Bthera struggled as hard as she could, hammering on me with her fists, kicking, biting. Bopo forced her to use every bit of her body’s strength, to get away if she could. Which only meant that, when we got to Dorday Academy, she was exhausted, shaking and quivering in my hand.
“Duschafle Hall is biology,” said Tarcuna. “That building, with the dull pink spire.” The academy buildings had spires, like everywhere in Dorday, but they were more sedate. So that’s where we went.
“This young woman is wormridden. Bring out your best scientists and instruments, so that you can observe the phenomenon, and learn about it, and attest to it. When your master Llredh arrives, we will extract the cyoziworm, and save the woman,” I said. (I had written to Ythac, and Llredh was on his way.) About two dozen times, in two dozen different phrasings, to two dozen different administrators and scientists and newspaper reporters and whatnots.
Arilash looked small and annoyed for the first dozen and a half of those. That changed when we came to the Intrascopy Laboratory of the Grey Star. (Dorday Academy keeps the old tradition of identifying its rooms by painted symbols on the door, not room numbers.)
“What’s an intrascope?” she asked.
“A tool for observing a helical cross-section of a living organism,” explained Professor Wulpmegarn. He explained for another half-dozen minutes. I didn’t follow the science even well enough to write any of it down. Arilash understood a bit more, until Tarcuna cut in to try to explain it. Then we were both lost. Anyways, it’s sort of like using a very low-intensity twistor beam that mostly just draws what it encounters, rather than twisting it around.
“We need to get her consent before we use it on her,” said Professor Wulpmegarn. “There are inevitable side effects, ranging from the occasional short-term hematomata to the increased likelihood of long-term carcinomata. When I was a student, we were rather too casual about such matters. Now the Experimental Board is very strict.”
I heard a heavy double wingbeat in the distance. “The conqueror of your land overrules the Experimental Board.”
He settled the glass medallion of a Laboratory-Master around his grey-furred neck. “In my experience, it is, indeed, better to get informed consent from the subjects to all invasive experiments.”
“She can’t give consent. Her worm won’t let her,” said Tarcuna.
“I would never dream of arguing that cyoziworms are impossible, not in the presence of two extradimensional creatures who have exhibited undeniable powers which defy current scientific explanation. But cyoziworms are a different order. If the stories about them bear any resemblance to the truth, they are native to Hove. It is difficult to understand how such a remarkable entity could avoid detection. If nothing else, autopsies have been legal for nearly two centuries, and are frequently performed. No cyoziworms have been noticed yet.”
So we argued a bit about the reality of cyoziworms and the ability of the wormridden to avoid having their worms detected. I hate arguing with professors. I knew I was right, but I nearly got persuaded I was wrong.
Then Llredh arrived. He didn’t bother shrinking to fit the laboratory, as Arilash and I had done; he just looked through the window, and the weight of his musky smoke filled the laboratory. He listened for half a minute, and glared a bit, and said, “Prepare the intrascope.”
Professor Wulpmegarn didn’t argue any more about that.