Oct. 2nd: 1600 hours
Inside the operating room, the four surgeons were busy with their patients.
"You know, Hunnicutt," Major Winchester spoke as he worked on the arterial transplant, "I believe that this newcomer will fit in better here than Roy Dupree."
"There's no doubt she's a might prettier, partner." Doctor Hunnicutt replied with an overemphasized accent.
"Dupree?" Pierce questioned.
"We told you about him, Hawk." B J Hunnicutt didn't look up from his operating field. "You remember when you were assigned to the 8063rd for a week? Dupree was your exchange replacement."
Pierce nodded. "Ah, yes. The midnight ride of Roy Dupree."
"My Sophie still hasn't recovered from that ride." Colonel Potter contributed.
"MacAllister is thorough." Winchester continued. "This is an excellent preparation for an arterial graft."
"She called this diagnosis right, too." Hunnicutt added. "That glass fragment is hooked on the orbital socket. It's tricky."
"I'm almost finished with this shoulder." Potter told him. "Need some help?"
"Not yet. Maybe." The doctor concentrated on his surgery.
"I think she's unorthodox; I mean, coming in with a combat unit." Major Houlihan commented. "And she did more field treatment than she should have, as well."
"Don't forget the sidearm, Margaret." Major Winchester added helpfully.
"That's right." Captain Pierce joined in. "What was she doing with a weapon, anyway?"
"Simmer down, cowboy." Potter ordered. "Let's hear what her reasons were first---before you have her run out of town."
Colonel Potter stepped away from his table as his patient was removed to the recovery room. "Winchester, how are you and Pierce doing over there?"
"Coming along nicely, Colonel." The surgeon reported.
"I'm through." Doctor Hunnicutt informed him. "Do you want me to operate on our new nurse?"
"Not yet. I want to talk to the Australian, first. Klinger!"
"You bellowed, My Colonel?" Corporal Klinger appeared at the OR doors with a surgical mask held over his face.
"Bring in Lieutenant Cochlan."
"Right away, sir. As fast as my camel can carry me."
"Just bring in the patient." The senior officer advised. Raising his eyes skyward, Colonel Potter muttered, "I'm the one who needs the Section Eight."
Lieutenant Cochlan was helped onto the operating table. The surgeon gave his instructions to his nurse and then turned to the soldier. "Lieutenant, I'm Colonel Potter, the commanding officer of this outfit. Ordinarily, you'd be under anesthesia. But your wounds can be treated with a local and I'd like to talk to you."
"Certainly, sir. Are my men going to be all right? How's Glennis's leg?" He asked.
"They're going to be fine. Now, about Lieutenant MacAllister...."
"It's my fault---about the weapon---sir." The Australian interrupted. "After the battle, we tuck-tailed out of there so fast, she never had the chance to return it to me."
"What was she doing with one in the first place?" Hawkeye Pierce demanded.
"Our lorry was ambushed about ten miles back." Cochlan explained. "One man was killed during the initial attack. Another man was down. They were trying to pin us down in a cross fire. So I put her in the safest location I could find, left her my gunbelt and tried to lead the fighting away from her."
Angrily, the dark-haired doctor interjected, "You left her---alone---behind enemy lines! How could you do that?"
"I couldn't bloody well take her with me!" Cochlan replied stiffly as he tried to contain his anger.
"Stay still, Lieutenant." The colonel cautioned. "You may get your eyelid pierced if you jump around like that while I'm suturing."
"I had a job to do, Colonel. I didn't like leaving her. But I had no choice."
"I understand. I just don't like my nurses being exposed to a shooting gallery."
"Our Army Intelligence indicated the road was clear. I thought she would be far safer with us than back there at Kimhbede with those fly boys."
"Army Intelligence--that's an oxymoron--if I ever heard one." Pierce muttered.
"What happened at Kimhbede?" Colonel Potter asked.
"Bad business, that." The soldier frowned. "We had pulled into the base around 0500 hours, for some tucker, when we noticed these fly boys all over her like a pack of dingoes after a woolie. She was fighting them off but they had her cornered. And were pawing at her. And were saying some of the filthiest things to her."
"That's terrible!" Major Houlihan exclaimed with indignation. "No nurse should have to put up with that!"
"My men and I felt the same way. We pulled her out of there. She welcomed our offer of a ride. We stayed long enough for her to change from her dress uniform into her fatigues and then we headed here."
"I don't like the sound of that---not one bit! I'll check into that." Colonel Potter spoke. "Cochlan, I'm grateful to you for taking care of MacAllister. I want you to stay for overnight observation. We'll find some place for the rest of your men to sleep."
"Yes, sir. I'll need to contact my CO."
"Of course." The officer agreed. "Talk to my company clerk, Klinger. Oh, and one more thing, son. I noticed that some of your men weren't injured---and we could use the blood."
"Glad to help, Colonel. Just tell me where you want us."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Major Houlihan, your nurses can finish in here; take charge of the blood donations."
"Yes, Colonel. This way, Lieutenant." The nurse helped him to stand.
He resisted her pull to face the older man. "Colonel Potter, two of my men would be dead right now, if not for MacAllister. She pulled my corporal out of the line of fire, treated his injuries and stood guard over him until we returned. And, on the way here, she kept Private Glennis from bleeding to death. I'm putting her in for a Commendation of Bravery medal."
"Sounds like she deserves it." The senior officer agreed. "And we have kept her waiting long enough. Bring in Lieutenant MacAllister."
A corpsman wheeled the young woman into the OR.
"Table for one, over here." Captain Hunnicutt called. He examined the x-rays while she was being helped onto the table. "Ginger, I want a local applied to her arm." He informed his surgical nurse. "I'll start on the glass extraction when it takes effect."
He smiled at his patient. "Welcome to the 4077th, Lieutenant. I'm your maitre d' for the afternoon. May I recommend the house specialty?"
"Which is?" She asked with a grin.
"Sutures ala Hunnicutt."
"Sounds delicious, sir. I'll have some." Sarabeth MacAllister replied. She was enjoying this friendly exchange.
"Uh oh, here comes the manager of this place." Hunnicutt stage-whispered as the colonel approached.
The young woman straightened. "Colonel Potter, sir. I'm Lieutenant MacAllister." She looked at her disheveled appearance and said, with a lopsided grin, "I reckon I'm not exactly ready for duty, but I am here."
"Glad to have you safe in the corral, Lieutenant." Potter answered. "You've had a busy day."
"That I have, sir."
"I leave you in the very capable hands of Captain Hunnicutt. After he's through with you, and after you've had a chance to get back into uniform, I'd like to see you in my office."
"Tilt your head back some more." Doctor Hunnicutt directed, returning her attention to him. "That's better. I don't have too many patients who are upright while I'm operating on them."
Sarabeth MacAllister laughed. She was sitting on the table with most of her weight resting on one elbow. "And I don't often see surgery from this angle, either, sir." She told him with an amused smile.