Whoo boy do I love Voltron fics, but as I’m writing my own, I keep encountering this enigma that are these healing pods. And the more I think about it, the scarier they are. I mean, think about it. These are kids in space. But they can’t be kids anymore, they have to protect the universe, and with that comes a degree of physical harm.
I mean, that in itself is pretty traumatic right there. Teenagers fighting a war will have incredible psychological impact. But then you throw the healing pods into the mix, and the story begins morphing into horror rather than science fiction.
On the surface, it seems fine. The healing pods are a blessing. Nobody dies or will have lasting permanent damage if they get in there soon enough. But think about the impact that this has on their young developing brains. A paladin gets his insides ripped open. Pop ‘em in the pod. And then they may have to face the monster that did that to them, because it’s their job. They don’t have time to recover.
You fell and broke your arm? Go to the pod. Good as new! Keep training. Shot while trying to protect innocent bystanders? That’s just your job. Get in the pod. do it again.
I mean, this is going to have a lasting impact on how they view pain and injuries. Does it matter if you get hurt if you can just spend some time in the healing pods, and you’ll be good as new? If you never have to take into account your own injuries, then they start to feel insignificant.
The thing about this is, sometimes, getting hurt gives you time to rest. Think about it, these kids are fighting a war. And Shiro probably has a very double-edged relationship with the healing pods, because they weren’t an option for him when he was starving and bleeding and tortured. And they can’t undo old trauma.
Essentially the healing pods mean a state of hyper-mania. There’s never time to rest, to heal. You never get a few days to recover. You’re either fighting for your life or unconscious and healing and when you wake up, you have to do it all over again.
And then they’d start to lose a normal perception of pain tolerance. Like, with just one machine, your pain goes away. There’s no such thing as agony. Just a few uncomfortable moments before you are healed again.
And there are two ways this works. Do the healing pods heal everything? Can the paladins even get scars anymore? Are they just brought back to the state they were in before they got injured? That’s terrifying. Imagine Lance, looking at himself in a mirror. He’s been in space for almost two years, but the skin on his face and neck and chest, all smooth. Unmarred. He remembers nearly being disemboweled, but now he can’t remember if it was on the right or left side. He stares at his body, trying to imagine all the scars that should be there that aren’t and at this point he just can’t remember them all anymore.
And when the paladins finally, finally get to return home? Well, they look exactly the same as the day they left Earth. Lance’s younger siblings look older than him now. He hasn’t changed at all.
And all he can think is: is he even really human anymore?
But the alternative I think I prefer. The healing pods just accelerate the process, encourage the tissue to heal at an elevated pace. So they all have scars, too many scars.
Hunk has to oil up his torso every night, because the scar tissue is getting too thick and it’s making it hard to move in some places. The tattoos he once imagined he’d get once he returned to earth are now just laughable dreams of his childhood. There’s no place to get them, no room to put them. His body is no longer a canvas, it’s a ripped sheet, held together after every tear by fraying thread. There’s no room for swirling images anymore. All that’s left are scars.
So many scars.
What are the lasting effects? Psychological trauma, for sure. But maybe physical, too. Stopping natural aging, or maybe nerve damage. After Keith got blown from the sky, his fingers constantly tingle, like his hand is perpetually asleep. Pidge can’t taste anything on the left side of her mouth. But it doesn’t matter, because there’s always another planet that needs saving, another injustice they need to fight. And if they get hurt, all they need is a quick tune-up before they’re back at it again.
Healing pods are scary.