CHAPTER THREE: ASSESSMENT: PART I
The next day, Dr. Kaede Mushin, attending, came in to check the hanyou’s vitals, monitor the sedation levels, and review the information the sensors collected since the previous evening.
While making notes on the chart, she spoke, “Well my friend, it appears that you had some difficulties last night,” more to herself that to her patient.
Much to her surprise, two dog like ears swiveled toward her. To see if it was just a coincidence Kaede stopped talking and walked over to the foot of the bed. Waiting a few seconds, she spoke again, “Who are you? What is your name?” she gently asked. Again, the ears swiveled in the direction of her voice.
She moved again to the other side of the bed and whispered, ”What happened to you?” The ears quickly responded to the direction of her voice.
Kaede then spoke as though her patient was conscious. “I am going to test your reflexes. First, I will run my pen down the inside of your right arm, than stoke your right palm. I will be touching you, but it will not hurt,” she quietly said.
She then proceeded to do just that. The dog ears stood straight up and then flattened against the hanyou’s head. “I see you do not like being touched,” she murmerede. “That’s fine, I will stop.”
Once she stopped, the hanyou’s ears came forward again.
‘First contact,’ she thought. Kaede made some additional notes in the chart and then spoke with the nurse.
“Please remove his restraints. I think, if we speak to him in a soothing way and on a regular basis, he will remain calm. Just don’t touch him, unnecessarily. Keep his medications at the same level and visually monitor him every fifteen minutes for the next 24 hours. I will be back to check on him during evening rounds. If you need me, page me.”
The nurse nodded her compliance.
Reaching for the bundle containing the sword and the clothing, she again gently spoke to her patient, “I will be taking these to Shippo’s lab,” she said.
His ears swiveled toward her voice. His ears immediately flattened against his head in agitation as she touched the bundle.
“Hopefully, they will tell us more about you.” Touching him again, more to provide comfort than ease curiosity, she leaned over and soothingly whispered, “They will be returned to you. No harm will come to them.”
As though they understood, his ears sagged as if to communicate his resignation and anxiety. ’Very, very interesting,’ she thought while leaving the hanyou’s room. She did not see the brief pulse of red light emanating from the hanyou’s body nor the sword pulsate in response.
Walking into Shippo’s lab, she stopped, as she often did, marveling at the massive collection of exotic equipment. His lab reminded her of what she imagined would be the embodiment of DaVinci’s genius and inquisitive nature. The lab itself was huge. Divided into numerous stations, each devoted to a particular science or discipline; each equipped with the necessary technology and supplies to process and identify whatever unknown or mystery presented itself.
She found him discussing the cave samples' test results with one of the forensic technicians.
‘He certainly has changed from when he first joined the team,’ she thought.
Back then, as now, he was extremely confident in his skills and superb – even brilliant at times - when solving the many unknowns facing the team. But, he was so painfully shy almost to the point of being reclusive, and very socially inept, finding comfort and security within his beloved lab rather than the comradery within the team.
‘Genius has its’ dark side,’ she reflected.
In Shippo’s case, he was ostracized because of his heritage, which in turn was compounded by resentment, and bigotry because of his natural ability to solve what on the surface appeared to be the unsolvable. He never had the benefits of positive social contact.
‘Despite what happened to him,’ Kaede thought, ‘he never lost his sense of child-like wonder.’ Looking at him now, Kaede thought, ‘What a difference acceptance can make! He was animated, sensitive, outgoing, enthusiastic, cheerful, and well respected by everyone working at the clinic He certainly has developed and matured, not bad for an orphaned fox demon living on the fringe of society so many years ago.’
“Shippo,” she called to get his attention.
Shippo turned and greeted Kaede as she approached. His green eyes sparkled with good-natured humor and whimsical mischief.
“Are the tests of the cave samples completed?” she asked.
“Yes ma’am,” he cheerfully responded. “The initial test results were so unusual; we repeated the testing several times. The results are the same. We are currently working on the samples collected from the hanyou when he was brought in.”
“Have the samples from the hanyou been analyzed?”
“We're in the process of doing that now,” said Shippo.
“Will your report be ready for the meeting?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said. “From what I heard, the meeting is going to be at the end of this week. That should be plenty of time to compile and present the information we have.”
Shippo glanced at the bundle Kaede held and raised an eyebrow in speculation.
Kaede smiled at Shippo. “Here is another mystery for you. Tell me what you can find out about the sword and the clothing. I have a feeling there is a very close connection between them and our mystery hanyou.” Shippo grinned and his tail twitched at the prospect of a new challenge.
Kaede walked to her office. She had to read the lab results from the various samples taken from the hanyou the previous morning, X-Rays, EKG and EEG, and MRI results needed review and summations written for the meeting. Since the EKG and EEG were set up as a live feed, Kaede turned on her computer to look at the data. The EKG had an odd signature to it - but it was within normal limits. Switching to the EEG readout, something caught her attention. Something was different. She sensed it rather the seeing it. The more she looked, the more the signal looked normal. She decided to get a printout and ask Shippo to review it with her later.
Meanwhile Shippo took the bundle to his preliminary work station and separated the clothing from the sword. He planned to analyze the sword first. He reached for the weapon and in doing so, received a rather nasty shock. Surprised, he carefully reached for it again, and again received a strong shock. Thinking he may need to ground himself, he placed a rubber mat on the floor, and used rubber gloves to see if he could touch the sword. He again received a strong shock.
‘Interesting,’ he thought. ‘This demands an alternative approach.’ He photographed the sword as best as he could for reference purposes, using tongs, he carefully wrapped it in some sturdy material, and set it aside. He then began to examine the hanyou's clothing.
Upon initial inspection, Shippo noticed that the clothing appeared to be a period costume dating approximately 13th – 15th century Japan. The items had some striking features: the hakama and kimono were red – an unusual color for that time - without any adornment and along with the ivory colored kosode, looked brand new. In fact, he judged them as ‘museum quality.’ If he did not know better, he would not have believed they belonged to the mystery patient – especially considering the condition in which he was found. Upon closer inspection, he was astonished to discover the red garments’ fabric was not made from any identifiable textile.
Shippo attempted to take a small sample of the fabric for further examination and carbon dating. He experienced his second major shock of the day: he could not get a small sample, as the fabric was impossible to cut. Resigned to this latest setback, Shippo simply took the kimono over to a high magnification microscope and examined the material as best as he could. He was amazed to discover the material was made out of exquisitely woven fur or hair from some kind of mammal.
‘Aha!’ he thought. The chase is on.
After a moment of reflection, Shippo went over to his lead forensic technician’s office. With a mischievous look in his eyes he asked, “Ginta, are you ready for a challenge?”
Ginta grinned back, “Whatcha got?”
“I need you to identify the composition of this fabric, and then tell me everything you can about its origins and its provenance. I don’t think it is going to be straightforward…so you may need to look beyond the obvious annd maybe even use some unconventional methods,” responded Shippo as he gave the clothing to Ginta.
"I like unconventional," smirked Ginta. Shippo grinned and left.
Ginta took the clothing and set it on a small table near his window. He began to study it. Soon he was in a deep meditative state. Shippo returned to his office. He was about to turn his attention to the sword when his phone rang.
He picked up the phone and said, “Shippo here.”
"Shippo, do you have some time to meet with me? I am getting some strange readings from our hanyou,” said Kaede.
“Sure,” Shippo responded. “Will be right there.”
Shippo found Kaede reviewing a series of printouts.
“Kaede, before we get started, could I talk to you abut something else first?”
“Sure. Let me pause what I am doing here.”
“I have an interesting problem and I don’t quite know what to do about it,” Shippo ventured.
'That's a first,' thought Kaede.
“Did you notice anything different about that sword?” he asked.
Kaede thought back. “Well, the hanyou became agitated when I touched it. But he seemed to have calmed down when I told him that it would be returned,” she offered.
“He reacted to you touching the sword – I thought he was sedated!” exclaimed Shippo.
“I don’t have an answer for what happened, Shippo. He just seemed to be aware in a way that was beyond his body.” Kaede paused. “What brought this up anyway, Shippo?”
“I can't touch the sword,” relied Shippo. “I get a severe shock every time I try. I finally had to use tongs to move it to a pad, so I could wrap it up.”
Kaede thought for a moment. “I didn’t have any problems bringing it to you. Do you think I should return it until we can get someone else to look at it.”
“I was thinking of the same thing. I know someone who may be of assistance. When we are done here, maybe you can return the sword. In the meantime I will make some phone calls.” Pausing for a moment, Shippo asked, “What has your question?”
Kaede wasn't sure how to begin. “Our hanyou appears not to have a human half.”
“That's not possible! Let me see that data,” demanded Shippo.
Shippo looked at the EEG printout. Instead of two sine waves shadowingt each other, there was only one. Its signature was theat of an inuyouki. The EKG printout showed the heartbeat pattern of an inuyouki rather than one for an inuhanyou. The blood, hair, DNA, skin, urine, fecal, and saliva samples showed the same results. There was no evidence of the hanyou's human half on a biological or molecular level. To all intents and purposes, it appeared to no longer exist. He and Kaede examined the live feeds and again there was no evidence of the presence of the hanyou's human side.
“Unbeleivable,” muttered Shippo. “Lets get the sword and and go to his room and examine the equipment. Maybe there is a glitch somewhere.”
“Alright,” agreed Kaede. “But I doubt we will find anythinbg.”
They walked back to Shippo's favorite work station to retrieve the sword. They both received another shock. It was gone.
“This can't be happening,” growled Shippo.
Though annoyed and frustrated, he did not let it show when he asked his staff about the sword's whereabouts. No one had seen it. Mystefied, they left and walked toward the hanyou's room.
Both briefly visited with charge nurse. They were curious about the hanyou's progress and if there were any unusual incidents. They were told with the exception of gaining consciousness, he had bee quiet until the sword and clothing were removed. He was resltless, but not exceptionally so. He had quieted down just recently.
Kaede and Shippo entered the room and both were stunned to see the sword nestled against the hanyou's side. His arm cradeling it protectively.