(Note: Dr. Erec Ransome is an NPC I created ages ago for an RP that didn't get far enough to use him. Rudra is an NPC Jedi Healer, and can be used by anyone who wants. I'd prefer that no one kill off Erec, though.)
(Timemark: A few weeks after Turim's spectacular collapse in front of the Jedi Council when Palpatine did a nasty mental attack.)
Erec hit an alarm, summoning more help as a disheveled Kelsiana A'bon rushed into the observation station. Within moments, they arrived, including the Jedi Healer Rudra. He briefed them on what he'd observed so far, keeping one eye on the monitors. Abruptly the vitals of both the Healer and Turim began to plummet, despite the life support.
Kelsiana found herself pushed into a corner as they rushed to restore them. It took only a quick mental glance for Rudra to make the decision. "We're pulling her out now!" His dry, alien voice echoed over the sounds of the alarms.
* * * * *
Toola staggered back from the shattered remains of Palpatine's link, and sat down beside Turim on the edge of the fountain.
He tiredly looked up at her. "Thank you." His voice was a bare whisper.
She smiled at him and sighed deeply. "I'm glad that's over with."
Turim cringed a bit as he looked about at the scars left across the greenery around them.
She reached for his hand. "It will heal," she said. "As will you."
"I hope it is over. But He said that He'd be back."
"He can't get to you now," she said softly. "And if he tries, we'll defeat him again." She held out her hand. "Let's go back." Turim reached out with his empty hand and closed his fingers around those of his former pupil.
She concentrated and the garden swirled around them and suddenly became the oasis beside the pool again. But now there was a small tent next to the pool with a colorful rug on the sand before it. Turim staggered for a moment then, with a muttered apology, sank down onto the rug.
Toola helped him get comfortable. "Rest my friend."
Even as he closed his eyes, she seemed to fade away into the dazzle of sunlight overhead.
* * * * *
As Toola stood up the desertscape around her blurred. Someone, or something, was pulling her off the astral plane.
* * * * *
Erec took a firm grip on each of Toola's wrists and waited for the nod of the other Jedi healer before he pulled them away from Turim's head. He felt the pulses in her wrists increase their rate as the separation occurred, and the intake of breath sounding in his ear startled him.
Toola's yellow eyes snapped open with a gasp. She looked Erec for a moment, her eyes barely focusing on him before they rolled back in her head and she slumped forward against him.
Other hands helped him to support her as he guided her limp form to the float stretcher they'd set up, just in case. Fatigue hollowed, the Twi'lek healer's face and her lekku lay limply beside her as they settled her.
A quick check reassured him that she was merely deeply asleep, and her vitals were rapidly approaching normal. Erec covered her with a light blanket and then moved back to the Healer Rudra who was carefully probing Turim, and announced to the crash team, "She's going to be fine once she wakes up."
A sudden muffled sound from the side of the room turned his attention to the forgotten Kelsiana. He extended a hand towards her and beckoned her to approach the bed. "Sit down next to him and talk to him, ma'am."
She didn't wait for him to finish his sentence before she was perched on the edge of the bed holding his limp left hand, whispering urgent words in a strange language to her husband. Erec drew the Healer over to the observation console and they bent over the screens again, which had settled into a somewhat stronger life signal than before.
"What did you pick up, Rudra? Was she successful?" Erec kept his voice low so Kelsiana wouldn't hear him.
"He seems to have stabilized, Dr. Ransome. The fact his vitals are stronger seems to indicate that."
Erec traced his finger down one of the screens. "I'll feel a lot better about him once he opens his eyes."
Rudra frowned. "The higher brain functions are still nominal," he said motioning to another monitor.
Erec stifled a yawn and realized that Toola had been merged with Turim for almost two hours. He blinked and focused on the indicated monitor, squinting a bit at the data. "You're right." He grinned ruefully at the taller man. "But there's that part of me that prefers to see a soul looking out at me from the patient's eyes."
The alien nodded. "We'll just have to wait and see."
There was a soft sound of clothing moving behind them. In the midst of dropping to sit in the observation station chair, Erec whipped his head around and sent himself off balance.
Erec found himself suspended mid-air, Toola's tired eyes locked on him, her hand held out as she supported him telekinetically.
"Toola." He smiled with tired relief. "He seems to be stabilized--Did you get to him?"
She eased him into the chair and then sagged, supporting her head in her hands as she sat on the edge of the stretcher. "Yes," she said in a hoarse voice. "He's still trapped on the astral plane. He needed to rest before I helped him back."
"You need to rest, as well, before you try that. After, we clean you up a bit," he added.
"He's so tired," she said wearily. "He kept trying to get to him." She straightened a bit. "That thing in his neck has to come out."
He picked up the note of urgency in her voice. "The neural bridge? I know we discussed it, but--"
"That's how the Emperor is getting to him. I tried to disable it from the inside, but I'm not sure how much damage to it I did."
Erec glanced up at Rudra who still waited silently behind him. "We'll take it from here. Thank you for your assistance." He waited until the junior Force Healer left the room before turning back to Toola. "It will be taken care of."
Toola sighed and shifted to curl back up on the stretcher. "Thank you."
Erec tucked the displaced blanket around her again and began to tap requests for a surgical team into the console for delivery to scheduling in the morning.
* * * * *
Erec took another cup of black caf from the dispenser and wondered how much longer he could keep the observation desk screens in focus. More than a dozen empty cups littered the desk where lines and lights and colors indicated that Turim's body had stabilized within the life support system. He knew he should call in his relief, but he couldn't bring himself to leave his patient.
He stifled a yawn and looked over to where Kelsiana was still sitting next to her husband. She looked as exhausted as he felt, but still kept talking to the comatose Jedi.
"Honey come back to me, to us." She continued, switching back and forth between standard and a rapid-paced alien language which Erec guessed was Turim's birth language. He shifted position, attracting her attention.
"Erec. How is he doing? Any better?"
"Well, he seems to be taking over more of his vital operations from the life support. That's a good sign." He looked at the brain wave monitor that continued to show the odd wave pattern that it had settled into right after Healer Toola had been pulled free from Turim's mind. It was strange, but set off no alarms, unlike the collapse of the previous night. "He's still awfully deep, though."
"That is good to hear." Kelsiana said as she squeezed Turim's hand.
He set the metal cup down on the desktop and moved over to the bed. "When the Healer wakes up, she'll tell you what happened."
"All right, I will try to be patient."
Erec couldn't stifle the next yawn and covered his mouth shamefacedly... "I'm sorry. It's been a long night."
"No apology necessary," the Jedi's wife told him.
"Why don't you go get some rest," a quiet voice said from behind him. "I'll stay."
Erec started and turned around quickly. "Toola. You should still be asleep."
She stood, smoothing out her rumpled robes. "I'm fine," she said tiredly.
He looked at the cot she was abandoning and finally admitted to himself that he was getting too old to be pulling shifts more suited for interns performing their residencies. "Only for a couple of hours, then. I want to be awake when you go back in." Erec patted Turim on the shoulder then staggered over to the cot and lay down. He was asleep before he could take his second breath.
Kelsiana objected, "You still sound tired."
"But I've had sleep and Erec hasn't," she said coming over to Kelsiana. "He's still in there," she told her softly.
"I am glad to hear that," she told the Twi-lek, "I have been so worried that he wasn't there anymore."
"He is. He's just a little lost right now."
"Thank you, Toola, for going in after him. What can we do to help him find his way back?"
The Healer sighed. "First, we need to get that device out. It's a major part of the problem right now."
The quiet beeps from the observation station continued to sound in a reassuring steady series behind their conversation.
"What would have to be done?" New worry filled Kelsiana's face.
"The device will have to come out." Toola paused. "He will lose his ability to move on his own though."
Kelsiana swallowed hard before asking, "Will that be permanent, or is there a chance that he will eventually be able to move again?"
Lifting her hands with an eloquent shrug, Toola answered, "There are always advancements in medical technology, and he is very strong with the Force. Anything is possible, but you have to prepare for the fact, this may be it."
Kelsiana sighed. "I will hope for the best but prepare for the worst."
Toola nodded, patting her hand.
After a few minutes, Turim's wife asked, "Do you think he knows that I am here, or is he to deep for that?"
"Right now, he's too deep. I'm sorry, but--" She paused. "I could help you talk to him."
"Could you?" Kelsiana's expression brightened in the dim light of the room. "I would like that, but I don't want you to do anything to hurt yourself. Neither he nor I would want you to do anything that would put you in danger."
"It will be alright. I just won't be able to keep the connection open very long," she said, holding out her hand to Kelsiana.
Toola took Kelsiana's hand in hers and then rested her other hand over Turim's, closing her eyes. "Just relax, Kelsiana, and open your mind to me."
"I will," she said and smiled in anticipation.
"Close your eyes and relax," Toola instructed. She took a deep breath letting it out slowly, drawing the Force tightly around them and reaching back along the old teacher-student bond she'd once shared with Turim that had started to reform.
Kelsiana closed her eyes and gave herself trustingly into the control of the Jedi Healer.
When the Twi-lek next opened her eyes, she smiled. She was back at the oasis. She glanced over at Kelsiana who slowly opened her eyes and looked around, an expression of recognition of the scenery on her face.
* * * * *
On the astral plane, Turim opened his eyes to the bronze sky and the overhanging leaves of the fruit trees. He was no longer exhausted but he still felt a deep lassitude and it was only after a few long minutes that he pushed himself to sit upright and look around the oasis.
He smiled at the sight of a slender-legged gazelle drinking at the pool; then it suddenly raised its head in alarm, and bounded away across the sands. His hand grabbed for his saber as he looked for what had startled the animal.
Toola smiled at her patient and former teacher. "Peace, my friend."
Halfway to his feet, Turim stopped on his knees as he suddenly saw Toola appear--and next to her--
"Kelsiana!" His dark eyes stared into hers as he scrambled to his feet and threw himself into her arms.
Kelsiana caught Turim and held him tight. "I love you."
The force of his hug made him half-dance to keep upright and he swung her around a full turn before he lowered her feet to the sands. Toola slipped back and out of the way.
"It's really you! Oh, my love." He looked down at her and laughed. "I can hardly believe you are here!"
Reaching up to run her fingers through his disarrayed hair, Kelsiana replied, "Yes, I am here. Toola brought me here to talk to you. I have missed you so much." She paused then spoke again, the joy draining from her voice. "Turim, I--I need to know how you feel about removing the neural bridge and the possibility that you would not be able to move your hands or feet."
Turim went still. "What do you feel about it? It's going to affect you as much as me. Maybe even more, because you'd have to take care of me. Could you bear to stay with me if I said 'yes'?"
"You are my husband no matter what your physical state is or is not. I love you no matter what and will always be at your side."
He buried his face in her curly hair and breathed deeply of the scented shampoo she used. Exhaling a long slow breath, he nodded, still not looking up.
His wife's voice came softly to him, muffled in the folds of his robe. "I just want you back with me."
"I don't know if I would be able to keep the Emperor out of my mind if he were to attack me again. If it weren't for Toola coming to help me--" He broke off. "I want the link gone. All of it."
Kelsiana looked at him reassuringly. "Then I will see to it."
Turim drew his fingers along the side of her cheek and tipped her face up. "And miracles do happen. It might not be as bad as it seems." He closed his eyes as he kissed her deeply his arms tight around her.
She clung tightly to him even after he broke the kiss in order to breathe.
Turim looked up and over towards Toola. "Thank you for bringing her to me."
Toola smiled, rubbing her temples. She sighed. "I'm glad I could help, but I'm sorry, Kelsiana, we have to go back," she said softly.
"All right, Toola," Kelsiana said reluctantly. "Turim, I will see you soon. I love you."
"I love you." His voice was thick with emotion.
Kelsiana gave Turim a last, quick kiss before going over to the Jedi Healer.
"I'll try to do this again for you," Toola told them.
He kept his arms around his wife, letting his hands trail across the robe she wore; running his hand down her arm and giving her fingers a final squeeze, keeping contact until it was no longer possible.
Toola pulled them back to their bodies as the last of her strength gave way.
* * * * *
Erec was not asleep, but was staring at Toola disapprovingly when she opened her eyes.
Kelsiana supported the sagging woman and said, "Toola, you should rest now."
"I thought I told you not to go into him unless I was awake." His voice was stern.
"They needed to talk," Toola said, her voice wavering a bit, but she didn't protest when Kelsiana helped her to a seat.
"Thank you, Toola, for helping me talk to my husband."
The Twi-lek gave her a weary smile.
Erec held out a cup of caf. "I've called for a relief for both of us. And when we've both had a good twelve hours of sleep, we'll see about the other problem."
Toola's hands shook badly as she took the cup. "That thing needs to be out of him, now."
"After we've slept. I'm not going to trust it to any one else, and I'm not going to let our exhaustion risk our losing him now," Erec told her firmly.
The door opened to admit the relief observation team, Rudra and another of Erec's colleagues.
"You both go to sleep. I will sit with Turim for awhile before I rest," Kelsiana ordered. She sat down by the comatose Jedi and took hold of his hand.
Erec patted her on the shoulder. "We'll do our best to get him back home to you."
"Thank you. I know you will; you have done so much all ready for him."
Toola added, "He's a fighter, Kelsiana. He won't give up on this."
Kelsiana smiled with eyes glimmering with unshed tears. "Yes he is."
The relief medic cleared his throat and pointed towards the door. "You two are off duty. Get out of here before we have to roll you out on the float. I'll send a call if anything happens." Rudra re-emphasized the order with a gentle nudge, using the Force.
Toola stood a bit unsteadily to her feet.
Erec offered her his arm and guided her towards the door. "Come along, Healer. Time to heal thyself."
She chuckled tiredly. "Now you sound like Dr. Ezri."
"Who do you think I stole it from?"
She laughed and he laughed with her as they passed into the corridor and the door closed behind them.
THE END (for now)
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