The Abbai punched the female again and she cried out as her head snapped back. Mira gasped loudly. That was not what she expected to see. The male’s head whipped around at the unexpected sound, and he stared directly at the two Rangers.
“Oh, hell,” murmured Carlacci.
Mira suddenly pulled her head back. “I’m sorry.”
“Never mind,” Carlacci murmured to her as he jumped forward, extending the pike to its full length. “Let her go and we’ll let this end peacefully,” he called to the Abbai.
For answer, the man threw his captive to the ground and charged Carlacci, pulling a long, wicked knife from his belt.
Mira put the strap of the medkit over her shoulder to leave her hands free. She hated where the bag fell on her back; it just hit all the wrong spots. It was obviously designed by a human. She slipped around the corner and tried to figure out if she could get to the female before she got hurt. The doctor eyed the two men facing off and decided that Carlacci was a more than capable fellow. She darted straight for the Abbai girl who was puking on the sidewalk. Carlacci’s glance flickered for a moment toward Mira, even as he was backpedaling toward the street. He tried to draw his opponent away from the girl, to give Mira room. Carlacci dodged one slash, blocked the second, then shifted his grip on the pike slightly, to bring it hard across the Abbai’s ribcage. The yell of rage and pain drowned the low hum of a groundcar, which was coming slowly up the street, its headlights doused.
Mira had reached the female and given her a hasty once-over. The girl’s obviously drugged, she determined as she administered a smelling salt capsule that she had dug out of the bag. She ought to vomit a little more, just in case there is a small black pebble in there. Most Abbai found the smell of that common chemical to be so revolting that it would induce them to vomit. The girl was not an exception.
As the girl heaved again, Mira heard a sound and looked up to see a ground car coming. Five million thoughts ran through her mind and she cried out, “Peter!” as PPG blasts tore through the night.
He heard Mira’s cry of warning and the unforgettable whine of a cap charging all at once, and had no time for anything but to dodge sideways, putting the glass frame of a news-vendor’s stand between himself and the incoming fire. The glass exploded as it was hit in four places almost simultaneously, and one blast caught Carlacci in the midsection, knocking him to the ground and tearing a rough scream from his mouth.
The Abbai turned toward Carlacci again, hefting his knife, but then hesitated as his fellows in the car shouted at him. After what seemed an interminable moment, he sprinted for the car and dived in as it sped away.
Mira gasped and ran for Carlacci. Her pounding hearts slowed slightly when a quick glance assured her that he was still alive. She pressed her hand into the quickly spreading blood stain on his right thigh. Fraggit, PPG’s are supposed to cauterize!
Peter gasped and groaned, clenching his teeth. “Damn, and I was supposed to take care of you.”
Mira pursed her lips. “Well, you weren’t supposed to get shot.” The Abbai female moaned over on the sidewalk. Mira spared her a glance.
Mira pulled her Medkit around with her free hand. “She’s drugged and retching. I think she shall be fine. You on the other foot, are bleeding profusely and need to stop that this instant.”
“I’ll do what I can,” he said through his teeth.
Mira finally dug out a long strip of tubing and used that to make a tourniquet for his thigh. As she pushed and brushed body parts indiscriminately, Carlacci stifled a startled yelp.
“Hold this.” She handed him the end of the tourniquet. He held it tightly, trying to focus on it instead of the pain, as Mira worked. Digging around some more, she pulled an artery sealant out of the medkit. “S’ran-to bless the inventor of this,” she muttered as she put it to work.
Mira was soon satisfied with the hasty repair. “Well, it’s not pretty, but you won’t bleed to death.” She wrapped the wound in gauze, the bandage covering the whole thigh. “This will have to do for now.”
Carlacci tried to think. The shock was coming on, and thinking clearly was getting harder by the second. “Now what?”
“Now you get up. You are going to have to get us to the lodging you promised.” Mira closed up her kit and contemplated how best to lever Carlacci to his feet.
“I knew you were going to say that,” he muttered, grabbing for his fallen pike and rolling onto his left side.
“Let me help you. If I have to close that artery again, I will be annoyed.”
Setting the pike on its end, he began dragging himself up, hand over hand. “All right.”
Mira muttered something in Centauri about hardheaded men, then propped herself under his arm, using her back and shoulders to lift and support his weight until he was standing, balancing on the pike and his left foot.
He nodded his head toward a lighted sign at the end of the block. “That’s it,” he said.
Mira nodded. “We’re taking her with us.” The doctor indicated the stoned female sitting on the ground.
“Right. Can’t leave her here, they might come back,” he said, limping a few steps away from the street.
“Exactly. Not to mention, I want to know what she’s ‘rocked’ on.”
The corners of Carlacci’s mouth twitched a little, but he didn’t have the strength for more lessons in English idioms. “Right. Get her. I can manage.”
Mira left Carlacci propped against a wall and grabbed the girl firmly by the arm. “Come along now.”
For a moment, she just stared uncomprehendingly, but a few tugs on her arm got her on her feet and trailing after the pair of Rangers. Mira threw anxious glances around as the three of them made their slow painful way to the boarding house.
Carlacci tapped the door with his pike, and a small window opened, revealing a female Abbai, old but far from fragile. “Full up. Go –” then she paused, her eyes widening in recognition. “Anla’shok Carlacci?” she murmured.
“We need help, Narate,” he said.
“More specifically,” Mira butted in, “we need a room. Any room.”
The small window slammed shut and the large door opened immediately. “Come in,” the Abbai woman cried. “Goddess, you’ve been hurt!”
Mira dumped Carlacci into the innkeeper’s hands and ran down the street to retrieve the other Abbai, who had wandered off in a fog. Narate was waiting on the steps as she returned. “Come, Anla’shok,” she said. “I have a place for you.” Her features twisted in dismay at the sight of the girl.
“Thank you, you are sent by the very gods.” Mira saw the look on Narate’s face. “Do you know her?”
“Yes. I have a place we can keep her for a little while as well.” She guided Mira to a small room off the entrance parlor. “My office. You can put her on the couch there.” Mira gently pushed the girl onto the couch. Then, she scrounged around in her kit until she came up with a sedative safe for Abbai.
Once the girl was sleeping soundly, Mira looked up. “Where’s Carlacci?”
“In my private guest room. I will take you there.” She led Mira down a short hallway, and into a simply but pleasantly furnished bedroom, where Carlacci was already stretched out on the large bed.
Mira felt oddly relieved at the sight of him. I’m just glad I didn’t get him killed, she rationalized. “Good, I’ll need a bowl of warm water to finish cleaning his wound if you don’t mind, Lady.”
“By all means, Anla’shok. Anything else you need?”
Mira had pulled out most of the contents of her kit. “Some bandages if you have any. Thank you.” She smiled warmly at the Abbai woman.
“For your people, it is no trouble,” she said, hurrying.
“Get our lost sheep?” Carlacci murmured, looking up at her, shivering.
Mira picked up her laser scalpel and some packages of cleaning pads. “We have no sheep. Are you delirious?” She approached the bed and eyed the damage. “You need to take off your pants.”
“Metaphor. Meant the girl. Yeah?” He grimaced, not entirely from pain, and struggled to comply.
Mira helped him out by cutting strategic places in the cloth. “The girl is sleeping on the couch outside. She’ll be fine until I wake her in the morning. You, however, have a nasty plasma burn here. And a piece of flying glass broke through to your artery as well.”
He tried to draw deep breaths. “I was afraid of that. Shock feels pretty intense.”
Mira put her hand on his chest to feel his heart. It was a habit from working with Centauri patients whose pulse didn’t give a true representation of their heartbeats. “Your heart is too fast, but not erratic. I think I’ll wait a while yet to give you something for the shock. Sometimes, the body is best left to its own devices.” She proceeded to clean his wound thoroughly.
As Mira worked, Carlacci tried to remember the meditations he’d been taught, for controlling pain — and fear. Gradually, he established a still, quiet place in his mind, where he could set his concentration and let his body begin to heal itself.
Narate returned with a large jug, a folded stack of blankets, and a small bundle of homemade bandages. She set them all on the side table next to the bed. Mira smiled her gratitude and with the innkeeper’s help the wound was soon bandaged and Carlacci bundled in blankets.
“I have a Comnet terminal, Anla’shok,” Narate said when the work was done. “Do you need to contact your ship?”
Mira eyed Carlacci. “Well, Carlacci, do you want to go back to the ship? I can have the test results sent up to us.”
“You’re the doc,” he said. “If there’s something more you can do for me up there that you can’t here, fine. Otherwise, I’m –” he paused, drawing several more deep breaths, “not overly inclined to move. Better tell ’em what happened, though.”
Mira shook her head. “Rest. Your artery is sealed. It wasn’t a large tear. It doesn’t need sutures. So, if you rest here or there, it matters not. But, you’re right. I need to make a report or something.” Mira turned to Narate. “I would be grateful for the use of your Comnet.”
“By all means,” she said, and led Mira back to the office. Mira sat down in front of the terminal with a sigh. “Gods help me, but I’m not sure I want to tell anyone about this disaster on one of my few away missions.”
After typing in the codes, the doctor was quickly routed to the Station House, where Tianmun answered. The Minbari said, “Doctor Trassano? Can we help you?”
Mira rubbed her bald scalp which was starting to get a bit prickly. “Well, that’s a good question. We’ve had a… an incident… here.” The last dregs of the energy rush drained away and a wave of fatigue threatened to drown her.
“Can you describe what’s happened?” Tianmun’s features showed her concern, but she remained businesslike.
The doctor sighed. “Actually, it might be my fault. We finished our work in the morgue and, it being so last, I thought we might as well stay here the night to save some time. We were walking from the restaurant to the boarding house when we saw an Abbai man beating a woman. I drew his attention to us and he attacked. Carlacci was doing rather well I thought, until this ground car rolled up behind them and started firing a PPG.” Mira took a pause for breath. “Carlacci is fine. He has a minor burn that will quickly become annoying, a small cut, and a little shock. He only needs a good rest. But, we both thought that I should contact the ship.”
Tianmun nodded slowly, digesting the rush of words. “Understood,” she said after a moment. “Do you require anything from us at this time?”
Mira actually thought about that, wrinkling up her brow. “No, I have some test results to analyze in the morning. Carlacci can stay here and rest. We should be fine.”
“Very well, Doctor. Please report again by 0800, if possible. That is six hours from now.”
Mira nodded. “I will. Thank you.”
“Thank you for checking in, Doctor. Phoenix out.”
Mira closed down the link. “Thank you, Narate. This is very good of you.”
The Abbai bowed and smiled. “We have fallen on very dark times, and it is the Anla’shok — and only you — who came to help. It is the least I can do.”
Mira smiled back. “If we do not help one another, than how could we help ourselves, as my Father once said to me. If I could bother you for a pillow or two, then I’ll sleep on the floor in the room with Carlacci.”
“You will find plenty of them, as well as a small mattress or two, in the closet. Please make yourself comfortable.”
Mira thanked her hostess again and made her way to her makeshift bed. By the time she had it set up, Carlacci was asleep, chest rising and falling in a slow, steady rhythm under the blankets. She watched him for a moment, as his eyes began to flicker under closed lids, and he smiled at something in a dream.
Copyright (c) 2000 Mona Hinds and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.