"THE BEST RICTU FISH ANYWHERE! FRESH FROM ULOSI!"
Brad glared at the robe-clad man who had just bellowed his sales spiel right into his ear. He was used to people giving him a wide berth, both because he was a head taller than everybody around him and because Atlantis military was reasonably well known around the galaxy and generally inspired wariness if not respect. He wasn't the only armed man walking around the market, but still.
A few paces ahead Captain Brittner stopped at a fibre stall to examine a bowl full of the fluffy fur of a cat-like creature. He thought she'd probably want to tip off Captain Avery that it would make a good gift for Dr Ingadottir.
They were traversing the market on P7S 247, which was an uninhabited planet used by many societies to bring their wares to, and Brad was going mildly crazy. Mostly because the team had split up. Captain Avery and Michel had stayed with an ally to talk labour trade, and Brad had gone along with so-newly-minted-he-kept-calling-her-LT Captain Brittner. They were apparently in search of some kind of herb that helped against some kind of Pegasus flu. Well, she was searching for the herb and he was watching her back, but he simultaneously needed to be watching her front and sides too, in this crush of people, and that was making him twitchy.
He knew she had perfectly good situational awareness and good instinct for the mood of a crowd, but he hated not being able to put himself between her and any potential danger.
She stopped suddenly, not far from the Gateward edge of the market, and something about the set of her shoulders set his senses on edge. He took the few paces to close the distance between them, made sure both of them had space to move in a hurry, and was about to ask her what was up when she spoke.
Her tone was an odd, off half-question he'd never heard before.
The man she'd adressed was in tattered clothes, half hidden in the shade on the side of a food stall. He had dark, unevenly cut curly hair. Brad thought he might be wearing an eyepatch, but it was hard to tell in the shadow. He looked like a refugee, like any one of the hundreds of culling survivors he'd seen in the course of his time on Atlantis.
The man seemed arrested in shock at being addressed, his visible eye wide open.
Brad was aware that Lee hadn't taken her hand away from her holstered Earth-style stunner, and shifted his grip on his P90. He didn't want to start shooting in a crowded market, but everything about the Captain's body language said that this was a surprise, and she hadn't decided yet if it was a good one or a bad one.
"Do you need help?" she said finally, eyes flicking down over the man's form.
"I..." his mouth worked silently for a few moments. "...please?"
She nodded sharply, then indicated with a jerk of her chin that he should cross through the passage between the stalls where he was, into the open field behind there. The man hestitated a brief second, then looked resigned, and turned his back to them to do so.
She cautiously followed, checking behind the cloth coverings of the stalls on either side to make sure nobody was hiding there. Once outside the market there wasn't much more than open fields , a prairie-like vista out of an old school western. There were some boulders, and the Captain indicated that the man should sit down. Here in the sunlight Brad could tell that he was unhealthily flushed, and ot all that steady on his feet.
Captain Avery, we are on the Gateward side of the market, behind the earthenware stall. I'm giving some impromptu medical care.
Brad raised an eyebrow at the omission of the fact that she somehow knew this man. And out here in the sunlight he recognised the man's trousers as heavily worn, patched and repaired BDU trousers, gone grey with age. He had clearly had contact with Atlantis at some point.
The Captain circled the boulder so that neither of them were staring into the sun, and put down her medical pack. Brad stayed back a little, covering the guy with his P90.
The man reluctantly pulled out three knives and a Wraith stunner and tossed them a little way away. Captain Brittner nodded and handed off her stunner, knife and sidearm to Brad before she went within arm's reach.
"I don't know you," he hesitated, "ma'am." He eyed them both warily. He seemed relieved to sit down, but uncertain of what to expect and uncomfortable with being at such a disadvantage.
"Recovering you was my first search and rescue mission," she said mildly. She gave him a temperature measuring strip from her medical pack, and he was clearly familiar with that, held it against his forehead.
"Not long after that I spent nearly a month trying to recover AR-1."
It was silent while she took his pulse and then checked the temperature strip. The guy had a fever, Brad could tell that, but she winced almost imperceptibly at the reading.
"Why are you helping me?"
"Because you're hurt."
The man said nothing. Brad stifled a smile, because no matter how many times he'd seen her in combat, she was a medic first, and helping wounded people didn't generally require a reason beyond the fact that they were hurt and she could help. He hoped it wasn't clouding her judgement in this case. There was clearly some context he was missing here.
"Can I see the wound?"
The man slowly undid the ties holding his threadbare homespun shirt closed, and Brad wondered how she had known there was a wound. Maybe it was that freaky medic radar view of how the body moved and how to tell if something was off. Because there was a wound, an ugly knot of scars next to the guy's spine, that had been cut open and looked badly infected.
"May I?" the Captain gestured to her medpack. The guy nodded, and she put on gloves and carefully probed the wound, then set about cleaning it up.
"How long were you a runner?"
He let his head hang, seemingly relaxing a little even though what she was doing looked painful to Brad.
"I don't know, ma'am. No way to keep time. Since not long after.." he made a vague hand gesture.
"About three years, then."
He shrugged with his good shoulder.
"When was this taken out?"
"Found somebody willing to do it about a week ago."
That explained why he'd been so skittish, Brad thought. It was probably the first time he'd been among people in years.
"I'm going to give you a shot of antibiotics, okay?" She waited until he nodded. "Then I'm going to irrigate the wound. Yeah?" He nodded again.
It was silent for a few minutes as she worked, quick and efficient and, Brad noted, with care to keep the syringe and sharps container out of the guy's grabbing reach.
"I'm off the... stuff," he suddenly volunteered.
"That's good," the Captain said absently, scowling at the amount of mess that came out of the wound.
"You can take some blood to test?" he offered uncertainly, like he wasn't sure she would want to.
"I could do that," she agreed, still concentrating on the wound.
"He doesn't know who I am, does he?" the guy tilted his head in Brad's direction.
"I don't think many people do, now."
"But you do."
"I studied your file. And I talked to the people who did know you."
The guy's face fell, and the silence stretched while the Captain dried the wound and then carefully taped gauze over it.
"But you'll take the blood?" he asked plaintively.
"Yeah, I'll take the blood," she said kindly. "I can't promise home will do anything. But I'll take the blood."