Sarah woke up but could not remember going to sleep. Her whole body was stiff and sore. She tried to move her arm but only succeeded in wiggling her fingers. Her confused brain started to worry. She opened her eyes but something soft covered them, completely blocking her vision. She tried to call out but could only manage a hoarse croak.
"Hello Sarah," a sweet voice said from nearby, "it is good to see you awake".
Sarah jumped at the words despite their softness. They were kind but there was something inhuman about them. She tried to talk again but could not form the words. Her body felt so heavy.
“There is no need to talk. I will answer your questions. My name is Kadena Ahneen, Fourth Bloom. You have suffered a traumatic accident but are on your way to a full recovery.”
Sarah took a moment to process this information. The name sounded quite unusual but odd names and titles were not uncommon in the far reaches of terran space. When had she flown out from the core systems again? An accident sounded like just her luck. She was not in pain but she definitely did not feel good. Still, a full recovery means it could not have been that bad.
The voice of Kadana continued, “I do have to bring some things to your attention. Some of them will be hard to hear but the important part is that we are going to make sure you are taken care of.”
She was not sure what Kadana was talking about. Her words were comforting, though almost too personal. As long as everything had been taken care of then she should not need to worry, right?
“You were in a vehicle accident 5 years, 7 months, and 2 days ago. The resulting injury consisted of multiple fractured bones, multiple lacerations, and long term loss of consciousness.”
That could not be right… five and a half years? People did not recover from something like that all the sudden, not to mention making a full recovery.
“There have been significant advances in medical technology in the last few years. This is what has made your recovery possible. A new alien race has made contact with humans. Treaties were signed after a short misunderstanding creating an alliance between the races.
Now Sarah was very confused. How did this person know every question she wanted to ask? A misunderstanding sounded like things had not been entirely peaceful. She wanted to know more about this treaty and these new aliens.
Kadena was still not finished. “There is a lot of catching up you have to do but you will have plenty of time for that soon. We are going to put you under one more time to complete your treatment. I promise you will wake up very soon feeling much better.”
She was not sure if she could take Kadena at her word but she had neither the physical or mental strength to debate the matter. She thought she felt something moving through her body but her thoughts quickly faded into blackness.
Sarah woke up again and already felt much better as Kadena had said. She opened her eyes and found them still covered. She tried to raise her hand and found it responded this time but she still could not raise it. A bit of wiggling and she realized that she was strapped to the bed!
“Hello again Sarah.”
Sarah froze. She had no reason not to trust this person, who did not sound like a regular person, but she still couldn't shake the feeling that there was something she wasn't being told.
"No need for struggling dear, here, have a drink."
A straw gently poked the corner of Sarah's mouth. She latched onto it, only now realizing how thirsty she was. The water tasted almost sweet in a way she had never experienced before. She tried drinking a little too fast and started coughing. She felt the touch on her arm that stayed there until she was breathing clearly again.
"There you go. Now, would you like me to answer some more questions or do you want to finish the medical operations? When we finish here we can check you out of the facility and head home."
“W-why can’t I see?” Her voice still felt ragged but she was actually able to talk now.
“It is a temporary covering to keep your eyes from hurting as they readjust to being used. When all the black you can see has a bit of light to it then we can remove the covering.”
Sarah was still worried about not being able to see but it sounded like that would not be an issue for long. “W-what do we still have for medical stuff to do?”
“We only have one more scan to do but we need to bring you to another room for that. Are you feeling strong enough to attempt a short walk?”
Sarah tried moving to see how she felt but the straps got in her way. “I can’t tell while I am strapped down. Why did you do that anyway?”
Kadena continued in the same soft tone as if not wanting to scare Sarah which made her suspicious. “I can take the straps off but you have to promise me that you will not push yourself. There is nothing wrong if we have to take it slow today and I do not want anything to hurt your recovery.”
Sarah still had her suspicions that she would not like the full story but she could not get anything before finishing up here. “Help me sit up and I will see if I feel like walking is an option.”
There was a beep nearby and the restraints retracted. Sarah felt somewhat exposed despite herself. She took a deep breath and found someone gently pushing against her back just enough to help her sit up. She took a moment to feel at her clothes. It was definitely a medical gown but the fabric was softer than silk. It felt nice against her skin.
She wiggled her toes experimentally and felt good enough to feel for the edge of the bed and swing her feet off. A hand that felt unnaturally large pushed against her chest to stop her from sliding forward. “Careful little one. Why don’t you see if you can raise your arms first.”
Sarah complied, lifting her arms above her head with only a little ache to the motion. She froze as she processed Kadena's last words. That was no way for a doctor to talk to a patient. She slowly lowered her arms in front of her and felt the hand there. It had the texture of leaves and green plant matter. She looked up, realizing that even after sitting up the voice was still coming from far above her head. “W-what are you?”
“There was the smallest hesitation before Kadena replied”, I am a member of the species you have not met yet. We are called the Affini. You will have plenty of time to learn about us soon but for now know that we only want to see you cared for.”
Sarah took a long moment to consider. She was starting to see small brighter patches in her dark field of vision. “Why aren't there any human doctors? Where is everyone?”
“Humans would not have been able to help with this part of the procedure. There is one other medical staff here who is setting up that last scan. Would you still like to try and walk there or do you want to rest and recover some more?”
Sarah felt herself continuing to tense. She had no way to do anything until she could see again. If this creature had meant her harm then why was it going through all this trouble and answering her questions. She decided to herself that she would carefully play along until she could see again. “I-I want to try walking.”
The little one looked so cute trying to walk, it was all Kadena could do not to sweep Sarah up into her arms and carry her to the next room. She kept her hands around the human so she could hang on and steady herself and she only needed it twice! “Stop here and turn to your right," she said to guide the girl into the exam room.
“This would be a lot easier without the blindfold. What is this made of anyway?”
The little human did not need to know yet that the main reason for the blindfold was to keep her from panicking. “It is mostly made of flower petals dear. It will come off shortly.”
In the exam room waited Xocxer Flutunt, Fourteenth Bloom. He announced his presence with a soft hum followed by a soft spoken introduction to Sarah. Kadena saw that the human was obviously scared but was trying very hard to hide it. She hoped it was not a habit of Sarah's. They needed to finish this test to make sure no part of her recovery would be harmed by the use of xenodrugs.
She had wanted the human to walk under her own power, part to test her strength and part to see how she would react. To her delight both results had exceeded her expectations. She helped Sarah onto the scanning pad and left her standing there while Xocxer ran the scan.
The little human shivered and Kadena had to again resist the urge to reach out and give her some comforting petting.
Xocxer quietly signaled to Kadena that the scan had passed with no issues. He spoke to the human, only telling her that the scan was done. Kadena moved forward but not quickly enough. The human reached up and pulled off her blindfold.