The Respite contracted in on itself with the exertion of the Tech’s power. The walls became tumbling blocks and stairs and passes, all shifting, spreading, moving into and out of one another simultaneously. Hasver and Shambo wisely elected to scram through the TransMat to the recovery creche and check the device for problems.
While Hasver was absorbed in checking the circuity, Shambo used his own powers and genetic material to test the device; Hasver returned to himself to find Shambo playing with a little Shambo who – and understandably perhaps if one has spent too much time with the real Shambo – was eager to dissolve back out of being into the luminous infragreen gloop of the recovery tank. Shambo casually agreed with Hasver that his power seemed greatly diminished and that his doomstaff itself no longer registered as a living thing as it had before – merely as Numenera.
The surgery seemed an effortless and timely ruination of the Nagaina Parasite. Roz’ instinctual orders activated by the psychic pressure of the Tech were a symphony of destruction upon the Parasite. As if Roz understood each biological weakness, each failpoint, each cascade of limitation before the Tech fully perceived the interwoven systems. Spinal column, brain stem, optic nerve, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, all deliberately undone the way winter undoes the kaleidoscopic fruit of summer. The way someone trained for decades to destroy an Artificer might go about things.
In the bio-creche chamber, Roz materialized with the accustomed pop. Naked Takir was going to pieces in her arms. His flesh seemed to be losing coherence; even though awful scars were already disappearing from his back and skull, his flesh everywhere Roz was not touching was an overheated synth disaster. Quickly, she loaded him into the shining green glop, slamming the canopy down with an almost destructive fervor.
There was still a subhuman tinge to her eye, and her skin was wet with long sweat and stank of human breakdown that could not have been only Takir’s. Shambo’s powers assessed Takir’s life force as strong, but in the grips of a violent transition. They watched as he seemed to come apart and fit back together over and over again inside the glowing mass. Slowly, the levels in the tank began to drop.
Then a period of ferocious activity: thrashing, striking the tank, battering himself, thrashing the tank fluid so violently it became a white foam inside the tank. All the while: dreaming of the Parasite, and killing it; dreaming of Frund, bringing him back to life.
Waking was sudden and terrible and disjointed. There was some fawn-like falling down and a good deal of Nano-babble to go along with. But for the most part, things seemed to be in order.
Then the rumblings increased, down in the deeps of the Pit. They Transmatted back to the Erulian enclave. The Devotee revealed to them that the Chirani had poured some kind of Network-enabled nano-substance down the pit, and that there seemed to be tectonic disruptions in the wake of it that were spreading. The Master had holed up inside the Mainframe. At present, there seemed to be no danger.
Hasver stayed in the Chapel to add the light of his doom to the Devotee’s attempts to stabilize the local Network. His staff in the vast whorl of lavender fractality that was the devotee was a blue flare burning down instead of a pinprick of light into the heart of a dying star.
It seemed prudent for the rest to zoom back to the Respite. Gharolan was ready for Roz. The Parasite was itching and itching – but perhaps that was only the imagination. The Tech would do the cutting – and in fact seemed even excited about it. Takir, still assembling himself, chatted amiably about the exhausting level of effort required to seem like standard humans. The green yogi did not comment. The Impossible Blade gleamed in the Tech’s dendrites.