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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 17: Kondor 47
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Previous chapter: Chapter 16: Hastings 49
Walter went back to work, but they still got together at meals whenever their schedules would allow. Kondor found him very much the man he remembered in another world, although he never told him about that. People wanted to feel themselves unique, he realized, and knowing that there are uncounted copies of you, whether similar or very different, out there living your life could only undermine that. He found himself looking for the differences.
He also made time to spar with his new friend whenever he could. It had not been so long since he used the mace against the sparrow people, but he was not near so good with it as he might be. Walter was a skilled swordsman with the cutlass, and the techniques he used were very different from anything Kondor had faced before, so the practice benefited him enormously.
The weeks wore on. They weathered a particularly nasty storm, and almost lost a deckhand, but it was not so close a call as Walter's had been–the surf swept over the deck and picked him up off his feet, but he managed to catch the inside of the rail and never crossed it.
It was almost a month after that before something else happened.
The details of what happened were not immediately known to Kondor. He had been in the galley enjoying a leisurely break with a cup of lousy coffee and a stale roll, and only later learned that pirates in a light fast ship had closed the gap quicker than the cannons could be readied against them, and boarded them. He heard the shouts that they had been boarded, and rushed back to his hammock to grab his mace. He also picked up his pistol. It had a mere ten shells left (which was that much more than his empty M-16), but was a far more effective weapon than the flintlocks in common use in this world. It took him only seconds to thus equip himself. He was more interested in caring for the wounded than in fighting, but he wasn't about to be killed without some defense.
He raced back to medical to help organize their efforts. Even as he arrived, there was a pirate standing in the doorway blocking his entrance. He heard a gun fire, close at hand, and saw the smoke drifting in the air. Rushing up behind the bandit, he saw Doctor Evan, blood pouring over his hand as he held his gut.
Without thought of hesitation, Kondor pulled the pistol and put a bullet into the base of the pirate's skull. His target collapsed instantly.
"As a rule, I don't kill people," he said to the fallen man, "but you seemed like the right case for an exception."
Evan was collapsing. The medic Pieter was standing near him, staring helplessly. "Catch him!" Kondor shouted, rushing forward. "Here, get him on this table." And together they laid the doctor on the surface. Already he had blacked out.
"I'm going to have to operate, to stop this bleeding. You'll have to help." Kondor's high-tech medical bag from the other Mary Piper was close at hand; he quickly pulled out several items, and began his emergency surgery with a plastic scalpel and anesthetic. It would be nice if he could find the pistol ball, but the important thing was to stop the leaks.
He worked quickly but thoroughly, using his wound-packing to control the blood, and tracing the path of the ball. He was lucky; damage was minimal. But the spleen had been nicked, and the bleeding there was severe. Even in his own time spleens were rarely saved once they were damaged, but he had worked with medicine from a more advanced time and knew what to do. He had a microwave scalpel in his box, a wonderful device able to cauterize even as it cut; he had never used it, so there was every reason to think it would be fully charged. It took precious seconds to locate, but he had seen it used and been over its operation many years before, so in no time he had it working. A careful cut around the injury, and the honeycomb of leaking blood vessels was sealed.
It wasn't over. There had been other damage, primarily to minor blood vessels and muscle tissue. If these were left unchecked, Evan could bleed to death. He spent over an hour patching and checking and rechecking, stitching and taping and cauterizing, and checking again, until finally he began sewing up his incisions. There were several layers, and it was necessary to use glue on the deepest of these because he would not be able to remove sutures. Finally he applied disinfectant and antibiotic cream, and bandaged it with his own sterile dressing, secured with the typical wrap bandages used on the ship. Then he cleaned up the area and himself.
Meanwhile, the pirates had been driven from the ship, and had lost a mast to effective cannon fire; security had removed the pirate body Kondor had left at the door and tossed it overboard. There were more men wounded, but remarkably none of them critically, and Palmer and Robin had handled most of that before the operation was done.
Now he had another concern. Evan had undoubtedly lost a fair amount of blood, and should receive a transfusion; he could probably rig up something to do that from what he had, but it was certainly going to be an unknown concept here. Finding a volunteer to provide a bit of blood would be difficult enough; it would be made more difficult by the fact that donors would have to be typed and cross-matched. He had a typing machine, a necessary gadget in that future world where a field medic would report the blood type of the patient to the doctor so that blood could be ready. But getting blood samples from people and explaining the concept might be difficult. Even enlightened people could be very superstitious about their own blood.
In considering this, he realized that there was another potential problem. He had assumed that these people were human, that is, that they were human in exactly the same way as he was. He didn't know that. These could be the descendants of the parakeet people he had met; they could be genetically entirely different from humans, and just happen to look like them. Even if they were human, they could have very different proteins and factors in their blood. The A, B, Rh, and twenty-some other factors that his machine checked might be completely alien to these people–and they might have their own twenty or so critical factors which should be matched. Yet Evan had lost blood. Kondor could not guess how much, and he wasn't certain whether the doctor would recover without it.
There was another matter. He had to inform the captain that his chief medical officer had been shot, would not be able to so much as sit up for at least a week, and would be unable to work for the rest of the run. Captain John was not going to be overjoyed by the news.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #78: Novel Fears. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: