Removing the energy from Barrett was easy- there was barely any of it to mention. However, removing all of it was impossible. Specifically, it was constantly regenerating. Even at a slow rate, by the time Nilima reached one end of him there was just a bit more at the other. She’d sort of known that would be the case but it hadn’t really clicked right away. She would have to take more drastic measures.
Hopefully Barrett would forgive her… but that would only matter if he lived. Of course, if she was the one to cause him to die things wouldn’t be looking good for her. That probably wouldn’t happen… but she couldn’t exactly be sure.
Destroying someone’s ability to generate energy wasn’t precise like destroying a spleen or a kidney. The closest comparison would be something distributed throughout the body like blood vessels. Just, not physical so the difficulty would be yet one step harder, especially if she wanted to avoid collateral damage. Very occasionally people would destroy the energy cultivation of enemies… but it was seldom perfect and always came with damage to the body.
Since Nilima wanted Barrett to live and be as functional as possible… she had to be more careful. Fortunately, her gentle energy was entirely suited for such precision. The berserk energy she also had to deal with was a bit of a snag… but Barrett was resistant to that anyway. She started with his toes… not because they were significant in any way but instead because if she messed up it wouldn’t be a big deal. Well, toes were important for balance but he also wouldn’t need to move energy through there so if she found out she couldn’t do the whole thing properly… it wouldn’t be too bad.
Destroying just a metaphysical part of someone couldn’t be properly explained to a non-cultivator, but Nilima could do it. Her energy went in his left big toe and… then it was done. It probably hurt, but Barrett didn’t have any reaction. Nilima could feel it was different… and with a quarter hour of careful watching she was sure it wasn’t producing any energy of its own, though there was some seeping in from around it. Then she moved on, one little piece at a time.
It was hard work. Nilima found herself sweating and trembling after just one leg, but she couldn’t quit now. She needed to finish this while she had a chance so that Barrett would have one. Assuming she didn’t kill him, anyway. She tried not to think about that… or anything but doing what she needed to next.
She had to be very careful in some parts… like Barrett’s brain, but fortunately that was nearly the last place. The very last thing she went for was his chest… and where his heart would be. That was the only part Barrett was actively doing something and she didn’t want to mess it up. She did her very best to be careful… and as she worked around the edges finishing the very last traces of her work, Barrett’s blood flow stopped. Nilima panicked, but she didn’t know what to do. She tried to move it herself but then she felt it tugging against her… and moving on its own again. She breathed a sigh of relief. Barrett might not have been conscious but he continued controlling his own blood flow.
Nilima turned to leave- she couldn’t do anything else and didn’t want to just collapse next to Barrett- but on her way out of the room she ran into Doctor Stieber… who appeared seemingly from nowhere. “Hmm… at this point, if you’d had any negative intentions towards my patient then you would not be leaving alive. As it is… perhaps you should have considered asking someone else’s opinion before doing something drastic.” Doctor Stieber shook his head, “I must also ask… why? Destroying his energy cultivation capabilities… what difference will it make? He wasn’t producing energy anyway.”
As soon as he had appeared Nilima had jumped back and taken a defensive stance. Not that it would likely do much good against someone two tiers above her, but she could try. After she was reasonably certain he really wouldn’t kill her, she answered, “He was still producing energy on a very small scale. Small enough to be lost in the natural energy, but enough to damage him still.”
“And you couldn’t bring this up to me?” Doctor Stieber shook his head, “No, you were trained to be far too… independent.” Doctor Stiber moved to look at Barrett. Nilima could feel his energy suffusing through Barrett and the room. “Hmm…” his energy focused in on smaller and smaller points, shrinking to the size of a palm and then a tip of a finger. “I suppose it’s a bit late to verify if your words were true, isn’t it? Certainly, there is nothing on that scale now. You could pick it out?” Doctor Stieber snapped his fingers, “Aha, the Bicentennial Conflux. That probably had some effect, anyway. Makes me wish I was just a bit faster at my cultivation… but no matter. Perhaps your connection to berserk energy helped as well. Oh, might I say… excellent job, what you’ve done with your energy.” Doctor Stieber waved his hand at her in general.
Nilima stiffened and frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Just what I said. Excellent job. Balancing different energies is difficult, especially when thrust upon you. A couple weeks and you’re basically stable… that’s superb progress, even for those with top talent. Now then,” he gestured to a nearby chair, “You should sit there.”
“Why?” Nilima narrowed her eyes.
“Because I can’t just let you leave and you’d probably prefer not to collapse.”
“Now then…” Doctor Stieber looked over Barrett closely, muttering as he did so. “Hmm… quite… “ He nodded, then spoke to address Nilima again, “Not bad. Minimal collateral damage, though it would have been more significant on someone with a less robust body. It’s too early to see if the damage will cause him to spiral downwards or if it might actually help.” Doctor Stieber grumbled to himself. “Might… might… such an imprecise word.”