Part 39 Chapter 25-Shewolf Launch

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A patrol cruiser, belching gray smoke, came toward me and drew alongside. I coughed on the acrid fumes and my eyes watered. The entire craft vibrated with the power of two massive outboard motors. Tyee wouldn't have allowed Shewolf to shimmy that way.

A man shouted from the back of the patrol cruiser. "Stranger, what's your need?"

Too tired to speak, I transmitted; Sick. Threw up. I'm cold. So cold.

He transmitted in return: Permission to come aboard? Seaguard medic here.

My boat rocked as he stepped aboard. He lurched then stooped to touch my forehead. "Good Danna! Burning hot."

The walrus mustache overhanging his mouth quivered. Not the sort of Seaguard rescuer who showed up in Grandpa's stories. He was balding and his gut bulged under his life vest.

But I'm cold, I transmitted, and my words came from his comset.

His eyes went wide. "Where's the comset?"

I tapped behind my ear.

He took off the speaker unit and stared at it, then at me. "What the.... Can't be."

With cool fingers he lifted my hair. "A neural interface? Where'd you come from?"

Uh...Goldborough. My words again came from his unit.

"That you transmitting?"

Aye. I nodded. Speaking took too much effort.

"Seaguard, how long you been feeling sick?"

Seaguard? Oh, he was talking to me.

Since a little while ago. This morning, I transmitted.

His questions came rapid-fire: "Ever had this happen to you before? Are you on any medication? Have you been drinking alcohol?"

No. No. The world seemed unreal and if everything was going up and down, but then I was on a boat.

"What was the last thing you ate?"

Fish jerky. Last night. And some hardtack. Maybe it was spoiled.

"Could be." He pulled at his mustache. "But spoiled hardtack just tastes bad. Doesn't usually make you sick. The fish though...hmm. Let's get you back to the clinic."

He helped me crawl across the gunwales into the patrol boat. I slumped on a bench just back of the cabin.

His partner, a weathered man with a scraggly beard, stood at the open cabin door.

"She's old Seaguard," said the medic. "Got a marine-com right in her head, and she's wearing Seaguard boots."

"Can't be Seaguard. She's a girl," said the partner.

"Must be Mediko. A doctor-girl."

"What's a doctor-girl doing sailing solo? Why is she here at all?"

"Girl, where you from?" demanded the medic.

"Can't ask that sort of thing," said the partner. "It's rude."

"No it ain't. Need to know how she got sick. How long you been feeling under the weather?"

"I already told you," I mumbled.

"Well, she talks as well as transmits," said the partner.

"Eat anything unusual? Taking any medication?"

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