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Chapter 15: The Emergency
My heart stopped for a moment.
Only two stretchers, not three....
Izah’an’s first was in the main stretcher, moaning in pain. The other unconscious man was under an oxygen breath mask and covered in blood, mud, and equipment. The flood of relief I felt when I saw it was Talin was tempered by great concern when I realized he was seriously injured. One of the emergency workers held up the infusion bag that had a line running from it to Talin’s arm and another held on to some equipment as they rushed past the doors. I quickly joined Jolee as he followed the stretchers into the emergency area.
“What happened?” I asked him, watching the emergency teams transferring both men to the brightly lit treatment bays and hooking up monitors and instruments. The alarms for critical values started sounding from the monitors in Talin’s bay. The med team scurried around setting up equipment, taking samples, and doing the initial scans to find all the injuries. They spoke back and forth with clipped voices edged in worry.
We walked briskly towards him, and Jolee filled me in. “When we found them, he was curled up around Izah’an’s first. Talin must have caught him right after they blew out of the corridor. The storm carried them some distance, and they hit a building about eight meters up—you could see the marks on the wall. They fell down the side, and Izah’an’s first landed hard on top of him. I’ve done some healing just to get him to this point, but we’re going to have to work together to stabilize him.”
I scanned the displays and watched the values scroll. “Oh, Force, these are bad,” I said, after seeing nothing but critical numbers.
Jolee laid a hand on my shoulder. “Stay calm. Getting adrenaline-addled isn’t going to help him. He’s the one with the problem, not you. I know this isn’t the first time you’ve been through something like this.”
The flashbacks returned with a vengeance. The explosion. Roben on the ground. Cradling his head and trying to heal him. Seeing his spirit leave. I closed my eyes and shook my head, trying to clear the images.
“Look at me, Jae,” Jolee commanded. I had no choice but to comply. He looked in my soul for a moment and then caught my eyes. “He’s not Roben. Talin’s got more than a chance, as long as you don’t keep standing there gawking at the past. Now, move. Focus. You’re a professional, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
I took a deep breath, recited the Jedi code to calm myself, and stepped into the controlled chaos in Talin’s bay.
Talin labored to make even a shallow breath. Bandages were stained bright red, and his leg was lying at an abnormal angle on the bed. One of the Li’adans finished the scan and put the results up on the monitor. Tarm’ad, the triad of doctors who was treating Talin, looked over the images, which showed a number of injuries ranging from the most serious to very minor.
Jolee pointed at the images of Talin’s fractured spine and collapsed lung. “We have to heal those before he can go into the kolto.”
Tarm’ad said, “All the tanks are in use right now, and there’s no one we can pull out at the moment.” They called over a duo. “Eron’an, tell surgery to be ready for two cases.”
“Jolee, if you can work on his collapsed lung, I’ll tackle the internal bleeding and that spine fracture,” I said.
When Tarm’ad looked momentarily confused, Jolee explained, “We’re going to heal the most serious injuries as long as our Force powers hold out to try and get him stable.”
“He’ll have a better chance of surviving if he still needs surgery after we’re done,” I added.
“Just tell me what you need and when,” Tarm’ad said. “While you’re doing that, we’ll work on putting his shoulder back in place and sealing all those deep lacerations.”
“Fix the breathing and the bleeding, I always say,” Jolee said.
He started concentrating on healing Talin’s collapsed lung while I worked on bringing the torn edges of the artery together, ‘watching’ them heal from the inside out.
“Bleeding’s stopped,” I told Jolee.
Jolee nearly had Talin’s lung healed when he regained consciousness, dark eyelashes fluttering against his ghostly pale skin. I had to drop out of the healing meditation to calm him when he started moving around.
“Heart rate’s spiking,” Eron’an said. His heart was beating dangerously fast from shock.
“Sedate him. Now,” Tarm’ad ordered.
I leaned in close to him and gently put my hand on his. “Talin, you’re hurt bad. We’re healing you right now. Hold still for us.”
He nodded slightly and closed his eyes again.
“Talin, hang on just a little longer. I’m almost there,” Jolee said.
Alarms went off as Talin gave a little shudder and stopped breathing.
“His heart rate and BP just bottomed out. We’re losing him,” Eron’an announced.
“Damn it, Talin, don’t you give up now. I’m almost done fixing that lung,” Jolee said. “Jae, go get that boy. Tell him I said he’s too damn young to die.”
I closed my eyes in meditation and drifted over to that dark, quiet between-world. The shadow-valley between life and death strips the soul to its essence. There are no masked emotions, no lies, and I felt a sudden roiling of my feelings as I looked around, anxious to find him and bring him back before it was too late.
“Talin,” I called out, finally seeing him.
He looked around, the confusion coloring his aura.
I walked up to him. “Talin, come back to us. You can’t leave.”
He pointed towards that warm, bright light, “They don’t seem ready to take me just yet, but I want to be with them. People I love are there. It hurts too much where I was, and I can’t go on anymore.”
“Jolee says you’re too damn young to die.”
Talin smiled, but his eyes kept their weary look. “Jolee’s a funny man. No one’s too young to die. Children die. Babies die.”
“But we still need you here with us. Don’t let go,” I urged.
“There are other Jedi.”
“Not other Jedi like you, Talin. You’re special. And you’re our friend.”
He looked over at me, surprised. “I thought you were angry with me and didn’t care.”
“Frustrated is a better word. Friends get frustrated with each other sometimes. Yes, I do care about you.”
“It’s more than frustration. You use that to keep me away.”
I didn’t want to answer, but I was afraid he’d let go if I didn’t keep talking to him to draw him back.
“I’m scared,” I said after some time. “Every one I’ve ever loved has died. My parents are gone. When Roben died, I felt like my soul was ripped in half. If I love, I lose, and I don’t want to feel that way ever again. Now you’re trying to leave, too. Jolee and I will do everything we can to heal you, but you’re the only one who can decide to return.”
“I didn’t know you felt that way.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone before. So what’s your reason?”
He tilted his head, confused. “What do you mean?”
“That arrogance. You’re only that way with me.”
“Because you’re beautiful, talented, and have a strength of will I’ll never have. I have feelings I never imagined having, and I’m not sure what to do. Keeping you at arm’s length keeps us both safe. I don’t want to put either of us in a difficult situation. But I don’t think it will matter now, anyway.” He turned towards the beckoning light, slipping fast.
“Talin Kayl, you just look at me right now,” I commanded, the sharpness in my voice surprising even me. He looked back to me, silent. I continued, “You have to fight this and come back to us. You’re too strong to run from life when it gets hard. Besides, Jolee would miss you a lot, and so would I. Maybe it’s selfish, but we want you in our world.”
He gave me a small smile. “You’re starting to sound like him.”
“He grows on you after awhile.”
He smiled wider. “Like a fungus.”
“I’ll make a pact with you. When we get back and you’re well, we’ll both deal with our problems. I’ll stop pushing everyone away when they get close if you’ll drop the condescension.”
He mulled over his options.
I hardly dared to breathe as he tried to make his decision. I held out my hand to him. “Come with me, please. I’ll help you get back.”
“It’s going to hurt a lot when I go back, isn’t it?”
When I heard him use ‘when’ instead of ‘if’, I allowed the tiniest bit of relief to trickle through me.
“It will, but not for too long. We’re trying to do everything we can to get you healed fast. I’ll stay with you as long as you need.”
He took hold of my hand, and I smiled as the relief flooded in.
“I’m going to hold you to that pact,” Talin said, and we walked away from the darkness together.
The change from the silent, dim netherworld to the glaring lights and cacophony of monitor alarms and loud talking was jarring, and I snapped out of the meditation.
Ilan’an called out, “He’s breathing again, rapid and shallow.”
“Glad you got him back, Jae. Lung’s healed; I’m going to tackle some of those other fractures.”
Tarm’ad listened to Talin’s breathing. They looked almost amazed in their pleasure. “Lung sounds are much better.”
“Heart rate’s a good sinus rhythm. BP and O2 sats are coming back up towards normal,” said Eron’an.
“Better,” I said, breathing out a bit in relief. “I’ll work on the vertebrae now.”
“You used a ton of energy trying to get him to come back. You burn yourself out trying to heal him completely and I’ll be very upset,” Jolee said, looking up from his work to make sure he had my complete attention.
“I’ll stop before I exhaust myself.”
I meditated and brought the edges of the vertebrae back into alignment. The fracture lines filled in and set. Jolee and I worked on the rest of the injuries until I was shaking from the effort to use the last of my Force strength.
He looked up as we finished the work on Talin’s broken bones. “You’re done. Sit down before you fall down.”
I sank into the chair and looked over the monitors. Some of the values were now out of critical ranges and moving back to normal. “He’s starting to stabilize, Jolee.”
“Looks like he’s not going to need surgery, either,” Tarm’ad said, looking over the latest scans. “All the major injuries are healed. Impressive.”
The decrease in everyone’s intensity level was almost palpable. The staff moved briskly instead of frantically, and the volume of the noise dropped to a more normal level.
“Nice job,” Jolee clapped me on the shoulder and then caught me when I nearly tipped off the chair. “You’re beat. Stay here while I go check on Izah’an.” He washed up and walked over to the other bay.
Talin started to stir and tried to remove the oxygen mask. I took his hand and held onto it gently to keep him from taking it off. He was too weak to pull away to reach his face.
“Talin, leave the mask on, you need the oxygen right now. You’ve been hurt badly, but you’re going to be OK,” I reassured him. “They’re pulling glass out of your back, so you have to hold still.”
He settled down, not making a move to remove his hand from mine.
Jolee returned to us after some time and noticed Talin was more responsive.
“How’s our favorite patient?” Jolee said, looking down at him.
“I feel terrible,” Talin said weakly, his voice barely above a whisper.
“You look terrible, too,” Jolee said, “but you’re past the worst of it. They only have to pick out that glass now. Just how many windows did you crash through?”
Talin mustered the energy for a half-chuckle before it quickly turned to a wince, “Oh, it hurts to laugh. One or two. Izah’an?”
“You did a good job protecting him. He’s going to be just fine. He had a couple of broken bones and a concussion, but he wasn’t nearly as bad off as you were. You broke pretty much everything you can break.”
“Hit several buildings hard. Last fall got me.”
“Jolee, what happened to Dycen’a?” I asked, looking over at him.
“The Li’adans think he was swept away in the storm and likely died. I’m not so sure. We would have found something by now if he’d been killed. I think he’s somehow survived and is hiding. However, he’s not anywhere near here right now, or we’d feel it. It’s going to make a very interesting report for the Council, that’s for sure.”
Kiol’ad and Elin’ad entered the infirmary, worried looks mirrored on all their faces. They conferred with Damen’ad and Tarm’ad to get a report on all the patients and then came to speak with us. Tarm’ad returned to the task of finding and removing all the glass and debris from Talin.
I joined them in that task, taking gauze to clean some of the facial wounds of the debris.
“You don’t have to do that. I can wash my own face,” Talin said, embarrassed at being unable to do the simplest tasks but too weak to stop me from helping.
“I’m making sure you don’t have anything stuck in these cuts. Besides, you’ll be a lot more comfortable if you don’t have all this grit and dirt drying on your skin. Now you just rest and let me do my job.”
“All right,” he said, closing his eyes.
Kiol’ad came in, and seeing Talin with his eyes shut, said quietly, “We heard the good news that Jedi Kayl will recover.”
Talin heard them, opened his eyes, and tried to raise his head.
“Talin, hold still, please,” I said to him. “Tarm’ad’s still working. Jolee will take care of things for you.”
Elin’ad smiled gently, saying, “We don’t worry about protocol and negotiations in the infirmary.”
Jolee said, “We’re glad Izah’an made it, too. I was concerned when he was blown out the window. That storm was unbelievable.”
Tarm’ad looked up from their work. “We don’t know if Izah’an would have survived without both Jedi helping with their healing. We’ve learned some very interesting treatment techniques.”
Kiol’ad looked at both of us and said, “We’re thankful to have you here and grateful for all your help. When everything has settled a bit, we’d like to hear what happened in more detail, especially about Dycen’a. Is there anything you need?”
Jolee looked over at me. “I think my Padawan needs to go change.”
I had one of the disposable ER gowns on over my outfit, which had been stained with blood and dirt. I realized I was starting to feel the chill of the damp dress.
“I didn’t notice,” I said, looking down at it for the first time since before the attack.
Jolee noted dryly, “I gathered that. You really have to stop dressing up in evening gowns when you go heal.”
I wrinkled my nose to make a face at him for that quip.
Ilan’an brought some scrubs for me. “Please, take these. You need something dry until you can get back to your quarters.”
I made a move to let go of Talin’s hand to go change when he abruptly gripped mine tightly. “Please, don’t go,” he pleaded. “I don’t want to be alone right now.”
Looking down at him, I saw the vulnerability in his exhausted face and felt his fear at coming too close to death. I smiled, gently squeezing his hand back.
“We won’t leave you alone. I’ll be right back, I promise. Jolee will stay with you while I change,” I reassured him.
Talin let go reluctantly. I changed and returned quickly.
“I think he’s asleep,” Jolee said quietly, nodding towards Talin. “Elin’ad is going to take me back to our suite so that I can clean up and change. I can’t stand smelling like bantha schutta. Then I’m going to have a little chat with Kiol’ad and Elin’ad. They need to know about Dycen’a training as a dark Jedi. I shouldn’t be too long. Call me on the comlink if something happens.”
He turned and left with the Triad leaders.
“Well, now we’ve got all that glass,” Tarm’ad said, satisfied at the work.
They spread an anti-infective over his back and then covered it with a large dressing. Talin woke up from the cold of the medication.
“They’re done now, Talin,” I said.
He nodded in relief, but he reached for my hand for reassurance anyway.
“You’re going to be just fine. I’ll stay with you as long as you need.” I said, giving his hand a slight squeeze.
He finally relaxed completely and fell into a deep sleep, breathing evenly. I sat down in a chair next to his bed to keep a vigil.
* * *
“Jae, wake up,” Jolee said in a subdued voice. “You neck is going to get stuck like that.”
His eyes still managed to crinkle in amusement, though the fatigue remained from all the healing and fighting he had done earlier.
Rubbing the gritty feeling from my eyes, I lifted my head up from the top of the chair. Apparently, I had been in that position for quite some time, because my neck was nearly fused from stiffness. I rotated my head a bit to loosen up the muscles, and remembering where I was, looked immediately over at Talin’s bed to assess his condition.
Jolee followed my eyes over to him. “He’s improving quite a bit. Looks like all his vital signs have stabilized in the normal ranges. He’s sure got a death grip on your hand, though.”
“He was scared. I guess he felt he needed to hold onto something familiar.”
Jolee patted my shoulder a couple times. “You’re a good lass. Sometimes it’s the simplest gestures that mean the most to our friends. It reminds me of Nayama’s cocoa chip cookies. Which reminds me of food, which you haven’t had in awhile.”
I looked over at Talin, who was in a deep sleep, recovering nicely. My stomach gave me away by growling loudly. “I suppose I could eat a little something and nap while he’s asleep.”
“Of course you can eat and sleep,” Jolee snorted, “because I’m going to sit here by Talin and make you rest. Heh, you know, this Jedi master thing grows on me. It’s kind of fun ordering around you young people.”
I could only manage a tired smile at his wit. I relinquished my chair and sat down at the little table where he’d left a small dinner tray.
He said, “Nayama used to take the finest Ithorian cocoa chips—best in the galaxy, maybe the universe—and make these cookies. They were the finest smelling cookies, but they tasted just awful.” He scrunched up his face in distaste. “In fact, she was a terrible cook. Somehow, she managed to burn or ruin just about any dish she touched. I had to learn how to cook in self-defense or I would have starved. She loved those cookies, however, so I always ate a couple and encouraged her to make more.”
“If you didn’t like them, why did you want her to make more?”
“Because every time she made them, she’d bring me a plate and put a little kiss right here on my head,” he said, pointing to the center of his forehead. “She never did that with any other dish she made. I would have eaten a bucket of bolts to get that little forehead kiss. It was a tiny thing, but it meant a lot to me. It was one of the ways she showed me she loved me. I bet you’ve had some little thing like that that meant a lot to you.”
“Roben and I had this little hand signal we’d give each other to say ‘I love you’. We weren’t always able to speak to each other in the Court if we were busy with our particular duties, but we could make our little sign to each other subtly enough that it wasn’t noticeable to anyone else. And my housemother, Telma, had this little couch in her office where could sit. If we had a bad day, she’d come sit down on that couch next to us, put her arm around us, and give a little motherly squeeze. It didn’t matter how bad the situation was, that little hug somehow seemed to make everything all right.”
“Heh, Telma sounds like a fine woman.”
Talin gave out a short sigh. Both Jolee and I looked over towards him. I scanned the monitors quickly for any abnormal readings and was relieved when they continued to remain normal. When I looked back at him again, his eyes were open slightly and he appeared to be in no distress. His lips turned up slightly, which was as much energy as he could muster for a smile.
His voice was barely above a whisper as he asked, “Do you people ever stop talking long enough for a guy to sleep?”
Last edited by Jae Onasi; 08-03-2006 at 02:51 PM.