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Breath Control

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“Admiral says get on the pad and go, Doctor. We’re receiving a distress call.”

Chapel didn’t pause on her way from the door to the transporter pad. Nurse Tashar and Medtech Hennely followed without missing a step. Two security officers whose names she didn’t know yet already stood on the platform. She turned to face the transporter chief, retrieving his name after only a second or two, glad to pull at least one out of memory. “She’s sure she won’t need me, Mister Knox?”

The chief grinned and shook his head. “Small prospector with engine failure in the outer system. We can handle it. Ten, twelve hours, tops, unless it’s a lot worse than they’re making it out to be. Relax and enjoy your colonial checkups, Doc. Energizing now.”

Relax and enjoy. She managed a response just before the beam took hold. “Thank you, Chief.” The Yorktown’s primary transporter room disappeared around her, a buzzing in her ears and golden sparkles in her eyes. What most people claimed was an imperceptible amount of time later, but during which Chapel always swore she could count to three, the scarlet leaves of a subtropical forest on the recently-christened planet Ruby Red, formerly HR 5183-2, faded into view. She had no problem deciding she liked the new name better.

She also liked that this was her first landing party as a doctor aboard her new starship. That she’d only been aboard for a week before that had happened was a nice bonus.

Free of the transporter beam, Chapel turned to address the rest of the party. “First things first. Thank you everyone for volunteering to assist or safeguard me and I appreciate all of the mistakes you’re going to prevent me from making over the next couple of days, but I’m going to apologize to two of you right now because I’ve only been on board for a week and I haven’t got a name to go with every face yet.”

Both security officers grinned. It seemed pretty obvious who she was talking about.

“Alberto Martinez.”

“Denise Kolchak.”

“Thank you.” She smiled backed. “That will make things a little easier, and I’m not likely to forget now. Christine Chapel, but it seems like almost everyone is already calling me Doc, so do whatever you think best. Now, who’s got the map in their head?”

“That would be me, Doc.” Ensign Kolchak pointed through a thick part of the forest. “The edge of the colony proper is about five hundred metres that way, although the farm sites are a little scattered. There are a couple of paths that will take only a little more than that to get there.”

Still smiling, Chapel gestured for Kolchak to lead. “I think that means you just volunteered to be our guide, Ensign.”

“I suspected that would be the case, ma’am.”