Notes from General Wojo’s buried files
First reports from Drin, dictated during recovery:
1) In spite of other reports that the naga defied remote commands, during combat the naga performed very well, and was capable of withstanding bug fire, unlike myself. Appended are reports on my injuries. During the helicopter flight the naga kept me pain free via its bites, and I could feel the differences as its venom became more and more specific to my condition.
By the end I felt euphoric and secure, and was awake and alert when I was transferred to the hospital. The naga insisted on staying with me until I was secured in a sarcobox. This is not to complain of Tom Richards the assigned handler on the job, as a handler with very advanced capacities might have had difficulty keeping the naga under control. He tells me it was visibly unhappy during the flight and did not easily accept the harness, which impeded its ability to stay near me in the cramped conditions with so many other troops on board as well.
(Drin’s injuries; )
1.a) Torso: Severe, deep, narrow third and fourth degree burns to the right dorsal and ventral torso, extending from midway between the iliac crest, great trochanter, and erector spinae muscles dorsally, across the entire external oblique, to the right rectus abdominus ventrally, not quite to the navel. Burned tissue had exceptions in minor areas shielded by the right arm during combat irradiation.
1.b) Right arm: The brachio-radialis and pronator teres were mostly burnt away, exposing the carbonised radius and ulna of the patient’s forearm. Surrounding smaller muscle groups suffered second-degree burns. Further second and third degree burns damaged metacarpals in the hand.
1.c) Right leg: Mixed depth burns from the tensor fasciae latae downward, a carbonized cavity about three inches deep on the vastus lateralis, the vastus intermedius, damaging the the so-called “sciatic nerve” sheath, and in one area the outer femur was scored with a second-degree burn. Sloughed bone chips had to be removed later in recovery. The patella was dislocated and the tibia had one simple and one compound break respectively about three and eight inches below the patella, with first degree burns extending to second degree burns at the ankle. The boot may have shielded the foot, but it still suffered carbonized areas on the metatarsals
2) The program has decided to keep the same naga nearby to see how much it could help in aiding recovery. When I come out of the sarcobox each week it is waiting to bite me. The first time it was unwilling to bite and seemed confused. But repetition has taught it what is expected. This naga seems to have very active venom glands and can be milked of a further 4 – 7 ccs of liquid after a bite. The engineers are collecting that for analysis. The lab analysis results appear to be controversial, I have been unable to obtain copies of the reports of what it is injecting into me, as they are classified beyond my level.
3) The naga’s venom has continued effective. I have had no infections and very little pain. There is a continuing sense of unreality from the psychoactives it is injecting into me.
4) I have discussed the narcotics in the naga’s venom, wondering how the naga can moderate the combinations and dosages. The dosages seem to vary wildly. The euphoric effect is pretty nice but I can now stay awake for short times and would like to be able to work lucidly!
5) The handlers have come up with a set of sound-based stimuli that may influence the composition of the venoms. We tried them today. It clearly soothed the naga’s nervous reactions to unexpected noises in the hospital complex.
6) The narcotics are less noticeable, but now I am more restless. My healing is going well, itching like fuckall and I’m usually glad to go back into the sarcobox when the awake session is over. The naga seems to recognize me each week. When Richards brings it in, it comes straight to the side of my box now. It sniffs my face, down my injured side before it bites. Sometimes it will lick my fingers. I assume this is increasing its familiarity with the health and condition of its subject. Richards says “they will do that sometimes.”
7) Today the other naga was brought in. The sniffing process took much longer, and it kept pulling away just as it seemed to be ready to bite. Eventually it did. I received a heavy dose of narcotics from it and have not been able to make this report for several days.
8 ) The original naga def. shows a sense of familiarity, and I felt much better seeing it. It vocalized musical notes and insisted on holding me and purring after the bite until I went to sleep under the narcotics. I understand it resisted giving me up until I woke up and spoke to it. It objected to my going back into the sarcobox for further recovery. We (Richards, Algrew and I) assumed that it was displaying an excessive attachment to me until it lunged past them and bent the sarcobox latches and broke it. After the engineering staff arrived, checks of the equipment confirmed the equipment was tampered with, it had been maladjusted to the point of danger to the patient. The naga was hostile to the Richards team and only accepted the new crew (Matheson and Framme) after I was awake enough to reassure the naga. This meant they had to stay with it overnight in an unsecured area, because it did not accept their authority enough to leave me. Matheson tells me that it did not appear to sleep and flared up with fangs bared when Richards or Algrew approached. I am uncertain what set off its defensive mode so strongly. One possibility is that it smelled something it objected to on the sarcobox controls, or that it saw the controls looked too different than it is accustomed to. Their visual memory is quite adequate to support such rigid ideas of “right” patterns. This makes clear how serious a combat deficit it is, and how impractical it is for daily care, to keep them incapable of language by blocking their language centers. Priorities in the program do not support the current policy. Given the level of secrecy in their creation and deployment, justifying their status as animals is lip service to irrelevant legal code.
9) I am awakened daily now after the broken box incident, even though some days the naga does not sense a need for biting me. I understand this naga becomes unruly unless it can see all its patients daily, not just myself. It can become dangerous if kept late in its confinement area. It is not hostile to Algrew, the injury to Algrew today seems to be an accidental collateral to its breaking one of the doors. The use of a cattle prod or stun gun are not compatible with its capacity to handle electromagnetic forces, including the ability to reverse the polarity and stun the handler. Richards has been warned about this property before. It is also no surprise that it bent cell bars and damaged magnetic locks when escaping. The surprise is that it did not retaliate in any way when Framme arrived to return it from my hospital area, and accepted its regular harness as always. Matheson said he would see their schedules rearranged to accomodate its needs. My recommendation is to make allowances for a patient-healer bond of some sort, and whenever possible keep one naga on any particular case.
1.a) Torso: Final sloughed tissue removed from the deepest burns to the right dorsal and ventral torso, mostly on the external oblique. Second degree burns are healed on the right rectus abdominus ventrally. Skin grafts have taken and muscle grafts show rapid progress in reattaching to blood vessels.
1.b) Right arm: The brachio-radialis and pronator teres grafts are prepared in storage, awaiting inveination on bone grafts on the radius and ulna of the patient’s forearm. Second-degree burns are healing well. No grafts were required for the metacarpals.
1.c) Right leg: Muscle grafts for vastus lateralis and the vastus intermedius respond as fully healed, as does the sheath of the so-called “sciatic nerve”. A small spot on the femur has not fully healed and reinveinated, but appears to be progressing well on scans. The patella remains unstable, mostly from soft tissue damage, and the joint will require physical therapy to strengthen surrounding quadriceps muscles to anchor it more securely. Both tibia breaks have bridged and reinveinated, but require further calcifying reinforcement for strength. Second degree burns above the ankle have healed and do not require surgical intervention. Metatarsals have been grafted and show good progress.
11) The naga has vocalization capacities beyond musical notes. I’ve been in the habit of saying “here goes” just before the bite. In this most recent session, the naga initiated physical contact (put its paw on my good arm) and repeated my words back to me: “Here goes.” The first time was almost subvocal, but it repeated the same words much louder; both Matheson and Framme heard it. It also likes the music that the nurses play for me when I’m awake. While I could, I initiated a play session with it, much as I would toss a ball with a dog, given my limited mobility, and it responded with some virtuoso tricks with its prehensile tail, apparently to entertain me. It clearly responds when I am amused, and when I laugh, it will smile back and touch me. At one point it turned to a nurse and barked a blurry noise, pointing its tail tip, trying to get her to correct a misadjusted bandage on my foot. She was so flustered by this she left without doing anything, and sent in another nurse instead. I am afraid I fell asleep with it curled up in a chair by the cot I use when I am out of the sarcobox. I have no excuse for this, as I could have called to Framme to take it back. It was a very careless thing to do with such a large and powerful creature in a relatively uncontrolled environment, as Matheson was quick to remind both me and Framme.
12) Today I suggested to Matheson that playing music of their own choice in confinement may calm the nagas. He informs me that their quarters are merely concrete walls and unnecessarily bare, noisy, and sterile, which he stated is completely incompatible with the required enriched environment for animals of such advanced intelligence and curiosity. Matheson wants to bring materials to test their capacities more fully. When asked why these tests haven’t been administered before, I received no satisfactory answer. I understand General Wojo is in hospital for advance cancer treatments, and no other officers available at this time are familiar with the program. Matheson tells me that any officers who were senior to Wojo in the project appear to have retired or been assigned to other areas since I was injured. He tells me that most of the zoomorphs in the program were euthanized, only a few were retired to the care of their handlers at home, or assigned to civilian work, such as bomb dogs. He also says that there is a court of inquiry to be convened on what to do with the project’s remaining very dangerous lines, such as the Bagheeras and Shere Khans and of course the Nagas. He says the Baloos have all been destroyed due to concerns over their unstable temperament. I understand that the only reason the two nagas remain awake in confinement is the need to complete my own recovery, as their other military patients have been released. Framme says that the nagas handled it fine when they got to sniff the recovering patients and watch them prepare to leave, or when they were allowed to view the deceased. He said he had to take the other one to sniff the bedclothes for a patient who had died while Framme had other workload demands. He said it vocalized quite a lot, wailing, but allowed him to take it back to its cell. Even dogs understand good-byes.
12) Matheson is furious with me. He gave the naga a few test puzzles while I observed, on my final day in the facility, and it yawned at him. Apparently these toys are the only ones they get, and it is bored of them. I had to ask it to play with the toys and demonstrate what it could do for me. It took the SOMA puzzle and twirled it about into place and about five seconds. It has clearly had hours in which to tinker with the solution and had memorized it. So with the other toys, which totally spoils the results for any reasonable intelligence tests of the same sort, as I agreed on with Matheson. After it licked my fingers, it gave a howl and flopped down on the floor and refused to move. It did not want to bite me. It watched the nurse packing up for me, getting me dressed, and when I was in a wheelchair, it got up to go with me. They had to wheel me down to the confinement area to get the naga back inside. I was angry at the conditions, as Matheson had warned me I would be. At least they’ve kept it clean, but Matheson warns me that even that may break down if somebody doesn’t take control of the program and do something in time. As with simians, once you take on a creature of this complexity, you have to insure care for the rest of its life. I am afraid my objectivity is completely out the window.
13) Matheson called me in my quarters at the convalescent facility. He says the nagas need to be taken out of that hospital facility, it’s being decommissioned for lack of funding. When I asked if he had found somewhere else to put them, he said he himself had been assigned elsewhere, with a workload that did not permit him to take any more time for rescuing them. He urged me to find something for them. I made a few calls when I felt stronger, urging that the military medical authorities look into providing a refurbished simian compound for further study of the nagas and their venom adjustment capabilities. The problem of course is the time frame; nothing can be done quickly unless somebody in authority has a strong motive. Matheson’s absurd suggestion was that I smuggle them out of the facility and onto one of the family properties to hunt like some kind of wild Bagheera. He says they would adapt, but he was not privy to the kind of programming and failsafes built into them. They are totally dependent on people and will seek them out. A slender chance is the option of holding them in trust for future military uses, after General Wojo’s general releases into my records–something that after the recent political purge swill certainly not stand up to a court martial challenge. My calculations of the security and shipping costs and construction of a reasonably secure facility is within reach of the family, if they all took my word in trust and voted in support. This is unlikely. It will take too long to satisfy the conservatives about the risks of disastrous accidents. The safest thing I can do for the creatures is to put them in cryostorage while I attempt to develop funds sufficient to satisfy myself on a secure living space for them. It is tragic that the potential for lifesaving treatments may go down forever under a mercyman’s trank gun.
14) I had enough support among the remaining officers from the program, with Matheson’s help remotely, to get assigned cryostorage bins for the nagas. They will be secured among similarly classified zoomorphs, so less noticeable, and perhaps I will be able to gather support to retire them correctly if I can show I have a facility and staff capable of handling them safely. I have started visiting the nagas three times a week, to accustom them to my handling, and to make sure their care has not deteriorated during the facility’s decommissioning. It has become necessary for me to bring them food and water personally. They have learned to clean their own facilities, and wait patiently as I come and go, which amazes me still. I will keep them awake as long as I can, and put them into cryo as late as possible. It will be a long time before I can gain enough family support for such a facility myself. As with the government, the family’s conservatives are running the show currently.
15) I put them both into storage today. The lizard-break activated just as planned on the tail, leaving a fairly long stub that should resorb while providing extra water, minerals, and calories for extended survival in storage. It did not help me a bit to get very drunk afterward.
16) Have shifted the sarcoboxes into different storage facilities twice now. Each time, this is because somebody’s been tampering with other boxes, opening things and leaving things poorly adjusted afterward. Cheap equipment used on other zoomorph cryostorage units is beginning to fail already. Politically things are not going well. Some of Wojo’s junior command officers have been convicted on court-martials and taken to prisons which have a bad reputation. So have some of the civilians, although the only charges could be brought against them in civilian courts were made up in retroactive laws. It’s unbelievable we would waste effort in this kind of savagery when we all know bug swarms will be back again, and probably soon.
17) One of the naga sarcoboxes was cracked open and the beast is stolen, and there was no time safely in the facility to pick up evidence.
17) Well, the fruit of the military projects I didn’t know about has come crashing down on us all. Illegal black market labs have been selling things no damn fool would ever dream of. I’m too far away, and too late, to wake up the remaining naga–for which I would need considerable help–and get it to my wife’s side. Besides, civilian medicine hasn’t been told about bug-style sarcoboxes yet. They may never be. The people who knew this were all killed, purged, re-educated, or tortured to the point of insanity. Secrets, always the secrets.
17) Matheson advised me to get the hell out three months ago, and he correctly predicted the failure of the current political coalition. I have been unable to contact him. I likewise advised my juniors to go to ground however they could. I’m going to the aid of Susan Lewis, to pop both of us into transport boxes, as she requested. She says she has a way of getting out the remaining naga, and in the face of all possible common sense, she tells me I will see it again. She warns me I may not remember any of this. I tell her that’d be a blessing. I’ve killed enough zoomorphs, and trained enough other mercymen to do it.