"Clear!" Jesse warned, and Hannah quickly pulled her hands back.
Jesse placed the paddles on Archie's chest and squeezed.
The body jumped with the charge, and Hannah checked for a pulse.
"Sinus Tach." She announced, looking relieved.
Jesse nodded, dropping the paddles back into the bag, and then looked up at the Commodore and Dr. Sebastian, who looked rather shocked at what they had just seen done. "He's back." He told them with a relieved sigh. "I'm going to need to intubate before transfer though, or he won't be stable enough. We've broken through the patch on the lung."
"Intubation kit." Hannah responded, passing Jesse the laryngoscope and tube.
"You gonna bag him?" Jesse asked Hannah, as he worked the tube down Kennedy's throat.
Hannah nodded. "No problem."
"Once we get this done, we've gotta move him back to the ship." Jesse informed the other two parties in the room.
"They've taken the decoy out to an unmarked grave." Pellew returned. "It's darker now, so you shouldn't have any trouble. Cover him like a dead body and they'll let you through without checking."
Jesse nodded. "He'll need an IV, another chest tube, more than likely a blood transfusion and possibly a Central Line, but that can be done when he gets to surgery. Let's move."
"I assume you're also going to get him on a vent as well?" Hannah put in as she pulled the bag away from the tube in Archie's throat long enough for them to cover his face and get him past the marine guards.
"One thing at a time," Jesse replied; "but yeah, that's a given."
"If you don't mind, sir, I'll accompany Mr. Kennedy." Dr. Sebastian informed his Commodore as soon as they were clear of the prison area.
"I had a feeling you would." Pellew replied. "Now, I believe I have to see to Leftennant Hornblower."
"Don't mention Archie until we're sure he's going to live." Jesse warned. "Kat said he's got a half a chance without the infection. Half is better than none, but it's still not a hundred percent positive.
Pellew nodded and turned back toward the prison enclosure, not looking back as the group quietly made off with the covered body; and, keeping to the shadows, smuggled it to a waiting boat.
On the newly renamed Retribution, Horatio was seated at the table in his new quarters. He had been promoted to a position that was almost the equivalent of a Captain, and yet he still did not think he deserved it. He should be proud and honored to have such a position, but the very fact that it had come at his best friend's expense would not allow him to enjoy it.
Horatio's closest friend in the world; the man who was truly the brother he had never had, had given up his life and his reputation to save Horatio from a hanging. Archie would be written into History as a traitor to his King and country, because of Horatio. It wasn't right.
On top of all that, Horatio didn't particularly think he was worthy of such a sacrifice.
A knock on his door interrupted his thoughts. "Come." He called out.
"Will." Horatio responded, as his First Lieutenant entered the room.
Bush nodded in a greeting. "I somehow feel as though I've taken what should be Mr. Kennedy's place." He managed to get out.
Horatio gave a partial nod. "Poor Archie." He remarked quietly. "It doesn't seem right, does it?"
"But I'm sure you must have another reason for coming here." Horatio responded, changing the subject.
"It's really not my place to tell you what to do." Bush answered, trying to figure out how to say what he needed to say.
"What is it you're asking?"
"I believe we left several of our men on an island, laying dead." He finally replied. "I think we owe it to them to go back and give them a proper burial before we return to England."
Horatio frowned. "Those men were deserters."
"They were still men." William protested. "And I believe there are a few amongst the crew who would prefer to bury our dead."
"You mean Hobbs." Horatio stated, pointedly.
"No sir, there are others." He corrected. "Myself included."
"Mr. Kennedy once spoke to me of a young man who was thrown overboard by the Captain's command, and he told me of the protests of the crew who had to carry that order out." William reminded him. "We owe it to the men to go back for them."
Horatio looked down at his desk. Will was right. The men may have been deserters, but many more had died honorably, and had not been given the burial they had deserved, Archie included. Had Kennedy lived, he too would be telling Horatio the very same thing. They owed it to the men to give them a proper burial.
Finally he looked up, meeting his friend's gaze. "Very well." He replied. "Set the course, and pass the word for Hobbs to come up here."
Bush nodded, and left the room.
As he informed Matthews of the change of course and passed on the word for Hobbs to see the Captain, William sighed. Before the ship had set sail, the First Officer of David's Star, David Ratzlov, had pulled him aside. He had told Will the switch had been made but they did not know if Kennedy would survive the injuries, given the seriousness of the wound and the time that had lapsed before he could be properly seen to. Davey had then asked Will to stall the Retribution's return to England. The suggestion of burying their dead had been a natural idea. There was no telling how long it would take to know if Kennedy was going to live or not, but either way, William wanted to know. He would stall the ship as long as he could to give David's Star the chance to catch up with them.
They had told him to look to the Southwest within nine days. Somehow, the ship would find them. The main concern Will had was how long it would take before Horatio caught onto him. He did not want to reveal anything regarding Archie's rescue, but if he was caught stalling their return, he would have to explain himself.
On board David's Star, the mood was tense. The portion of the crew that wasn't on duty was standing in the sick berth or seated in various chairs, the Captain included. Most of them were praying, a good portion of them on their knees in front of their chairs. Others were just listening, not able to make out much of what was being said over the praying of their shipmates, the various alarm devices that kept going off and Katryn and Jesse's frantic orders.
"You sent for me, sir?" Hobbs asked as he entered Horatio's quarters.
"Have a seat, Mr. Hobbs." Horatio responded, absently.
Eyeing his new Captain suspiciously, Hobbs sat down in the chair indicated.
"I'd like to propose a truce." Horatio finally spoke up, looking the Acting Lieutenant in the eye. "I know we've had our disagreements in the past, and I believe we need to resolve those disagreements."
Frowning, Hobbs gave a shrug. "I am loyal to the Crown, sir." He replied. "And I will serve my duty, with no argument."
Horatio sighed. Exactly the answer he would expect. "I don't believe a Captain can run a ship without the support of his Officers, Mr. Hobbs." He informed the man. "I need to know if I can trust you as an officer in my crew."
"As I said, sir." Hobbs began.
"You are loyal to the King." Horatio finished. "But will you be loyal to me?"
"You are my superior officer, sir." Hobbs pointed out. "According to the Articles of War, I believe loyalty is a requirement, not a request."
Horatio sighed. This was not what he wanted. "I have ordered Mr. Bush to change course, Mr. Hobbs." He went on, trying a new method. "We are returning to the island to bury the dead."
Hobbs' head picked up, and he stared, uncertain.
"I'd like you to be in charge of the group recovering the bodies of the deserters." Horatio informed him. "I seem to remember a request of yours to bury the dead. We did not have the time then. We do now. Would you be willing to lead this expedition, Mr. Hobbs?"
After a moment, the Acting Lieutenant nodded. "Aye aye sir." He responded, with a salute.
Horatio returned the salute. "Dismissed."
As he left the Captain's cabin, Hobbs shook his head in disbelief. Although he was not fond of answering to the new Captain, he still had to admit, he respected the man a lot more for his sincerity. To Hornblower's credit, he was already showing the signs of a good Captain. Perhaps it was time for Hobbs to re think his opinions of the man.
Likely, it was the death of Lt. Kennedy that had affected his change in attitude and perhaps it was rightfully so. Hobbs himself had been surprised when the dying man had taken the stand. The confession he'd given was even more of a shock. That a man would be so loyal to his friend, he would give up his life, his reputation, his stature, and go to the grave of a traitor, simply so another man would go free.
It was from that example that Hobbs had begun to change his attitude toward what had been the pair of junior Lieutenants. He mightn't ever know who was responsible for Captain Sawyer's accident, if indeed any of them had been responsible. Yes, he had his suspicions that it may have in reality been an accident, despite Wellard's insistence at his death that he had pushed the Captain. Hobbs, not believing this, chose not to include it in his testimony. Either way, he was glad it had been Hornblower who was promoted over Buckland. If any man was a born ass, it was Buckland.
In his own thoughts, had it been Lieutenant Bush who had taken over the ship when the Captain was incapacitated, Hobbs might have felt differently of the whole situation.
Shaking himself, Hobbs brought his thoughts back to the present. He still had to retrieve the bodies of the men who had once been his friends.
With Jesse and Allyssa both assisting and Hannah doing her part, Katryn had managed to complete the five hour surgery. She had repaired the lung and the liver as well as some damage that had been done to the gall bladder. It had not been an easy surgery. They had ended up having to crack Archie's chest due to complications, and thin his blood to keep the clotting to a minimum. During the process, he had arrested twice, and Dr. Sebastian had been forcibly removed from the room at Katryn's command, during the second cardiac arrest. Katryn, noticing his reaction as Jesse had fired up the sternal saw and began to saw through Archie's breastbone, had quickly told Willie to get the older man out of the room.
Dr. Sebastian had protested at first, but finally allowed himself to be removed from the operating room to the sick berth, where he had waited anxiously, with half the ship's crew, until the surgery finally ended.
Considering who the patient was; it was the hardest surgery Katryn had ever performed. In a normal hospital, she would not have been allowed to do the surgery, due to her close relationship with the patient. Here, she had no choice.
They had finally gotten him to where he was stabilized and hopefully out of danger . . . but it had been necessary to place him in a medical coma in order to get his body to start the healing process. They couldn't extubate him with the possibility of his needing another surgery, and if Archie awakened with the breathing tube down his throat, he was likely to panic. Not to mention he was also required to have a foley in place and that would be far worse than discovering a tube down his throat.
After all this had been done, Archie was placed in a sick berth bed. He had indeed been put on a ventilator, and due to the thinning of his blood, the wound dressings were usually soaked through with blood seepage and had to be changed nearly every couple of hours. He had IV's in both arms; one for saline piggybacked with medication and the other for replacing the blood he was losing. His condition was announced as 'stable, but critical.'
Katryn had just returned to the room from her shower. She had on a fresh set of scrubs, and her hair was still damp. Allyssa had already gone to bed, in exhaustion, not having had previous experience on assisting in a five hour surgery. It had taken them most of the night to finally complete and wire Archie's breast bone back together. He had gone through eight liters of blood and they had been autotransfusing him to save having to get more.
Hannah sat beside Archie's bed, her hands folded in her lap. Her eyes were closed and it was clear she was praying, tears dripping from beneath her closed eyelids. Dr. Sebastian had allowed Jesse to give him a shot of Ativan as soon as he was convinced Kennedy would survive the night at least. The old surgeon was now asleep in the bed beside Archie's and the lights had been dimmed.
Dave Conrad; half his forehead in bandages, was also asleep. Chavez, the marine who had taken the burn to his leg in the explosion, had been released to his own quarters during the time Hannah had been on the Renown.
Katryn walked over to Archie's bedside and put a hand on Hannah's shoulder. "How is he?"
Hannah wiped her eyes. "He's triggering the vent on his own." She replied, quietly.
Katryn nodded, relieved. This at least meant Kennedy was still breathing on his own. The ventilator merely was there to make sure he got enough oxygen into his system.
"Wound dressings and gown are soaked through though." Hannah went on.
Katryn, noting the blood on the blanket that covered him, pulled it down. "Not surprising from the heparin." She remarked, moving to check the transfusion bag. "He's going to need more blood."
Hannah motioned to a cooler on the floor. "Jesse got some more from our donors." She told the surgeon, quietly. "So we can start using that later. The autotransfusion saved us some trouble."
"Are you going to take the first watch?" Katryn asked.
Hannah nodded. "I can't really sleep right now anyway." She replied. "I'll get you if anything changes."
Katryn nodded. "Go ahead and change the wound dressings." She told her friend. "If he keeps up with the bleeding just leave the gown off while he's out."
Hannah nodded, watching Katryn go back to their quarters. They had agreed that one of them should be watching beside the bed at all times in case of an emergency.
Throughout the days that followed, Dr. Sebastian had remained aboard David's Star, never far from Archie's bedside. He'd been assisting in changing the bandages and always let someone know if an IV bag needed to be changed. When he slept, he slept in the bed next to Archie's. The only times he left were to attend the church services and prayer meetings the crew held while awaiting news of Archie's condition, and to use the lavatory.
Hannah too, was never far away. She constantly sat by his bedside when Dr. Sebastian was sleeping. The entire crew had been praying for his survival.
After a week of waiting and praying, Katryn finally declared him to be out of danger enough to extubate him and allow him to awaken. Once the necessary tubes had been removed, Katryn placed Hannah on lookout duty. Dr. Sebastian was asleep after having been up thirty hours straight, and Katryn had made him rest.
Leaving orders with Hannah to come get her when Archie awakened, Katryn left the berth to go do her kitchen duty. She and Jacques had been placed on cooking duty that night and because she had missed her last cooking shift due to Archie's surgery, she felt she should not miss it this time.
Archie frowned as he slowly came out of the darkness. There had been that brief instant when he'd felt himself slipping away; his body seemed to be shutting down completely. His last clear memories were the words spoken between himself and Horatio. They had said their goodbyes, and he had looked Horatio in the eyes one last time to smile: Then there was nothing. Nothing until now.
Around him, there were now voices. At first they were indistinct then after a moment, they became more clear . . . and yet, he still didn't understand them. Then there were other noises. Higher pitched beeping noises. Clouding confusion in his brain. Where was he? Was this what it was to die?
He gave a quiet groan, turning his head. The infernal beeping and the voices were getting louder.
"Archie?" A worried voice cut through the darkness.
"Mmngh." He murmured, turning his head again. His arms, once heavy, like lead, were getting easier to move. Experimenting, he raised his left hand off the bed. There was something pulling at his arm. Something there that wouldn't usually be there.
Using his right hand, he reached over to find out what was pulling on his left, only to find something was also pulling at his right arm. Archie's frown deepened. This was certainly frustrating.
"Archie, can you hear me?" Hands, taking hold of his. "Squeeze my hand, Archie."
Confused, he gripped the hand, letting it slowly pull him out of the darkness.
He grunted again. There was the voice again sounding more happy. Vaguely familiar, yet he couldn't seem to place it.
Slowly, still unsure of himself, Archie cracked open one eye. Bright light made him squint.
Above him, the light was turned down. That was a little better. He opened his eyes. Fuzzy at first, his vision started to clear. He was looking at the concerned face of a woman. He seemed to remember he knew her. Blinking, he concentrated on searching his memory. Hannah. This was Hannah. Nurse Hannah White Eagle. . .
He cocked his head to stare at her. If this was Hannah, he was certainly not dead. That must mean he had made it through the surgery. He tried to swallow, but the sensation of a dreadfully raw feeling in his throat would not let him complete the process.
Hannah held up three fingers. "How many fingers do you see?"
Archie frowned, focusing on her hand, blinked. "All of them." He whispered, honestly; his voice hoarse from disuse and the rawness in back of his throat.
Hannah shook her head with a grin. "I don't suppose I can argue with that one." She turned away. "Allyssa, go tell Katryn he's awake, and he doesn't seem to have lost his sense of humor, so I think he'll be alright."
As the other woman ran off, Hannah, still gripping his hand leaned over and pressed her lips against his forehead, near the hairline. "I was so worried about you." She murmured smoothing his hair back with her other hand.
After a moment, the memories of what had happened to him began to return. Looking back up at Hannah, he licked his lips and managed, after a very painful swallow, to ask what had worried him most before his 'death.' "H'ratio?" He questioned covering the hand that was holding his with his other hand.
Hannah, understanding this, smiled. "He's alright." She assured him, her thumb stroking his hand absently. "You saved him and he even got a promotion out of the whole thing. They put him in command of one of the ships you captured. I think they mentioned he's now a Commander."
Archie sighed, relieved. "Thank you." He croaked.
"Try to just whisper." Hannah instructed, her hand on his cheek. "Your throat is going to be really sore for a while."
Archie leaned into the touch on his face. "I had . . . noticed that."
"You're really beautiful to wake up to." He murmured with a lazy smile.
"And you are really doped up." She replied, laughing.
Hannah looked up as Katryn approached the bed. "How is he?"
"I think he'll be alright." Hannah replied. "I'd say the throat is a little sore from the sound of it, but that's no surprise considering the length of time he was out."
Archie frowned again. "How long?"
"You've been here just over a week now." Katryn told him. "We had to keep you out long enough for things to heal up, and you had a breathing tube down your throat all that time."
Archie nodded, but his eyes soon focused on the IV lines above him. He frowned, staring at the bag of blood.
"You lost a lot of blood, so we had to give you some more." Katryn explained, noting his confusion. "And you're still on medications for the pain so you're a little out of it." She paused, eyeing something he couldn't see. "Speaking of transfusions, you're going to need to change the wound dressings again, Hannah. It's seeping through yet again."
Archie, unsure of what she was talking about looked down and stared, wide eyed. There was blood all over the front of the gown he was wearing. This bothered him, as he remembered what he'd looked like when he'd first seen his blood soaked shirt after the battle.
At his sharp intake of breath, Katryn pushed his forehead back against the pillow. "You had blood clots in your lung." She informed him. "We had to thin the blood to stop them and it's causing a bit of extra bleeding. Don't worry about it. It'll soon stop."
Archie blinked. "Oh." He paused. "Then everything is alright?"
Katryn nodded. "You'll be in some pain for a while and you may have a little trouble getting a deep breath, but overall you should be alright. Any unusual sharp pain and you say something immediately. Understood?"
Archie gave her a salute. "Aye aye, Dr. Surgeon."
Hannah laughed, shaking her head.
"In the meantime, there's someone here, you may want to see." Katryn told him with a smile.
Archie's head perked up.
"It's not Horatio, sorry, but it IS someone close to you." She went on, as she pulled open the curtain next to his bed.
Archie stared in amazement. Asleep in the bed beside him was Dr. Sebastian. "How long?" He asked again.
"He's been here since we brought you here." Hannah replied. "He was up with you for a while, so we're letting him sleep for a bit, but I'll leave the curtain open so he can see you when he gets up."
Archie nodded. He had not seen the old doctor since he'd been transferred away from Captain Pellew's command - just before the Captain had been promoted to Commodore. During his days on the Indie, Dr. Sebastian had become like a father to Archie. It was he who had first broke through the pain surrounding Archie's past. When Archie had found out that he and Horatio were to join Renown he had been proud, yet the one disappointment had been that Dr. Sebastian would stay with Commodore Pellew on his new ship. That had been nearly two years ago, and Archie had missed the doctor dearly.
Behind Hannah and Katryn, a dark haired young woman Archie had never seen came over carrying a cup. She handed the cup to Katryn.
"Archie, this is Allyssa." Hannah announced. "She's Katryn's Scut-Puppy."
Katryn rolled her eyes. "Another term for 'Medical Student.'" She translated. "It means they do the scut work that doctors don't like. You know, like collecting urine samples, and running errands, that kind of thing."
"Nice to finally meet you." Allyssa responded with a smile.
Katryn handed him the cup as Hannah helped him sit up a bit, adjusting a thin loop of tubing around, under his nose and back behind his ears. "Ice chips." Katryn explained. "You can't have solid food just yet but sucking on ice should help with the sore throat . . . and the tube is just oxygen to help you breathe better."
Hannah moved a tray table over to his bed so he'd have somewhere to put the cup.
"I have to get back to the kitchen so I think we can let him rest a bit." Katryn told the others.
Archie relaxed back against the pillow and tipped the cup into his mouth. The ice soothed the dry aching feeling in his throat quickly.
Placing the cup on the tray, he looked over at his old friend. They had said Dr. Sebastian had been up with him for a long time, and was exhausted. Archie decided this would be fine. He would wait until the older man woke up for talking.
He wondered if Horatio knew anything about his condition. Most likely not, he decided. Katryn had said he only had half a chance of coming out of it, and that they would not say anything until Archie had recovered enough.
Perhaps now they could go after the ship his friend was on. At the moment, Archie definitely knew one thing for sure. He desperately wanted to see Horatio, and let him know he was alright.