Characters: Peter Carlacci, Dr. Kaldo Lanconi

Peter Carlacci had been placed in an isolab, where the air was kept absolutely clean and the oxygen content significantly higher than that of the rest of the ship.

I already went through the Trial of Fire once, he thought as he abruptly came awake. I’ve even got the badge to prove it. Whose bright idea was it to put me through it again?

He wasn’t sure how much time had gone by since the Phoenix’s navigational panel had blown up in his face; it was the last clear moment in his memory. He had alternated since between fuzzy wakefulness and heavily drugged sleep. He could remember the concerned features and quiet voice of Dr. Lanconi, more than once; the soft chanting of Healer Daanike; and others. But now the painkillers had started wearing off, and something told him it was time to try and stay lucid, no matter how painful it was. If nothing else, he needed to know just how bad things were.

“Ah, Mr. Carlacci! I think your vacation is coming to an end. Your vital signs are looking good. Especially, for someone who should have departed this plane of existence had it not been for your medical staff and my own brilliance.” Dr. Lanconi was noted to talk out loud even if his patient was unconscious.

Each of Peter’s eye lids weighed a least a ton, or so it seemed as he tried to open them. The brightness from the room lights was blinding and it took a bit of time to adjust even with his eyelids only slightly open.

“Hey there, Doctor Lanconi,” he said slowly.

“So you have been . . . How would you humans say it? ‘Playing potatoes!?’ Whatever!? I expect you’d like a little something to drink … Let me adjust the bed a bit so your head is a little higher … There we are. Now, sip only a little from the drinking tube. Everything a young man needs, except for a beautiful young female, of course. We wouldn’t want to have you exert yourself too much.”

“It’s all right … my girl’s off on Centauri Prime anyway …” He was about to say more when the doctor silenced him with a wave of the hand.

“First off, we have taken care of all the injured and the ship is fully repaired. I know that you have a million questions. But, first tell me what doesn’t hurt and then you may ask your questions.”

“You would ask the hard question …” He concentrated, feeling through himself. “Everything on the left side seems okay. The right … feels like I’ve been dipped in a deep fryer.”

“That will teach you not to be where there is a great fiery explosion,” Dr. Lanconi said. “The Great Maker did not make your flesh to be so abused. I expect that your female would be very displeased if we should fail to heal you fully. At least all of your vital parts are still connected and I see no reason that you can’t expect to live a full life.”

As Peter’s eyes looked down towards his lower parts under the bed sheet, Dr. Lanconi continued, “Yes, that pitiful appendage survived, as well.”

“You’re all heart.” Peter started to laugh and almost immediately regretted it. “Ironically, that … appendage … isn’t what Mira seems to care about. My fingers, though –” He tried lifting up his left hand, which wasn’t a problem, then the right — and immediately regretted it even more than the laugh. The pain made his eyes tear up.

“You can use the device in your right hand to dispense additional pain meds as you need them. It won’t let you OD. I expect that your hands will fully recover in time.” As his patient nodded, he asked, “So, Mr. Carlacci, what would you like to know?”

“What happened? Who attacked us?”

“A species which, it appears, bears a very large grudge against the Vorlons and anyone they had anything to do with. Including telepaths and technology such as this ship.”

“Did we … lose anybody?”

“Fortunately, no. Death did not see fit to call any of you this time, although several people — yourself included — came close enough. The Captain, for one.”

Peter sighed. “Gracias a Dios. Have the Rangers back on Minbar been told what happened?”

Dr. Lanconi nodded. “Yes. A detailed report, including the casualties and damage to the ship, went out a little over three days ago.”

“Three days ago? I’ve been out that long? I hope Sech Nelier can keep Candace nailed down … ” He closed his eyes and sighed. “I guess I should try to rest more.”

Dr. Lanconi smiled. “Rest and regain your strength, my friend. Time is the Great Healer.”

Copyright (c) 2006 Sidney Kuhn and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.