“Long time no see,” Elean, the head nurse, smiled as she quietly entered the room, carrying a pile of paperwork and a single pen. “I’m sorry we haven’t been able to do our little meetings.”
Veeyel didn’t say anything. He couldn’t. There was a huge lump of fear and nervousness in his throat that had appeared out of nowhere and it was making things pretty hard for him. Elean instantly noticed this and glided over to Veeyel’s bed, placing a calming hand on his shoulder.
“You shouldn’t be scared.”
“But I am…”
Elean continued to smile. She understood why Veeyel was nervous. He’d been at this hospital for a while. She had helped him transfer to here after the previous facility closed down. He was essentially a permanent resident, someone who might not ever be able to live a normal life. Once he’d informed them of his family’s plans to move to Portalia, all he’d done was worry that he might not be allowed to go with them.
“I don’t want to be left behind, medic. But I don’t think you’re going to let me go.”
“You understand why we have to be cautious though, right?” Elean spoke softly, keeping a gentle but firm tone. “You understand that while we cannot cure you of your problems, the Rethan hospital system ensures that you are at least kept stable. We cannot guarantee that a mixed-race hospital will have everything you need.”
Veeyel took a deep breath. He was feeling uncomfortable and rather drained. An evening’s worth of tests, from blood tests to physical examinations had left him exhausted.
“It’s… It’s not like I’m really alive though, am I?”
“You are alive.”
“But I don’t do anything. I’m… just a drain on society. I don’t contribute anything.”
Elean looked away. She’d seen this before, in so many Rethans like Veeyel. Those who lost part of themselves always ended up losing their minds as well.
“You contributed plenty while being a Ksa. You’re one of the L-Class! You saved thousands of Rethans in Thre-Sypria. You have friends and family that love you. You have done enough and you deserve to be looked after.”
“But I’m just stuck in a hospital!” Veeyel whimpered. But after a moment of hesitation, he looked up at Elean, his expression changing. “You want to keep me here.”
Elean blinked. “What do you mean?”
“You want to keep me here forever. I’m a Ksa. I’m property of the Rethan State. You don’t want others messing with me.”
The nurse’s smile awkwardly faded. Yes, he was partially right. By law, she had to at least try and convince Veeyel to remain here, as it was her duty to look after the weak and protect them from harm. And yes, she had been asked to try and keep Veeyel in Rethan territories so that other races didn’t… pick up on Ksa technologies. But openly admitting that would just drive Veeyel further away.
“No. That’s not why I’m convincing you to stay. I believe that, under Rethan jurisdiction, you will get better. It will be slow and tedious and sometimes painful, but we do offer actual progress. Not… smoke and mirrors and fantasy.”
“IT’S NOT FANTASY!” Veeyel snapped. “You haven’t seen it! Magia is real, there’s three fucking species in the Maza Systems who practice some sort of magical ability!” Veeyel took a deep breath and calmed down. “I’m sorry, it’s just… If I stay here, I will die here. In this bed probably. Maybe one day I’ll be able to walk again, who knows.”
“You will,” Elean tried to calm Veeyel down. “You just have to be patient. You’ve come so far in such a short amount of time, but the rest will come slowly. Your body has to heal…”
But the medics all said it, I don’t have much time left!” the Ksa interrupted. “You said I have five, maybe ten years, best guess. The other medics, I’ve heard some of them say I might only have a year. If I don’t have long to live, surely I could be living with my family rather than remaining here.
“It’s not like I’ll be living in a shithole or something. The place Kayel found for us, there’s a hospital ten kilometres away. He and Deeyel already spoke to them, they’ve agreed to give us the basic equipment I need, and I’ve got three new leg-sets waiting for me.
“I want to do this, Elean. I want to be happy. And I’m not here. I’d rather die in the arms of my loved ones than in a hospital bed on my own.
“Plus… You never know, maybe this magic stuff will work. Or maybe it will give me a temporary bit of comfort. You don’t know until you try, right?”
Elean couldn’t help but nod. Veeyel was right, after all.
“How about a compromise?” Elean smiled again. “I’ll let you go. I’ll fill in the paperwork for you. But I won’t let you go forever. If, after a year, this does not work out for you, if you’re in the same condition or worse, I want you to come back here. Is that fair?”
Veeyel sighed. “Yeah, that’s fair… I suppose… leave options open, right?”
“Indeed. I’m glad you understand!” Elean laid out sheets of paper on the desk beside Veeyel. “Now, we have some forms to fill out.”
“Wait…” Veeyel was shocked. “You’re saying…”
“Yes, you can go to Portalia.”
“Was that… some sort of test.”
“Yes. And you passed it.”
Veeyel gasped as he reached forward and hugged Elean. “Thank you… Thank you so much!”