“I understand that you have a rather serious medical condition, Miss Grader.” Dr. Dafen Armako stated as he held a small vial up to the light on his desk in order to inspect it. The vial was filled with a pale blue coloured liquid. As Dafen carefully turned the vial about in his fingers, light passed through it and created dancing shapes on the walls of the spacious office.

Dafen was a highly reputable doctor on Ramath-lehi. His surroundings were indicative of his success. In his prime he had been one of the leading specialists at Jolt Kahail, Watani’s largest health and wellness facility. Now that he was a kiom and partially retired, Dafen had taken up residence at the Janardan Academy. While most of his time was spent primarily on research, Dafen also maintained a small medical practise on campus. Armed with a highly educated staff, he and his crew saw to the health and overall well-being of Janardan’s inhabitants.

“It’s nothing really,” came Koani’s swift response. Moments earlier Dr. Armako had ushered her out of the hallway and into his office. She had been at Janardan for no less than four hours and already it seemed as if she were becoming the centre of attention – the very thing that she had been dreading.

“The Arch Magos told me otherwise,” Dafen retorted, a cunning intelligence gleaming in his pale orange coloured eyes.

At this Koani’s eyebrows sharply rose. She wasn’t usually interested in what the Arch Magos had to say. However, when it involved her, she was all ears. It wasn’t often that the Arch Magos spoke to her, much less about her. “I see. What exactly did he tell you?”

“That we’re supposed to take special care of you. From what I was told you have a –”

“Chemical imbalance,” she supplied as she realized what the conversation was about.

“Yes, and that you almost died. This blue serum here, thasilm, acts as a stabilizer. So I’m told.” As he spoke, Dafen gently shook the fluid.

Koani’s lips pursed. What exactly had the Arch Magos said to Dr. Armako? It hadn’t been the truth. Arch Magos Zamfir Grader didn’t exactly make it his business to tell the truth. Thasilm was a popular medication used to prevent seizures. However, Koani had never had a seizure in her life, and it wasn’t owed to her thasilm usage.

“So Koani, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to ask you a few questions.” Dafen leaned forward in his chair, placing his elbows on his desk and clasping his hands together. He peered over his hands as he looked expectantly at Koani.

“I don’t mean to offend… but I don’t feel comfortable doing that, Armako’ba. It’s sort of personal, and I already have a family doctor who sees to my ah, special needs.” Indeed, Koani’s medical history was quite the private thing. As far as she was concerned, it would do her no good to have Dr. Armako digging into it.

“Oh no no no. I’m sorry if I put you in an awkward position. It’s quite alright. I just want you to know that I’ve informed your teachers about your condition. So should there be any emergencies, they’ll know what to do. I’ll also have a supply of thasilm, if you ever happen to need it.” Dafen spread out his hands in a welcoming gesture before clasping them together once more.

Koani rummaged inside her purse for a moment before pulling out a thin black case. She popped open the latch then held it open so that Armako could clearly see the contents. Inside were six small vials of blue liquid similar to the one that the doctor was handling. Alongside the vials were several sealed and neatly packaged syringes.

“Ah, looks like you’re all set. I trust you can take care of yourself then.”

“Yes. Thank you for your concern, Armako’ba. If that was all you wanted to talk about, may I take my leave now?”

“Certainly. Be sure to let me know if you ever need any assistance.”

“I will, thank you.” Koani smiled brightly at Dr. Armako as she got gracefully to her feet. She wanted to get out of there, and fast. Trying not to run, Koani headed straight for the door and made her retreat.

With the door closed now between her and Dr. Armako, Koani sighed. It could have been worse, she reasoned. He could have tried to force information out of her. She was a little worried now though. Just what was he going to tell the teachers? How was he going to phrase her alleged “special needs?” The last thing she wanted was to receive special treatment due to teachers assuming that she was delicate or broken. Koani brushed a stray strand of her long aqua coloured hair out of her face. She’d been wearing it partially up, but due to the frazzle of her evening it was starting to give in to wear and tear.

“Mhm… most likely… due to those cursed lukuo genes. Yes.” It was Dr. Armako’s voice. She could hear him through the door. He was talking to someone else via some communications device in his office.

Koani clenched her teeth. She had thought that Dr. Armako had been an all right guy… until she had overheard that little snippet of conversation. Not wanting to accidentally overhear anything more, Koani started marching stiffly down the corridor.

Inside she was seething. How could Dr. Armako call himself a doctor? Specially when he was prejudiced against lukuo. Cursed lukuo genes. There was no mistake that he had been referring to Koani. Koani was undeniably a lukuo in appearance.

The lukuo are a subspecies of pendragon. While they share many similarities and are genetically compatible with pendragons, there is one thing about the lukuo that sets them apart from their parent species: genetic mutations.

Generally lukuo genes are recessive. However with advancements of the pendragon race, technology, and continued breeding over the centuries, the lukuo have slowly started to bubble to the surface. Some Ramathian research institutions have labelled the lukuo gene as genetic pollution – a byproduct of hazardous technological advancements. Others have embraced it, calling the lukuo the better, more advanced and evolved, species. There was no doubt in Koani’s mind which side Dr. Armako was on.

Lukuo in general are easy to identify. For the most part the gene affects the skeletal structure of what would be an otherwise normal looking pendragon. Common lukuo mutations include multiple limbs, such as having a secondary set of arms or multiple tails. Spikes, horns, and other such bony ridges are also common in a lukuo. These tend to occur near areas where the bone is already fairly close to the skin’s surface – such as on the spine, skull, shoulder blades, elbows, and ankles.

Neither one of Koani’s parents were lukuo. However one of them carried the gene. When Koani had been hatched, it’d chosen to manifest itself – much to her parent’s dismay. As a result, their first child looked like a bit of a freak. To make matters even more tense and awkward, none of Koani’s younger siblings ever showed any sign of possessing the gene. She was unique.

Starting at the top of Koani’s head and trailing along down her spine to the base of her tail was a row of evenly spaced porcupine-like quills, courtesy of her lukuo gene. Each quill was between four to seven inches long and coated with thick plates of keratin. Each quill was associated with minute muscles which allow the quills to either flare out or flatten themselves against Koani’s back depending upon her mood.

In addition to these quills, on each of her forearms Koani also possessed four thick spikes that curved outward and back. These were much more durable than her quills, being made out of bone. While their positioning didn’t make them very practical when attacking, they were highly useful when on the defensive.