Finders & Keepers
Dr. David William Parker
A new beginning...
Though embittered by his loss, he is (as he is quickly discovering) needed in this brave new world far more than he ever was in the old, so his opinion is (grudingly) starting to change…
Animal Handling: d4
Medical Expertise: d6
Scientific Expertise: d6
Technical Engineering: d2
Dr. David William Parker is a man of uncommon luck, of that there can be no argument. Of which kind, however, depends entirely on who you ask.
Once, in a time to him that is both only moments gone and in a long age past, he had a beautiful home, a good job and loving family and friends. Oh, all was not perfect, to be sure – there was the war, of course, but it was far distant, with names and videos on the news that were as disturbing as things like war would always be, but were nevertheless exotic and…disconnected…from real life. The war would fade and fizzle in a few years any way, he believed, they always did when it was between rag-tag bands of fanatics and a massive military power that would, given sufficient time, root them out and destroy each in turn. In fact, it was surprising to him the war had lasted so long already. There were other things too, the little things not worth mentioning that nevertheless come into every life bringing drama and discord and then fading into the weave that makes up the tapestry of a person’s life. Rarely do such things reach the level of tragedy and they never really seemed to for Dr. Parker. Until the day one did.
He really remembers nothing of the crash. The screech of tires and the crunch of metal – and the brief, terrifying sight of a really big truck that seemed to devour his own vehicle as it rolled over it (and him) – then darkness, endless and silent. He’s been told since that it was a brain-stem injury and resulting coma that, for him, brought time to a standstill at that moment. There is no way to know how he afterward came to be in a cryo-chamber but fortunately for him the degree of neural degradation beforehand was (as it was put to him) “entirely acceptable”. As to the ship that carried him into the depths of space, the Solace, things are a little clearer: she was lost at about the time the unification war began to escalate and it was presumed she was an unintentional causality of the fighting. Her wreckage drifted lost for years, all the way into the periphery, until a salvage crew found and recovered her, initially unaware of the lone survivor who they would eventually find inside. The blast-marks on her hull confirmed her fate, though nothing about them indicated which side had inflicted the damage. In those days there were plenty of young, inexperienced and frightened pilots on both sides who would shoot first and ask questions later, if at all. If any report regarding the incident was filed it has long since been lost. For that matter, whoever had fired the shots may well have died in the next frantic encounter never even aware that they had destroyed an unarmed, civilian hospital ship.
As for the good Dr. Parker himself, his presence aboard the Solace proved to be a bit of a surprise to his would-be rescuers. Fortunately for him, they were of the breed of scavenger disinclined towards murder and, instead, they delivered him, (sans the valuable cryo-chamber, of course) to the nearest planetary hospital they could find – unsurprisingly, the hospital then had absolutely no idea what to do with him. The hapless staff appealed to the planet’s churches and charities for their help in the matter, using the auspices of the local media which, predictably, handled the situation with all the grace and sensitivity for which any local media in the cosmos is known. Overnight (on the eleven o’clock news, to be exact), the story of the “mystery man lost in space” was buzzing over the cortex. Who was he? A secret agent of the Alliance? A brown-coat prince (did the rebels have princes)? People wanted to know!
If war can be said to produce anything good, one good thing it produces is an abundance of highly-skilled trauma surgeons. Neuro-trauma surgeons in this case, along with some really cool new surgical tools and techniques. It took little time for “the space man” story to reach one of the wealthier border worlds, one that, it so happened, had a medical school with its own neuro-sciences training program. A few scans quickly confirmed that this mystery patient’s injury was treatable with the Falshong procedure, which had been done only half a dozen times in the border worlds, and never on this border world! Arrangements for transfer were quickly made.
Outside the sanitized, ivory towers of the medical community, the mystery patient’s arrival on-world merited only a “special interest” heading on the local cortex, but within those towers all was abuzz. What luck to be able to see a Falshong procedure! Soon, seats in the OR gallery were booked, video-equipped viewing rooms were set up and the neuro-science’s grand-rounds were a must-attend affair, while every professor and surgeon in the department pontificated on the advances in neurosurgery, even here in the periphery! The internists cocked an eyebrow and continued their work, the general surgeons grumbled in disgust and took the week off – there was no use trying to schedule any of their cases in the midst of all this mental mastur…ehh…mentoring by their brain-carving colleagues. Life went on, and so did the surgery.
The procedure was a success. The hospital and its staff returned to their usual business as their various guests returned to their own worlds and professions, Dr. Parker’s identity was finally revealed, (or perhaps concocted by an over-zealous journalist looking for a “scoop” — no one was ever quite sure save Dr. Parker himself, who has said little — nothing actually — on the matter) but when it was discovered that he was a thoroughly ordinary man with a completely ordinary past, (somewhat to the disappointment of the local media’s dedicated viewing audience), the star patient was promptly wheeled off to begin what was sure to be a long and difficult course of rehab. The whole affair was somewhat…anticlimactic.
For David himself, however; the story was just getting interesting. Within the breadth of a few days the revelation that he had been, in effect, the star attraction of a three-ring media and medical circus was only the least of his surprises. That he was on a world which he had never heard of before, on the other end of the galaxy, didn’t rate much higher. What did resonate for him, from the moment he was told and for every moment since, was that his life – his family and friends, his home, even the very planet where he had lived his entire life to that time – was gone. Everything and everyone he had ever loved or known was lost forever, buried and long since mourned. He found himself alone in a profound and unique way and in a rough and tumble universe that had little room for sympathy and none for the weight of the dead.
He completed his therapy over the following weeks, and with it the last of the charity afforded to him by the local populace. He has set out into the ‘verse (a term to which the eloquent and admittedly stuffy man cringes at still) to build a new life for himself, trying to reconcile his uncommon past, his unusual luck and whatever the future might hold. As his luck would have it, he soon found work on a freighter making local cargo runs…