Mabazol stared at the symbols intently, and a moment later they began scrolling up on the holographic display, like a teleprompter. It only took me a second to figure it out that this was some type of medical chart showcasing information about the state of my health. From the way Mabazol studied the information – accompanied by occasional grunts of interest (or surprise) – it wasn’t clear whether there was a problem or not.
After about a minute, I began to grow a little concerned. Maybe I wasn’t as healthy as I felt.
“What’s the verdict?” I finally asked.
“Wh-what?” Mabazol asked, my question seemingly catching him off-guard. Apparently, he had become so engrossed in the display that he’d forgotten that he had an actual patient present. That said, he recovered quickly.
The physician took a moment to clear his throat before speaking. “My apologies. From what I can tell, there are numerous genetic markers which are indicative not only of Caelesian heredity, but also high lineage and exalted pedigree.”
I frowned, slightly confused. “Meaning?”
One corner of Berran’s mouth tilted up into a slight smile. “Meaning that you are what you purport to be – a member of the Royal House.”
I grunted in annoyance. “I hadn’t realized it was up for debate.”
Although neither of the two men chose to comment on my statement, I picked up feelings of stress and anxiety – particularly from the doctor. Apparently he was concerned that he had vexed me in some way.
I let out a long sigh, and then – hoping to put him at ease – said, “I’m sorry, Mabazol. Please continue.”
“Of course, Prince,” the physician replied, relief flooding through him. “In addition to Caelesian traits, there is also sufficient evidence in your anatomical structure to identify your Terran origins.”
“Wait,” I said, brow crinkling in thought. “You’re familiar with human anatomy?”
“Of course,” Mabazol announced matter-of-factly. “We studied the people of Earth centuries ago and have a complete understanding of them biologically.”
“So your expertise extends to both Caelesians and Earthlings,” I said deductively. “Well, bearing in mind that you haven’t called for a crash cart, is it safe to assume that there’s nothing wrong with me?”
The physician hesitated for a moment, then said, “I don’t know.”
I’m sure the incredulity showed on my face, and I certainly didn’t try to keep it out of my voice as I thundered, “What do you mean you don’t know?!”
Mabazol winced slightly at my tone, but responded in a steady voice.
“Frankly speaking, I’m not qualified to answer the question,” he said. “I’m not sure anyone is.”
I shook my head in disbelief. “You’re going to have to explain that.”
“Your physiology is singular, to say the least,” the physician said. “The synthesis of Caelesian genes and Terran DNA has resulted in an amalgam that diverges in significant ways from either autochthonous species.”
“Such as?” I asked.
“For starters,” Mabazol answered, “you have organs and systems that I can’t discern the purpose of. I don’t know if their functions help or hinder, if they make you sick or make you well, if they shorten your lifespan or lengthen it.”
“In other words,” I concluded, “you don’t know if I’m going to drop dead in the next ten seconds or live forever.”
“In essence, yes,” the doctor said with a nod. “I have no standard or baseline to serve as an exemplar. That being the case, I can’t even determine what is rare or common with respect to this type of hybridization.”
Amalgam… Hybridization… I was really starting to dislike the way this guy kept referring to me in the abstract, and it took quite an amount of effort to keep a civil tongue in my head.
“Forgive me,” Berran interjected, “but are you saying that, should he require medical attention, you wouldn’t be able to treat Prince J’h’dgo?”
“I could treat him,” the doctor countered. “I simply don’t know if I could treat him effectively because – in his case – I simply don’t know what constitutes the norm.”
“So what you’re saying is that you’re useless,” I concluded. “At least when it comes to me.”
“I wouldn’t characterize it in that manner,” Mabazol said, frowning. “However, the entire discussion becomes moot if we could establish benchmark criteria for what constitutes your normal physical condition, Prince.”
“What would that entail?” Berran asked.
“Extensive observation of Prince J’h’dgo, to begin with,” the doctor answered.
Alarm bells started going off in my brain. “You mean like a study?”
Mabazol nodded. “Very much so.”
“Forget it,” I said flatly. I wouldn’t even truck with human physicians – whom I’d be much more comfortable with – back on Earth. There was no way I was letting some alien sawbones get his hands on me for a prolonged period of time.
“Please, my Prince,” Berran said pleadingly, exuding uncertainty and concern. “I beg you to reconsider.”
It didn’t take a genius to figure out the source of the courier’s unease: he was worried that, should I be injured, no one would know how to treat me.
“Berran, you are to be commended for your sentiments,” I said. “Nevertheless, this is something I can’t agree to.”
Still broadcasting mild misgivings, the courier nodded in acquiescence. “As you wish.”
I turned to Mabazol. “Are we done?”
“If you will indulge me once more, my Prince,” the doctor replied, after taking a few seconds to mull things over. “While I can’t treat you with respect to those things I don’t understand, I can certainly address issues that are plainly problematic and primarily cosmetic.”
I shook my head, nonplussed. “I’m not sure I follow you.”
The doctor looked a little nervous, as if afraid to speak. He glanced at Berran imploringly.
“Your ears,” the courier said. “He’s speaking of your rounded ears, Highness.”