Ride Along

“I find it fascinating,” Dr. Morrison, the neonatal attending, said as he ante’d up, “that you’d have the temerity to direct two complete novices through a procedure that might cost one eye entirely.”

Dorian regarded his cards. Clearly, they were not falling in his favor tonight. Better to bluff, ante, and white knuckle his way to a friendlier cut. “A simple judgment, when yah think about it,” he replied. "Bone shards pressin’ against an eyeball that nevah stops movin’. Tha surgery was a risk, no doubt, but those shards slicin’ tha eye and tha optic nerves tah ribbons was a certainty.”

Morrison poured fresh drinks all around. “And no small amount of luck.”

“On tha contrary,” Adler laid his cards face down. “Ah put mah two volunteers through a few basic tasks tah conjure their demeanors. In tha end, a simple judgment. Tha steadiest hand takes tha scalpel..”

“A nun.”

“Correct.”

Morrison shook his head. “You’re a better man than I am…”

“Ah hope not,” Dorian countered. “In fah ten,” he said as a ten credit note landed atop the kitty.

Dr. Lao saw the raise with her own cash. “Do you think we’ll get to meet this nun?”

“Difficult tah say,” her patient shrugged. “Sistah Lyen just…has a way…of bein’ where she’s needed.”

“You admire her,” Dr. Martinez observed as he paid to play.

“Without reservation,” Dorian replied. “Three, please,” he asked Dr. Lao as his discards were pushed across the table. “Tha deckhand as well. Neither one hesitated…least not where it showed.”

Dr. Lao dealt fresh cards. “Would they be candidates for the program?”

“Evah person on mah boat would qualify,” he said, “even the little ones. Most boat crews fah yah program will be small. Tha smaller tha boat, tha more hats people wear…especially when there’s trouble.”

“That’s a lot of folk to get certified.”
“Doubtful,” Adler said as he reviewed his new hand. A straight. Might be able to sweep the pot, but Dr. Martinez’ bushy mustache had been lifted ever since he glimpsed his own cards. Time to cull the wheat from tha chaff. “Raise twenty.”

“That calls for another drink,” Morrison offered. “Dr. Adler?”

“Always…”

“Huh uh uh,” Dr. Lao wagged her finger. “You’re still on thirty milligrams of Lorzepine, doctor. The bar is closed for my patient.”

Dorian fixed her with an appraising eye. “That was a wretched thing tah do. What other tortures have yah in store fah me?”

“Not her.” Martinez wore a Cheshire Cat grin as he ante’d. “Me. Call.”

Dorian’s grin caused the eye patch to ride up his right cheek. “Ah admire such confidence. Let’s test tha depth of that resolve. Twenty more.”

“Nope,” Morrison said as the extra coin hit the pile. “I’ll sit this one out.”

“You’re a bastard,” Lao’s normally inscrutable features were severe as she threw her ante.

“Well,” Adler’s amusement was palpable. “Doctah Lao’s got a backbone. How ‘bout you?”

Martinez grinned broadly. “All day long. Now you gotta show me….” He paused, glancing down toward the cortex reader which buzzed quietly in the pocket of his lab coat. Within seconds, all three doctors were answering their devices. Dorian listened, silent as each of them relayed the sketchy details. “Shuttle crash….Unification Boulevard…..public transit shuttle and…a spacer? Passengers, crew, pedestrians…a large number of victims….

Morrison, Lao, and Martinez lept to their feet. “Shuttle deck,” Lao ordered. “Two minutes. Grab your kits. As her peers bolted from the room, Dr. Lao faced Dorian. “I can’t order you,” she said. “But I’ll ask.”

“Let’s go.”

…………………………..

The white coverall was a bit bulky on his frame, as were the boots. As Dorian slipped the ultra thin headset on, he caught Dr. Lao’s briefing to the dozen hospital staff. “Here’s how it is,” she said over the whine of the emergency shuttle’s engines. “A spacer was on burn in. He lost one of his atmo engines but still tried for the docks. Second engine went out and he made for the only wide, clear spot he saw…Unification Boulevard. Would have stuck the landing, until the public transit shuttle turned right into his path. Initial reports indicate numerous DOA’s and multiple traumas. You know what to do. Adler,” she continued. “You’re triage. Assess and report only. Copy?”

“Copy,” he nodded.

Black tendrils of smoke made their serpentine way skyward from over a dozen fires and smoldering heaps of wreckage. As he jumped down from the cargo ramp, Dorian noticed one of the city’s ubiquitous megascreens, shattered in the center and below. Though mortally wounded, the giant screen merrily displayed the latest “Oatey Bar” advert. Lying at its’ base was a large, fractured cylinder. An atmo engine, apparently ripped free of its’ pylon by the crash. As he rushed past, the word Capissen caught his eye, before flames curled and blackened the paint.

The scene ahead was lit by surreal flashes of red, blue, and yellow beacons. The fire services were just beginning to combat the numerous blazes, as paramedics and cops swarmed the crash site. The spacer appeared more or less intact, though lying upon the side from which the engine had been stripped. Three cops were working to cut their way through the cargo hatch, while several paramedics looked on. The air rang with wails and alarms as more emergency services poured into the scene.

“Adler…over here. With me.” Dr. Lao beckoned him toward a chunk of near unrecognizable debris. His comprehension failed him at first…something huge and flat, pancaked…it wasn’t until he saw the letters, inverted as they were, that he began to cotton to the scene.

opolitan Tran

The public transit shuttle…or part of it.

“Take this,” Lao jammed the flashlight into his hand. “Lead.”

The crushed shuttle was a charnel house. A Reaver's wet dream, he thought to himself as he crawled into the jagged opening. Everywhere were bodies, whole or incomplete, arrayed as macabre sculpture by a violent hand. The flashlight's beam played over figures in grotesque contortion. He smelled the foul odor of shit spray from dessicated bowels, and the sickly sweetness of blood. Dorian crawled among them, testing wrists and necks for any pulse, lowering an ear or a spit damp palm to detect any signs of breath.

Ahead, a weak groan. "Numbah one," he reported into his comm as he found the victim. "Female, middle sixties. Head trauma, compound leg fractures..."

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