“Vitals are dropping,” yelled Sutton as the gurney carrying Demarti was rushed down the hallway. “We’ll lose him if we don’t get into the OR now!”
Two medics rushed alongside them, barking for those in the way to make a hole.
Demarti was bleeding profusely; the dark red flow appeared to have no end.
They burst into the underground operating room. The bright fluorescent lighting made everything about Demarti’s condition appear worse.
“You don’t need to be here, Cameron,” said Jeanue, taking her by her blood-covered hands. “Wait outside, okay?”
“I want to be here.”
“I know. I also know you want to make a difference topside. They’re going to need all the guns they can get right now.”
Mitchell considered Jeanue’s words. They held more than a little truth. She knew she would only be in the way. “Right. You’re right. I’ll go topside.” She squeezed Jeanue’s left shoulder, before moving away from the doors.
Jeanue disappeared through the OR doors.
Inside, Sutton and another surgeon had cut away Demarti’s ACU jacket and were swabbing the wound.
Jeanue paused, staring at the surreal scene. It seemed somehow impossible that she was about to assist in the operation of saving another friend.
“Piss or get off the pot,” Sutton called to Jeanue. “If you’re just going to stand there then you need to either get to work or grab a gun and fight. Pick one.”
Jeanue snapped to immediately. She cleaned her hands, grabbed a surgical smock and then cleaned her hands again. A nurse assisted her with putting gloves on, and she took a position beside Sutton.
“What do you need me to do?” asked Jeanue.
“Make sure the incision stays clear for starters. We were able to stabilize his vitals and stop the bleeding but the trick is getting the bullet out.”
“You’re a neurosurgeon, why are you doing this?”
“I started out assisting in spinal injuries before I went into neurosurgery, and my eyesight’s better than anyone here.”
Sutton probed the wound. “Found it,” she declared. “Wipe my forehead please, Maggie. This would’ve been so much easier if we had x-rays.”
Someone knocked at the door. Jeanue turned to see Kunpai’s serious face peering through. “It’s Omi.”
“Get rid of him,” snapped Sutton. “We don’t have time to deal with concerned people.”
Jeanue went to the door and Kunpai opened it for her. He was accompanied by two soldiers that stood in the opposite room. An olive drab case marked Rifle, Individual, M4A1, along with three ammo cans sat between the soldiers. She eyed the containers with a fearful eye. “Sutton wants you gone,” she said pulling her eyes to Kunpai’s. “Whatever you have to say better be said in a minute or less.”
“Vance has brought armor to the fight. What tanks we have are engaging them.” Kunpai fell quiet for a moment. “We don’t know if we can hold him off. Roaches have breached the interior and we’re tied up between maintaining the perimeter and engaging them. Vance has air support, too. We’ve got Hornets inbound from Coffer Airfield. Their ETA is five minutes.”
Jeanue was incredulous. “We’re in danger of being overrun?”
Kunpai cast his eyes away. “Look, I’ve brought weapons. If push comes to shove you’ll have to fight your way out.”
“I can’t bring those into the OR,” she protested.
“And you can’t afford to leave them out here either.” He turned to one of soldiers. “Private, uncrate the rifles. Lock and load each one.”
“Now see here, Omi -”
“No, you see here, Colonel. We’re fighting for our survival now, and if we get overrun I don’t know if we can come for you. You have wounded besides Paul. You take these damn weapons or I’ll take them into that room for you.” Kunpai wasn’t kidding.
Jeanue looked at the OR doors and then back to Kunpai. “Obviously there’s no getting rid of your toys so take them in, but stay out of everyone’s way and don’t stop to…ogle things. Open the crate first, and then place it at the far wall, and stack the magazines on top of them. In and out, that’s all you’ll do.”
“Do as she says,” ordered Kunpai. They quietly and quickly moved past Jeanue and Kunpai. They performed their task in a matter of seconds.
“This makes me feel a bit better, Maggie.”
“Is it really that bad?”
“Vance has a hard on for that Collins guy. He means to get him.”
“Let him come,” warned Jeanue. She returned to the OR, leaving Kunpai and the soldiers alone. Silently they left for the battle that raged above.
Sutton had removed the bullet in the time that she’d talked to Kunpai, and was currently closing the wound. The deformed projectile lay in a sterile solution, trailing red streamers as the antiseptic worked its cleaning magic.
“Why’d you let them bring guns into the OR?” Sutton cast a harsh glance at Jeanue. “They broke a clean environment to bring in a case that undoubtedly contains dust and multiple germs. Not the brightest idea you’ve ever had, Maggie.”
“Omi says that we’re in danger of being overrun.” Jeanue’s voice was flat and sounded tired. Her words caused everyone to stop what they were doing.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” inquired a male nurse.
“It means exactly what it means,” answered Jeanue. “Vance has tanks and aircraft out there. Better pray he doesn’t have bunker busters or we’re screwed.”
Sutton growled. Most eyes in the room went wide and to her. “Out-fucking-standing. The only way we find out that Vance is here is by getting Paul sent to us with a bullet in him, which leads to us being told that the literal wolves really are at the gate. And now they tell us he’s got tanks. Can this day get any better?”
“What’s his status?” asked Jeanue, changing the subject.
“He’ll live. We have plenty of his blood type on hand so that’s a blessing. As far as walking goes… it’s 50/50. If Vance’s people breach then it won’t matter either way. He’ll never realize he’s dead until he’s meeting St. Peter.”
“Get his transfusion going,” ordered Jeanue. “Christ, get a freaking poodle to donate if you have to. I don’t care what you do, I just want him well.” Jeanue ripped off her surgical gloves and smock and threw them into a bio-waste can. She only stopped to snatch up a loaded M4. “If anyone wants to help set up a defensive perimeter in the hall they’re more than welcome to join me.”
Jeanue stuffed spare magazines into her pockets before checking the rifle’s chamber. It had been loaded and she caught the round before it hit the floor. Her dexterity surprised her more than anyone else.
A male nurse followed Jeanue’s example. He stripped off his surgical gear, picked up a rifle, three magazines, and offered to move any patients quartered near the entrances.
Jeanue didn’t answer the nurse. She spoke only to Sutton. “Patch him up. We’ll be down the hall if you need us.”
She exited the OR, briefly wondering if she had made the right decision in picking up a weapon. In the end she knew it be the right call. If Vance breached the building he would kill her just as surely as he would anyone else he found on the floor.