu smiled. “Daya might not see the advantage to you knowing how to treat us, but I do.”

“Knowing that at least three people don’t mind treatment from me makes all the curses, glares, and threats I’ve been getting seem like a small price to pay,” he said, standing from his chair. Timoti crossed his arms and bowed his head in the rebellion salute.

Paeosfu turned her head to see General Zoost. The thin and tall Tayan with wild green hair almost rivaling Roskavna’s length hesitantly returned the salute. He had large pupil-less, pale pink eyes and long eyelashes. Rumors had it that Zoost’s eyes were augmented to shoot white light when he became angry, and no one was bold enough to test the theory. His small mouth was low on his face and was rarely seen as a smile or a frown. His feet were altered into metallic heels that could turn into skates or blades depending on the need. Paeosfu was rather new to the rebel forces, so she only heard of General Zoost’s accomplishments on the battle field. Recently he retired to be the lead information officer with General Ginyin.

Zoost was dressed in uniform, so Paeosfu assumed he was here on official business.

“Princess Paeosfu,” he bowed. His voice was light and sounded slightly tired. She barely picked up his words from within the dome. “I know you have only recently awoken, but we would like your insight in regard to the battle at the mining transportation site. You were part of the intelligence gathering squad under Roskavna, and you were there when the actual site collapsed. With your status and personal mission, having you at the meeting would be most beneficial, but recovering is your top priority.

“I’ve received reports that you were actually close to overheating.” Zoost averted his gaze. “Pairing you back with Tayavon may take some time seeing that you are…different than the common foot soldier.” He looked at her again and approached her cell. His strides were long, but his movement graceful. Zoost tapped the cell window and stood frozen for a moment.

“Need help?” Timoti asked, circling around to meet him.

“Y-yes. I wish to sync our kentyen for the meeting later.” Zoost stepped back and allowed Timoti to navigate the menus. “Thank you.” Zoost held up his wrist and the numbers synced. The kentyen tended to start when the wrist was lowered, but seeing that the numbers had immediately decreased, Paeosfu assumed the meeting time was already set. 

“Unfortunately, I cannot extend it any further,” he said, looking at Paeosfu. 

“We do hope to see you there, but we will send you the report regardless.”

Zoost crossed his arms, and Timoti did the same before the Tayan took his leave.



“May you repeat what General had to say?” Paeosfu asked shyly. “It might’ve been important.”

Timoti summarized the interaction and noticed the princess’ expression resembled the same hurt and disbelief as before. “What’s the matter?”

“There’s a high possibility that General Ginyin will be at this meeting.” Paeosfu wasn’t surprised by the confusion on his face. This was probably the first time he had seen one of the rebellion leaders so close. “General doesn’t like me maybe to the extent that Daya doesn’t like you.

“I can already guess what she’ll say to me. It’ll be the truth, but…but I don’t think I’m ready to hear it from her.” Paeosfu closed her eyes. “I don’t want to face her alone.”

“You wouldn’t have to go. If the meeting starts while you are syncing with Tayavon, you can always submit your report later,” Timoti offered.

“No. She has to go,” Roskavna interjected. She hadn’t changed out of her tattered clothes yet, and parts of her skin shimmered from healing ointment. “General Ginyin will only take advantage of her absence. General fights for Tayan freedom from the rulers while Fourth Princess ultimately wishes the old system to be restored. Finding the missing Tayans would be an initial step to that goal. Only you, Princess, can convince General of the necessity to have gone to defend the mining transportation site.

“Reports can be nitpicked and cannot defend themselves unless you are willing to go into a second confrontation. Why delay the inevitable?” Timoti was about to speak up, but Roskavna raised a hand to stop him. “I’ve already spoken to Daya to prioritizing your synchronization.” She smiled. “You won’t face General Ginyin alone. I’ll be at the meeting too.”



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