Disaster Strikes: Episode 4

Dr. Mendels enters the tent with a brisk stride that betrays none of the tangled emotions he's feeling. ~~ fear ~~ hope ~~ courage ~~ doubt ~~ conflict ~~ worry ~~

Katsura: Nick, someone's here.

Nick is still ~~ concerned ~~ about Kat's chilled tentacles, and is working on them as best he can, while still maintaining a nageric buffer.

Mendels's head says this is a fellow healer, here only to help; his gut says this is a monster like the one who murdered his sister. And part of him is already too ~~ exhausted ~~ to care.

Nick: Someone official?

Katsura releases Nick's arms and hides her own under her cloak.

Katsura: I think so.

Mendels: Hajene? Hajene, are you in here?

Katsura: Yes, we're back here!

Nick moves to put himself between the visitor and his channel.

Mendels follows the sound of the woman's voice to the back of the tent.

Mendels: Oh, there you are. Good. I'm Dr. Mendels.

Nick holds out a hand, Gen fashion.

Nick: I'm Nick Reckage, and this is Katsura Farris.

Katsura: Pleased to meet you, doctor.

Nick has a tendency to forget to use Tecton honorifics.

Mendels shakes Nick's hand, then forces himself to offer his hand to the channel as well.

Katsura: Doctor, I am not wearing retainers.

Nick: They were freezing her tentacles -- it's a long walk from our encampment.

Mendels lets his hand drop.

Mendels: Are you injured?

Mendels automatically starts to reach for the affected body part to check, then stops himself.

Nick: Fortunately, we got her warm in time.

Katsura: I'll be all right now, as long as I don't have to put them back on, for a while, at least.

Katsura slowly withdraws her arms from under her cloak.

Mendels: You can't work with them on anyway, can you?

Nick ~~ steadies ~~ the ambient, and tries to look harmless.

Nick: No, she can't.

Mendels forces himself not to show any reaction at the sight of the naked Sime forearms. ~~ fear ~~ courage ~~ fascination ~~

Nick: Not as a channel, and not in any other way that requires wrist movement.

Katsura: I didn't want to alarm you, by shaking your hand without telling you first.

Mendels: Ah.

Mendels extends his hand again. ~~ courage ~~

Nick looks at Kat, letting her make the call.

Katsura smiles, also trying to look harmless, and offers her hand.

Nick reaches casually and puts his hand on Kat's neck, to reinforce his ~~ support ~~

Katsura leans on Nick's support, and braces herself cautiously.

Mendels shakes the hand briskly, then drops it hastily.

Nick doesn't let up on his support, in case there's an unfortunate post-reaction.

Mendels takes a grip on his ~~ fear ~~ before it can turn into panic.

Katsura: We are eager to start work. We have search and rescue specialists, Simes who can zlin people trapped in the ruins.

Katsura looks calm and professional, hoping this will steady the Gen.

Nick: We actually came over here to find out who's in charge of coordinating the rescue efforts, so we can integrate our team with the rest.

Mendels: Well, I'm in charge of the medical side. You'd want to talk to Major Sarton about Search and Rescue. But since you're here already, let's start with the medical side.

Katsura nods. She's put her arms under the cloak again, hoping that out of sight will be out of mind for the doctor.

Nick: Of course. Do you have time to talk this over, now?

Mendels: I'm between crises for the moment.

Mendels wishes the tentacles were out where he could keep an eye on them.

Katsura: Have you worked with channels before? Perhaps you are not familiar with what we can do, that Gens can't.

Mendels: You're the first Sime I've seen since the one who... uh, no, I haven't. So fill me in.

Mendels suppresses a ~~ shudder ~~ of memory.

Katsura: Well, first we can do the usual channeling functions. If you think a child may be in changeover, we can of course look after him.

Mendels: That's the least of our worries right now.

Mendels's gut says otherwise, especially with so blunt a reminder.

Katsura looks to Nick, wondering if she's doing this right.

Nick: True, but I expect it'll be useful to have a place to send the parents whose kids of a certain age got a bellyache from eating bad food.

Mendels manages a small dry laugh.

Mendels: True. What else can you do?

Katsura: We are good at diagnosis because we can sense what is inside the patient, where you can't see or palpate in detail. This is especially useful for injuries to internal organs, or for bad closed fractures.

Nick: Think of it as a portable Ancient x-ray machine with the intelligence to interpret the results for you.

Nick tries to put it in terms likely to be familiar to a Gen doctor.

Mendels: Good. That's something we can use. We have none of the usual diagnostic equipment. Just stethoscopes and a couple of blood pressure monitors.

Katsura: We can stimulate healing in an injured part. This can be used to stop bleeding, or seal wounds or start a set fracture fusing.

Nick: Channels can also work on internal bleeding without surgery. Might be useful for head injuries.

Mendels: Excellent.

Nick: I think what's going to be most useful, though, is our renSimes. They can zlin people buried in the ruins, who would otherwise not be found in time. At least, if we can get permission for them to work.

Nick is ~~ concerned ~~ about the possibilities, there.

Mendels: I could find some first aid volunteers to act as escorts, if that would help. I know there are a few of them who've donated.

Katsura: That would be very good. Our search and rescue people have some medical training, like what you call 'paramedic', I think.

Nick: They'll have to work without retainers, if they're to be of assistance, though. Is that going to be a problem?

Mendels: I'll make sure my volunteers are forewarned.

Mendels is trying very hard not to picture himself working alongside such a team.

Katsura: We have a small field hospital so we can take care of some patients. But we should coordinate our work.

Mendels: How are you with burn cases?

Katsura starts to spread hands and tentacles, then stops herself.

Katsura: We can heal burns, too, but if the burns are very deep or very extensive, we may not be able to do enough.

Nick: And, there's not all that much we can do for unwilling patients.

Mendels: We have a lot of burn patients. Maybe you could look some of them over, give me an idea of which ones you'd consider treatable.

Katsura tenses at the thought of working on a conscious patient with extensive, agonizing burns.

Mendels: Your limits on that may be different from ours.

Nick gives Kat an "it's your call" look.

Katsura: The patients here are the worst ones? The ones you expect will die?

Mendels: We've got several dozen that I would have already given a Black Pill to, if we had any. Do you have any means to, uh...?

Mendels shivers as he realizes that any Sime has a very obvious way of hastening a death. ~~ fear ~~

Katsura looks to Nick. She doesn't understand what the doctor is asking, or why he's reacting with fear.

Nick: He wants to know if we have a way to ease the deaths of the untreatable cases. Or at least make it less lingering.

Katsura: We have a stock of analgesics, including opiates, but it is not large. We expect more supplies in a few days. Are you running short?

Mendels: We're expecting another shipment "expeditiously". Until then, we're out of most medications. We have enough bandages for the moment. And enough alcohol. We confiscated the contents of a couple of liquor stores.

Katsura: We will share our drugs with you. Oh! All our supplies are labeled in Simelan only. We didn't expect to come out-T.

Mendels: Can you post a translator at the supply depot? That's the tent next door to this one.

Katsura: Maybe if we translate the labels when we give you the drugs. We don't have many staff.

Katsura wonders how well this is going to work out. She suspects there's no standardization between the in-T and out-T pharmacopoeias.

Mendels: Hmmm... we'll have to integrate the teams, then. At least, any team that's using your supplies. ~~ worry ~~

Nick: What are your most critical lacks, as far as drugs go?

Mendels: Any painkiller stronger than willow tea... we've got a farmwife making up vats of that. Burn ointment. Anything to reduce fever or control infection. Cough syrup. I've heard that your people have some medications we can only daydream about. Oh, and diarrhea is already a big problem. Do you have anything for hydration?

Katsura: We have the usual mixture of soda, sugar and salt. Oral rehydration formula.

Mendels: Good. We're supposed to have some in that shipment that isn't here yet. Till then, we're scraping the bottom of the supply barrel.

Nick: Is it the ingredients that are in short supply, or just the finished solution?

Mendels: We've got sugar. Some salt, though not enough for more than a day or two. Soda's almost gone.

Katsura: I will ask our cook if he has soda and salt. Also, we can give up our honey for burn dressings, but we probably have only a few kilos.

Nick nods, adding to his mental shopping list, for whenever he can make contact with the local underground/black market. He's sure that there will shortly be one, even if it was temporarily disrupted by the earthquake.

Mendels: I'd say strong painkillers, hydration, and burn ointment, in that order. Anything else is welcome too, but less critical.

Katsura: Perhaps since you are an army doctor you have never used birth membranes for burn dressings. They are very good, sterile, almost like a graft.

Mendels does a doubletake at that suggestion.

Mendels: I never heard of that.

Katsura: I realize that you have more burn cases than childbirths here, but maybe for some of the patients you can use them.

Mendels: And as far as I know, we've only had one woman in labor brought here so far. I think neighbors and midwives are probably caring for the rest of those.

Katsura nods.

Katsura: A channel can also figure out a bad presentation in childbirth, without risk of causing infection by using the hands.

Nick: Of course, it helps if the patient can cooperate. That's one advantage Gen doctors have over channels: you don't have to worry about your patients' emotions hurting you.

Mendels: ~~ bewildered ~~ Emotions?

Katsura looks to Nick to explain, Gen to Gen.

Nick: Yes. When a channel zlins to diagnose or treat an injury, she's also open to anything her patient is feeling. How well could you... do delicate surgery, say, if you were angry, afraid, or otherwise distracted? Particularly if those emotions were coming at you suddenly and unpredictably?

Mendels: ~~ dawning comprehension ~~ Oh. Um, Hajene, I... I apologize for what I was probably broadcasting when I shook your hand. ~~ embarrassment ~~

Katsura: It's all right. I know you mean well.

Katsura would like to make an appropriate gesture, but keeps her hands under the cloak.

Mendels: My mind knows you're here as a healer. I'm afraid the rest of me has some catching up to do.

Katsura: I understand.

Mendels: ~~ curiosity ~~ How do you deal with your patients' pain?

Katsura: My Donor helps me, but it is still often hard. To diagnose with the greatest sensitivity, I have to open my senses, so I feel all the pain.

Katsura looks at Nick.

Katsura: He helps brace me, he supports me.

Nick puts a hand on Kat's shoulder in ~~ reassurance ~~.

Mendels: Then why in the name of God would any Sime want to work in medicine?

Nick: Why does anyone become a healer?

Mendels: Yes, but... at that cost?

Mendels looks at Katsura with ~~ awe ~~.

Katsura: I was born a channel, so I can do this work, so it is my duty, my responsibility.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: It's not all pain. There are many good things, too. Even joy.

Mendels: That part I know, or I wouldn't be here myself.

Mendels seems about to say something more, then stops himself.

Mendels: But here we stand talking, and there's work to do.

Katsura: Yes. Perhaps you have some patients you would like me to examine, while you delegate someone to find volunteers to work with our Simes?

Mendels: I was going to ask you to look at some of our burn victims, especially the borderline untreatables. Now I'm not so sure I want to expose you to that.

Nick lets Kat make the decision.

Katsura: Unfortunately we have only three channels here, and one should stay at our camp. So let's think of how to use this resource the most efficiently.

Mendels: All right. What do you propose?

Katsura: Can you use my skill at diagnosis of internal injuries, perhaps? Or to tell you if a bone is properly set? Or to work on a bad fracture so amputation is not necessary?

Mendels: Glad to. You'll be with me, then, at least for this shift.

Katsura: I am willing to work with you, but we must get the search and rescue teams out, to save people who would die unnecessarily in the ruins. Once the teams are going, I will come work with you. While you recruit the volunteers, I will work with you, but then I must go back.

Nick: Also, Dr. Mendels, Kat can't diagnose injuries properly while she's wearing retainers.

Mendels: So I should send willing patients to your tent, and let your channels all set up there?

Katsura: We can do it that way if you prefer.

Nick: It might prevent those who aren't willing from being upset.

Mendels: You have an alternate suggestion?

Katsura: Nick, do you think it will cause too much trouble if I work with the doctor? Especially without retainers? Maybe the patients will be too upset to have a Sime there.

Katsura is careful to say upset instead of afraid.

Nick: You should be all right if we stay back until the patient agrees.

Mendels: Then why don't you take a preliminary look at some of the patients -- burns are here, wound traumas in the green-striped tent next door -- while I start setting up the volunteer teams. I'll send one of the nurses around with you.

Katsura: All right.

Mendels: After that, we'll compare notes. Um, do I need to post the whole tent as Sime Territory while you work? I'm not entirely sure how the legal side of this works. Or whether it matters right now.

Katsura looks to Nick, figuring he knows more about such things than she does. After all, he said he worked out-T with his rogue channel.

Nick: A sign would make it legal, but it might be prudent to post someone at the entrance to the tent as well, just to make sure that everyone coming into the tent knows.

Mendels: And those already inside?

Katsura: Perhaps the nurse you send with us will announce it?

Katsura plans to go hypoconscious when the nurse does so.

Mendels: That's good enough for me, if it's good enough for you.

Katsura isn't used to thinking of ubiquitous firearms.

Katsura: Perhaps Lula will help us here. I zlin her by the stove.

Mendels: I'll send her over, then go start the volunteer round-up.

Mendels exits the little cubicle, with an embarrassing sense of ~~ relief ~~ as he moves away from the Sime.

Nick looks at Kat.

Katsura feels a good bit of relief as well, and not just because she can go back to speaking Simelan with Nick.

Nick: He at least seems willing to work with us.

Katsura: Yes. He's afraid, but resisting his fear. Did I say or do anything wrong?

Nick considers.

Nick: I think you handled him all right, for a start.

Katsura: He doesn't seem concerned that I'm female. I guess being Sime is more important to him.

Nick: Before he can really work with you, he's going to have to confront his fear.

Katsura: I think I can handle it, with your help. We can ask him to stand back when I'm working.

Nick: If it looks like he's going to be a disruption, you can always take him aside and work with him a little. It's too bad he's high field.

Nick wonders if it would be worthwhile suggesting to Dr. Mendels that the polite thing to do when working with a channel is to donate.

Katsura: I don't know the etiquette of this, out-T. Or maybe there isn't any. At least he isn't like D'zoll's patient, Mr. Gegg.

Katsura smiles.

Nick: No, he's got a much less severe case, I expect. And no malformed Donor talent, I take it?

Katsura: No, he has a very ordinary nager. And I don't think he is really a Simephobe, not for an out-T adult, probably.

Nick: Which means he'll still throw fear around when he sees a tentacle.

Katsura: I suppose so.

Katsura isn't used to thinking about Gens reacting this way.

Nick: So will a lot of our patients, for that matter. Not to mention the donors we're going to have to recruit, if our renSimes are going to be running around in this weather spotting trapped victims.

Katsura: What do you think we should do, Tuib Out-T Culture? About the patients, I mean. We can't talk them all into donating. It's probably not ethical to even bring it up, is it? I mean, because of their religion or something.

Katsura reaches up to twist some handfuls of hair into wads and tuck them behind her ears, but stops when she remembers she's still wearing her wooly hat.

Katsura: Everything is so complicated out here.

Nick: Treat the ones who agree to let you touch them, and send the rest over here. There will be more than enough patients for everybody, from what we saw out there.

Nick gestures towards the ruined mess of Cottonwood City.

Katsura nods.

Katsura: Too bad. I had some hopes of seeing how our methods and the Gen doctors' could work together... but so it goes.

Nick: If you can help a patient better by taking his or her field down, say so. For that matter, if the family of a patient wants to stay, it's appropriate to insist that they be lowfield. You can explain why it's necessary.

Katsura: Maybe I pushed too hard there, offering him my skills.

Nick: I got the impression that the good Doctor was quite curious about what you could do.

Katsura: He's lucky I'm not as curious about surgery.

Nick chuckles.

Katsura involuntarily moves closer to Nick at the thought.

Nick: You do realize that he'll probably want to use you to help surgery patients?

Nick offers the ~~ comfort ~~ of his Donor's nager.

Katsura: I hope I can help prevent surgery. But I suppose a surgical wound is easier to heal than a regular one. At least it would be clean.

Nick: Yes. And I expect you'll be surprised at how well it works, for some things.

Katsura: How are you holding up, Nick? It's been a very long day, and it's not half over.

Nick: I'm fine. I'll see if I can cadge some soup or a sandwich from the nurse, when she gets here.

Katsura: This time I'm the one who's prepared!

Katsura pulls a chocolate bar from a pocket in her cloak and presents it to Nick.

Katsura: Gen fuel!

Nick's nager shimmers in ~~ delight ~~ as he laughs.

Nick: You've saved my life!

Katsura: You're saving mine!

Nick takes the chocolate bar, breaks off a small piece and hands it back to Kat, then begins demolishing the rest with ~~ Gen appetite ~~

Katsura smiles at Nick's maneuver and nibbles on the chocolate.

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