- March 13, 2021
Guardians: Heroes of the Milky Way Chapter 1
Chapter One: Terra’rork
“I don’t really think about it,” I tell my co-worker. We’re working at Guardian’s Emergency Hospital in Aloy, the largest city above ground on Tora, the homeworld of the Techanots, and also a Regamorph colony.
When I was with Team Sunset, I was the medic, the healer when I wasn’t piloting. After we were forced to separate, the Regnorian government had me installed as the lead doctor in a hospital on my planet, but in their city, in their hospital, treating mainly their people, only sometimes mine.
I don’t hate Regamorphs, not at all. My oldest friend is a Regamorph. She was one of, no, probably the bravest person I’d ever met. She was my leader, but her species’ government, the one she is an active part of, they ruined me, my family, our friends, and probably her too.
‘Well maybe she deserves it,’ the demon in my head says.
I’m not spiteful. She thought she could trust them, I tell it.
‘Keep telling yourself that,’ the demon comments.
I am lucky with the demon that is stored inside me. He never tries to take control or hamper my ability; he just always questions my inner thoughts and distracts me. Luckily only I can hear him.
‘As if hearing me would actually hurt them,’ he pokes again. Then he recedes back into my consciousness. All Guardians have a demon inside. When Guardians are together the demons can’t speak as they’re repressed by being so close to another of their kind.
“Really Terra? You don’t miss traveling the galaxy, being up to date on what everybody’s doing, hanging out with a cool crowd,” Hanon continues to say, bringing me back into reality. Hanon is a nurse assigned to assist me. He’s very nice and helpful, and being a Regamorph makes it easier for him to carry things for me.
“Hanging out with a cool crowd?” I poke fun. I know that the species will have different sayings, but the Techanots and Regamorphs are really integrated together in society, and only Hanon says weird things like that. Hanon shakes his head humorously, simply absorbing Terra’s jokes. “But in all seriousness, no, I don’t really think about it,” I answer. That answer is a complete lie, I think about how much better things used to be all the time.
Hanon opens his mouth to ask another question, but before he can speak something comes up in his earpiece, which prompts him to put two fingers to his ear. He then turns and informs me that, “You’re needed upstairs, room 117. A Regamorph was in a hovercraft accident where he crashed into a pole. Apparently, he was playing some game about monsters instead of looking at the road.”
I nod my head at him and let Hanon turn the cart he’s pushing around as I move my lumbering frame. The halls are tall enough that I never hit my head, and long enough to fit one Regamorph besides me. Then I follow him to the elevator that was installed for the two other Techanot doctors and me.
The two of us move as quickly as we can to the elevator and out towards room 117, my operating room. Hanon goes in first to move his equipment, but when I walk in, I can tell he isn’t going to be able to help me with this poor young soul. The Regamorph is obviously only an adolescent, probably just got his license to drive the family hovercraft. He’s hooked up to the operating chair, the skin over his stomach shredded with some holes to his insides. His liquid hair was seemingly drained so his skull can be inspected, but by the color of his eyebrows I can tell his hair was light blue, which reminds me of Alloya’s. He has other scratches and cuts all over.
Hanon groans as he probably feels queasy at the sight, despite having had this job for a long time. He picks up the check board with the summary of the boy’s injuries as I walk behind the operating chair. I then move my arms to the patient’s sides and my head over his.
“Terra, it looks like his skin was completely torn off as he skidded on the ground. Wasn’t wearing a seatbelt so he went through the windshield and clipped the pole.” He stops and looks at me to continue. I nod my head and he do. “Thankfully his organs didn’t fall out as he didn’t fly very far, but his skull is cracked and his brain shows signs that it may be bleeding.”
I can tell what needs to be fixed based on the information. I inform Hanon that, “I’m going to fix his skull first, assemble it or fill it in while trying to make sure that his brain doesn’t have any permanent damage. He has enough blood being pumped into him so we won’t lose him to blood loss, and the bleeding isn’t severe so I can attend to those in a few minutes.”
“Do your thing, boss,” my assistant encourages.
I nod and slowly droop my own rock surface over him, causing it to look like my stomach is melting into sludge around him.
All Techanots can do this to other Techanots, they release a portion of their body to cover another’s injured portion. Then the donor’s own tissue, blood, bone, and if the donor has a healthy body and strong control, even their internal organs can replicate into the body of the injured. I don’t only have a good handle on my body, but I have studied the bodies of almost all of the sentient species in the galaxy, allowing me to also heal others that are not Techanots.
At this moment, tissue, blood, and bone are the only parts from my torso region that need to replicate into this young lad. Small portions of my tissue seep in through the crack in his skull and check on his brain. He has a concussion, but thankfully that won’t kill him or cause any irreparable damage since such injuries are simple to treat nowadays. After I fill the crack in his skull, I go on to repair the many cuts and bruises along his body, but leave some bruised bones as reminders not to be so stupid while driving. When I get to the more serious looking openings over his stomach, I find that they are not too serious at all. I think the previous doctors may have overreacted to his injuries when they decided to call me up. I fill in his gaping cuts and take back in my own tissue, blood, and bones.
“He’s fine now,” I inform Hanon. “It wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked.”
“That’s good to hear,” Hanon sigh. “I’ll take him to a room to rest up, you go on to that meeting with Dr. Tanora you had planned.”
“Oh, yes that’s right. I’ll go after I’m cleaned up,” I respond. I forgot in the excitement that I have a very important meeting with the Chief of Medical Staff. She can get me out of Aloy for the first time in five years. I guess if one lays their guts out and onto someone else, they might forget even the most important of things.
“Come in Dr. Rork,” Dr. Tanora says when her secretary informs her of my presence. She sounds almost annoyed that she has this meeting. Hopefully she’s angry over something that doesn’t have to do with me, or my request.
The Regamorph secretary’s name escapes me, but when she smiles at me it is so well done, I almost believe it’s real. Of course, it probably isn’t. Who would like having to open a door for someone because their arms don’t raise that high? I try to walk in as fast as possible so she can let it swing shut. As soon as I’m inside I try to say thank you, but the door is shut already.
‘She’s not going to let you go,’ the demon comments.
You don’t know that, I shoot back.
‘It’s not like I’ve watched her deny you before,’ he says.
“Please sit down, Dr. Rork,” Dr. Tanora say. She’s a Regamorph too, only her liquid hair is black and short, where the front resembles the bangs Alloya had when we first met. I should really find another reference for what Regamorphs look like. “Dr. Rork, sit down,” she repeats to me sternly.
“I can’t Dr. Tanora,” I remind her. She can sometimes be forgetful over the fact that I’m a Techanot and cannot sit in her small and low to the ground chairs, or maybe she purposely ignores it. It would not be a surprise when she ignores the fact that Rork is not a last name. Techanots do not have those so I should just be called Dr. Terra’rork, but she never calls me that. I should probably stop putting stuff past her.
She looks up from her desk where she is writing and her stern frown doesn’t change. “Hmm, that’s right,” she mumbles. More clearly and loudly she asks, “Why did you make this appointment again?”
I quickly remind her that, “I wanted to talk about my application to be a relief aid to Riverteria, to help treat the working class there receive better treatment than their government will- I mean can provide.”
Dr. Tanora starts rubbing the bridge of her nose as she rests her chin in the other hand. “Dr. Rork, don’t you think you should be here? Being the Guardian to your own people?”
“I barely treat Techanots as it is in Aloy. The population in this city is 92% Regamorph, and rising. Besides, this is a time of peace, so it’s not like I’m needed here to protect anyone,” I offer.
Insultingly she chuckles. The doctor says, “Oh, protecting the people isn’t what I meant by being the Guardian to your people.” The fact I am insulted must have been pretty obvious on my face, because she sighs and then explains her insult. I wonder if there is a species that has realized that explaining the insult never makes anyone feel better. “Dr. Rork, let’s be honest. You were the medic, not a combatant. You weren’t fighting or protecting anyone, you were the doctor. Not to say that you shouldn’t be lauded for being able to operate on the bodies of so many races.” Dr. Tanora is digging her hole deeper, so she gives up on explaining herself. I assume she realizes that she doesn’t actually care for my feelings.
I eat my pride to accept her insult, “Well then we both agree I’m not needed here. I can be a real help to the Rivertans, and if allowed, the Waverites trapped on that planet. You let others go with less experience with the other races than I, I’m the perfect candidate to be sent for relief aid.”
Dr. Tanora looks up at my face and meets my gaze with irreverence and lack of compassion. Then she sighs and tries to make herself seem like a good person. “Listen Dr. Rork, if it was up to me, I would send you, I don’t want you here if you don’t want to be here. But the Regnorian higher-ups want you here where they can see you. Not in those underground death traps the uneducated water boys call towns, and most certainly not on the uncontrolled planet of another Team Sunset member. I’ll have officers, lawyers, and worst of all, politicians up my ass about it. So, I’m sorry Dr. Rork, you can’t go to Riverteria.”
I look at her for a while, and she looks at me. Her expression saying compassion, but her eyes say that she couldn’t care less about how I felt. I’m a nuisance to her since the government has made it her job to watch me.
I sigh, and I thank her for her time before I left. She expresses a cold goodbye as she has her surely annoyed secretary hold the door open for me. That Regamorph lets me out, and I continued to lumber out into the hallway, where no one is there to see me.
I slam my head against the wall, I want so badly to be out of this hospital. Let’s not pretend that my spirit isn’t crushed.
I go to my apartment to sit and wallow. To eat my same old tired meals, and watch the same old holovids. I can’t stand it here anymore, all alone.
I let my eyes drift around my necessarily large space, and they come upon, as they usually do, my old holo-pictures hanging on the wall to my left.
I don’t know why I feel the need to always get up and reminisce over what was.
That’s not true, I do know why. Thinking about what was, and what could be again is the only thing that makes me smile outside of the hospital anymore.
Part of that isn’t true either. It can’t be like it used to be again.
I get up from my couch and lumber over to the same old holo-picture I always go to first. The one from a decade ago. It is of Alloya, Jackal, and me when Team Sunset was first starting out. We were so much younger then. Alloya had those bangs I thought about, and she had just gotten her a medal from the Regnorian Army Core for bravery in something. I forget what she did to earn it but I remember how Jackal and I went to see it handed to her. She was wearing her Regnorian Officer uniform, standing next Jackal, as they both stood and tried to hang on me. They were both much younger then, and they were always like my kid siblings.
Jackal’s looks didn’t change much with age, probably because he was always going to be covered in fur. This was still when he was actually trying to brush back the fur on his head to look more attractive. I remember Alloya trying to tell him that with his fur slicked back he only looked preppy, but he wouldn’t listen so she poked fun at him incessantly.
This was the year before I met my wife and I was worried of being too old to find someone. This was when I worried all about Team Sunset and expanding it outside of just the three of us.
I turn to the family picture I had taken a few months before Team Sunset was separated. It was on one of the many trips I would take back home after a mission to see my family. The holo-picture was similar to the one with Alloya and Jackal, where I stood in the back being the tallest, and then my wife, Lass’took, standing in front of the crook of my left arm. My two youngsters, Allis’rork and Esse’took. My son and daughter when he was a year and a half, and my daughter when she was two and half.
I miss them. When was I forced to be relocated to Aloy, they wouldn’t come. Aloy was a city made mostly to house Regamorphs, with minor adjustments for Techanots. The stairs were difficult to walk, and my son’s ligaments were too weak for him to lift his arms high enough to get up the stairs of most places. The buildings were built with Regamorphs in mind, and my wife couldn’t stand being made to come through the back to get into anywhere. My daughter, now she just could not stand how I could let foreigners tell me what to do, to make me stop being a hero, her hero. They stay in the city where Lass’took and I were born, Tortack, an underground city made by Techanots for Techanots. They used to visit me but making the trip across the planet became too difficult to make. The Regnorian government rarely allows me to leave the city to go see them, especially since it is to go somewhere where they can’t watch over me regularly.
But that’s life now, as it has been for a while. I try calling them, but eventually what kid wants to talk to a parent who doesn’t see them, and not even because they are saving the world. At least on Team Sunset my family accepted long breaks from seeing me because they were proud of what I helped to accomplish.
Nothing really to be proud of now when you used to save the day.
I go back to my couch to wallow. I make the choice to turn on the news to bring my mind to other concerns. I don’t really watch for a while. The newswoman goes over the usual information going on in the galaxy. One thing catches my eye though.
The news anchors are a Regamorph woman and a Techanot male. The women were reminding the audience, “The Ruleden Tourney is sneaking up on Riverteria. The tournament that happens every 25 years to determine which race of Rivertans will be the political leaders.” Now I don’t consider myself an expert of the calendar anymore, but I could have sworn that this tourney should have happened a few months after Team Sunset separated. It has been five years since then. If only I could lose track of time now like I used to be able to. “It seems like once again, the Riverti are shaping up to win the tournament once again over the Watree, especially now that Regnorian aid is no longer being brought to them over funding concerns.”
This is the Rivertan apartheid at its worst. The two races of Rivertans decide who is going to be the working class and who is going to be the political and scientific leaders of their people through a tournament. Whoever wins gets to be the ones who lead, but when the Watree have had to be the poor and underfed working class for generations, they never have a chance of winning.
The thing about the Regnorian government pulling funding aid, I wonder if sending me would have cut costs since I can do what other doctors cannot in a fraction of the time. Though, I doubt funding is really the reason they’re not bringing medical aid to the Watree.
I turn off my holo-television. I get up and go where I usually go to sleep when I don’t have work in the morning. I lumber to the elevator in the back of my apartment and tell it to take me to the top floor, where the hangar is.
It takes me up to the highest point of this large apartment complex where the wealthier tenants keep their personal spacecraft.
I wait for the elevator doors to open and then I walk in, gazing upon the many different and interesting looking spaceships. Some small and meant for short travel, not meant for sticking around in space. One or two large ones, meant to be for vacations to explore an asteroid belt, or gaze from a foreign planet’s lower atmosphere.
I lumber past all of these ships for the only one created to house multiple species, created to be piloted by a Techanot.
The Regnorian government allowed me to keep the ship after removing the engine, which I secretly had replaced years ago. Still, letting me keep it was the only thing that could be perceived as kind act, no matter how I looked at it. I think they expected me to let her fall into further disarray, but with the healthy amount of money I’m paid as an especially skilled doctor, I have managed to keep her in top shape.
The Rango is so large that it houses half a dozen dorms, a brig to hold one or two individuals, a lounge, a kitchen, and the bridge. This spacecraft is larger than several houses. In exterior design it’s simple. The front is pronged like a short trident, with three points facing forward and slanted to add to the ship’s aerodynamics. The back is the same only with two points. No point in the middle, but two on the ends parallel with their counterparts in the front. The ship has a lot of space in the middle, where if one tried to walk up it no matter from which direction, it would be like walking up a mountain, as the ship has what looks like a fin at the top. To top it off the Rango had a beautiful matte red paint job.
I walk underneath where the ship is being held up, and it immediately recognizes me and lowers down the back ramp to let me in. I wait and then board through the back.
I continue to walk through the clean ship; it has an automated system to keep itself clean. I walk past each room of a previous member of Team Sunset. Then I make my way to the lounge where we all used to gather in our downtime. I sit at my spot on the couch, and I’m about to close my eyes to rest a bit when my piloting helmet moves over my head and tries to perch itself on me.
“No, that’s not what I’m here to do,” I tell it, but then I remember that the Rango needs the helmet to be attached to know my orders. I telepathically control the ship through the piloting helmet.
I put it on and the familiar systems and directions flood my mind. It brings up an image in my head of Reganora, the location of the Captain, and the last place it had traveled from before being permanently docked here. No, I tell it telepathically. We’re not going anywhere. It asks me why, and then it brings up minor distress calls around the galaxy that we would normally go to help. Then it shows me the locations of Team Sunset. Each member is categorized by where the Regnorian government has them registered, and wherever they are updated to be. Each member is on their home planet. Then it shows me how long they’ve been there. They have not left their home planets in all of this time.
Wait, why would Alloya or Hideo not have moved? Alloya is an active officer, she should have leadership duties she should be completing around the galaxy. Or Hideo, he should have gone to Riverteria, to negotiate on his people’s behalf. Why are they all stationary?
Now I realize, they must all be grounded to their home planets, stripped of their positions in society or forced to go by the Regnorian government. Clay and Womby’s locations make sense, but the other two, no.
They’re stuck, just like me. Unhappy just like me. Wanting to come back to the fold, just like me!
No, that is just my overactive hopes, imagination. I can’t stand it here any longer, but what would happen if I went over to see Alloya or Hideo, just to see if everything was alright.
No, I would be in massive trouble, stripped of everything I have, and prosecuted for treason for disobeying Regnorian directives.
But what do I care? What do I have to look forward to? Nothing.
The Rango asks me if I want to turn on the ignition. I do.
The Rango asks me if I want to go to Reganora. I do.
The Rango asks me if I want it to execute these wishes. I do.
But should I? Is it worth the risk? Will Alloya want to see me? I don’t know if I’ll even make it there.
Maybe it might be a better question to ask, is life worth living if I don’t see? No, it is not.
I order the ship telepathically and out loud, “Systems, execute piloting commands, we’re breaking out of this hangar, and we’re going to see the Captain.”