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Assistance is Futile

By Quillblade

"You can't do this to me, Duke, I'm your apprentice!"

"And as my apprentice ya should be doin' as yer told!"

Nosedive stared at him helplessly, scanning Duke's face for the slightest inkling that this all might be a joke. There was none, and he sagged into the chair with a despairing sigh.

"There is nothing wrong with being the Doc's assistant fer one day," Duke said. "I mean," he added, "how many injuries can there be in one day?" Now Dive knew that something bad was going to happen, Finagle's Law forbade it to be otherwise.

The problem had begun yesterday, when a skirmish between a few Presabers grew to an all out fight which had left quite a few people, including Tarrin's normal assistant, with various injuries, Leila with a large headache, and the Doc with not much time on his hands. Duke had a "brilliant" idea - supposedly to give him experience in the medical side of the Brotherhood, although Dive was beginning to suspect that Duke just wanted rid of him so he could "console" Leila - to volunteer Nosedive as a temporary assistant. Needless to say, neither of them was overjoyed.

"It's not that I don't like da Doc," said Dive quickly. "I just don't think doctorin' is my kinda thing."

"You're an assistant, not an apprentice." Duke paused. "And if Tarrin decided to take you on as the latter, I'd say it was him needin' the doctoring..."

Unsure whether to be insulted or grateful, Nosedive nodded gloomily. "Okay... I'll do it. I have no idea how the day'll turn out, but I'll do it. But remember Duke, you're gonna pay for this!"

Duke grinned. "Thanks, kid - you've made my day."


"Nosedive, please will you leave those bottles alone!" Doc sighed as he felt his patience wearing thin; he wasn't sure which was more tiring, treating the injured Presabers or keeping Nosedive out of trouble. "Can you just pass me the silosine, please?"

"Silosine, silosine... uhh..."

A bottle of pills was hastily handed to him, and he shook his head, handing them back. "Dive, silosine is an antiseptic ointment used for the cleansing and healing of large wounds, not pills to induce vomiting." He watched Nosedive search for the right bottle through the shelves, and then began filling a syringe with 10cc's of ketol. "If it helps you, Dive, it's that icky purple coloured stuff on the middle shelf."

"Now that's language I know." Nosedive triumphantly grabbed one of the bottles and tried to give it to him, but Tarrin nodded down at the gauze laid out on the table.

"Dab some of that on and then put it over Dalin's arm wound. I'll just give Kana a shot of ketol."

Nosedive nodded, and then looked down at the gauze, wondering exactly how much silosine a "dab" called for. He decided to play it safe, tipping a bit of the watery ointment into a small dish and sponging the gauze in it, which gave the bandage material a distinctly fuchsia-pink glow. Transferring that to the Presaber Dalin's arm he glanced over at Tarrin who was talking with his assistant Kana. Doc noticed his gaze and checked on Dalin.

"Good work." He took the bandage from the stainless steel bench and wrapped the arm wound up. "You're both free to go now so long as neither of you do anything that could aggravate your injuries. Kana, I suggest you go to your quarters, ketol has a drowsing effect, and Dalin, I'd like to see you back here tomorrow morning for a check up."

"Right, Doc."


Nosedive sighed and all but fell into the chair as the two patients walked out. Tarrin gave him a look of wry amusement. "Tired already? You've been here barely an hour."

"Tell me it's gonna be easier the rest of the day?"

"Easier? That was one of the simplest cases I've had in months and certainly not the worst injury Dalin has sustained. That boy gets into more accidents than you."

"I could kill Duke," Dive muttered.

"Well if you want me to make a good report to him I'd be obliged if you would help me clean up." Doc indicated the bench, somewhat messed and spattered with silosine ointment. Nosedive groaned and stood up, grabbing a washcloth and wiping down the bench while Tarrin cleaned the instruments.

"Tarrin? Don't get me wrong but do you ever get outside the surgery much?"

"Being the only doctor in the Brotherhood it's rather a full-time job."

"I'll take that as a no." Nosedive looked around. The surgery was a small, stonewalled room with a low roof and a single light in the centre of the ceiling, making the corners a little dim. One wall was entirely taken up by shelving on which sat various medicines, books and boxes. The room was cold due to the busted heating system - Leila kept saying she'd somehow get it fixed, but that you couldn't really ask an electrician to come to a den of thieves - and smelt faintly of disinfectant. He noticed, with a sinking feeling, that the bed sheets were badly mussed and there were some drops of blood on one. Off to the laundry go they...

"While you're at it, Nosedive, could you take the sheets down to the laundry?"

I'm psychic, he thought glumly. "Sure thing Doc." Secure in the knowledge that Duke was gonna pay dearly for today Dive threw the washcloth back into the sink, rinsed it, and then turned his attention to the bedclothes.

As he walked out of the surgery he very nearly tripped on some loose cabling that hung down from the ceiling. Kicking it away he trotted off down the hall. Behind him, the cabling sparked.


"Nosedive, if you'd care to come over here I'll see if I can't alleviate your boredom and give you some practical information at the same time."

Dive looked up, and saw Tarrin picking out a few different bottles from the shelves before depositing them on the table. "Okay," he said, pulling his chair over and grabbing another for the Doc.

"Thank you. All right, I'm not much of a teacher but I can't stand seeing you sit in that chair and look so in the doldrums." He took one of the bottles and studied the label before tipping some out into a small dish on the table. "This isn't a chemistry lab but some of the things we have here aren't the normal medicines. For example this stuff is called Rhioxide, and it's a poison."

"Hey, isn't that the stuff that Duke was poisoned with?"

"Yes. Unfortunately it's very easy to come by because the poison comes from a flower many people grow in their gardens because of their scent."

Nosedive thought for a moment. "Rhiodendrons?" Tarrin nodded. "So just anyone can make it, if they have a bush, they have the poison?"

"Well, they need the right equipment, and that equipment is expensive but otherwise, yes. And it can be fatal if taken in large dosages." Doc picked up an eyedropper and unscrewed the lid of another bottle, taking out a small drop. "However, when mixed with a tetran solution it becomes a powerful anaesthetic."

Nosedive watched the colour change from a clear reddish colour to a golden yellow as the tetran was added. "Hey, cool... how much does it take to make a person fall asleep?"

"About that much." Tarrin nodded at the dish. "But it's not instantaneous, it takes a few minutes. Please don't get any ideas, Nosedive, Leila will have my head if people suddenly start falling asleep everywhere."

"Ideas? Me?" Nosedive put on a look of injured pride, but lost it quickly as he started grinning. "Don't worry, Doc, I won't make any anaesthetic up without a really good reason. Promise."

Tarrin took the dish away and rinsed it out. "Hold out your hand, Dive?" Bemused, Nosedive did so and Tarrin put a drop of some clear liquid on his index finger. "Notice how that feels rather slimy?"

"Yeah..." He rubbed his finger and thumb together. "Feels like liquid soap."

"Actually it's like that because it's slowly eating away at the skin on your fingers."

With a sudden grating of chairs Dive had performed a miraculous leap across to the sink at a speed that could well have earned him an Alympuck gold medal. As he washed his hand he glared back at Tarrin who somehow managed to look innocent despite the fact he was trying to hide a grin. "What?"

"That was the exact same response I had when the previous Doc tried that trick on me on my first day of apprenticeship. It's somewhat of a tradition."

Dive studied his hand carefully but couldn't find anything wrong with it. "You sound as though you're takin' me on as an apprentice..."

Tarrin blinked. "It did rather come out like that, didn't it? I'm not saying I wouldn't like you as my apprentice, of course. Will McWebb's choosing of me was just as surprising to everyone."

"Can't see why, that's sure."

"Nosedive, this might come as a shock, but I was once just as much a teenager as you, in fact some people might say I was worse." Dive stared. "Don't look at me like that young man, it wasn't actually all that long ago."

"Sorry, I just can't see you as a whacked out excitable teen."

"Oh thank you," Tarrin said dryly. "But if you would care to pick your seat up from the floor we might as well continue. Unless you'd rather do paperwork?"

"I'd have chosen this without the threat of paperwork, so long as ya haven't got any more little shockers like that waiting in line." Nosedive righted his chair and sat down again to see a somewhat greenish liquid replaced in the dish. "What's this?"

"Pheronol. It's an analgesic... pain-killing and cooling agent for scalds and burns, very fast working and non-painful but unfortunately it leaves a temporary green stain on feathers and clothing."

Nosedive laughed. "Oy, that wouldn't go down well with some people! Do you use it often?"

"Not often," Tarrin admitted. "Mostly for that reason though, it actually works better than other similar agents here but most people don't appreciate having green feathers for a week or so." He grinned, quite a surprising action considering he rarely more than smiled, and Dive couldn't help but return it.


Outside the surgery, Duke listened intently through the closed door, smiling to himself. The kid was actually enjoying himself, and it was clear that them working together was also doing some good for Tarrin. Content in the knowledge that the two would probably go on talking for most of the day, he headed up the corridor toward Leila's room. And tripped on the cabling.


Dive opened his mouth to speak when from outside the door came a loud noise of elecrical sparking... and a scream. He shot up to his feet and flung the door open to see Duke lying on the ground, that blasted cable lying across his legs. There was a nauseating smell of burnt flesh and he could guess where it was coming from.

"Holy duCaine!" he shouted, stepped forward, but Tarrin grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Don't touch him, Dive, or you'll be electrocuted as well. I'll shut the power to this section off, when the lights go then get him out from under the wires." The Doc vanished down the hallway, and soon the hallways itself vanished in darkness as the lights blinked out. Oh stars, Dive thought, I can't even see him! He crawled forward, soon touching Duke's boot and then his hand, tugging him out from the cable. The electrical power still made his feathers and hair frizz up, but he called back for Tarrin to turn the power on again.

When he could see around him again he decided he didn't want to. Duke's whole right side from his chest down was blackened and blistering quickly, and the cable had burnt out a section of his leg flesh to make a large wound. The Doc appeared on his other side, checking Duke for a pulse.

"He's alive. Nosedive, help me pick him up and we'll get him into the surgery. Then get the Pheronol and bandages."

"Right! Oh, man, what does he eat..?"


Duke opened his eyes to find Nosedive peering anxiously into his face. "Hey! Hey, Doc, he's awake! How ya feelin' Dukester?"

"I'm feelin' nothing Dive," Duke moaned, the numbness below his torso both worrying and aggravating at the same time. "What happened?"

"I'm sorry Duke, but we had to amputate."


"Nosedive, that was uncalled for. I think Duke has enough to worry about for a while without you adding, as it were, insult to injury." Tarrin walked over and helped Duke up into sitting position. "You were very badly burnt, Duke, and you'll probably be in here for a week or two. But nothing has been amputated."

"Dive, c'm'ere, I wanna kill ya," Duke growled.

"Uh uh, you can't kill someone who helped save you!" Nosedive grinned, but it was, Duke noticed, a relieved grin rather than a smart-ass smirk. "And don't say that only works until midnight, either. Speakin' of things that take a while..."

"Blisters I can deal with, Nosedive, I've been through much worse."

"That's not the worst of what you should be worrying about," said Tarrin, and Nosedive chimed in afterward with: "Greenie."

"Huh?" Duke was nonplussed and a little irritated at the amusement on their faces, and remained so until he followed Nosedive's gaze down to his right side. And screamed.



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