After writing the first book, COLONY UNDER SIEGE with these characters – Dr. Saffia Mandell, newly minted doctor working off her medical school bills by doing five years of government service on a remote colony and Micah Navonn, Chief Ranger of his people, who own the planet – I just really wasn’t ready to walk away from them. More plots kept coming to mind and I like these two and their world a lot.
“We’ve got to get to town right away. Can you open your mobile clinic a day early?”
“Of course if there’s a need. What’s wrong?” Saffia followed Ellen to toward the parking lot at a jog, Roann on her heels.
“Two of the boys got burned, not sure how bad. The wind shifted and they couldn’t move fast enough. The crew is bringing them to town now. Smoke inhalation problem too. Good thing you’re here, doc.”
“We won’t open up the entire mobile clinic,” Saffia said to Roann while she mentally reviewed what supplies she had for treating burns. “Unless there’s more to these injuries. The examining room should be adequate.”
“Yes, doctor.” Roann leaned forward. “What does the town do when you aren’t here?”
“We have a physician’s assistant and a couple of former medics,” Ellen said, keeping her attention on the narrow road. “But for anything serious the patient has to be flown to the main colony.”
“I’m glad I’m here to help today,” Saffia said. She got out her handheld and sent Warby, her medical AI a quick message. True to his prediction, he’d managed to create a version of himself to add to Gretchen’s systems. While the version didn’t have all of his enhanced capabilities, it could perform quite a few tasks and multiply her efforts and that of her staff, which in this case was only Roann.
She arrived at the landing field before the injured men were brought in, although as she hastened to Gretchen, Saffia could hear sirens coming closer. As soon as the mobile clinic opened, she rushed inside to throw on a medical coat and run herself through the decontam ray so she could begin examination and treatments immediately.
She and Roann worked together smoothly to take the most severely injured man into deep treatment for his lungs and burns, which fortunately weren’t as severe as Saffia had been dreading. The second man was stoic about waiting his turn and Warby was able to begin the lung therapy to some extent, once Roann had the patient properly situated on the exam table in the second small room. It was an hour of intense work before Saffia was able to step outside of Gretchen’s portal and announce to the waiting crowd both men were going to be okay and able to go home that same evening. A cheer went up from the surprisingly large group of villagers and she escaped inside to supervise the last few aspects of the procedures.
“I want to see both of you tomorrow,” she said to the men. “Have someone in your family work with Ellen to schedule an appointment but you must be seen. Those burns were nothing to take lightly and neither is the condition of your lungs. In the bad old days, you might not have survived the pulmonary damage.”
“We’ll be here, doc,” said the elder, a man named Baxter, who ran one of the local stores when he wasn’t fighting fires as a volunteer. “We’re sure blessed you were here today.”
“Can I attend the party this evening?” asked the younger, Duncan, with a shy glance at Roann, standing beside Saffia. “It’s supposed to be quite a special event, all my friends are going. Live music and everything. Be a shame to miss it—we don’t get much excitement up here.”
“Sorry, doctor’s orders you need to stay home and rest.” She was a bit annoyed she even had to say this but at least he’d asked. She probably would have gone supernova if she learned later he’d taken the risk of attending the gathering. “I know it’s hard to miss a good party and we should celebrate the lucky escape you both have had today, but these types of injuries are nothing to fool around with. You’ll be in for the long flight to the colony if you don’t heal and a lot more unpleasant treatments.” Duncan had struggled with the lung flushing and had required a medinject to partially sedate him in fact so she figured it was an effective threat.
Roann escorted the two men from the clinic and Saffia headed for her tiny office to make proper notes about the cases. She heard a muted cheer go up and smiled. It had been a satisfying ‘save’. This is what I got into medicine to do.
“You look satisfied with yourself.” Micah leaned against the door frame. “Thought you weren’t treating people today?”
“There was an emergency; couple of the firefighters were burned. Not too badly thank goodness, but I also had to treat substantial lung damage.” She rose and went to him, putting her arms around him in a tight hug. “When you go out to a wildfire, are you running the same risks?”
“Fire doesn’t treat anyone better than the next person,” Micah said, holding her close. “But as I’ve told you before, the Calinurra take a different approach to managing the blazes. I’m not usually a frontline responder anyway—we have trained crews for that.” He smoothed her hair away from her face and gave her a long kiss. “I promise you I’m always careful. Even more so, now I have you to come home to.”