Eddy was getting worse. Fading in and out of conciousness, she was barely lucid. We'd moved her from the medical bay to her room, because her wrists had begun to bleed from her struggles against the restraints. She was locked in, for her own safety. Just until I could find a doctor.
Blast, I was so stupid to think I could just get away without hiring a new medic. After that idiot had tried to make off with a captains share of gold from the stores, I'd had no choice but to get rid of the man. No one steals from Captain Jerecho Retzel. I had a reputation to maintain. Still, stupid, since I knew the risks of the middle east, and the strange diseases that came from the cursed land. I didn't have much choice, so I sped the ship towards Baghdad. If my memory served, and it always did, Nadia would still be in business caring for the sick and homeless in that Holy City. I just hoped she wasnt still angry with me for... I shook my head to clear it.
"Ladies and gentlemen," i said into the speaking tube near the helm. "We are taking a small detour in Baghdad, but please do not leave the ship during our time in port. This should only take a few hours."
Then I sailed the Heliopause in towards the landing bay.
The port itself was just a huge plaza, tiled in magnificent colors, the pattern describing where each ship could land. Stepping off and paying the landing fee out of pocket, I headed to my usual dive, grinning as I stepped through the darkened doorway into the smoky room. I approached the barkeep and inquired about Nadia. The man grunted and nodded his head.
"Nadia, the woman who thinks herself a doctor, is where she always is. Out by the hospital. But you're better off going inside. Nadia's medicine is, untouchable."
"Oh, I'm here to help a friend," I said cheerfully. "And I hear she makes house calls."
The man barked out a laugh. "You're a funny one, Retzel. But if you go to see Nadia, I figure if you aren't sick, then you will be." A few of the other men joined in the laughter as I left the tavern without ordering anything.
Nadia's practice was merely a hundred yards from the large hospital set up near the middle of the city. But it was not a pretty site. Torn cloth hung over gaping windows, and as I stepped inside, the smell of sickness and sweat stung even my nose.
"Who is the tall, shadow of betrayal that darkens my door?" A melodious, accented voice chimed from a dark corner. "He stinks of the clouds, and of airship fuel." Nadia stood up, revealing a slender, cinnamon skinned woman dressed in multi-colored veils. Only her dark eyes showed between the cloth that covered her head and the ones that covered her body. But I knew her well, and knew she was not smiling behind the veils. "And a touch of Sand Fever." She glided forward and brought a cool, dry palm to my forehead. "Are you sick? Aside from your injury you look fine."
"Nah, I'm immune to Sand Fever, Nadia, you know me. Totally untouchable."
"What brings you here, to my den of shame, Jerecho?" Nadia asked. "I thought I told you to never show your face around here again."
Ah, her voice was still so hypnotic. "I have a passenger, who has contracted Sand Fever, Nadia. I have come here to ask you, if you would come back to my ship and help her?"
"Her!?" Nadia repeated, her eyes flashing in anger. "Why do you want me to do this?"
"I just want to help her find something. It's a long story, one I'd gladly tell you, but only on the way to the Heliopause. She doesn't have a lot of time left. She's completely delusional. She scratched me!" I pointed to the gash on my forehead. Nadia was unfazed, and looked around her at the other women kneeling by the sick and dying.
"My work is here," she said slowly.
"She's rich." I pulled my trump card. "If you help us, she'll reward you. Enough money to buy equipment, medicine, a hospital even! Anything you can imagine."
"I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit." Nadia replied wryly, looking around at the hovel.
"You'll get it."
Nadia heaved a sigh, but nodded. "Alright, lead the way. But if you take one step towards your cabin!"
"This is strictly business, Nadia. I promise."