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Before the whole Perseus-and-mirrors incident, Medusa spent some time in Memphis as a cardiothoracic surgeon. Snakes were sacred there, so nobody minded her hair one bit, and nobody looked at her funny when she kept her deadly face behind a veil or a surgical mask. Nobody bothered her about the protective dark-lensed eyewear she never removed in polite company; they assumed that the fair-skinned Greek Gorgon simply didn't like the intense Nile basin sunlight in her eyes. Medusa was good at her job, and her colleagues respected her.

It was the case all too often that the ruling class of citizens had hypertension, strokes, and all manner of heart problems. Medusa carefully manipulated the chemical properties of the snake venom at her disposal, combining hemotoxins and neurotoxins with willow concentrates and Greek and Egyptian herbs to produce blood thinners that improved the long-term survival rate of this pharaoh or that priest. They added a cobra to the ruler's headwear, in her honour, next to the vulture which already perched there.

The only malpractice suit she ever faced - in fact the one which drove her back to Hellas and led to her untimely demise at the hands of a certain demigod - was when she was doing open-heart surgery on Merneptah's dad in the city Pi-Ramesses. It was a routine coronary bypass, nothing Medusa hadn't done a thousand times already, with Aesculapius assisting nearby and Apollo standing ready to scrub in if there were complications. Medusa was working intently in the chest cavity, and the leather thong which held the earpieces of her glasses in place gave way. She clamped her eyes shut a moment too late; the pharaoh's myocardium was already petrifying into a very pretty heart-shaped piece of malachite laced with veins of azurite, just like the scarab ornament he always wore on a torque at his throat.

Aesculapius passed Medusa her glasses and patted her shoulder comfortingly.

"These things do happen, Dusie," he said softly. "We knew the surgery would be risky on its own merits; Thutmose was practically tempting Atropos and Osiris both, the way he ate. He has plenty of heirs; Apollo prophesied that the man's daughter will indirectly do some pretty fine things with this nation's servile workers, long after we've pulled our fingers out of their pie."

Medusa nodded, carefully reattaching the thong to her glasses before she would open her eyes again.

"I just always hate it when one of them dies on the table, Scula. My reputation is going to be ruined after a gaffe like this. I'm going to have to leave the country, or they'll be after my head."

"Give the locals more credit than that, Medusa," Apollo said softly as he walked into the operating room. He helped the attending nurses clean up and close up the fresh corpse's chest cavity. "After all, you've done Maat a favour: stone is definitely heavier than one of her feathers. She won't have any trouble at all figuring out where to send this one. Also, I think the fellows who handle the mummification will be glad to find such treasures waiting for them when they prepare him for entombment."

Medusa nodded. "Maybe you're right, but I think I had still better head back east. I don't think the world is ready for our kind of modern medicine, do you?"

"No," Apollo remarked, "There are still a few wars, dark ages, and industrial revolutions that need to transpire first."

"So, Dad," Aesculepias asked, after Medusa had left the room, "Do you think we're done dicking around here? Wasn't this the reason we came?"

"Yeah," Apollo replied, "Elohim called in a favour; said hardening of the arteries wasn't working fast enough, and he needed something a little more drastic, after the rebuff this guy gave El's pet prophet. I think it sent a pretty strong message; don't you?"

Iron Noder Challenge 2014, 27/30

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