The Shaman of Karres – Snippet 07

Goth could have teleported the object out of the body, but short of cutting him open and healing him up after, the Leewit could see no way of getting it out. Cutting was indeed an option, she knew. It was one other healers took, when necessary. But she was a little scared of trying it on her own. He wasn’t going to die, if she isolated it. The toxin was leaking out of one point, and that she could seal. She used his blood to bring calcium and various other compounds from his system and sealed the hole in the object as if healing a tooth. To be safe she put a block and built a lattice around it and then filled with an impermeable membrane. He woke up as she was finishing. Blinked. Looked around.

“Lie still,” said the Leewit. “I’m not quite finished.”

“What happened?” he asked in his deep voice.

“You dislocated your shoulder. And you had a fever.” The Leewit decided not to mention the poison. “You should start feeling better soon.”

“I… I do,” he said, sounding puzzled by this.

“Right. Ta’zara can take you back to your clumping idiot friends.” She was tired from the klatha use and hungry from it, too. She had to eat, pace herself, and be calm. There wasn’t anyone else, right now. “I’m going to get food. I’ll bring it down.”

He sat up gingerly. “I must admit it is some time since I last ate. Since any of us ate. Our captors gave us ration bars and water.”

“You need to drink more. Your kidneys are in a mess. So is your liver.” She cracked an enormous yawn. “Now go with Ta’zara. You’re all right now, and there are more hurt people.”

“Thank you,” he said. “The leg-chains?”

“I got other problems,” said the Leewit crossly, just wanting to get to food. “You can manage to walk in ’em.”

She did indeed have other problems, the first being that the rescued had not been very good at organizing. So she and Ta’zara had to do that for them, and find them a slop bucket, and take the worst injured up to the spare staterooms. It took time, effort and worry, and fixing some of them would take all she had. The best she could do was keep them alive for now. Time also fixed things, if she could let them have that time.

She wanted the captain awake and on hand. She wanted Goth. She wanted a good tree to climb or space-guns to aim, and blow the sterns and bows off pirates.

But right now all she had was pancakes and wintenberry jelly, and a ship to keep going. She wished she knew how long the captain would sleep for… or if he’d pushed his klatha power too far.


Pausert awoke, driven by enormous post-klatha use hunger. Someone had gotten him out of the space-suit, at least. He still felt as weak as a newborn carteen. He struggled his way into some clothes and made his way to the control room and the robochef.  Vezzarn was still at the controls, and looked up as Pausert dialed up the largest portion of wintenberry jelly pancakes the machine could provide. “Captain! Glad to see you! We’re still dragging that chunk of pirate hulk… and there are few other things…”

“Can any of them not wait until I get some food in me?” asked Pausert, shoveling a huge fork-full into his mouth as soon as he’d finished speaking. Death or disaster, he had to have some food, now.

The little old spacer smiled. “At the rate you’re eating, I reckon we’ll be all right.”

By the time the fourth forkful hit his stomach Pausert paused for long enough to ask: “Where are the Leewit and Ta’zara?”

“The little Wisdom is dealing with the injured. Ta’zara is along with her to provide muscle, in case she has trouble.”

Pausert nodded and chewed. This was a step forward on the first few mouthfuls. He’d just swallowed those. That was the downside of klatha use. Those who knew nothing about it thought it made things easy — but it was all too easy for the user to do themselves major damage — dismind themselves, or actually burn up. Some things took far more energy and mental toll than others. Goth could do tricks with light with very real effort. Teleportation didn’t require much more. But the Sheewash drive and travel by the Egger route were hard on her.

Just thinking about Goth made him worry. Made him miss her, too, and wish that she was here. The Leewit was a long way from the blond scrap she’d been when they’d first met on Porlumma, years back. But she wasn’t Goth.

“Tell me about the problems while I eat,” he said. He was feeling a little better for the food already.

“Well, Captain, we’ve got seventy-eight extra passengers. Six are in a bad way, and another twenty or so have injuries. But we don’t really have the air or the even the supplies for them. And some are very grateful, but a few are pretty difficult,” said Vezzarn.

“Difficult?” asked Pausert, temporarily halting a mouthful.

“Yes,” explained Vezzarn. “Not all of the injuries happened in getting them free, or before. A couple of them tried to give the Little Wisdom trouble. They wanted their stuff… things the pirates stole from them. They’re convinced that we looted them from the wreck. And then there was the story that we’re keeping them in the hold because we plan to sell them as slaves.”

“How long have I been asleep for?” Pausert asked.

The little spacer grinned. “’bout sixteen hours. The Little Wisdom said we wasn’t to disturb you, unless she said so, even if it was life and death. She said some words you would have washed her mouth out with soap for, about what you did with the, you know, witchy stuff. “

“I presume you tried to drop the hulk?”

“It’s not falling away, Captain,” said Vezzarn. And I was too scared just to fire the main tubes. If it stayed on our center of mass would be upset…”

“And falling away it could also be collide with us. You’ve tried laterals?”

“Didn’t make any difference,” said Vezzarn.

“I thought I said he was to be left sleeping!” snapped the Leewit from the doorway.

“I woke up all by myself,” said Pausert. “My stomach thought my throat had been cut.”

“You pushed it too hard, Captain. You got to learn…” said the Leewit sternly, and then ran forward and hugged him.

“I know. I also knew they were going to die.”

She sniffed and scowled. “Couple of the clumping idiots it would have been a good thing to leave behind. Not really, but they’re a pain.”

“Some in pain,” said Ta’zara with a smile from behind her. “Good to see you, Captain. Some of our new passengers keep demanding the pleasure of speaking to you.”

“I hope you knocked their heads together!” said Pausert, irritably.

Ta’zara looked at the Leewit. She giggled. “Something like that.”

“Well, I will talk to all of them, just as soon as I deal with undoing the connection to the pirate hulk. I’d blow it apart with the nova guns if it wasn’t quite that close that it might damage us. Undoing will probably be as tiring as doing, so we’d better plan ahead. We need to make for the nearest habitable world and off-load these people. I’m sure you worked that out. Have you got a target and route planned?”

“We’re sort of on the edge of Imperial space here. The charts show Cinderby’s World to be the closest. Four ship days, more or less. It’ll not be good on the air-recycler, Captain,” said Vezzarn.

Pausert caught the look from the Leewit. Using the Sheewash drive could cut that… but it took klatha skill and energy. The Leewit could do it briefly on her own, but it had usually been something that two or three Karres witches combined to do. In learning the skill the captain had nearly killed them all, but now he was very good at it. Still, it took it out of the klatha user. But he thought he could manage if it had to be done. He was feeling much better for the food already.

“I wonder what is actually holding the ships together?” he said, chewing his lip.

“It could just be how close the contact is with that bridge you created, Captain, or just the attraction of the two masses,” said Vezzarn

“It’s not quite like the cocoon — that was just… there. I saw you building this up, Captain,” said the Leewit. “Kinda layers. I knew you must be burning tons of energy, even if you are a hot witch. I was watching from the gun-turret.”

Pausert didn’t have to ask what she’d been doing there. “Yes. It’s not quite the same. More like fifty of the same thing.” He grimaced. “No wonder I was tired.”

“I was thinking, Captain, you don’t have to undo the whole thing. Maybe… just the first layer.”

He looked thoughtful. “Yes. And then try the laterals. I wouldn’t be so exhausted and we could use the Sheewash drive. Get there a lot faster. It’ll take us out of our way, though.”

“Be a good thing, Captain,” said the Leewit. “A couple of the captives… patients… aren’t in the best shape. I’ve done my best for them, but they’ve got such general damage to their lungs it’s like fixing a leak in a sponge.”