This week Dr Robinson helps Dr Thomas take his casualty to the Kestrel via the asteroid surface, and gets into trouble. If you want to read from the beginning, start here. My picture of Dr Robinson is Stephen Fry.
Intruders chapter 7 scenes 2&3
Robinson contacted the Kestrel from the pithead and arranged for Stubbs to deliver the supplies Ryan needed. When Robinson got back to the stores airlock, he found Thomas had been busy. He had brought an old airtight stretcher from the opencast days and fitted a new oxygen supply.
‘Ah, Doctor, give me a hand to transfer Elwyn into the stretcher. How are the men in the mine?’
‘All right at the moment, but they’re both bleeding from multiple sites, and I’m not happy about John. He has severe concussion, at least. They need urgent treatment. My medic is monitoring them while the miners dig down to reach them.’
‘Now Elwyn’s secure, let’s get our suits on. They’re hanging outside in the stores.’
Nervously Robinson followed Thomas back into the stores and got dressed in a suit. Thomas saw his hesitation.
‘Bit rusty, eh? Don’t worry, it’s something you never forget. It’ll come back to you once we get out there.’
Thomas helped him with the fastenings and checked everything was working. Robinson in turn checked Thomas' suit, and they were ready.
‘Now, there is some gravity out there, caused by the spin of the asteroid,'Thomas said. 'Just enough so you won’t float away, and your boots are weighted, so that helps you stay upright too. Just one word of warning, keep watch, because the voids come up close to the surface in places, and the crust can get quite thin. Let’s go.’
The airlock cycled and the door to the outside opened. Robinson was captivated by the desolation. The surface of the asteroid was barren, gently undulating, and covered in dust. While Robinson was contemplating the view, Thomas set off, so Robinson's first step was a stumble, as his hold on the stretcher pulled him over the threshold.
‘Watch out there,’ Thomas called, pausing.
Robinson grabbed the stretcher and carefully regained his balance. It did come back to me after all, he thought, as he automatically didn’t flail about, but slowly brought things under control.
Thomas led the way, the stretcher carried between them. They kept close to the dome, and after a short time the Kestrel came into sight around the curve. Robinson was eager to get back inside, and began to walk faster, swinging the stretcher round until he was walking almost parallel with Thomas. His eyes were on their destination and he failed to see a dark patch ahead. It was a hole. Robinson’s right foot went in, he sank past his knee and a sharp edge cut into his calf. The other knee wrenched as it hit the ground, and pain juddered through the joint. He cried out and fell forward.
Thomas pulled the stretcher from Robinson’s grasp and guided it to the ground, then came to Robinson’s side.
‘Are you all right?’ he asked. ‘Can I help you out?’
Robinson reached out to him.
‘Get me out quick. I think I’ve dislocated my knee, and I’m bleeding.’
‘Bleeding?’ Thomas drew back.
Robinson couldn’t think for the pain. ‘Yes, something sharp cut my leg, I can feel the blood running. Give me a hand here.’
Thomas laid a restraining hand on his shoulder. ‘Sorry. If you’re bleeding then your suit is punctured. The sharp edge must be blocking the hole. It's vital you keep still. You’ll have to stay where you are until I can get help. Let me see your oxygen reading.’ Thomas checked. ‘You do have a leak, but it’s slow.’ He spoke into the comm unit. ‘Mayday, mayday! Kestrel do you hear me? Doctors Thomas and Robinson out on the surface near the dome. Assistance needed urgently!’
* * *
A melodious voice replied. ‘This is Ensign Reuel on board Kestrel. What do you need?’
‘Dr Robinson has had an accident. I need help to get a patient to your stasis chamber so I can bring the stretcher back for him.’
‘I can give you that assistance. I have located your position. I will be with you shortly. Reuel out.’
Reuel was as good as his word. Within a few minutes Thomas saw a lithe figure almost flying towards them, as he pushed off the ground in huge strides. Reuel was in his element.
Thomas directed Reuel to take one end of the stretcher, but as they lifted it, Robinson panicked.
‘You can’t leave me!’
‘We have no choice,’ Thomas said. ‘We have to get Elwyn off the stretcher so we can use it for you. We’ll be as quick as we can. Try to stay calm and slow your breathing.’
And they were off. Reuel slowed down to accommodate Thomas, but went in front, so he pulled him along with the stretcher.
‘Dr Thomas, this is Ensign Stubbs on the Kestrel. I see your approach. I have cycled the airlock and put our stasis chamber inside so you can transfer your patient without coming on board. The airlock will be open for you in one minute. Notify me when you have left again. I will take the chamber back to sick bay and leave the airlock open.’
‘Message received, Ensign Stubbs, and thank you.’
[Next week Darrow investigates the missing quartz and gets an unpleasant surprize]
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