This week, Dr Robinson gets rescued. To read from the beginning, go here. My idea of Quentin Robinson is an old-fashioned Stephen Fry.
Intruders chapter 8 scene 1
Dr Thomas and Reuel arrived at the airlock, put the stretcher beside the stasis chamber and lowered the stand. Thomas turned to Reuel.
‘Don't close the outer door, Ensign. I'll keep the gravity low when the airlock pressurises, so I can transfer Elwyn to the stasis chamber on my own. Will you return to Dr Robinson?’
‘Yes sir, what should I do?’
‘Talk to him. Keep him calm and make sure he doesn’t struggle. Any movement could open that cut in his suit.’
‘I will do my best, sir.’
Reuel sped off to return to Robinson, and Thomas set the airlock to pressurise so he could open the stretcher.
When Reuel got back to Robinson, he found him very tense.
‘Ensign Reuel reporting sir!’
‘Yes, yes, check my air supply, will you? I can’t see from this position.’
Reuel started when he saw how fast the display was going down. He quickly recovered, took a deep breath and said, ‘Do not worry, Doctor, you will be fine.’
‘Fine? What does that mean?’
Reuel got down to Robinson’s level by lifting his feet to the side and gently floating to the ground.
‘Doctor, you told me yourself it means “as well as can be expected under the circumstances”. Is that not sufficient?’
Robinson groaned and closed his eyes. Reuel remembered he was supposed to talk, and racked his brains for what to talk about. Then he remembered something he had heard about a typical human subject.
‘The weather is good is it not?’ When Robinson didn’t respond, he tapped gently on the top of his helmet. ‘Doctor? Is not the weather acceptable?’
‘What? What are you talking about? And don’t bang on my helmet!’
‘My apologies, Dr Thomas told me I should talk to you. What would you like to discuss?’
Robinson was spared Reuel’s conversation by a call from Dr Thomas.
‘Ensign Reuel? Can you return to help me bring the stretcher?’
‘At once, Doctor.’
With a casual push of his hand on the ground, Reuel floated to his feet and disappeared at speed. Soon he and Thomas were back with the stretcher. The first thing Thomas did was to check the readouts. He looked at Reuel in alarm.
Reuel understood the unspoken enquiry, and said, ‘I have informed Dr Robinson he will be fine.’
Thomas nodded and turned to Robinson.
‘How are you?’
‘A bit light-headed,’ Robinson replied, ‘I think I’ve lost a lot of blood. I don’t know if the pain has subsided or I’m just getting too woozy to feel it.’ He gave a wan smile.
‘Well, don’t you pass out on us. We need to get a tourniquet on that leg as soon as it's out of the hole.' Thomas reached into a bag hanging from the stretcher, pulled out a bandage and shook it free of its pack. 'Once we get you into the stretcher you need to open your helmet, to use the internal air supply.’ He turned to Reuel. ‘Your hands are smaller than mine, Ensign. Will you try to work your hand down into the hole and see if you can free the doctor’s leg? Be careful, the crystals are sharp.’
Reuel laid down and worked his hand into the hole as Robinson moaned with the pain. He found the crystal jabbed into the hole in Robinson’s suit and leg.
‘I will pull his leg free and cover the hole with my hand. It will not be a perfect seal, but should be enough until you get the tourniquet on. Are you ready Doctor?’
Thomas bent and took hold of Robinson under the arms. It was awkward, with them both in space suits. He said to Robinson, ‘You need to take a deep breath and hold it while we get you out. Try not to let your breath go when it hurts. That will help to protect you against the loss of air. Now, everybody ready to go on a count of three. One, two, three!’
With Thomas pulling and Reuel pushing, Robinson came out of the hole with a cry. They laid him on the ground. Reuel put his other hand on top of Robinson’s leg so he could exert more pressure.
‘Don’t let go!’ shouted Thomas, as he saw the blood running between Reuel’s fingers. ‘If we don’t stem that bleeding, he could bleed to death before we get him to the ship.’
Thomas wrapped the bandage below Robinson's knee and pulled it tight, knotting it. He inserted a piece of metal and twisted it to tighten the bandage. Robinson cried out. Thomas opened a second bandage. As Reuel let go and Thomas wrapped the bandage around the wound, Reuel was showered with a spurt of blood as the air rushed out of the suit. Quickly Thomas bound it tight, and he and Reuel lifted Robinson into the stretcher and slammed the canopy shut.
‘Robinson! Open your helmet! You need to breathe the air from the stretcher. Robinson!’
Groggily Robinson responded and fumbled with the catch as he gasped for air. Finally the helmet seal cracked and Thomas and Reuel released the breath they hadn’t realised they had been holding. They rushed him to the airlock. As the airlock re-pressurised, it also came up to normal on-board gravity. Reuel slumped against the wall. When the inside door opened, Stubbs was standing there with Reuel’s back brace in his hand.
‘One moment Doctor. I just need to help Ensign Reuel. The lift to take Dr Robinson up to sick bay is over here,’ Stubbs said, pointing. He dodged past the stretcher. ‘Are you all right, Reuel? What’s all this blood?’
‘It is well, Stubbs. The blood is not mine. Come, help me out of my suit.’
As soon as Reuel could manage, Stubbs helped Thomas take the stretcher to sick bay.
[Next week: Hoy and Tabitha return to the Kestrel from the mine, and the Captain’s mayday call is received.]
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