Sally led the way for a while, taking a turn with the .45. The moment she held it in her hands, however, she wished she had left it with Ian. Now everything in front of her became a potential target and fear was leaning on the trigger. After seeing the one-eyed man, she knew not everyone on the planet was an enemy. And he was another problem. She kept looking back over her shoulder, checking to see if he had moved since they left him. He would probably be dead before they returned. She knew she couldn't save him with the medical equipment available and Scott, of course, was her real patient. Any time she spent with the one-eyed man kept her from him. She hated dilemmas! The doctor in her could never leave a patient to die without trying to save him, but the captain in her knew they had to. As a result, each step forward was agonizing.
“We shouldn't have left him,” Sally said to the air in front of her.
Ian nodded, but didn't reduce his pace.
“What if we brought him back to the ship?” she suggested. “We might still be able to save him. Perhaps he could tell us something about these masters of his.”
Ian did stop at this. He looked confused. “There's nothing in the shuttlepod we don't have with us. You don't mean bring him back to the Kelthy, do you?”
She sighed, embarrassed at the obvious flaw in her logic. “Of course not,” she said in a frustrated tone. “That would be impossible . . . Forget it.”
“I squeezed every drop out of those engines coming down. I'm pretty sure we can bring up three, but four?”
“I said forget it!” she snapped. “I wasn't thinking.”
Now the silence between them was awkward on top of everything else. Perhaps it was better not to talk. Ian was a good man and it mattered what he thought of her. He was also the only human being within earshot and the sound of his voice reminded her she wasn’t alone. But she knew full well that if she opened her mouth she would only make a greater fool of herself than she already had. They had seen two skeletons and a dying man all within a few hundred yards. Logic dictated there would be plenty of other targets for her sympathy and she couldn't save them either. She felt like a child who’d carried a dying bird into the house expecting Mommy and Daddy to mend it and send it back to the skies. No such luck. Every child learns that lesson at least once, but can one who learns it remain a child? Is something lost? Such puzzles could occupy Sally’s mind far too much for her own good. She simply had to accept it. That poor, filthy, one-eyed, toothless man was going to die, probably with that pathetic smile on his face. There was no ambulance to call and no hospital to run to, and she couldn't build one herself. Or maybe that was the saddest part. Given time, perhaps she could. Maybe she could even save him if she tried, but she'd never know for sure. She didn't have time. Not for him. And that left her with the emptiest of hearts. Until the day she died she’d never lose sight of the poor, wheezing, one-eyed bastard rotting away on that stinking hill on the hazy blue world light-years from her home. The poor laughing fool who needed her and whom she didn't try to save.
“Bloody Hell!” Ian shouted.
Sally swung the gun wildly. Ian ducked.
“Sorry! Don't do that!”
“I've got Scott's Biomonitor!” Ian cheered. “I’ve got it on my hand-held!”
“What? Well, how can you? We found it smashed!”
“Not the external unit, the implant.” Ian grinned. “I've got a reading from the implant!”
Of course, she thought. She had watched the procedure and even performed it herself. The implant within the body sends a signal to the arm unit worn by the subject. That, in turn, makes sense of the data. The implant made it unnecessary to wear the clumsy gadget into the shower or to bed. The unit would still get the signal even several yards away from the patient.
“We didn't pick it up from orbit because the ship isn't set up to look for that kind of signal, but the field units are!”
“It's a weak signal,” Ian said, wiping his forehead. “It probably wouldn’t even register on the biomonitor, but the fact I'm getting it at all means he must be within half a mile of here!”
“Is he . . . Can you tell if he's . . .”
“I can't read his vitals with this,” he said. “For that I’d need the unit itself. I'm really only sure it’s still transmitting, but if he were dead I expect we'd be getting a more flattened signal than this.”
Ian handed her the taser, giving her an awkward smile. Sally gave him back the gun.
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