Characters: Daanike, Dr. Hellecat Brannon, Tomás Darquin
Daanike’s hands were covered in blood, but all she could think about were eyes.
“Get the trauma kits,” she cried as she burst into the Phoenix’s Medlab One. “I need all the non-type plasmasynth we have, right now!”
Yet her mind was still back on the planet, remembering the eyes of the Abbai prostitute who was holding Darquin’s hand as he lay unconscious, draped over a police station desk.
A swarm of hands from nurses in religious caste robes picked up the fallen Ranger’s body from the antigrav stretcher, moving it gently at Daanike’s direction. “Yes, get him onto the table — yes, face down! He was stabbed in the back.”
And she remembered the single eye of her shuttle pilot. It had shone fierce and alert, despite the pilot’s having been wakened from sleep on the flight deck floor. And it had blazed with determination when she pushed every bit of acceleration out of the shuttle, as Daanike tried to restart Darquin’s stopped heart.
“Go find Doctor Brannon,” Daanike said. As she looked around her, the once comfortably familiar equipment — research terminals, monitor panels tied to the operating table, cabinets of instruments and supplies — all seemed overwhelming, even threatening, now. “I don’t know where she is, maybe in her quarters? I … I don’t think I can do this alone.”
She blinked hard. She could see Darquin’s eyes now — an older memory. They were widening in surprise and apprehension, as he beheld a gift from Dunstan Kordieh …
This blurred into a vision of Kordieh’s eyes, staring soulless, on the edge of death —
Silence descended as everyone in the room turned to look at her, startled by the outburst but puzzled by the unfamiliar word.
“Forgive me,” Daanike murmured, turning away. “I … needed to focus.”
Hardly a mantra, the word had burst into her mind unbidden, in the voice of her father. An ancient word, he’d said. An epithet — a swear word.
But it had the needed effect. Daanike looked at the man in front of her on the table, and all the monitors he was now getting tied to. She didn’t spare a look for the nurse standing beside her, offering a gentle pat on the arm.
“It’s that middle wound,” she said, as much to herself as the nurse. “It didn’t damage any organs but it did hit an artery.”
Daanike grabbed the laser scalpel from her nurse’s proffered hand and widened that wound, just enough to get in and seal off the shattered artery.
“Where’s the plasmasynth? We’ve got to replace this blood or we’ll lose him for good.”
“There’s only two units,” another of the nurses told her. “We shipped our supply planetside. Some industrial accident. Not enough time to make more.”
“Valeria preserve us,” Daanike murmured. “All right, then. Go through the records and get any human with type O positive blood down here immediately.”
The nurse nodded and dashed for the nearest terminal after handing over the two precious bags. Turning her back, Daanike’s helper silently hung them up, setting the vital fluid coursing into Darquin’s body.
Daanike turned back to her work, moving as quickly as she dared, trying not to think that this was her first patient as a physician and surgeon. Trying not to think about who the man in front of her was. Trying desperately not to think about what would happen if she failed him now —
Through it all, the nurse stayed with her, handing over instruments, wiping away spilled blood, hanging up the bags of still-warm blood as they came from the donors. Daanike hoped that when this was over, she’d still have the strength to thank her — whoever she was. She still hadn’t had the time to look.
Not far away, another Ranger — Daanike didn’t know him — had stayed after donating blood. Softly chanted words and the faint clicking of wooden beads told her he was making a religious invocation.
Daanike didn’t look up as she replied to Helle Brannon. “Yes. His heart stopped in the shuttle, but I was able to bring him back. Just barely.”
It seemed to take a long time for Helle to answer. Daanike glanced across Darquin’s prone body to where Helle stood and saw her fingers grip and then squeeze his arm. Puzzled, Daanike continued working but kept silent.
Finally, she heard Helle exhale slowly and say, “He’s stabilizing. I think he’ll make it.” Her hand dropped back to her side, she visibly straighted up, and Daanike felt her attention switch from Darquin to herself. “Right then. You’ve done well, Daanike.”
“Yes, you did. You do yourself great credit, little star.”
Daanike gasped, turning to look at the nurse who had finally broken her silence. The elderly Minbari woman looked calmly back.
Helle recognized what was happening from Daanike’s stricken expression. “I can finish up, Daanike,” she said quietly. “Go talk with her while you can.”
Almost numbly, Daanike allowed herself to be led away, finally facing the old woman over the sterilizer.
“Grandmother. You went to the sea.”
“The night is all but gone, but it is still the Day of the Dead,” she answered, stripping off her scrubs and tossing them in the bin.
“I wanted to follow your path, and become a great healer.”
“I remember, little star. And you will be. I know it now.”
There was a long silence. Finally Daanike asked, “Grandmother?”
The old woman smiled, inviting a question even as she seemed to know what it would be.
“Were you afraid, when you went to the sea?”
“No. It was time. I rest now in the arms of the Universe, little star. Have no fear for me.”
Daanike crept forward, and the old woman took her into her arms, paying no mind to the blood that stained her granddaughter’s clothes. It was a mark of service, the greatest of honors.
They stood there together for several minutes, until the old woman said softly, “I must go.”
Daanike stepped back, bowing with her hands over her heart, then with one over her grandmother’s. “Farewell, Grandmother.”
“Farewell, Daanike.” The old woman let her hand linger over her granddaughter’s heart for a moment, then turned and walked out of Medlab without looking back.
Copyright (c) 2001 Denise Cox and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.