Salvar 3: Communication


Despite being awakened several times in the night by the purring manacle, I awake feeling refreshed. Without any windows it was impossible to tell the time, but the lights were bright again, so, I guess it is morning. I am feeling much more energetic today, so some stretches seem to be in order to see how my body responds.

I am not even a quarter of the way through my exercises before I am sweating and trembling with fatigue. I hobble over to the corner and hope that the rain will come down for me. The device responds dutifully and the water mats the cloth to my fur. I hear the door open but I have no energy to do anything other than to stare blankly as the examiner and a guard rush in. The examiner quickly strips the sopping cloths from me and begins rubbing me down as the water courses over me. In time the tremors pass and a tiny bit of strength passes back into my limbs. He turns off the water off and I am embarrassed to realize that the food mother is there as well. They both rub me down with thick cloths as the warm air flows over me. Once I am dried, they clothe me once more (to my immense relief) and lead me back to my couch. Despite being soaked and obviously upset, the examiner raises neither his hand nor his voice to me. I guess it’s because the food mother is there. She gently gives me sweet food and drink and my strength slowly returns. It seems to surprise them when I pull my feet underneath me and bring my torso up into a sitting down position. They both seem a bit upset in their manner of speech. I must remember that I am a valuable possession to them and losing me would probably cost them greatly.

They leave soon after that, but the examiner returns quickly to check my purring manacle. Despite the earlier trouble I gave him, there is no trace of anger or impatience in his manner. The guard actually shoulders his weapon to assist the examiner in giving me drinks. Although the drinks are sweet, they have an odd bitter taste to them as well.

***

Medical log

Dr. Douglas Parton

Subject Seven

The second day after the subject awakened he seemed a bit restless. Dana Jeffries was monitoring him from the nursing station. She reported that he got up and started moving in a set of exercises that reminded her of Tai Chi. She said that it was so fascinating that she didn’t realize that anything was wrong until he suddenly stopped and stumbled over to the bathing corner and turned the shower on himself while still fully clothed. She hit the panic button and met me in the hallway and nearly pushed me to his room while trying to explain what happened. Poor Jeff had to run to catch up with us or I would have gone in without him.

It’s really easy to overexert yourself after a prolonged illness, especially if you are used to regular exercise. Unfortunately, the language barrier makes it impossible for me to warn him about such things. I examined him and checked his medical cuff and the signs were consistent with dehydration and exhaustion. We kept him in the lukewarm shower until he stopped trembling and seemed to stabilize. By this time our dietician had arrived with electrolyte solutions and such to help. She helped me rub him down until he was dry. I know it sounds like we were treating him more like a horse than a person, but it seemed like the best model at the time. We got him over to the bed and Alicia started getting electrolytes into him interspersed with soft fruits. This calmed him down enough that I felt safe leaving him to rest with only remote monitoring. The next time I came in to check on him, he started getting worked up as soon as I came in. I added a bit of tranquilizer to his electrolytes and hoped that a good sleep would keep him safe until we could come up with a better solution. I called a staff meeting for that afternoon to discuss the problem. Contessa Maldera, our occupational therapist, was quite direct with her criticisms. “He’s in a big empty room with literally nothing to do and he doesn’t even have any hands to fiddle with things. I’d be climbing the walls within ten minutes of being locked up in a place like that.” Tess’s hyperactivity aside, she did have a good point; boredom and helplessness are not a good combination. After some discussion it was decided to start the communication and acclimatization projects the very next day with this subject and with all the other subjects that were under our care who were at the appropriate stage of recovery and to recommend that similar steps be taken by the other groups.

***

I am not surprised to hear a knock and look to see the door opening. It is about the time that the food mother usually comes with the second meal. But when two guards enter first it is enough to tell me that something is about to happen and set my heart racing. A strange male enters carrying a seat like the two-legged races commonly use. Then another male arrives with another seat, and then another and another. Four males with four seats; I am now completely confused. The males leave without their seats only to return with other furnishings.

They bring in tables and rugs and then one brings in a number of picture tapestries, which he somehow sticks to the wall without using anything to hang them on. I move over to look at it and I am lost as I look over the alien landscapes that they show. The pictures are so real that I feel as if I could reach out and touch what they show as if I am leaning out a window. There are mountains with trees and streams that remind me of the mountains of the north coast. If the trees had been a little different, it would have made my longing for home overwhelming. The next picture shows a rolling plain dotted with some kind of herd beast. Before I look around for the next one, I realize that much of the commotion in the room has stopped. My jaw must have dropped open as I look upon a room transformed as if by magic while my back was turned. I could not stop myself from rumbling with delight as my empty white room had been transformed into a palace full of color. The floor is full of rugs and palettes and the walls are decked with pictures. There are cabinets and tables and seats and even partitions around the bathing area.

The Chaos-kin who had brought the furnishings are gone along with one of the guards, but the examiner and the food mother are still there along with two new people. The new male stands up and bows his head toward me, a gesture I imitate. Perhaps these are my new owners. He points towards his chest and makes a sound. After he repeats this twice I realize he was naming himself. It sounded like Ahrik. I repeated this sound and it delighted all the Chaos-kin present. It would only be polite to name myself in return, but my full name rank and clan would be incomprehensibly long in this situation. A thought struck me and I smiled and gave them my youngling name that I had left behind long ago. “Salvar.” It seemed short enough to work here. This delighted the Chaos-kin as well. Ahrik repeated his name while pointing at himself and then said my youngling name while pointing at me. I imitated this which delighted the Chaos-kin again. Next the food mother named herself as Leesha and I repeated her name as well. The examiner named himself as Dug and the new female named herself as Tessha and even the guard identified himself as Jef. I then named everyone in turn, which delighted the Chaos-kin once again.

Tessha then went over to one of the cabinets and brought out a red tunic that contrasted nicely with my brown fur. Now I was sure that I belonged to important people who wanted me to look nice. She showed me two white strips of fuzz that lined front edges of the tunic. She pressed these strips together and then pulled them apart with a ripping sound. The dismay must have shown on my face as she gave a small laugh and then showed me that it could be done over and over again without harm to the garment. Oh, to have hands again. The examiner … no Dug the examiner striped off the cloth that had covered my torso and he and Tessha helped me into the red tunic. It fit me well and had sleeves long enough to hold my tools, should I ever receive them back.

Leesha the food-mother brings out food for everyone present as well as for me. I am awed enough that they were willing to eat with me that I am only a little envious of the food eating tools that they use to feed themselves. I am tall enough that she needs to stand to offer me food, but she is delighted when I sit down so that she can do so while seated. Perhaps they see me as a pet to be pampered. Not the most fitting position for one trained as a warrior, but better that some I have held.

Ahrik brings out a large tablet from a satchel beside him. It makes a small sound and then he turns it to me and it has a perfect drawing of my couch on it. He makes a sound and points to the drawing and then my couch and repeats the sound. Ah! Their word for couch is “behd.” I repeat the sound, which pleases him. I think we are playing some sort of naming game. He turns the tablet back and it sounds again and when he turns it back to me, it is a drawing of Leesha the food-mother! Indeed, the Chaos-kin are great artificers like the legends say! His tablet is a picture viewer is perfectly clear and in full color! I am so amazed that I forget to name the food-mother until Ahrik reminds me. We play the naming game until after Leesha the food-mother leaves and returns with the third meal for everyone.

The Chaos-kin seem to especially like it when I rumble with delight. I was afraid that they might find the sound threatening like the Winged-kin, but they seem to find it pleasing. It is actually an enjoyable time for me in many ways, but I am relieved when they depart as my bladder has been vying for attention for a while now. I look around my room afterwards and examine all of the new items carefully. Besides the picture tapestries, the best thing that I find is some pallets that can be made up into a proper bed. I have become quite adept at moving such things with my paws since my hands were removed. Not very elegant, but it serves the purpose. I hope they return to play the naming game again soon. It was fun and I learned a lot.

You foolish stag! You have one good thing happen and you let your heart become greedy. Great Voice, let me accept whatever happens and use it to add to the song of Your glory. I must accept the joy of today without expecting anything of tomorrow. Such is the way of a slave.

***

Medical log Dr. Douglas Parton Subject Salvar

Today was a wonderful day. Subject Seven has identified himself as “Salvar,” and I will use his name in these records exclusively from now on. Eric Black used a computer tablet to teach him words which worked out extremely well. New technology sometimes surprises him, but it doesn’t seem to scare him. But, the biggest surprise of the day came from Salvar himself. Leotaurs purr! They purr only when exhaling like one of the big cats, but it’s definitely purring. The girls were absolutely entranced, and so was I to an extent, but we need to make very sure that we do not start treating him like some sort of pet rather than a person. Alicia and Contessa both think that the rate at which he is grasping new words and adjusting to his situation indicate that he is very intelligent. While he is certainly smart, Eric and I agree that it is a little early to try and guess the extent of his intelligence. After the near disaster yesterday, it is so good to see him making such good progress today. We also learned today that Leotaurs prefer pallets on the ground to raised beds. We will adjust this for all Leotaur subjects as soon as is practical in each case.

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