Swamped Chapter 81 Page 9

Honestly, right now what you probably need most is just a chance to sit still. You’ve been running around for – what – half an hour now, with barely any time to rest? At this rate you’re going to wear yourself out, and then you won’t be able to do a damn thing for Long, or anyone else for that matter.

You should probably do a quick injury check on him, though. You’re fine after that last tremor, but he couldn’t exactly tell you if he hit his head on something. So you sit down next to Long and start checking what you can check.

“What are you doing?” Ash interjects as you hold your fingers to Long’s forehead. “That technique is at least eight years out of date. We have a better one now, much less risk to the patient.”

“Of course it is,” you mutter, as Ash takes over. “Everything in the Marshguards is out of date. That’s what happens when your entire budget is whatever you can scrounge up in the swamp.”

“The money doesn’t help as much as you’d think,” Ash shoots back, as he holds up Long’s wrist. “It’s hard to find personnel willing to work there. Even at the rates we pay, we get few recruits who haven’t heard the call. Do you know, we’ve only had our night medic for five years? The last one stayed on for a decade past retirement because we had that much trouble finding a replacement willing to work so late.”

“You get two medics. We’ve barely got one, and we’re stretched so thin we can’t even keep her off other duties. You think it’s hard to find people willing to live out in a swamp, try finding people willing to live out in a swamp for no money at all. And that’s not even getting into equipment.”

“Your gear seems on par with ours.”

“I’m not just talking about weapons and armor. Somehow we managed to get a good supplier for our actual combat gear, not that I’ve got enough clout to know any of the details. But everything else gets the short shift. Hells, it’s probably even worse than I’m making it sound, considering I was surprised how bad it was when I actually talked to our support officers about it. To the extent we even have support officers.”

Ash doesn’t say anything. He’s silent for a few minutes before speaking up again.

“Captain Long doesn’t seem to have any major injuries, fortunately,” he says. “I think he got a small bruise on his ankle in the shaking, but I doubt that’s going to slow him down.”

“That’s good,” you mutter. You’re not sure there’s anything else to say at this point.

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Talk about the Call of the Swamp, and speculate what might be driving people to such an unfriendly place, what we’re trying to protect or claim, and how it fits with the grebling conflict.

Also try patting Long’s face to wake him.