The newly appointed Captain Dorus gazed at his new crew, each one interviewed and hand-picked by him. The not-so-hotshot pilot, Orson, who retired early after she was nearly killed flying into a star during a practice maneuver. The experienced engineer, Rekha, whose tendency to tinker a little too much got her booted off the first four ships she was assigned to. A doctor, Shade, who had no specialty because she kept getting distracted by new discoveries. And the actor, Kellu, whose purpose there no one—including himself—quite understood.
When Sona first came upon the velvet sack lying just beside the road, she almost passed it by after a quick and curious glance. But with a sigh, she veered off the path and knelt down to inspect the sack. It was partly hidden beneath a bush, and the velvet was the color of leaf and dirt, so it was no wonder that another traveler had not yet found it and picked it up. She lifted the sack and checked it for markings, a monogram or crest stitched into the fabric, or perhaps something a bit more subtle. With one hand, she raised the sack, as she waved the other before her eyes, casting a lensing spell that would allow her to see any magical markings upon the sack.
I twisted my mouth to one side, and stared at the coin that I held in the middle of my palm.
In those days, there were doctors of teeth already, just as there are now. And in those days, the doctors of teeth were avoided by most, just as they are now. The doctors did their best, just as they do now, the good ones that is. One such doctor of teeth did his best, but failed to root out the deep infection that had taken hold in his patient’s mouth, an infection that had seeped from the teeth to the gums to other teeth, and then began creeping to the patient’s brain and his heart. The man—the patient—was past middle age but not yet old. He died of that infection. A painful and bloody death.
Sammy read the card at the top of the package she’d just hesitantly opened.
Happy Birthday! The perfect helper for the one who helps everyone else.