Chapter X (10): Reunion
Location: My Laboratory (Recovery Room)
Date: January 1st, 60 A.D.
Time: 9:00 PM
After falling unconscious for most of the current day, I awaken in a medium-sized hospital room, in a far better state of constitution than before. My entire draconic body was facing upward and relaxed on six hospital beds, connected widthwise and arraigned in the same manner as piano keys. The six beds in total were large enough to support my height—fifteen feet exactly—and well-built to support my entire weight—1000 lbs.
I turn my massive head to my right side and notice my strapped belongings—my S1-GS device, my S2-PTSDOv.2 device, and my twenty-six S3-OSS devices—in their holsters, hanging off of a metal pole with a wheeled base, the same type utilized to harbor IV fluids. Only, there were no bags for IV fluids present on the pole—likely because my armor-like scaly hide proved too difficult to penetrate with a feeble needle.
However, I did a portable vacuum cleaner to the side, dissolved, mostly in its internal circuitry, as well as the cylindrical nozzle. This was likely used to treat my collapsed lung, despite the sheer crudeness of the equipment utilized. I quickly assumed this because I no longer had any lingering symptoms of this pneumothorax, and the evidence of the equipment utilized was present before me, as a melted pile of carpet cleaning equipment.
"(What am I doing in my laboratory's Recovery Room?)" I thought, lacking any reminiscence after falling unconscious. "(Did Costas and Ian have a part as to why I'm here now?)"
To merely recollect my memories of my old laboratory, I stared at the ceiling light fixtures, the paned fluorescent tubes of light. I recalled how in this state of body, I was able to see with both of my eyes, compared to my normal physical vessel, where I have to wear an eye patch over my left eye.
I recall my body's current constitution and raised a hand to palpate my injuries accordingly. The skull-exposing head laceration that I had prior to defeating Mars was now a scab over my head and no longer stung when so much as a breeze strikes it. The puncture wound on the left side of my ribcage, the one that led to the deflation of my left lung, was no longer there either. The only thing that remained of it was a round scab, about the circumference of a dime, and mild internal irritation every time I inhale. Of course, that just might be mild bruising from the method performed, and would disappear without second thoughts.
Since I was still in this state of body, and because I never had the time to take a moment to consider what I've become during the fight earlier, I bent my wings and elongated tail inward of my body, placing them in front of my face for me to judge.
Before my eyes, I could clearly point out two gigantic wings, how their structure was similar to the wings of a bat, albeit larger, thicker, and far more stalwart.
As for my tail, I found it to be long, slender, and sufficiently whip-like—similar to that of the green iguana, yet larger and far more powerful. It also showed potential to be somewhat ambidextrous, if I wrapped my head around possibilities to maximize the use of this appendage.
Setting these three new body parts aside, I stared blankly in front of me. "(What in the world happened to me?)" I thought with a tone of voice that didn't spark despair, merely curiosity as to how I became this.
Minutes went by in this room, and to pass the time as well as keep me occupied, I found it appropriate to recollect my battle earlier with Mars's Roman legion of his remaining soldiers, from the original 500 that he brought alongside him to command.
I recalled every last detail of the fight between the villagers and the remaining soldiers of the originating 500, the ones that they failed to defeat prior to my involvement.
I remembered the moment that I stepped out of the safety of my house and how quickly I became enraged at the sight of my village home burning down to the ground, despite the fact that I recently wanted no part of this village anymore after my banishment.
How could I forget the complete pain that I endured throughout my transformation? The pain alone would sear into the memory of anyone's mind.
I recall vividly how savagely I decimated the remaining Roman legion, how I used what limited quantity of aura I had in reserve, as well as what surplus of fatigue and determination I had, to vanquish the threat.
I recall the injuries I endured throughout the fight: the collapsed left lung, the piercing of the fifty arrows all across my durable body and the downward sword chop that Mars inflicted onto my skull.
What I remember the most is the final moments of Mars's life, where I was the bell of death that tolled for his final judgment.
"(I'm going to kill you now!)" I retracted my right arm as far back as I was able to and prepped myself to thrust it forward and deliver the energy onto him. I snarled demonically before doing so.
"If you let me go, Eduardo, I'll leave this village and retire from my profession as General! I beg of you! Don't kill me!"
It was now or never for Mars. He played his trump card, hoping that it was potent enough.
"Does it not interest you of what I have to say about the visitor that came here one month ago?"
"…" I froze in place and silenced myself, my arm stopping midway before hitting him, my grip never easing up on him for a second. What he said just now, albeit unexpected, interested me, and to show Mars that I was interested, I shook him gently—to the best of my ability—with my left arm to have him talk further.
"That bitch of a visitor came here one month ago and decided to spare me out of mercy!" Mars began to describe what he had to say. "I came here one month ago, with a legion of 500 soldiers, waiting to burn this place into the ground. We were tipped of your banishment and came here as fast as we could move. Without you in sight, my victory over here was guaranteed!"
"(This is what Costas and Ian meant to tell me?)" I thought, listening attentively, yet not dissipating my aura technique.
"However, it decided to protect this village, out of some…" Mars lifted his hands in front of his chest and twitched his first two fingers, "…'I'll-scratch-your-back-and-you'll-scratch-mine' crap. It showed abilities similar to those of your own. It was fully capable of speech, but didn't open its mouth! Its appearance…it was and was not human! And in the end, that alien of nature spared me and decided to wash me away north on the Red Sea, giving me its entire name out of pity."
"…" I processed the information Mars told me in a heartbeat—thankful that my heart resumed beating earlier—, attempting to imagine how it was able to decimate a legion of 500 Roman soldiers with abilities similar to my own.
Mars's breathing stabilized and his tone of voice seemed full of hope. "If you let me go," he said, "I'll tell you what it told me. I'll tell you its name."
"(I wonder what Costas's and Ian's side of this story is,)" I thought, barely noticing Mars's words. "(I'm sure that they acquainted themselves with it in some way.)"
"Well? Do we have a deal: my freedom, for information on a being that is, from my experience, parallel to you?"
"…" I pondered this over, long enough for Mars to grow uneasy again.
"…I'm begging you!" His voice turned sour again. "Spare me and take my deal—"
"Go to hell!" I actually spoke while in this form, albeit not in my normal human tone of voice. The voice that resided on this body was entirely different from my normal voice. My first voice, adolescent and wise beyond my age, now became this second voice, deep, malicious, and capable of rumbling the earth.
"W-What d-did you say?"
"Go to hell! Tell it to the Devil when you meet Him!" I raised my right hand back as far as it could go, once more.
"…!" Mars screamed at the top of his lungs, his mouth opened wider than he ever thought physically possible, to the point where his jaws almost popped out of their sockets. His life ends here, and he knew it.
My hand, with the Aero Typhoon Palm technique still flaring strongly, was planted swiftly onto his back. And instantly, the attack detonated, with all of its churning energy directed forward, as I intended.
Because the energy was so greatly concentrated, Mars's entire midsection exploded outward, with blood spraying forward and partially mixing into the airborne sand. This sanguine dust cleared after the directed explosion dispersed across the air. The scene that everybody was capable of viewing was bordering on the lines of absolute madness and scarring of the psychology.
I was still holding onto Mars in the same way as before, only my right hand was where his armored back is. From his backside, Mars appeared completely normal, his armor having only dented slightly from the back.
From his front side however, he was clearly cadaverous. The armor plating on his front side completely blew off and what remained was in the shape of scrap metal. His entire midsection was obliterated. Mars appeared completely gutted, as if given a raw and nightmarish necropsy, having lost all of his internal organs after the Aero Typhoon Palm activated and resolved. His internal organs were nowhere to be seen, having torn up under the immense turbulence of the gale and dissipated in the form of miniscule bits and sanguine dust. Only the back of his ribcage, scapula, and spine were present on his internal cavities, stained red from the massive hemorrhaging that I had him sustain. Pools of blood and bone fragments were in front of Mars's brutally deceased body, scattered both far and near him.
Also, since he was stuck screaming at the top of his lungs, his face stuck in the last position that it was presently before his untimely demise. His eyes and his mouth were agape, widely. It was unanimously a horrifying sight to see: Mars appearing to scream in pain post-death, with his entire midsection hollowed out as if he were a cow, butchered for its meat.
Since I delivered the impact onto him—and therefore knew well enough of the results of my actions—, I decided to the dispose of the body already.
Looking at the Red Sea—the sea that Mars mentioned earlier—I uncoiled my tail grip on his ankles and threw his body there with all my strength, sending him flying into the water, where the backside of his body slapped the surface of the sea. His hollow chest cavity then flooded with sea water. And eventually, his body could no longer maintain buoyancy with the water weight and inevitably submerged underneath the surface.
Mars's corpse left behind a sanguine trail as it descended further and further within the sea, eternally lost and in a dreg of time, forgotten.
(End of Eduardo's Flashback)
All throughout that fight, between draconic I and the Roman legion of the remaining invading soldiers, there was an odd characteristic that I had present, that I realized now post-battle.
I was in complete control over myself, despite my new body and despite my ferocity. I could've easily rampaged across my home village, obliterating all that I see, be it friend, foe, or inanimate object, out of primal instinct and extremely blind thought. My mind could've been incarcerated, permanently or temporary, within the prison cell that my body might've become for me.
And yet I didn't.
That single fact alone was, in my opinion, critical with this transformation. "(I seriously doubt that I could've been in absolute control of myself in this state of body if this was the first time I underwent this metamorphosis. And yet I was in control of myself, as if familiar with this body,)" I thought, partially discombobulated at this theory I had. "(How can that be?)"
Knock! Knock! Knock!
My ash-black eyes were immediately aimed onto the door on the far right corner of the Recovery Room, my head lifted slightly to allow me to see properly. "Who's there?" I said, stopping there when I heard myself speak with a voice that could loosen bowel control involuntarily.
There was an abnormally large delay between my response and the actual opening of the door, likely caused by the tone of voice I now possessed. Two people crossed through the doorway once the door was out of the way: my two brothers, Costas and Ian.
"It's nice to see that you're awake, Eduardo," Ian said.
"So, how're you feeling right now?" Costas clapped his hands together and began. "Any head trauma? You look like you've taken a bigger blow to the skull than I have in a while."
My answer was simple. "I feel alright," I said, once more with my new voice.
"…" They had despondent countenances on them, hunched over, as if of fear.
I could clearly tell by their reaction that they found this unusual voice of mine frightening…highly frightening. It didn't bother me at all, most likely because I was the one speaking through it, although I began to wonder how this would inhibit our conversation.
To see for myself, I spoke once more.
"What's the matter?"
"…" More cringing and silence from both Costas and Ian.
I simply waited patiently until they mollified for their response. When they did, Ian was the first to speak up.
"Don't you have anything to speak for you?" Ian said, unsure as to what I've manufactured during my banishment, and as well as absolutely sure that there was no such device inside of my laboratory that he was aware of. "Some sort of voice modulator, perhaps?"
I looked to my right side and eyed my strapped belongings. My eyes, although Costas and Ian were clueless as to what I was looking at specifically, were locked onto my S2-PTSDOv.2 device. Ian, although he didn't know it, specified the functions of a program that I've developed and installed into that specific S-Rank invention of mine.
"Do you want me to get that for you?" Costas offered his assistance.
"No need," I said inadvertently.
"…" More cringing and silence from them both again.
Disregarding this, I focused faint amounts of Purple (Psychic) Aura onto both of my eyes, having them turn into the color of the specified Elemental Aura. The amount of aura utilized was kept to a minimum, since I was feeling unsure as to how much aura I had replenished during my slumber, and I decided to use my abilities cautiously. My S2-PTSDOv.2 device emerged from its holster and gracefully hovered away from there, stopping just above my chest. The stylus located to its right side was dislocated and used to access its interface. I could use the VCP—Voice Command Program—to access my invention, but I would just spook my two friends further if I did.
"(What do they find so daunting about this new voice of mine?)" I thought, feeling that their reactions are hyperbolic at best, especially when they know me well enough to look past that.
Both Costas and Ian witness the device that was hovering directly above me, knowing well enough that they've never seen it before.
"(What have you been doing over the last decade?)" Costas thought, seeing the stylus dance away on top of the lower touch screen of my Different System.
"(I see you've still been manufacturing cutting-edge technology during your banishment,)" Ian thought, once the stylus stopped tapping away at the screen.
I had accessed the program that would allow me to speak to them without speaking with my second voice—although I still questioned their unnecessary reactions—: the VFP (Voice Falsifier Program). With the keyboard loaded onto the lower touch screen, I forced the stylus to tap in this phrase.
"I'M READY, SO ASK AWAY AT WHATEVER IS IN YOUR MIND," A perfect emulation of my normal voice resonated from the speakers of the Different System.
Costas was the first to ask at what was on his mind. "What did it feel like to transform like that?"
I thought about this in an instant and inputted the appropriate words into the Different System's touch screen keyboard, amplifying my Purple (Psychic) Aura slightly so that I could input each individual letter with surprising speed.
"TRY TO IMAGINE WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE BURNED ALIVE DUE TO A FIRED FLAMING ARROWHEAD, TO HAVE YOUR BONES STRETCH TO UNPRECEDENTED LENGTHS, YOUR SKIN PEEL OFF FROM THE ACIDITY OF YOUR OWN BLOOD AND YOUR MUSCLES GROW TO RIDICULOUS SIZES. IMAGINE THAT WHILE ONE TAIL, TWO WINGS, AND SCALES EMERGE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRANSMOGRIFICATION PROCESS."
Costas crossed his arms and had this vacant stare in his eyes as he imagined how all of that felt like.
"What in the world caused you to become a dragon?" Ian spoke during Costas's mental occupation.
"I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA," I continued to input the words. "IT JUST OCCURRED SPONTANEOUSLY, WHEN I WAS FEELING TREMENDOUS RAGE. I NEVER EVEN KNEW THAT I WAS CAPABLE OF TRANSFORMING INTO THIS." The word "INTO" was spoken with greater emphasis, under my inputted instructions.
"How were you able to fight so well then, since you never transformed into this at all?" Costas said, having given up on pondering over the pain that I felt in the middle of my transformation.
"THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FOR ME TO OVERCOME THROUGHOUT THE FIGHT WASN'T MY UNFAMILIARITY WITH THIS BODY, RATHER THE IMMEASURABLE FATIGUE THAT I ACQUIRED POST-METAMORPHOSIS."
"Are you sure you've never become this at all?" Ian inquired, wanting a definitive answer.
"YES." That answer was inputted immediately.
"How are you able to speak in that tone of voice?" Costas wondered.
"How the hell should I know?" I spoke in said tone of voice, not using the Different System for this on purpose, since Costas brought up the topic.
"…" They both cringed once more, and I rolled my eyes plainly at this.
I continued to use the Different System for my speech. "ARE ANY OF YOU WONDERING IF I'LL BE ABLE TO CHANGE BACK?"
They both nodded once they mollified.
"I'VE HONESTLY NO CLUE AS TO HOW I'LL BE ABLE TO."
"Are you staying a dragon forever?" Ian asked, with concern.
"NO. I DON'T PLAN ON IT, BECAUSE I DON'T QUIT."
Before their eyes and much to their surprise, I decided to get up and off of my connected beds, standing upright on my two massive feet with no apparent signs of fatigue or vertigo.
With the Purple (Psychic) Aura that I was still emanating from my eyes, I caused the remainder of my equipment to hover towards me, where I manually strapped it back onto my torso. The "sash" part of my equipment had to stretch to compensate this new body. However, I designed these shoulder straps/holsters to be as resistant and stalwart as the "S-Rank" devices that I carry around me. Before ending my Elemental Aura usage, I had my stylus return to my S2-PTSDOv.2 device and the device itself to the holster on my left side.
"I'll get to work on reverting myself right away," I said with a warm tone in my brick-shitting voice. "It shouldn't be so hard, with my resources and intellect anyway."
Both of them cringed again, and thankfully they were finally growing accustomed to the ominous tone that my two voices seemed to create.
"…Okay…" They both said in unison.
I began to walk towards the door, slowly at first, in case my body hasn't fully recovered yet. I was about to grip the small handle with one of my massive hands, however both Costas and Ian stopped me before I did.
"Hang on, Eduardo. We forgot to tell you something," Ian said.
"We never told you how you came here," Costas said.
"I assume you used a wheeled gurney to carry me here?" I said with little interest, since I was focused on reverting back, and I already knew that they successfully managed to carry my entirety over here.
"Well, yes, however we needed more help, since you weighed so much and we couldn't hoist you up by ourselves."
I remained temporarily still, pondering what Costas meant by "needed more help". My time pondering the matter was brief, once I thought of the only possible solution to their earlier dilemma.
"…You didn't…" I said with astonishment.
"We did," Ian said, smiling faintly.
"Mm-hmm," Costas hummed.
I opened the door, and as I stepped through the doorway, I was immediately present before the remaining villagers that survived the battle against the nefarious Roman soldiers. They all had signs of injury, but were treated by both Costas and Ian, during the time when I was resting. Some wore bandages on their arms and on their heads. Others had on casts on their arms and legs, in order to repair their broken bones.
They all had despondent countenances on their faces, but their injuries weren't causing this.
Before I knew it, my inner ears were suddenly overflowing with apologies from these brave people.
"We were all so ignorant back then."
"We let our own fear overtake our sense of judgment."
"We didn't see you for what you really were."
"Or for what you did for this village, your home."
"You always defended us."
"You always protected us from harm."
"Even we thought of you as a monster."
"Who was put on this world to harm us."
"We saw you for your actions, but not for your choices."
"We were all so prejudiced."
"We drove you away, because of our fear towards you."
"And yet you came back, after we banished you a decade ago."
"You always use those powers and items of yours for our safety."
"You use them to fortify he safety of this village and of its population."
"You put our safety before yourself."
"You risk your life for the wellbeing of ours."
"Not even as a hideous dragon, did you ever think otherwise."
"Can you ever forgive us?"
"Can you relinquish our mistakes, those many years ago?"
The apologies that I heard just now literally shook me to my very soul. I couldn't hold back the urge to cry after hearing such repent, and could feel my tears roll down my scaly cheeks, and then drop off to the floor.
It's almost taboo of me to consider the thought of losing interest for this nostalgic home of mine, when I remembered that these people and this place meant a lot to me. It seemed like such a heartless choice at the time.
Costas and Ian observed this moment through the window of the Recovery Room that I was previously residing in. They knew that I was touched emotionally. They could tell from the small puddle that my tears were making. They could tell from the mild sobbing that I was unable to control, and simply waited for me to accept their apology.
For this brief moment, I felt temporarily detached from my own body. I couldn't feel my heartbeat in my chest, my shallow breathing, my immense wingspan, or the soreness of my fresh scars. It felt as if my eyes were the only tangible part of me. I almost didn't feel my broad, scaly mouth open, with my bass vocal chords vibrating, when I said these next four words:
"I accept your apology."
"…" I saw every villager before me drop in height by at least six inches, cringing after hearing my tone of voice, despite my tender tone of voice.
Now it was my turn to apologize.
"I'm sorry. I can't control this voice of mine." I said, chuckling mildly afterward and wiping away the tears from my face, but only briefly because every sound that I make had this voice in play, and I didn't want to be held responsible for any "accidents" that this voice may inflict into the colons of these people.
"What is your will, anyway? Nobody can see it. You don't hear it thinking. You only know what your will is afterward, when you look back in your life and see what you've done." —Orson Scott Card (12) ("Children of the Mind")