ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the May 2, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "nurse back to health" square in my 4-3-17 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] janetmiles, and EdorFaus. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics and directly follows "The Place Where the Journey Begins," so read that first or this will make no sense.

Warning: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. This is hardcore hurt/comfort. By this point the worst is over, but Kenzie has still been beaten up badly and is a mess. There are resource challenges, some difficulties connecting with a doctor/healer, identity confusion, reference to past mistreatment, privacy discussions, cultural entanglements, intimate shamanic discussions, Kenzie beginning to run out of patience with Ben, exploration of the difference between hallucinations and visions, issues surrounding body image and scarring, detailed description of the buffalo skull version of a Sun Dance, necessary minor hair cutting, statement of intent for vigilante justice, intimate description of healing and some messy medical details, homelessness, issues of medical certifications, exhaustion, and other challenges. However, the overall tone is positive and Kenzie is getting good care, so he feels a lot better now than before. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"We Are All Related"

Joseph Elkdog pulled his motorcycle
into the driveway as carefully as he could.

The ride had been nerve-wracking at times,
and they had to stop frequently to check
on Kenzie whom they carried between
their bikes, but they managed.

It helped that Ben Big Rock and
Joseph liked to play gymkhanas and
run motorcycle obstacle courses for fun,
including together, so that gave them
some relevant experience to draw on.

When Ben dismounted, Joseph
helped him carry Kenzie indoors.

What they had here wasn't
a real clinic -- some reservations
didn't have one -- but rather
someone's spare room set up
to handle minor medical matters,
similar to the patch rooms that
supervillains liked to have.

Joseph had borrowed a few
of those in his time, too.

They got Kenzie settled
on the bed as comfortably
as possible for now.

"Kyle, go find the teleporter
you know," Joseph said as he
covered Kenzie with a cotton throw.
"Mick, keep an eye out for trouble."

Ron Farlow sat down and put
Kenzie's head back in his lap,
taking up the tangle of red hair
to work out the bits of barbed wire
that they had left in it earlier.

Ben started searching for
supplies that he hadn't had
with him on the motorcycle, like
something to put on the bruises.

Joseph used his vidwatch to call
Blazing Grass and describe the situation.

That process ran into a snag when
the healer said, "You shouldn't
teleport an injured person."

"What? Why not?" Joseph said.
"We did the best we could, but
he should be in a hospital."

"Most teleporters don't have
the finesse to transport casualties
safely, unless you've got one who's
a human ambulance," said Blazing Grass.
"You know how there's usually a bump or
a squeeze or a tug? Imagine doing
that with any kind of fresh injury."

Joseph winced. "Point taken.
But now what do we do?"

"Send your teleporter down here,
and I'll come to you," said Blazing Grass.
"From the sound of things, it's not critical,
just urgent. Give me a little while to get
my travel kit and add some things for
this case, then I'm good to go."

"All right," Joseph agreed.
The healer knew what he was
doing. Joseph passed the word
to Kyle and the teleporter.

Ben was dabbing Kenzie's bruises
with some kind of reeking fluid.

Joseph could see the clear imprint
of fists and booted feet all over his arms
and legs, but it looked like the damage
had largely missed the vital areas.

Kenzie wasn't kidding about
knowing how to take a beating.

Blair Her Road Goes Both Ways
sat down with Kenzie and Ron,
introducing herself quietly. "We
thought you might like to have
someone who understands
gender issues. I'm two-spirit."

That led to an explanation of
tribal ideas about sex, gender,
romance, and personal identity --
which differed from one nation
to the next -- and how those
compared to the mainstream.

"I don't know what I am,"
Kenzie said softly. "All I know
is that people call me fag and
try to grab my ass or beat me up
because of how I look." He waved
a hand down his slender body.
"But this is just ... me."

"And this is me," Blair said,
indicating her broad shoulders
and barely-there curves. "To us,
this means I have a special gift
to understand both men's ways
and women's ways. It is not
an excuse to pick fights."

"Lucky you," Kenzie said,
his whole body shuddering.
"Most of the men I meet
have been creeps."

"There's no shortage of
those," Blair said with a nod.
"I'm here in case you don't feel
comfortable with men, or women,
at least for the time being."

Joseph hadn't thought of that
in particular, but now that Blair
mentioned it, Joseph could see
why a freshly beaten boy might
not want to be stuck in a room
full of large male strangers.

"Ron's okay," Kenzie said,
looking up at him.

At the moment, Ron was
focused on a bowl of hair oil;
he seemed to be trying to float
the barbs out of Kenzie's hair.

"What about the others?"
Blair asked. "Is there anyone
you'd rather send away?"

"I'm not done yet," Ben said
as he swapped the liniment
for a jug of aloe vera gel.
He'd run out of what he
carried on the bike earlier.

"They're fine," Kenzie said
as his gaze flickered over
both Ben and Joseph. "I
don't feel as awful as I did."

"That's good," Ben said. "We've
got a doctor coming to take over,
and Blazing Grass is a healer too."

"Why are you even doing this?"
Kenzie asked. "I'm not one of you."

Joseph had been thinking about that,
the way those foxes had stopped everyone
and put Kenzie in the path of the Iron Horses.

"You can be, if you wish it," Joseph said.
"Something certainly led you to us."

"Mitakuye oyasin," Ron said.
"We are all related."

Kenzie looked around
at them again. "All of you ..."

Joseph wondered if the boy
could see that they came from
different tribes, mixed blood, or if
they all just looked "Indian" to him.

"All of life," Ron said. "Two-Legs,
Standing People, Creepy-Crawlers,
even the Stone People who hold us on
the back of Turtle Island. All our relations."

Kenzie stared at him. "That's a lot."

"It is the world," Ron said simply,
spreading his hands. Then he
went back to working the knots
and wire out of Kenzie's hair.

A soft knock on the door
made all of them look up,
expecting to see Blazing Grass;
but instead Smoking Breath came in.

Evidently the teleporter had gone for
a medicine man while waiting
for the healer to get ready.

That was a brilliant idea.

Kenzie clearly needed help
to understand what had happened
and whatever he might've seen
while looking at the sun.

He may have called them
hallucinations, but Joseph
would bet they were visions.

When he introduced himself,
Kenzie roused enough to ask,
"Are you the doctor?"

"No, I am a medicine man,"
said Smoking Breath. "I came
to see if you would like to talk
about the injuries you endured."

"Ben's already been all over me,"
Kenzie said, "except maybe my mouth."

"Oh, I should check that," Ben said,
reaching for him. "Did you bite your --"

"Go awaaayyy," Kenzie whined.

At that opportune moment,
Henry Holds His Horses came in
and said, "Ben, do you need to restock?"

"I'll be outside refilling my first aid kit,"
Ben said. "Holler if anyone needs me."
Then he followed Henry outside.

Kenzie relaxed a little after that.
It couldn't be fun having Ben
going over every inch of skin
looking for more wounds.

Smoking Breath sat down
beside the bed, not looking at
Kenzie or anyone else, and began
to talk about the Sun Dance
in very general terms.

When the topic drifted around
to visions, the medicine man said,
"I wonder if you might have seen
anything interesting while you were
looking at the sun. Kyle thought you
might have; it's why he sent for me."

"Animals," Kenzie whispered.
"All kinds of them, all together.
Usually they only come one or two
at a time, the ones that I can be,
but this was like a party."

Joseph's eyebrows went up.

He knew that the spirits could
powwow if they wanted to, because
it was in the old stories, but Kenzie
was right -- it didn't happen often.

Smoking Breath gave no sign
of surprise. "Ah," he said smoothly.
"Did you recognize any of them?"

"Yeah, my foxes, I know
the two of them. The goat, he's
familiar," Kenzie said. "The horse,
too, there's no mistaking him."

"Familiar from where, or when?"
the medicine man asked.

"Sometimes when I'm doing things,
even in human form, I start thinking
of these animals," Kenzie said. "Like
when the county fair came to town
and I tried the climbing wall, I kept
imagining the goat then."

He looked miserable, and
that made Joseph worry.

Smoking Breath noticed it too.
"This bothers you," he observed.
"What about it seems so upsetting?"

"Seeing things that aren't there
is crazy stuff," Kenzie said.

"Have you seen other things
besides your animals, such as
strange distortions in the things
around you?" Smoking Breath said.

"No," Kenzie said, looking puzzled.

"Have you heard voices telling you
to hurt yourself or someone else?"
the medicine man asked.

"No," Kenzie replied.

"Do your thoughts trouble you
in other ways?" said Smoking Breath.

"I don't really seem to fit in,"
Kenzie said. "I try, but it's not me.
People think I'm weird and wrong.
They pick on me for being different."

"Those thoughts are not yours,"
Smoking Breath said firmly. "They
come from other minds, and they do not
mean there is anything wrong with you,
although they may cause you pain."

"Yeah, maybe ..." Kenzie trailed off.

"When you see the animals,
do they show you things that help,
things that are true and work out when
you act on them, or is it all nonsense?"
Smoking Breath said thoughtfully.

"The goat helped me up the wall,"
Kenzie said. "I couldn't see a path,
but when I stepped where he stepped,
then I made it all the way to the top."

"That is good," said Smoking Breath.
"You see, one way to tell the difference
between hallucinations and spirits is that
hallucinations are nonsense -- sometimes
very harmful nonsense -- while spirits say
or do things that are true and useful."

"So it's about accuracy," Kenzie said.
"Huh, I thought I was just going nuts."

"I doubt that," the medicine man said.
"The spirits have taken an interest
in you, perhaps for some time. If you
wish to explore, there are ways to learn
more about your totems and the Sun Dance."

"They made it sound special," Kenzie said,
looking at Joseph, "not something that ...
just happened, like it did to me."

"It's meant to be a ceremony, with
the whole tribe, or a gathering of tribes,"
Smoking Breath said. "Then again,
the spirits often do as they please, so
you never know what might happen."

"Even you?" Kenzie said.

"Especially me," the old man said
with a wry chuckle. "They have
a unique sense of humor."

Kenzie sighed. "I wish that
I'd gotten to do it the right way,
instead of all mixed up."

"There is no one right way,"
Smoking Breath said. "Still, we
can go back and pick up missed bits.
Would you like to choose a sponsor?"

"Just one?" Kenzie said. "I mean, it was
mostly Joseph and Ben and Ron taking care
of me, but even Mick and Kyle helped some,
and then they brought Blair, and you ..."

"It is traditional for a young man
to choose a sponsor to help him
prepare for the Sun Dance,"
Smoking Breath explained.
"The two can grow close."

"The first time I approached
someone, he turned me down,
and it served me right," Joseph said.
"Later on, I asked a different man
to sponsor me, and it went well."

"There's no reason you can't
choose more than one, though,
if that's how you feel called,"
the medicine man said.

"Yeah," Kenzie said.
"The Iron Horses have
taken care of me, all together."

"So it is said, so it is done,"
Smoking Breath agreed.

"Thanks," Kenzie said.
"They all seemed so proud
of it, I didn't want to mess it up.
I saw Joseph's scars, though,
and that's ... kind of scary."

Smoking Breath turned
to give Joseph a look.

"I took off my vest to wrap
his hair, because we had to leave
some wire in it," Joseph explained,
then turned to Kenzie. "If you
think mine are something,
you should see Ron's."

Ron glared at him, but
it was true, and the boy
should see a range of
examples before deciding
what to do with his own.

"Mine are different,"
Ron warned Kenzie.
"My reservation was
trying to start a herd of
buffalo, and it didn't work,
so I pledged to dance --
and I used buffalo skulls."

"Pinned to his back, dragging
them around the center post, until
he broke free," Joseph added.

Kenzie's eyes were huge.
"Really?" he asked.

"Yes, really," said Ron.
"It worked, too -- I learned
that the buffalo were afraid of
being forgotten or disrespected,
after the white hunters had killed
whole herds and left them to rot."

"So what did you decide to do
about it?" Kenzie wondered.

"I told the elders, and when they
brought in more buffalo, they started
by butchering the best cow and
holding a feast in her honor,"
Ron said. "After that, there
were no more problems."

"Because you danced for them,"
Kenzie said with a nod.

Ron smiled at the understanding.
"I believe so, yes," he said. "I will
show you my scars, if you want,
but don't ask if you don't mean it."

"Yeah," Kenzie said. "I think
that would be a good idea."

Ron shifted Kenzie gently
off his lap and onto a pillow,
then stood up. He took off
his top and turned around.

Kenzie gasped, biting his lip.
"Those look, um ..." he said.

Ron's back was a patchwork
of scars, going down from
his shoulders to his waist.

He waited patiently for
Kenzie to finish the thought.

"One's different," Kenzie said,
"there at the bottom. Why?"

"I fell on my face before I could
break free of the last one," Ron said.
"By that time, I was already talking
to the buffalo -- out loud -- and so
my sponsor slipped the pin out
and carried me into a tent."

"Wow," Kenzie said. "That's
an amazing story. Thanks
for sharing it with me."

"I hope it helps you
decide how you feel about
your scars," Ron said.

"Maybe. I don't know,"
Kenzie said. "Mine are
all over me, and I'm still
scared of how they'll look."

"Sun Dancers wear
their scars with honor,"
the medicine man said,
"but they have a year
to prepare for that."

Joseph nodded. "When
I was studying for my dance,
my sponsor had me tell him
the story of all my scars,
the ones I could recall."

"Oh, mine did that too,
and told me about his own,"
Ron said with a fond smile.
"It's a great exercise."

He put his top back on, and
went back to fixing Kenzie's hair.

"Some of the two-spirits also do that,
the ones who choose to change
their bodies," Blair added. "I know
one person who took a very long time
to find a surgeon, because they didn't
want the scars disguised at all."

"I think I like the idea of
having scars that tell a story,
but I don't know how well I can
really wrap my mind around it,"
Kenzie said with a sigh.

"Shall I pray for you?"
Smoking Breath asked.

"It's nice of you to offer,
but ... I don't even know
what to ask for," Kenzie said.

"I could simply ask the spirits
to guide you and lend you strength
while you heal," said Smoking Breath.
"It does not have to be for anything in
particular, only a wish for the best."

"Okay," Kenzie said. "I think
that might actually help."

Smoking Breath let himself
out to go find a place to pray.

Ron had gotten almost all
of the barbs out of Kenzie's hair
before he gave up and said,
"These last two are really stuck.
Will you trust me to cut only
what's absolutely necessary?"

"Yeah," Kenzie said.

Ron used emergency scissors
to snip through the coppery strands,
each hank thinner than his little finger.

He set aside the barbed wire bits
and the hair oil, then began combing
gently through the length to straighten it.
"You'll need to wash this once you're
feeling better, but it's in decent shape."

"Thanks," Kenzie said. "My hair is
really important to me. I don't feel like
myself with it short, but most people
just don't understand that."

"The short parts barely show,"
Ron assured him. "Most of us
wear our hair long, it's traditional.
We know how you feel."

It wasn't much longer
until Blazing Grass arrived
with his big blue medical kit
slung over one shoulder
to ride neatly at his hip.

"Kenzie's in here," Ben said
as he led the healer in.
"Thanks for coming."

"Hi," the boy said,
waving his fingers.

"I'm Blazing Grass,"
the healer said to him. "I've
come here to take care of you."

"I don't have any money,"
Kenzie warned him.

"That's not what I'm here for,"
Blazing Grass said. "I'm here
for you, because you need me."

"Don't worry about payment --
we've got an arrangement with
Blazing Grass, we trade skills,"
Joseph assured Kenzie, and
then the boy relaxed some.

"Do you want privacy?"
asked Blazing Grass. "We
can send everyone else away
if you'd feel more comfortable."

Kenzie flopped a hand at
the Iron Horses. "They've
already seen the whole show."

"That was then, this is now,"
Blazing Grass said. "It's
still your decision to make."

"They can stay," Kenzie said,
his fingers tightening where
they lay over Blair's knee.

"All right," said Blazing Grass.
"Can you tell me what happened?"

"Got jumped again," Kenzie said.
"These guys picked me up on campus,
beat the tar out of me, and then they
dumped me in the middle of nowhere."

"How many guys?" Blazing Grass said
as he sat down beside Kenzie.

"Five-six, maybe?" Kenzie said.
"It was hard to tell, they kept
moving around as they hit me.
I've had worse, really."

Joseph frowned, and
leather creaked as Blair
shifted in her place.

Maybe they'd make a tour
of the bars in the college towns
and give people a little reminder
not to hassle the two-spirits.

"I've seen worse," Blazing Grass said.
"May I take a look at you, Kenzie,
preferably with my superpower?"

Kenzie fidgeted under the blanket.
"I've never met a healer before.
What's that ... like?" he said.

"I'll be touching you with my hands,
running my energy through your body,"
Blazing Grass said. "It's intimate, in
a way, but most people find it comfortable
or even pleasant. If it hurts, just tell me
and I'll stop -- some superpowers can
spark off each other in bad ways."

"Okay," Kenzie said, pushing
the blanket down to give him access.

Blazing Grass patted his hands
over the length of the boy's body --

-- and Kenzie abruptly went limp.

"Shit!" Joseph said. "What did
you do, knock him out?"

"No, he's fine," Blazing Grass said.
"He's just very receptive to my power.
Kenzie, wave at Joseph, he's worried."

One fingertip twitched against
the white cotton blanket.

Joseph chuckled. He could
remember how fine and warm
the healer's superpower felt,
like basking in the sun.

He'd helped out a few times
before, but he'd never seen
anyone relax that much.

Maybe it was a good sign,
though, if Kenzie could
still trust someone enough
to let go and melt like that.

Eventually Blazing Grass
sat back and waited for Kenzie
to come out of the trance.

Kenzie stirred and said,
"Wow, that was amazing."

"Thank you," said Blazing Grass.
"Are you ready to listen now?"

"Yeah, what's the damage?" Kenzie said.

"Minor bumps and scrapes everywhere.
Extensive bruising, some of it bone-deep,
but no significant harm to internal organs.
Multiple lacerations from barbed wire.
Dehydration and exposure, including
a sunburn with second-degree blisters
in several places," the healer recited.

"Can you ... fix it?" Kenzie asked,
looking worried all over again.

"Let's discuss options," Blazing Grass said.
"Yes, I could just heal everything using
my superpower. The catch is, doing that
would lay you out for weeks, maybe a month."

"Why?" Kenzie said. "I thought that
healing could fix everything."

"The energy and raw materials have
to come from somewhere, and you are
already tapped from surviving the exposure,"
Blazing Grass explained. "Even with me
chipping in as much as I could, that
would be pretty hard on your body."

"What else is there?" Kenzie said,
at the same time Joseph asked,
"Shouldn't he be in a hospital?"

"That's another viable possibility,"
Blazing Grass said. "Kenzie,
would you rather transfer
to a regular hospital?"

"No," Kenzie said, turtling
so far under the blanket that
only his nose and a tuft of
coppery hair showed.

"Then don't worry about it,"
the healer said. "You're not
so badly injured that you need it.
The most they'd do is keep you
overnight for observation due to
the exposure, but probably they'd
just clean you up and send you home."

"Don't have a home," Kenzie muttered.
"I just stay with friends, you know,
couchsurfing and stuff like that."

Ben growled, and Joseph
echoed him. Even Ron looked
about ready to belt someone.

"Kyle made arrangements for you
to stay here for a little while," Blair said.
"After that, my family would be happy
to put you up -- they're so proud of me,
they'd jump on the chance to host
another two-spirit if you want."

"Or you could ride with us
when you're up to it, or whatever
else you decide," Joseph added.

"Yeah, maybe," Kenzie said.
"A month is a long time, though."

"That's if we push it," Blazing Grass said.
"I could have you back on your feet sooner,
although you'll still need to be gentle
with yourself for a while after this."

"How?" Kenzie wondered.

"Save the healing for where it's
needed most," Blazing Grass said.
"Some of this is easier to treat with
conventional methods. For example,
I can fix the dehydration with an IV, and
prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection."

"Okay," Kenzie said. "What about
the rest of it? Some of it's a mess ..."

"I recommend that you let me heal
at least the worst of the sunburn,"
said Blazing Grass. "That can do
lasting damage to your skin, and
you just have no protection."

Joseph looked at the places
where Kenzie's skin still showed
its original color, so pale that
the veins showed through
like little blue rivers.

Most of the Iron Horses
had enough native blood
that they tanned copper
or bronze in the sun.

"Yes, please," Kenzie said.
"I hate sunburns. I try to be
careful, this is the worst I've had
in years, but I can feel how bad
it is even under all the aloe."

Blazing Grass brushed a finger over
the boy's cheek, following below
the line of a cut that Ben had
seamed over with hydrogel
and some surgical tape.

"Do you want to keep
the scars?" he asked gently.

"I'm not sure," Kenzie said.
"Maybe some of them?
Everyone else seems
so attached to theirs."

"Remember, we came by
ours differently," Joseph said.
"Don't try to measure yourself
by the choices we made."

"They're part of your life story,
though, good or bad," Ben said.

Ben had been born with one of his,
legacy of a bear attack that he
and his mother had been lucky
to survive. His father hadn't.

"Have you done it?"
Kenzie asked Blazing Grass.
"The Sun Dance thing?"

"I have not," the healer said.
"My medicine came to me
a different way, in a dream.
I am a Grass Dancer."

"Oh," Kenzie said. "It's just ...
hard for me to sort out what I want."

"Let's break it down a bit more,"
Blazing Grass said to Kenzie.
"How about the cuts on your face?"

"I would really rather not have
scars there," Kenzie said quickly.

"Okay, I can take those away,"
Blazing Grass said. "Most of the rest
are minor; either they won't scar or
won't cause problems if they do.
Anything that goes over joints
would be a good idea to heal,
or at least boost a little."

"Yeah, do the joints too,"
Kenzie said. "I was worried
about the ones on my hand ..."

He lifted his right hand, where
several cuts crossed the knuckles.

"Simple to fix," the healer said.
"Now your back is more complicated.
Those big rips that Ben closed with
some very pretty stitchery will
definitely scar if left alone."

"I think ... I'd like to keep those,"
Kenzie said. "Getting them sewn up
was hard, but it's a good memory,
the way people took care of me."

"That's exactly the kind to keep,"
Blazing Grass said warmly. "Higher up,
I'm concerned about the cuts over
your shoulder blades -- they might
stick to the tissue underneath."

"Oh, that happened to me," Ron said,
peeling off his top again to point out
the patches on his upper back. "After
I found the first one accidentally by
ripping it loose while biking, I had
to get Blazing Grass to cut free
the other two. Adhesions suck."

"I definitely don't want that
happening to me," Kenzie said.

"It's easy to prevent at this stage,"
Blazing Grass said. "Mostly what you
need now is rest. You've got four days
with people waiting on you hand and foot --
that's traditional after a Sun Dance."

Joseph smiled. His mother and
sister had spoiled him rotten after his.

"We would be honored," he said, and
the other Iron Horses nodded agreement.

"And then what?" Kenzie said.

"Then I'll come back and check on
you," Blazing Grass said. "We can
assess your progress at that time,
and figure out what to do next."

"Okay," Kenzie said. "That
doesn't sound too bad."

"Good," said Blazing Grass.
"Would you mind if I give Ben
a lesson, using your body as
an example? You can say no,
but it's a way to pay back
if you're looking for that."

"Sure," Kenzie said. "Ben did
the most work patching me up
earlier. I'd like to make up for it."

"Thank you," Blazing Grass said.
"Kenzie, we're going to roll you
up on your side to get at your back.
Ben, give me a hand with him."

Ron kept ahold of Kenzie's head
and shoulders as they turned him,
while Joseph and Blair helped
to hold him steady. Kenzie
still wasn't up to balancing
himself, even lying down.

"Here's the two places
I had to tack up," Ben said,
pointing to the branched lines.

"You did very well with them,"
Blazing Grass said. "I think
they'll heal fine. Let me show
you the ones I'm worried about,
up on the shoulderblades ..."

Joseph paid attention too,
as did the other Iron Horses,
even though it was Ben who
served as their road medic.

"I wish I had a better idea
what I'm doing," Ben muttered.

Blazing Grass patted him on
the shoulder. "I think it's time
for you to get more training,"
he said. "You are reaching
past what you already know."

"I'm not sure about that ..."
Ben rubbed the back of his head.

"Overdriving your headlights
could get you into trouble,"
Blazing Grass warned.

"Medics are fussy," Ben said.
"Yeah, I might manage to earn
a certification, but I doubt that
I could keep it for very long,
not working the way I do."

The Iron Horses spent
most of their time in places
where the nearest doctor was
an hour or more away, and folks
could rarely afford it anyhow.

So they made do on their own,
and Ben helped when he could,
but that wasn't the kind of thing
the authorities smiled upon.

Blazing Grass had gone to
medical school and worked at
a nice hospital, which made it
safer in some ways for him to do
a little extra work on the side.

"Were you planning to apply
for a job on an ambulance crew?"
Blazing Grass asked Ben.

"Hell no," Ben said,
shaking his shaggy head.

"Then you don't need
the paperwork, you just
need the knowledge,"
Blazing Grass said.

"Huh," Ben said. "I
guess I never thought
about it like that."

"Find a paramedic class
and take it," said the healer.
"You've got the hands for it,
and you can get to people in
places most medics never go."

Ben looked at Joseph.
"That stuff ain't cheap ..."

"We'll find the money,"
Joseph assured him. It was
to everyone's benefit if they did.

Blazing Grass seemed intent
on teaching Kenzie as much as
Ben, or possibly talking to keep
the boy distracted while healing
the cuts over his shoulderblades.

"You'll need to keep turning
every so often, to let the wounds
get enough air," the healer said.
"Lie on your sides or your stomach
more than your back, because
the worst injuries are here."

"Will he need special bedding?"
Ben asked, poking the mattress.

"Yes, that would minimize
pressure on his injuries,"
Blazing Grass said. "Put
a couple of buffalo robes
under him if you have them,
and foam padding if not."

"I'll go look," said Blair,
and ducked out of the room.

Chances were, somebody
would have a robe or two, and
they should be happy to loan it to
even an impromptu Sun Dancer.

"All right, lay him back down
and let's get that IV started,"
Blazing Grass said.

Kenzie tensed enough
to make it awkward
settling him on his back.

"Relax," Blazing Grass said
as his fingers stroked along
the skin of Kenzie's forearm.
"You won't even feel it. I can
turn the nerves off for a while."

True to his word, the needle
went in without making Kenzie
so much as flinch, and then
Blazing Grass taped everything
in place and hung the bag
from a hook overhead.

"Don't worry about this,"
the healer said. "Ben knows
how to take care of it from here.
We've done this before."

They had, although this time
the murmured explanations
seemed more detailed, and
Ben was fascinated with them.

"Let me write up prescriptions
before we get into serious healing,
because I won't be good for much
after that," Blazing Grass said.

"For what?" Kenzie asked,
watching him take the pad out.

"Two weeks of antibiotics,
and some medicated salve
for the cuts that are turning red,"
said Blazing Grass. "It's nothing
too bad yet, so let's keep it that way.
Are you allergic to anything?"

"Nah, it's all good," Kenzie said.

"You're lucky," said Blazing Grass
as he wrote on two different pages.
"A lot of soups find that drugs don't
work the same as usual for them."

"Painkillers?" Ben asked.
"I know most people don't want
those after a Sun Dance, but
Kenzie hasn't had any training,
except what Ron's given him
in the last few hours."

"I can prescribe something
a little stronger than what you
can get over the counter, and
he shouldn't need more than that,"
Blazing Grass said. "Now is
a good time to learn about
other methods if he wants."

"I want," Kenzie said. "I liked
what Ron was doing earlier,
how it made my head feel
all soft and fuzzy inside."

"Keep up with that, then,"
said Blazing Grass. "It's
important to control pain
for proper healing, but
too much medication can
cause its own problems."

"I'll be happy to teach you
what I know," Ron said. "If you
want more, ask Smoking Breath."

"Good ideas," Blazing Grass said
as he filled out yet another page.
Then he peeled all three off of
the notepad. "Since you're not
going out to fill these, Kenzie,
who should I hand the scrips to?"

"Ben?" said Kenzie. "He's
the road medic? If he doesn't
mind, I mean, I've made a lot
of work for him already."

"I would be honored,"
Ben said as he took them.
It would be easy enough for him
to ride into town later and find
a drugstore to fill them.

"Thanks, man," said Kenzie.

Just then, Blair returned
with her arms full of brown fur
and a black robe rolled into
a bundle on her back.

When opened, the brown hide
showed the geometric designs
favored by women of many tribes,
while the black one had a buffalo hunt
and three starbursts with empty loops
in the center where decorations had
been removed for safekeeping.

Ben and Ron scooped Kenzie
off the bed while Joseph and Blair
carefully spread the robes over
the mattress to make a soft pad.

When they put him back down,
Kenzie said, "Wow, this is like
lying on a cloud!" He reached
a hand into the fur. "But it feels
so shaggy and rough inside."

"That is how the buffalo stay
warm in winter," Ron said.

Blazing Grass murmured
more instructions to Kenzie
as the boy got himself settled
into a more comfortable position.

"I think I'm good," Kenzie said.

"The most important part is
that you rest," Blazing Grass said.
"If you take only one piece of my advice,
make it that one. No running around
as usual, getting beaten up again."

Joseph frowned at the confirmation of
such frequency. He knew that a healer
could read a great deal of a body's history,
but it made him feel uneasy that so much
of Kenzie's past must be written in bones
and scars, hidden under his pale skin.

"It's not like I try to," Kenzie grumbled.

"Good," said Blazing Grass.
"For some, it is a habit."

"Really?" Kenzie said.
"I mean, it keeps happening
to me, but I don't go looking
for it, people just jump on me."

Blazing Grass sighed. "The pain
and the body's response to it can be
a compelling distraction from other things,"

"Oh," said Kenzie. "Guess that makes sense."

He was lying on his back again, and
Blazing Grass hovered a hand
over the gouge on his cheek.

"Are you ready for me?"
the healer asked him.

"Yeah, go ahead," Kenzie said,
turning toward the touch.

Joseph could feel just the edge
of power flowing through them,
but it seemed to heat the room
almost like a hearth fire.

Blazing Grass wiped away
the few nicks on Kenzie's face,
then moved down to his right hand.

"Ben," he called softly, and
the big man came to stand
beside him, setting a hand on
his shoulder so that the side of
it rested against his neck.

Joseph felt the surge of energy
and saw Ben's shy, eager smile.

Blazing Grass must be teaching him
how to do tandem healing, because
healing was usually a Bear gift and
Ben sometimes got frustrated with
how slowly his was growing in.

This would be good for Ben,
as well as Kenzie, and Joseph
would have to remember to tell
the kid about that later on.

It took a long time,
even with two of them
sharing the power for it,
to close all the cuts that
Kenzie wanted healed and
then soothe the sunburn.

Then they sat back and
waited for Kenzie to stir.

"How do you feel?"
Blazing Grass asked
when the boy moved.

"Tired," Kenzie replied.
"Exhausted, really. I thought
you said it wouldn't be as bad,
healing just a few places?"

"It's not. You'd be feeling
even more worn out if I'd done
all of them," Blazing Grass said.

"I think I'm actually too tired and
sore to sleep," Kenzie whined.

"I can fix that," the healer said,
waving a hand. "Would you
like me to put you to sleep?"

"For how long?" Kenzie said.

"Overnight," Blazing Grass said.
"Usually I set this for six to eight hours,
but it's early evening now and you really are
tired. Figure more like eight to twelve hours --
you probably won't wake up until morning,
and if you do wake earlier, expect it to last
just long enough to visit the bathroom."

"Yeah, okay," Kenzie said. He
shifted uncomfortably on the bed,
then tried to wallow onto his front
all by himself, which made him yelp.

Blazing Grass clucked his tongue
at the boy. "It will hurt less if you
let people help you move, at least
for the first few days," he said.

"Agreed," Kenzie said, then
allowed Blazing Grass and Ron
to drape him over a pillow so that he
could breathe without mashing
his face into the bedding.

Ron gathered up the boy's hair and
began braiding it expertly into a tail.

Blazing Grass stroked his hands
slowly down Kenzie's body.

Ron started to hum as he worked,
and then Blazing Grass began
to sing something in Diné.

Joseph didn't know the words,
so he stayed silent, although Ben
got to drumming on the seat of a chair.

Even when Joseph felt the soft nudge
of his totem, like a horse's nose in
the small of his back, he hesitated,
until Blazing Grass beckoned.

Then they all joined the singing
with low vocables, matching
his tone as best they could.

Their voices blended together,
Blair's higher than Blazing Grass,
Ron and Joseph lower, Ben
a rich deep rumble below.

When Ron finished the braid,
he tucked it neatly to one side,
then reached over to drum
with Ben, their hands rising
and falling in perfect rhythm.

Kenzie sighed and melted
into the bed again, but Joseph
didn't think that Blazing Grass was
using more than a light touch of
his talent -- most of it was just
the lullaby and the reassurance
of having people there for comfort.

It was good, what they had done
here today, what they were still doing.

He leaned back against the wall and
let himself drift with the music.

It was good.

* * *


Henry Holds His Horses -- He has light copper skin, black eyes, and long black hair with just a little wave. His heritage includes Cheyenne and Oglala. His family raises horses, and Henry helps take care of them. He also goes to shows and manages the extra horses while someone is presenting theirs. At powwows, he enjoys hoop dancing.
Henry belongs to a mostly Native American motorcycle gang, the Iron Horses. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Henry is a relatively new member, who makes himself useful by carrying extra baggage for other bikers, especially the scouts. Skilled in cargo balancing, he often helps people pack or unpack their bikes. He also runs errands to get more supplies.
Origin: When Henry was little, he got trampled by a herd of horses. The doctors said he would not survive. His mother convinced a shaman to pray for him, and talked a bunch of relatives into making prayer ties. Henry lived and developed superpowers.
Uniform: When not riding, Henry likes jeans and a t-shirt, often black. When riding, he wears black leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Weather permitting, men who have done the Sun Dance go shirtless under their vests to display their scars. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Good (+2) Biker, Good (+2) Helpful, Good (+2) Hoop Dancer, Good (+2) Patient, Good (+2) Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Low Self-Esteem
Powers: Average (0) Horse Totem
Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Magical Protection, and either Good (+2) Cargo Capacity or Good (+2) Speed depending how it's packed. It can be loaded up quite heavily, or stripped down for better speed.
Motivation: To be useful to his people.

Blazing Grass (Meyer Ayze) -- He has fair skin that tans copper, brown eyes, and short wavy black hair with a short beard and mustache. He wears glasses. His heritage includes Omaha, Ponca, Navajo, British, and French. He speaks English, Omaha-Ponca, and Navajo. As a hobby, he describes pop culture events and artifacts in a heritage language, which has made him a popular guest speaker at language nests around Turtle Island. He enjoys arts and crafts with super-saturated colors and contemporary materials such as fluorescent dyes, synthetic fibers, polymer clay, and acrylic paint. He can achieve mystical effects with those synthetic materials similar to a technomage with electronics or a shaman with natural materials. He is very much a modern Indian, and his regalia reflects that. He actually does a great job of blending past and present influences, but he still gets a lot of flak from people who think he's "not Indian enough." His nemesis is Warshirt, who prefers a much more traditional approach.
Origin: When he was a teenager, his little sister got sick, slowly wasting away. One night he dreamed of a mighty prairie fire. He spent the next several weeks making vivid regalia and learning the ceremonial moves. After he performed the Grass Dance for his sister, she got well. When he graduated from high school, his relatives pooled funds and sent him to college for medical training, after which he returned to work at the tribal clinic.
Uniform: On duty at the clinic, a white lab coat over light blue button-up shirt and navy pants. For ceremonies, modern Grass Dance regalia made primarily from satiny fabric with acrylic yarn in neon shades of green, yellow, and orange. The headdress consists of a roach with antenna plumes, a headband using three compact discs for the front and side medallions with the center holes covered by more beadwork, and bead loops along the cheeks. Off duty, he wears outdoorsy men's fashions, often designer jeans with a polo or button-up shirt.
Qualities: Master (+6) Community Values, Expert (+4) Medic, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Fastidious, Good (+2) Memory, Good (+2) Contemporary Crafts
Poor (-2) Not Indian Enough
Powers: Good (+2) Healing, Average (0) Luck Blessing, Average (0) Technoshaman
Motivation: To take care of his tribe.

The Grass Dance is a healing dance with complex origins. Its regalia is among the more modern, with brightly colored yarn. It takes a lot of time to make a grass dance outfit. Here is a pattern for the spreader. Blazing Grass wears regalia similar to this and this kind of headdress for the Grass Dance. Watch old footage of Paiute, Shoshone, Washoe, Navajo, and other Indian grass dancers at Stewart Indian School Powwow in 1996.

Blazing Grass spearheaded the project to create a new "Culture Room" for smudging and other indigenous practices at the hospital where he works. This is good for the hospital, because it keeps people out from underfoot and contains potentially irritating materials, just like a treatment room. It is good for people using the room, because it provides privacy and a sacred space which is easier to maintain than trying to manage energy in a regular hospital room. Everybody wins! And it's covered under general rules as a variation of a quiet room, positioned alongside the hospital's chapel. The beige walls are painted with beautiful murals and the room is furnished with native-patterned chairs and benches. A corner table holds smudging supplies and other materials.

* * *

Mitakuye oyasin has been translated as "all my relations" or "we are all related."

Motorcycle agility begins with basic skills and moves on to various other topics. Police training takes it to a higher level, as shown on this course. Another version features a dirt track with jumps.

Equestrian gymkhanas feature a variety of riding tricks, as shown in these pictures. Some of them derive from tribal horsemanship traditions. Modern gymkhanas include many games and patterns, like this weave.

Motorcycle gymkhanas rely primarily on agility through pattern riding. Here are some tips. Watch a video of motorcycle gymkhana, and a faster Japanese version.

Motorcycle gymkhanas rarely involve the kind of target manipulation that equestrian gymkhanas do, such as throwing flags in a bucket, but some people do it. This is especially feasible with two riders, one to control the bike and one to handle the equipment. Some motorcycle gymkhanas include other maneuvers such as dismounts and remounts. One I haven't seen listed that the Iron Horses like is simulated repairs: stop your bike, grab your repair kit, move a nut from one bolt to another, stow your kit, get back on the bike, and motor. Ideally, gymkhanas of any kind should incorporate important skills from the sport, often dressed up for added challenge and showmanship.

Rotopax makes a variety of stackable storage containers that bolt very securely in place through the middle of the unit. Liquid containers carry gasoline, diesel, water, etc. See the Road + Trail Emergency Kit and its contents. The First Aid + Preparedness Kit has a slightly different set. These are typical of what the Iron Horses' pack motorcycles carry.

A 72-hour kit should contain items listed for short-term emergencies. Here are some tips learned from testing a kit. Rotopax used to make a 72-Hour Preparedness Kit Case with contents, but doesn't seem to now. Since they still sell all kinds of empty cases, you can just fill your own using the above list or something similar. An advantage of motorcycles is that they can get into a lot of places where cars cant, a feature of great use in emergencies. Multiple kits can be packed on each motorcycle for distribution at disaster scenes.

Native American hair care traditions are rich and varied. Hair oil is very popular. Ron's is similar to this sage-arnica body oil, and here's a Navajo hair oil.

(Some of these links are upsetting.)
Read about how to survive a beating. Generally you want to protect your soft parts as much as possible. Let them bang on your arms, shins, and back -- those areas are designed for defense, your abdomen is not. Understand mental recovery after trauma. Many people experience some amount of acute stress reaction. This is normal; it should respond to regular coping skills and emotional first aid. It only becomes a disorder if the reaction is extreme, does not get better or actively gets worse, impairs everyday activity more than briefly, and/or makes the victim utterly miserable. This can be treated with medications, counseling, and other methods.

Two-spirits are tribal people of alternative sex/gender. Many tribes have their own name(s) and definitions; two-spirit is the contemporary intertribal form.

A medicine man is a worker of spirituality and magic who may have access to different abilities depending on tribe and personality. People argue over whether "medicine man" or "shaman" is the preferred term, and there are many other titles across indigenous languages.

Dreams are extremely important in Native American cultures. Similarly visions are valued. Here is one description of a vision quest. These use extreme stress under controlled conditions to produce an altered state of consciousness, customarily isolation, fasting, and exposure to the weather. You can see how people could have had such experiences accidentally, learned great things from them, and decided to help others replicate that. It is very difficult, but it does have a pretty high rate of success. Hallucinations are distorted or fabricated perceptions of the mind which do not correlate closely to external reality. Visions and hallucinations both happen in the mind, but they are not the same. Visions are more positive and accurate, while hallucinations are more negative and nonsensical. I've known a few people who have experienced both, and they consistently say that the two experiences are very different. Fasting, pain, and other stress conditions can produce either hallucinations or visions. While it is easy to be overwhelmed by any of this, training can help people withstand random trauma and benefit from ritualistic stressors.

Animal totems or spirits are common throughout North American tribes. Some tribes also interact with plant or mineral totems. Fox and horse are two common examples. Goat appears as mountain goat in North America and feral/domestic goat in Celtic tradition; Kenzie's is feral.

A climbing wall is a structure with knobs bolted to it for people to scramble up. Mobile ones are often presented as an activity at fairs, sometimes with a prize for anyone who makes it to the top. The good kind have three or four different faces, in skill levels from easy to difficult. Success depends not just on grip strength but also on planning ahead to find a good path among the holds. Learn how to build a climbing wall.

Different tribes have practiced the Sun Dance. This reference offers an index, introduction to the Sun Dance, mentor, preparations, regalia, instructions, beginning the dance, completing the dance, and many other aspects.

Imprint vulnerability occurs at certain natural times, such as birth, but also during any event of extreme stress. If multiple caregivers present themselves, the vulnerable person may imprint on one or more of them. Kenzie is most firmly attached to Joseph, Ron, and Ben but also to the other Iron Horses who found him -- now adding Blair and Smoking Breath. By the time Kenzie quits feeling so horrible, his natural barriers will begin to reassert themselves and he'll be less inclined to form such strong instant attachments. But given his complete lack of attested family ties, I suspect he'll latch onto Blair's parents, who are frankly wish-fulfillment from Kenzie's perspective.

(These links are intense.)
The Sun Dance has been ignorantly (or slanderously) equated with self-mutilation, and this was cited as a reason for banning it. Subsequently the ban was overturned as an obvious infringement upon religious freedom. The Christians complaining about it conveniently overlooked the use of consensual pain in their own religion with everyone from Jesus himself to the Flagellants. Similar contrasts may be drawn between self-harm and BDSM, or self-harm and body modification. That is, self-injury is a maladaptive coping method which may help briefly, but often causes worse problems in the longer term, and is prevailingly accompanied by shame, guilt, and other negative emotions. The other examples have much more positive connotations, and involve people taking charge of their own mind and body, with little or no negative feeling (aside from a sex-hostile culture giving many folks some misplaced shame about any sexual activity including BDSM). Torture is different yet again from all the previous examples, because it is nonconsensual; thus it tends to cause intense feelings of fear, horror, and helplessness of the kind prone to causing PTSD. I haven't ever come across a reference to someone developing PTSD from a proper Sun Dance, although I suppose it would be possible if one had an incompetent sponsor. Some people are just resilient enough to derive enlightening experiences from random trauma.

(Some of these links are gross.)
Scars form as part of the healing process for serious wounds. Although many past cultures have honored scars, contemporary cultures tend to find them upsetting. There are ways to find beauty in your scars and feel comfortable with them. This is easier to do if they came about in a positive or neutral way than if the injury was embarrassing or horrifying, but sometimes good aftercare can turn it around. Kenzie is starting to value the wounds on his back not for how he got them, but for the experience of having them treated afterwards.

Long hair is traditional in most Native American cultures. It has been seen as a source of supernatural power. Considering that whiskers are sensory organs for some animals, this may be true for some people. I can only do that with my body hair, though, the head hair is too long to stir easily with faint air motions. YMMV. Hair is a crucial part of identity for tribal people, and as such, routinely attacked as part of ongoing genocide. Ron is therefore extremely careful to preserve as much of Kenzie's hair as possible.

This is the kind of "portable hospital" trauma kit that Blazing Grass carries. See it closed, open with contents, and empty to show the bag's construction. A comprehensive kit like this can treat most problems that can be handled outside a hospital.

Trauma-informed care helps people recover from damage without making it worse, through the use of best practices. This is far more common in Terramagne-America than here, and Blazing Grass is good at it.

Consent is a complex topic. Most discussions focus on sexual situations, but consent applies to nonsexual situations too. Blazing Grass is careful to ask permission, and he also recognizes that Kenzie's recent trauma may have left his consent impaired in ways that Kenzie doesn't realize.

Personal boundaries come in different types. Ideally, people understand how to set and maintain boundaries which are flexible and semi-permeable. Gaybashing and other forms of bullying can damage boundaries. Here's a more detailed exploration of boundaries and psychology. As noted above, extreme situations can make someone's boundaries much more permeable than normal, so it's important for rescue workers to keep an eye on that and set appropriate limits if the victim can't.

(These links are upsetting.)
Gaybashing is a serious threat which has taken many lives, such as Matthew Shepard who was murdered in a situation not unlike Kenzie's. It doesn't just harm queerfolk, though; being mistaken for gay is just one of the ways it can hurt straight people too. Learn how to stop being homophobic or fight homophobia when you see it.

Couchsurfing can be a form of casual living popular for travel. However, it's also a rising form of homelessness, estimated at about 1-2% of the national population. Sometimes they don't even get a couch, but crash on the floor. For Kenzie, it's homelessless, but he's trying not to think of it that way.

Cuts can form adhesions where the skin sticks to the tissue underneath. This is particularly prone to happen over joints or other places where the skin lies closely over bone. In Terramagne, it also happens more with soups who have strong natural healing or superpowers such as Regeneration; in essence, it's a hyperactive healing process that sticks things together more than they should be. It can be corrected surgically or with Healing. Ripping it loose by accident is miserable.

(Some of these links are gross.)
There are skin tone scales with five or ten levels which describe coloration and tanning potential. Redheads often have very pale skin that is unable to tan enough to protect them from sunburn no matter how they try to build up a tan; they simply lack that capacity. This is common among Irish skin in general. A second-degree sunburn forms blisters. If only a small area is burned, it may be treated at home, but remember that burns easily get infected. Second-degree sunburn more than about hand size, or in delicate places like the face, will benefit from expert attention if you can convince them it's a real burn. (Even "professionals" often dismissed sunburn as inconsequential.) Sunburn can do permanent damage to skin. There are many home remedies which can help.

Buffalo robes come in top quality or variable quality. They are expensive even unpainted, and valuable works of art if decorated. This is still done occasionally here and considerably more in T-America. See the black robe and brown robe that Blair brings to Kenzie.

Pain control methods include some non-pharmacological ones. T-America has a much more refined and functional process for helping people choose, and use responsibly, methods effective in managing their level of pain. Ron is reciting some very tribal-flavored techniques that he learned during his own Sun Dance training. Compare that with the quite different set of suggestions that Dr. Bloch presented to Shiv. Pain control is essential for trauma patients because it affects wound healing; pain and stress delay healing and cause worse outcomes. Chronic pain is the source of many techniques for pain management. Some require considerable training to learn and use, but others can be acquired quickly and generalize well to acute pain such as from accidents. Ron is using aspects of relaxation and distraction to help Kenzie cope, and there are other ways of using your mind to master pain. Understand how to talk with a person in pain. Very little education on how to cope with pain seems to be readily available in L-America, but I did find one presentation aimed at nurses which explains a lot about the general methodology.

Rest is important for healing. An injured body burns up a lot of extra injury healing the damage; too much activity not only aggravates the wound, but also reduces energy available for recovery. Here are some tips on better sleep for wound repair. Conversely, active rehabilitation uses motion to avoid losing healthy tone. This relies heavily on stages: the first stage, when the injury bothers you all the time, is when you should be resting. When the pain becomes intermittent in response to motion, then move carefully but thoroughly. Gentle stretching, such as yoga, helps the process. Notice how closely this correlates with the traditional four days of rest for a Sun Dancer. In tribal cultures, it is an honor to care for someone at this time, usually performed by their mentor and relatives or intimate friends.

Healing is one of the powers often granted by Bear as a totem. Power sharing is a way to enhance what people can do with their superpowers. While Ben doesn't have much healing on his own, the inclination is there -- hence his study of first aid -- and he can pair with a more experienced healer to lend them power.

Native American music includes vocables which are meaningless but pleasing syllables. Compare this with scat singing. Here are some lyrics of vocables in use.

"Awéé’ Yázhi" ("Little One") is a Navajo lullaby.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-30 09:11 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline

*slinks in*

Date: 2017-06-30 10:29 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-30 10:36 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
wowsers... you can practically feel the companionable warmth coming off this one!

Kenzie lucked out, with the Iron Horses being guided to him.

Hmm... random thought though... who looks after their bikes? I don't mean the general maintenance, they probably take care of that themselves. I mean who's their bike doctor? A mechanic needs a fixed place, and if (s)he (re)builds and customises their bikes as well, doubly so since that requires heavy machinery. I ask, because it just doesn't seem like them to ride off-the-shelf machines. I'd think their bikes would be custom made, as much an expression of themselves and way of life as anything else. [which actually wouldn't be unusual for most serious bikers. As the saying goes, you're not really riding until you're riding something you built.]

Can't help thinking, they're probably woven that into their customs somehow, and hey, Kenzie is going to need his own bike at some point if he's riding with them.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-30 02:19 pm (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
Ooops, hit post by accident....

>>"Were you planning to apply
for a job on an ambulance crew?"
Blazing Grass asked Ben.

"Hell no," Ben said,
shaking his shaggy head.

"Then you don't need
the paperwork, you just
need the knowledge,"
Blazing Grass said.<<

Yup. Back when we were founding the Shire (now Barony) of Stromgard, the person who wound up as our Chirugeon (an office that, as I understand is now discouraged by Corporate) wanted to take some EMT classes to be better able to deal with things if something came up.

Turned out that then (around 1980) it was pretty much impossible to take them unless you were going to be a professional.

>>"It's not like I try to," Kenzie grumbled.

"Good," said Blazing Grass.
"For some, it is a habit."

"Really?" Kenzie said.
"I mean, it keeps happening
to me, but I don't go looking
for it, people just jump on me."

Blazing Grass sighed. "The pain
and the body's response to it can be
a compelling distraction from other things,"<<

hoo boy. I *know* that one, not getting beat up, but deliberately triggering some guys in the troop to "pants" me. It was all tied in with my very confused kinks and sexuality. Had to stop when someone helpfully offered advice along the lines of "if you quit doing X, they'll quit doing that to you".

Doing something to get beaten is probably similar but, like, ouch?

The links for the cases are nice though a bit much for me. The 72 hour kit links are ones I've got to visit again sometime. My big problem with a 72 hour kit is lack of transport, lack of carrying capability, and dependency on the availability of electrical power.

I'm fairly well set up for a "shelter in place" scenario, though. Got lots of food that can be eaten "as is" stews, soups, and other canned stuff as well as dried fruit and things.

And I've got plans for the power problem. Gonna get a car adapter for the CPAP (I've got one that'd work, but it's 12VDC to 120VAC conveter which is silly because the CPAP's power pack actually converts 120VAC to 12VDC).

Some digging discovered a made by the manufacturer power cord that'll plug into a lighter jack. And it's like $15.

There's an "official" battery pack for them, but it's lithium ion and like $1100. But there are some others I found while searching for UPSes for the computers, and they're only like $300. Yeah, they're bigger. Not *that* much bigger.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-07-05 05:17 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>>Turned out that then (around 1980) it was pretty much impossible to take them unless you were going to be a professional.<<

That's crazy. Aside from the fact that more first aid training is a brilliant idea, how can anyone possibly know for sure that they want to do a profession -- especially a tough one like that -- before they learn it? All you know before that is it looks cool, and if you're smart, you compared it to your current skills to see if you have good potential. But tons of people try something and realize they hate it. Also you can't get a job without the training, so except for renewals, isn't everyone not a professional when they start? 0_o<<<

Well, it may have been more a case of the classes required either already having a related job, or else being enrolled in classes to become a first responder.

>>>hoo boy. I *know* that one, not getting beat up, but deliberately triggering some guys in the troop to "pants" me. It was all tied in with my very confused kinks and sexuality. Had to stop when someone helpfully offered advice along the lines of "if you quit doing X, they'll quit doing that to you".<<

Yikes. :( I hope you worked through it okay.<<<

Well, somewhat. It was a lot of things.

"Deniable" "sexual" contact (I'm not sure how I picked it up, but the first time I ever heard about the "Catholic girl" mindset behind a lot of "teasing" and stuff (oversimplifies to "if they 'make' you do it, it's not your fault, so you don't have to feel guilty") I completely understood it. The idea of "if I didn't *directly* ask for it, I'm not actually responsible" as opposed to "if I ask for it, I'm a horrible person" really resonated.

some masochism (I may not have known the term, or even the *concept*, but I had clear masochistic tendencies clear back to age 4 or 5)

A fair bit of submissiveness. And as with the preceding two, asking for it was a "bad" thing.

All in all, it scratched *several* itches yet was still somewhat controllable.

Getting into the kink community way too many years later helped some too.

>>> The links for the cases are nice though a bit much for me. The 72 hour kit links are ones I've got to visit again sometime. My big problem with a 72 hour kit is lack of transport, lack of carrying capability, and dependency on the availability of electrical power.<<

You can customize them. What things could you carry on your person? Put those in a smaller bag. Minikits are usually fanny pack to Altoids size.



If you are relying on someone else for transport anyhow, they should be willing and able to carry all the necessary supplies to support you. The last thing any shelter needs is people arriving with nothing but the clothes on their back and their special needs. O_O<<<

Well, that's the thing. I don't really have anybody I *can* rely on for transport. So if public transit (buses, cabs, etc) isn't an option, I'm left with shanks mare and I'm no longer good at walking large distances.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-07-04 09:58 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Yup, that's clearly his bike!!

Name's kinda ironically appropriate too... war bands and hunting parties used to have scouts who rode ahead, pretty much like armies on the move as well. Same holds true of modern biker gangs. I could be wrong, but that sounds like Kenzie's sort of gig.. to go wandering off ahead of the main group and find the best eats, best places to stay, and spot any trouble up ahead, like local LEO's setting up a speed trap. Shapeshifting just makes that so much more easier.

Kinda thinking of a character in this 'thread'... equal parts shaman and mechanic. Lot of bikers say there's an almost spiritual connection between rider and bike at times. It would sort of figure the Iron Horses would be more into that.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-30 01:59 pm (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>At the moment, Ron was
focused on a bowl of hair oil;
he seemed to be trying to float
the barbs out of Kenzie's hair.<<

Y'now, from what little I know about tribal practices, they might want to hold on to those pieces of barbed wire. They'd be a good start to a medicine bag. Hard to find anything more symbolic/related to his sun Dance.

Maybe the cut out bits of hair, too.

Pity it's too late to grab one of the pieces of wire they had to cut out of his skin...

>>"Ben's already been all over me,"
Kenzie said, "except maybe my mouth."

"Oh, I should check that," Ben said,
reaching for him. "Did you bite your --"

"Go awaaayyy," Kenzie whined.<<

I can *so* understand that feeling. Even if someone is helping there's a point of "enough is enough".

>>"Shall I pray for you?"
Smoking Breath asked.

"It's nice of you to offer,
but ... I don't even know
what to ask for," Kenzie said.

"I could simply ask the spirits
to guide you and lend you strength
while you heal," said Smoking Breath.
"It does not have to be for anything in
particular, only a wish for the best."

"Okay," Kenzie said. "I think
that might actually help."<<

This is win on *so* many levels.

First, the he *asked* if Kenzie wanted to be prayed for. There are so many folks who don't even consider consent to be *relevant* regarding praying for (or more often "at") someone.

Second, the "do what's best" direction of the prayer. That's a win because a lot of folks praying pray for what *they* think* even if that's not what the target would want.

Third is Kenzie deciding to leave it in the hands of the spirits rather than asking for what he wants (of course, part of that is because he's not sure what to ask for, but...)

>>"Five-six, maybe?" Kenzie said.
"It was hard to tell, they kept
moving around as they hit me.
I've had worse, really."<<

Yeesh. That's not good on a lot of levels.

>>"Oh, that happened to me," Ron said,
peeling off his top again to point out
the patches on his upper back. "After
I found the first one accidentally by
ripping it loose while biking, I had
to get Blazing Grass to cut free
the other two. Adhesions suck."<<

No shit. I had some from when I accidentally closed a freight elevator door on my arm. Didn't break the skin or the bone but hurt just as bad as a break. Still have a sort of "divot" or "trough" across the muscle.

Wound up with adhesions or something similar among the muscle fibers. Lin, who was trained as a massage professional before her fibro started acting up, was able to "break it up". It was painful, but definitely helped.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-07-05 05:55 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>> Y'now, from what little I know about tribal practices, they might want to hold on to those pieces of barbed wire. They'd be a good start to a medicine bag. Hard to find anything more symbolic/related to his sun Dance.<<

Also they need something to give a medicine man for a tracking spell to find the gaybashers.<<<

Oh ho! Not sure how such a spell would *work* give the indirectness of the connection, but... as long as it works. [cure evil laughter]

>>> Maybe the cut out bits of hair, too. <<

Ron kept those.

>> Pity it's too late to grab one of the pieces of wire they had to cut out of his skin... <<

And Ben stashed those in his pouch.<<<

Well, that sounds like a good start to a medicine bag.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-07-05 09:59 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
>>It's a blood link, between what was spilled on the wire and what the gaybashers got on themselves. Ideally, one wants that sort of object bridge, because using the victim as the link is riskier.<<

Ah. That makes sense, hadn't thought of it that way.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-30 04:20 pm (UTC)
gingicat: LIBERTY/JUSTICE is my femslash (liberty/justice)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
This pair of poems hit me right in the heart in the best way.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-30 04:35 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Wow! So good.

I'm really looking forward to hearing about Kenzie's progress over the next few weeks -- those conversations are going to be fascinating.

Another way of getting comfortable with scars is to decorate them with tattoos.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-30 06:39 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
>>"All of life," Ron said. "Two-Legs,
Standing People, Creepy-Crawlers,
even the Stone People who hold us on
the back of Turtle Island. All our relations."<<

Chills. The good, hair-sticky-up kind.

Also... Uh huh.

>>..."but this was like a party."<<

Uh huh.

"It's meant to be a ceremony, with
the whole tribe, or a gathering of tribes,"


Now, what could have them all wound up..?

>>"That was then, this is now,"
Blazing Grass said. "It's
still your decision to make."<<

These folks have consent down to an art form.

>>Maybe it was a good sign,
though, if Kenzie could
still trust someone enough
to let go and melt like that.<<

Contrast Turq. Both homeless, both hassled and beaten, both shapeshifters, even. This interests me.

Healing and song, oh yes good. <333 I'll add a PURRRRRRRRRRR to the ones upthread. Thank you; these are lovely.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-01 01:58 am (UTC)
thnidu: blank white robot/avatar sitting on big red question mark. tinyurl.com/cgkcqcj via Google Images (question mark)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I looked up prayer ties. There are a number of links; this one looks pretty good.

So glad we got these out!

Date: 2017-07-01 03:46 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
Thanks to [personal profile] janetmiles and EdorFaus for joining the pool, and to you for including the poems in a half-price sale -- and for writing them in the first place!

I'm really happy to see that there's an enthusiastic audience enjoying the poems and the links. Even happier that a number of readers want to see what happens next. This is a big part of the reason I sponsor things.

In the stuff that happens next, Kenzie's going to need, and undoubtedly get, a gigantic helping of some very needed emotional first aid. I strongly suspect the post-Sun Dance caregiving you alluded to will be part of that.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-01 04:46 am (UTC)
we_are_spc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] we_are_spc
I'ma be looking more at the healing songs when I'm not so damned...I have no words for what's gone on in the last couple days except for smoldering resentment for the father-and a try by cousin and fiancé that deserves a serious gratitude rit to whatever deities tried to get me there-even if it didn't work.

But holy shit so good-and yes, I'ma be glued to the page to see what happenex next because these guys are so awesome and...wow.


)Our Harley would love them, just sayin'; His alias comes from the Harley Davidson line-he hasn't given me his government one; I don't pry)..and this sort of self-care is what his association is founded on.

Also: half-sentient bikes xd)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-02 06:05 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
a more happy, this is good

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-11 04:14 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
According to a few people who were talking about long hair in a pagan group elsewhere, long hair may be a shield to protect spiritually sensitive people.

And as a channeling from Unicorn (take with a grain of salt and culture, may vary based on personal or tribal experience), "If someone has a totemic or spiritual power that is slow to grow in, there are two usual reasons for this. First and less common, wrong totem for that power. Second and most common, wrong dance (referring to spirit dances of various types, as mentioned above with the Sun Dance and Grass Dance). That is, you may be approaching the power from the wrong mindset, and thus getting a wholly different idea of how to use and work it than you are meant for."

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-18 12:48 pm (UTC)
thnidu: Lucy bright and bold. Lucida Bright font, boldface: backslash, small-o, slash: YAY!! (yay)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Excellent! Looks like Kenzie is finding a home community, at last.

• Very little education on how to cope with pain seems to be readily available in T-America,
?-> L-America


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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