Shawn turned the radio on as soon as the cruiser slowed enough for close communication with home base. A green light blinked when the radio was ready for him to speak. "This is Captain Shawn speaking. I have a seriously injured crew member. This is an emergency. Where do I go from here?"
A crisp human voice directed him to the centrally positioned Delfinian ship for medical attention. He slowed further and turned toward it.
A delfinian voice responded next, with specific instructions; "We have you on our sensors, Captain Shawn. You will see a docking bay when you reach the far side of our ship. Two human doctors are already aboard and waiting to move your injured crew member to our medical emergency room."
Shawn swung the cruiser around to the far side of the huge Delfinian spacecraft. He slowly approached a docking bay door that was surrounded by a ring of blinking yellow lights. The door was large enough for the cruiser to easily into with room to spare. He stopped in front of the yellow lights wondering what to do next. His question was answered by a green light signaling him to proceed inward; which he did, cautiously. He could hear the whine of machinery passing through the hull of his ship. That told him the air seal was closing.
The radio then announced, "You have successfully docked, a signal light will inform you when the inside pressure is sufficient for you to open your ship."
It took about three minutes for a green light to blink on. Two doctors entered the landing bay. They had a stretcher and waited for him to open the hatch and let them in. He activated the door switch and barely made it to the door before the doctors strode into the passageway.
"Where is he?" they asked in unison. Shawn led the way to the medical room and stood aside for them to enter. The doctors had rolled Eddy onto his side, slipped the stretcher under him and rolled him back onto it by the time Shawn entered the room. They moved fast and efficiently. Eddy smiled at them weakly but didn't say anything.
"I'll come with you as far as they let me," Shawn told Eddy as the doctors picked him up and started for the door.
Eddy was then whisked across the landing bay and into the main part of the delfinian ship. Shawn looked back and saw the crew watching from the cruiser boarding ramp. He waved for them to come along and followed the doctors through the door.
The room they entered was large and had a clear barrier that divided it roughly in half. The far side of the barrier was full of water. Several Delfinians watched from their side of the barrier, some of them were underwater peering through the barrier at Eddy and the doctors. They all wore peach-colored collars with rust colored discs on each side of their neck.
"Bring him here," said one of the delfinians, pushing a floating, canoe-like stretcher next to the barrier. The doctors motioned to Shawn and some of the crew to help lift Eddy over the top of the partition. Two Delfinians set him gently in the floating stretcher.
Shawn marveled at how strong they were. He was fascinated that they could stand on their third hand and then paddle along in an upright position as easily as he could walk, even in fairly shallow water. The human doctors climbed a set of stairs to a platform that was level with the top of the partition; they took off their clothes and stuffed them into waterproof bags. The doctors then jumped into the water with the delfinians, and started for an open door behind the partition.
"You are all welcome to come with us," invited one of the delfinians.
It was then that Shawn realized the discs on the delfinians' necks were some kind of acoustical translators. He climbed the steps and found more waterproof bags and swimming trunks. Quickly changing, he put his clothes in a bag as the doctors had done and jumped into the water. It was slightly cool but not cold. The rest of the crew splashed into the water as he entered the doorway.
"You are making history," Shawn said with a smile. "We are the first humans to take a friend to an alien hospital emergency room."
They pushed along in chest-deep water behind the Delfinians while concentrating on holding their clothes high and dry.
"What about the doctors?" Someone asked. "Weren't they here first?"
Shawn laughed, "I am your witness. The doctor's bathing suits were dry when they came aboard to pick up Eddy. Really, this is history, we are all in it together, including poor Eddy."
"Yeah, if we live through Doom Cloud," a voice volunteered from the rear.
"Okay, let's make this as fun as we can and try to forget about that until we see how things go with Eddy," Shawn responded. "Don't be such a wet blanket."
"She's all wet all right," another voice commented wryly.
The delfinians weren't talking, they were hurrying Eddy along a passageway that seemed endless. When they finally reached an open door, Eddy's stretcher whizzed around the corner like a little speedboat. As soon as Eddy was inside the hospital emergency room, a group of delfinians entered with a rolled-up partition and quickly divided the room. The humans were soon standing in a dry area. Eddy's examination table was close to the partition and the human doctors had a scaffold to stand on so they could lean over the partition and reach Eddy.
One of the human doctors produced a satchel and handed it to the nearest Delfinian. She turned to the ship crew, "Two babies have been born while you were gone. The package contains umbilical cord material plus a few cells removed from different parts of the babies."
The doctor looked at the wide-eyed crew and smiled, "The babies were not hurt and they certainly won't miss what little we took. The Delfinians told us they were able to save a few of their own kind from the ravages of Doom Cloud doing this." She then pointed to a large lamp on a flexible stand, "I think that is a low-level joy beam generator. Delfinian doctors say our discovery of joy and this test on Eddy will advance their medical sciences greatly. They are already so far ahead of us medically that what they do seems almost impossible."
The Delfinian medical staff took the satchel and gingerly placed it on a bench loaded with instruments and small, intricate machines with tubes and flaps that opened and closed. Multiple ingredients were measured and deftly mixed in glass beakers. Samples of the tissues brought from Pacifica by the doctors were arranged in glass trays and then, after being treated, were slid into small ovens. One of the ovens cast the glowing light of joy power on the bench when its door was opened. Several small devices on the bench had tubes that were strapped to Eddy's wrists and ankles. Other tubes returned from Eddy to various machines on the bench. Eddy was was in the middle of a mass of tubes going both directions. Sideboards were attached to the table so that he lay in a shallow, open-topped box.
Eddy said nothing as he followed the activities around him with his eyes. A thick, fog-like gas started flowing out of the tubes attached to him. The gas was exactly the color of his skin, he was completely invisible as soon as it covered him. A large lamp was placed over the table so it would shine on the gas surrounding Eddy. The human doctor who had spoken previously was correct, the light cast the warm glow of generated joy power.
All the Delfinian doctors gathered around the table and occasionally reached over the skin-colored fog, placing their hands on it very gently. One left the group and returned with a small black instrument that looked like a clock without a face. Two wires extended from the clock device and were placed to hang in the fog on either side of Eddy's chest. The fog gradually thickened and became entirely still except for circular ripples that spread rhythmically from one spot. "That's his heartbeat," one of the Delfinian doctors pointed out.
"He's not breathing," whispered one of the human doctors.
"He doesn't need to breathe while he is in the nutrient bath," a Delfinian doctor responded.
The doctors watched the black device more closely. It suddenly buzzed, sounding like an old-fashioned kitchen timer. Every one of the humans stared intently when a suprising blue flash played through the thickening gas. The overhead joy light was turned off and the room went dim. The awe-struck audience watched as the skin-colored gas coalesced into a blood-red mass resembling a molded square liver. All the delfinians gathered around the table, reached under the heavy and increasingly bloody red mass, and lifted it off Eddy. They turned and carried it to their bench. A swirling cloud of blood trailed in the water behind them, it was filtered away almost instantly.
"Quasi-placenta," one of the doctors said, swim-walking back to Eddy's table. "How do you feel, Eddy?" she asked.
Everyone strained to hear a reply but his voice was muffled, partially because another delfinian doctor placed a hand on Eddy's forehead and held him from moving. Tension on the human side of the partition grew as they watched the Delfinians douse Eddy with various preparations from containers neatly arranged on their bench. The doctors kept working until Eddy was completely washed clean by the medical potions. It was then that Eddy sat up. He looked first at the Delfinians and then at the Humans. No one spoke. Everyone stared in wide-eyed wonder, including Eddy; except for white hair, he was as good as new. Eddy looked just as he had before entering Doom Cloud — he was once again the youthful age he had said he was.
The Delfinian doctor who had thus far been the only one to speak, turned to the humans with an obvious smile of satisfaction. "Your injured friend's health has been restored, thanks in large part to your joy generators and the tissues rushed here from planet Pacifica. He may go with you now, there is nothing left for us to do here."
Eddy slipped into a pair of swimming trunks for water passage back to the ship landing bay. He was about to step over the partition when he turned slowly back to the delfinian doctors. "I can't tell you with words how grateful I am for what you have done," he said with a widening grin, thinking they couldn't understand him. "My parents taught me to be polite and say thank you, but it's not good enough at a time like this." He turned and leaped into the water with the Delfinians, grabbing the closest one in a bear hug.
The playful nature of delfinians quickly took over. Formerly solemn doctors leapt to Eddy and hugged him back. Then they slowly paddle-walked backward making a circle around him. One by one they bowed and thanked Eddy for what he had done.
Before the doctors had finished praising Eddy, the human side of the petition had been refilled with water and the partition itself was removed. A long line of delfinians began filing through. Some bowed, others shook hands or slapped his shoulder, still others gave high-fives and clapped palms with humans. The Delfinian greeting did not end when the last of the line filed by. As the humans pushed through the water toward their ship they passed a line of delfinians that stretched shoulder to shoulder along both sides of the entire passageway. They clapped the water to froth and cheered the humans all the way back to their ship. Delfinians and Humans had each found alien friends. Both life forms were happy that a long-awaited dream had come true; their new friendship was strong from the start.
Shawn was the last to leave the water. Two delfinian doctors swam to him holding their heads and shoulders above water. They thanked him one last time, took off their translation collars and handed both of them to him. "Try one," a third doctor said as he unsnapped his and also handed it to Shawn, who immediately put it on.
"We are all grateful. What you did for Eddy is miraculous," Shawn said. Delfinian words come from his mouth. He then turned to the crew and spoke in Delfinian, "Let's fuel up and go get that Doom Cloud."Shawn raised his fist high. "Are you ready to vanquish that evil Doom Cloud for Delfinians and Humans?"
The crew stood staring at him. Though his voice sounded the same the words were completely foreign. They quickly guessed what he was talking about from his body language. One by one they raised their arms in agreement.
That started Delfinian applause all over again.
continue to Chapter 13