The Doctor is In.
Chapter 2: The Map says 'Go Here'
He stuck his thin nose into the air and sniffed. His palms started to sweat in involuntary excitement.
From where he had been imprisoned, he could not hear the girl's sobs and incoherent ramblings. But the scent of pain, delusion and death was thick in the air around the ship. He knew that a girl had been shot. He had seen her trying to take a glimpse of the action from the sails, making her vulnerable when the Mad Gunner started firing haphazardly in his panic. The bullet had struck her somewhere in the chest, but he knew it had probably missed any vital organs or else she'd be dead by now. He didn't want that to happen lest the prospect of "setting things right" once more would be lost, leaving him, Dr. Ivan Yorvlad, without any thoughts with which to occupy himself in his dark prison.
He had also seen the frail thing fall. From that height, she'd've probably broken a few bones, too, which made the prospect of treating her all the better. He didn't care much for gunshot wounds, to be honest. He could fix those in quickly enough. Pull out the bullet, cauterize a few arteries, and close. It wasn't complicated at all and, in his professional opinion, not nearly painful enough. A few broken bones, however. Now there was a challenge, a beautiful thing to set right, an art in itself!
But before he could do this, he'd need to save her life first. He licked his lips anxiously. His time was running out. He had expected them to come and ask him questions about the zepper. He would humor them a little bit and then he'd gallantly offer his services to them for free. They were taking too long, though. He had to act now while the scent was strong. If it started to fade, it could only mean that she'd be gone, another challenge lost.
If it came to that, then could deal with all the other injured. He knew it was in vain to hope that anyone else had gotten as badly injured as the girl. He couldn't smell them, after all.
He heard footsteps outside his cell. Ah! Finally. Someone had come to question him at last.
With a jangle of keys the door swung inwards and a man stood in the doorway. He stood about 5 foot tall with a stock of black hair tied back by a bandanna. "Captain said for you to treat the wounds or else." he said in a voice which sounded like rocks grating.
"Or else what?" Ivan replied
"Or else..." the man said "or else you will walk the plank!" he sounded pleased with the last part, as if he had created something which hadn't been done in a long time.
Ivan looked sceptical at first that they would make him do that but then it struck him, how did they know he could do anything to help? It was then he noticed the bag in the mans hand, it was his bag of tricks with all his favourite tools in.
His favorite scalpel was peeking out of his bag. Its fine, sharp blade glistening in the light that streamed through the window. Just the sight of it, the anticipation of cutting people open tempted him into agreeing with this brutish man's simple proposition far more than his threat. However, being a prisoner on a pirate ship, of all things, he knew he had to play his cards carefully. Yes, he could be of use to them now, but there was no telling what they'd do next.
"My dear sir." Ivan spoke slowly and evenly. "Tell your captain that I will happily treat him and his crew. But I have a few conditions."
The man eyed him suspiciously and didn't say anything.
Ivan went on anyway. "First, I require a room of my own in which I can treat my patients. Tell the captain it has to be at least fifteen feet square. Tell one of the cabin boys to clean it until the floor shines. Dust is most inconducive to recovery, you see. I will require at least two clean beds," he suddenly remembered that pirate ships were generally short of beds, "Or perhaps two tables large enough to use as beds. I shall also need a shelf, some pots and a stove. You might want to add a casket or two of rum if you don't like a lot of agonized screaming.
"Second, nobody is to enter the room while I work. Someone may watch from the door or a window if you do not trust me. But nobody is allowed to step into the room or stop me. You must understand that medical procedures can often be unpleasant.
"Third, I expect full meals for me and my patients to be delivered to my quarters at dawn, at mid-day and at sunset. See, one must concentrate on this task full-time and not waste precious time traipsing two and from the kitchens.
Fourth, you must promise me that no harm will come to me from any man on the ship.
And lastly, after I have treated all the crew, I should be free to leave as I please.
If your captain agrees with these terms, I shall be most happy to treat everyone on board the ship."
He ended with a gentlemanly bow. The man didn't look like he quite liked the doctor's terms.
"Cap'n said your to follow me to the injured, treat 'em and then she'll talk to you if you save 'em. 'Will tell her what you want but you'll have to talk to her 'bout it."
The man turned at that and started walking down the corridor, he stopped a few paces on and looked back towards Ivan who stood looking out the door at the man's back. "Either follow me, or else I will have to carry you" he said which made Ivan almost jump out of his cell.
It only took a minute to find where the patients were being kept. A room only about twice the size of the cell he had been kept in, with a single pallet bed shoved against the far wall and a handful of candles burning from various holders on the walls. A blood stained cabinet stood next to a bucket of water near the door and a small hearth with ashes in was in the corner.
Ivan took a look at the space and said "This will never do!"
The man shrugged his shoulders and nodded to Kanya on the pallet, "Help her" he said "I'll go and get someone to help you, if you need it."
With that he dropped Ivan's bag and left the room, closing the door behind him. Ivan heard the man shout something but what it was, was to muffled to hear.
Ivan sighed. Nothing could be farther from the conditions he had set. The room was too small and the layer of dust that covered the floor, while nowhere near filthy, made him cringe. At intervals, some of the crew would open the door and poke their head in to check on people they knew. He wasn't quite certain if they had made agreements with the cook to serve meals yet. He did hope, however, that they intended to fulfill his last two conditions. They had better, in fact, if they wanted him to continue working in these conditions. He frowned at the rags that one patient had wrapped around his injured arm to stave off the bleeding. Probably unsterilised, he thought, shaking his head. He could always refuse. His profession demanded even just a little bit of dignity, after all.
"I'll punch you in the face if you do that again, Zander." Kanya slurred, senslessly lifting her head for a moment and looking groggily at Ivan. The next moment, her head slumped right back onto the bed.
Ivan touched her forehead. She was hot as fire. It was likely that the bullet was still embedded somewhere within her chest, causing her body to react with a fever. Or else an infection, which was more difficult and would take longer to treat, could have set in.
It didn't look like her spine, ribs or skull were injured, so he began assessing her arms and legs. She must have reached out to cushion her fall, because her right shoulder joint was slightly dislocated and her left forearm was fractured. At this point he tried to suppress a grin. Fixing these would be an absolute joy.
Her legs didn't appear to be broken, but one of them looked rather stiff. He pulled up her pant leg slightly and saw that it was prosthetic, made of Maharajan bronze. At the sole there was a small inscription: "Made for Kanya Timur, from the clinic of Doctor John D. Ward."
Ivan's eyes flew back up to Kanya's broken arms. He was anxious to get them fixed, but he also knew that first he had to save her life. It would not do to put her limbs back together again, after all, if she were dead from the gunshot wound. He cut off the girl's shirt and draped her with sheets of sterilised linen from his bag. For a moment, he cocked his head, trying to decide whether he should use the magnetic hammer to pull the bullet out without cutting her open or make an incision and force it out with his trusty pliers. She looked like she just might survive either procedure, and each had equal risks although using the magnet would be less painful...
"Wacha sittin' there for, doc?" said a burly pirate who had just peeked into the room.
Annoyed, Ivan threw a scalpel in his direction but missed his target by an inch. "GET OUT, YOU FOOL. I'M CONCENTRATING!"
That had done it. My conditions are being blatantly ignored, he thought. I should be entitled to cutting things open.
He fumbled in his bag and found another scalpel and his long, sinister-looking pair of pliers wrapped in a thick layer of cloth. He looked around. They didn't even bother to ship in some rum, he thought with a smile.
"Just a moment, little girl. This is going to hurt just a little bit." He said just before he put down the scalpel.
O'Toole didn't quite like the screams coming from the makeshift clinic they had set for all their injured. She didn't think she liked the doctor they had brought at all. He was a prisoner, for one thing. They had attacked the airship he had been riding, and so if he owed them anything, it definitely wasn't in favors. She paced back and forth outside the door, using all her self control not to barge in. Another shrill scream erupted from the room, followed by the doctor loudly saying "I did say this would hurt just a little bit!"
She grimaced. "Tainted kitlings, Brem! Do you think we should interrupt?"
It was Brem's assistant - was his name Erm? - who replied. "I wouldn't do that if I were you, ma'am. Last man who tried to take a peek nearly got his ear cut off."
Just then, the door opened and Ivan appeared at the doorway looking composed.
"If you please, madam, ask someone to fetch me some clean linen. I seem to have run out."
Dotty motioned for Erm to go fetch some.
"How are your patients, doc?" she asked anxiously. "How's the girl, Kanya?"
"Ah, terrible, terrible." he replied calmly. "It looks like her shoulder is slightly more dislocated than I had previously thought. Fortunately, if I can get it right this time around, there will be no need to amputate after all." Dotty swore he looked a bit glum when he said the last statement.
"I mean, how is she? Is she going to live?"
"Ah... yes. That, that. Of course." The doctor said hastily. "Well, you will be pleased to know that none of your crew is in mortal danger at the moment. However, they will require just a little bit more treatment to ensure that they stay that way."
Erm arrived just then and handed a stack of clean white sheets to the doctor.
"Ah yes, thank you, lad. No, no. Keep that bottom sheet. They've touched your hands and now they're filthy. This will do, thank you."
At that, he slammed the door in their faces.
"Well, I never!"