By Doro Schluter
Since the forces of the Eldar had left the Craftworld for the battlefields of Bac Dumor, Ceiban and his colleagues had been busy preparing the Rooms of the Healers for the return of the warriors. They were located in the outer reaches of the Craftworld where the artificial gravity was weakest, and in the immediate vicinity of the military hangars with their various portals. Almost as soon as the battle had started in earnest a small but steady trickle of wounded had been coming in. With the end of the battle, whether won or lost, the trickle would swell to a stream and the main work of the healers would begin and would taxe them to exhaustion and beyond.
Suddenly a tumult was audible from the corridor outside, was it already beginning? Ceiban went to look, but stopped dead in the instant he had opened the doors. He was facing four menacing alien warriors looming in blood red and heavily damaged armour, their massive weapons threateningly raised. Ceiban froze, for between them on a huge dented bronce slab they were carrying the Eldar Battleseer Fay-ak. And from what he could see, she definitely needed immediate help. Ceiban’s mind raced frantically: What were those alien warriors doing in here? Was the battle over already, lost even? Or were the forces of the Eldar without guidance now, uncoordinated and without a chance? What had happened to the Battleseer? And where, grace of Isha, was all that blood coming from that was steadily dripping from the bronce slab, by now forming a small puddle on the floor?
He gathered up his courage and moved towards the incongruous quintet. Immediatly the frightening masks brought their full attentention onto him.
“Put down your weapons in here!” he demanded, his heart in his mouth. Nothing happened.
They do not understand me!
Ceiban started to sweat. Carefully he extended his hand to touch the bronce slab, and tugged it gently towards the doors. Now they seemed to understand. Carrying the Battleseer between them, the towering alien warriors moved to follow Ceiban. He dared to breathe again. Quietly gesticulating he managed to direct the little procession into one of the adjoining Treatment Rooms.
Without touching her he ran his hands over her body and gently probed with his mind to find out where and how serious her injuries were, but the simple fact that the Battleseer was unconscious indicated grave problems. He found several broken ribs, both legs and her left arm were almost completely shattered. But even taken together these could not account for her fragile condition. Investigating closely found fragments of her broken ribs that had been forced into her chest cavity and caused extensive damage which was seriously threatening her life. All this looked as though she had been buried under something very heavy. Ceiban cast one glance at the bronce slab, then he started to fight.
He took the small pouch with her Seer Runes and the breast plate off her, as their strong psionic aura would interfere with, even block his power to heal. After repeatedly colliding with one of the alien warriors, he was exasperated: Without thinking twice he put his hand on the warrior’s chest and determinedly pushed him back to the wall. With some surprise he noticed that the other three did also retreat a few paces, yet never took their attention off his actions. After this small incident he gave them no further notice, but concentrated wholly on the task at hand. Prior to anything else he sorted out the damage inside her thorax, hoping this would stabilise the Battleseer’s condition, but to no avail: Her breathing was irregular and alarmingly shallow, and he could feel her heartbeat growing weaker by the minute. She was slipping away.
Panic started to grow in him: No-one should say, Fay-ak Battleseer had died of her wounds on the Craftworld, in the Rooms of the Healers even, under the very hands of a healer. Not my hands! I do not want to bear the burden of her death! She never even had children!
Only with great reluctance did Ceiban ever remember what followed: Her breathing already undetectable, Fay-ak’s heartbeat stopped, and Ceiban almost instinctively applied the quickest, yet rather unsophisticated emergency measure: With some well-aimed heavy blows to her lower sternum he hoped to induce her heart to start beating again, but had no success. Ceiban’s panic mounted when he realised that the four alien warriors had stepped up threateningly towards the table and were now pointing their weapons at him. Frantically he tried to reanimate the Battleseer with rythmic pressure forcefully applied to her rib cage, even though this meant risking to break her ribs anew. One, two, three breathing cycles, but in vain. Desperately determind he went on, yelling at her without even noticing it:
“Fay-ak, where are you? Come back! Don’t you do this to me… FAY-AK! Your brother is going to kill me! WHERE ARE YOU…?“
Ceiban closed his eyes in despair, and resorted to the last and most dangerous measure at his command: He reached out with his mind, touching her heart, and gripping tightly he lashed out with all the energy he could muster.
A small involuntary sigh escaped her lips, and her body shuddered as though it were in great pain. The alien warriors moved forward, obviously concerned, but they did not interfere; they seemed to have grasped what was at stake. Tired and slightly swaying Ceiban held onto the edge of the table, and moaned with relief when he realised he had finally been successful: Fay-ak’s heart was beating again.
He stopped for a moment to catch his breath and gather enough strength to go on, then he started to puzzle the Battleseer’s broken limbs back together, a fiddly but comparatively easy routine task requiring merely concentration and, in this case, vast patience. When one of the aliens collapsed with a mighty crash he was momentarily distracted, and absent-mindedly called for another healer. The remaining warriors did not move one inch when their comrade was carried away, and Ceiban returned his full attention to his patient.
Finally, after what seemed like days to him, he had treated all her wounds and exhaustion plainly audible in his voice he called for the Custodians to entrust the Battleseer to their care. They arrived without undue delay, bringing with them a stretcher and a Trance Rune, which they placed on Fay-ak’s chest before carefully lifting her from the bronce slab onto the stretcher.
I should have called for an interpreter, but that is not my problem anymore… thought Ceiban, vastly relieved despite himself, when he saw the remaining three warriors closely following the stretcher with the Battleseer.