Gomarr of Tatooine, Assistant Professor of Archaeology, College of Corellia, pulls his tweed jacket more tightly around him in the chilly Snowscape air and wraps his hands around his mug of hot cocoa. He is here aboard Dame Metropolis to give edifying lectures to the clientele, and in exchange, he gets to enjoy the ship’s recreational facilities in his downtime. Other than some TAing here and there, Gomarr has not taught before. His thesis advisor at Eriadu University was extremely focused on field work. The new C of C semester does not start for several more weeks, so he is glad of the chance here to practice giving his lecture “Blasters: An Elegant Weapon of a More Civilized Age.” Although lethal weapons are not allowed to be carried around the Dame, Gomarr received special dispensation to have his artifact from the temple on Lamaredd on his person at all times. He keeps it in the brand new satchel that Dr. Pramine presented to him at graduation when she also gave him his bycoket hat.
The small honorarium that comes with giving lectures on this trip is welcome cash for a new professor just starting out. It is not, however, enough to afford hanging out in the swanky Ice Cavern Restaurant. Standing on the deck of the less pricy Snowscape Lodge, Gomarr hears the clanking of a chairlift start around the side of the building and heads over, curious by nature. He had been considering trying out the sled hill, but the caution tape he saw up earlier convinced him that the activity was too dangerous. The chairlift is operating now, even though the area is still taped off.
A suspended bench rises into view with someone sprawled across it. Red blood drips onto the white snow below. Gomarr was the medic on Dr. Pramine’s expeditions, and his first impulse is to help this injured person. He rushes over and lets out a long breath at what he sees. There is a long nasty cut up the side of the Pantoran’s neck leaking onto a red and black College of Corellia scarf. Both his jacket and the benchback are scorched. “Poor guy. Must’ve been an undergrad.”
Gomarr gently sits the man up and shifts him off the moving bench to carefully lay him down on the ground. The chairlift keeps operating, and if Gomarr wants to learn anything additional about what happened, he needs a look at that bench before it leaves for good. It has continued farther along its track, and Gomarr steps behind it to check out the seatback. Before his academic days, he was an enforcer for a Hutt; he recognizes blaster burns when he sees them. “That’s not good. That’s not good,” he breathes out. As he stands there considering who might have such a weapon aboard this ship, he gets clipped by the next incoming bench.
Gomarr jumps out of the way, muttering, “I knew this chairlift wasn’t safe. No sledding today. Not happening!” He looks down the hill where the bench came from to see what is happening down there. There are signs of a disturbance in the ice arena, where it appears some people are falling over. He cannot make out any words, but he hears shouting. “Definitely some kind of fight down there. Don’t want any part of that.”
He steps back over to the still man. “Got to get you inside the lodge, buddy.” He lifts the Pantoran upright, throws the uninjured left arm over his own shoulder and grabs the wrist, then wraps his right arm around the man’s waist. To a casual observer, it might look like he is just helping a drunk friend or someone who took a bad dive on the slopes, but Gomarr does not give much thought to that. He just needs to get this guy to a place where he can treat some of the injuries.
As they enter the Snowscape Lodge, someone sipping whiskey in front of the large fire in the common area shoots them a snooty glare, as if they are not of the right social class to be there. Gomarr snorts in response and then dismisses the incident. He steps up to the receptionist. “Can I get a room for my friend to… yeah.”
“Private rooms are for private dining. They require reservations.”
Gomarr lets out a longer snort of frustration. “Listen, buddy, this guy took a dive on your own hill here, okay? He’s pretty badly hurt. I’ve got to make sure he pulls through okay. If he doesn’t, it’s coming back on you! Trust me, I’m sure you don’t want your boss riding on you!”
The receptionist finds the Gamorrean’s argument to be quite convincing. He provides a private room number and asks if Gomarr needs waitstaff to come by to take an order. “No. Just, uh… two bottles of water and a turkey club.” He looks at the man he is holding, trying to remember if Pantorans are vegetarian. With a shrug, he continues, “You know what? Two turkey sandwiches, and if this guy doesn’t want it, I’ll eat the second one.”
The receptionist sighs at the cheap order, but Gomarr ignores that and heads to his private room. Once there, he lays his burden down, accepting that there will be a mess. Blood is going to get all over, and that is just the way it will be. “All right,” he says, “so what happened to you, buddy? Man! He is kind of young… could still be an undergrad…” Gomarr sits the man up in order to peel off the coat and unsling the satchel the guy was carrying. He drops them to the side along with the red and black scarf and lays the Pantoran back down. Then he pulls out his first aid kit, glad with his decision to carry one always even though his field days are over.
The gash on the guy’s neck looks really bad, reminding Gomarr of some blade traps from one of the temples he explored with Dr. Pramine. “Head coulda gotten cut off. Just like poor Robbitsun,” he mutters as he starts work on that wound, trying to staunch the bleeding. “He was a good postdoc, though,” he acknowledges of his late colleague. His current companion’s eyelids twitch, and then Gomarr finds golden eyes looking groggily up at him. “Hey, there, whoa! Take it easy, pal. You took a nasty, nasty hit. How you feeling?”
“Ahhh…” Tcho blinks his eyes, trying to focus them. A Gamorrean in a peaked brown hat with a feather stuck in the side is leaning over him, asking something in a reassuring tone. Okay, so not a Stormtrooper, that’s good. The ceiling light is bright in his eyes, and nothing in this room is familiar at all. The Gamorrean is applying pressure to his neck, which hurts profoundly. “I… am in a lot of pain. What’s going on?”
“That’s pretty normal, given that you got shot with a blaster, buddy.”
Tcho’s mind races. He needs to be able to provide explanations for a lot of things. “Oh! Is that what that was?” he asks innocently.
“Yeah, someone was shooting blasters. You got away from the ice arena battle. You’re lucky to be alive, pal. I’ve seen a lot of people messed up less bad than this who didn’t make it.”
Tcho raises a hand to the bandage on his throat and starts to push himself up. “How bad is this?” he asks.
“It’s probably going to add a couple semesters to your study.” Gomarr nods his head at the scarf sitting to the side. “And you’re probably going to need a new scarf when you’re back on campus. I went through a lot when I was in grad school. But, hey!” he offers a big grin to his confederate, “I teach at C of C now!” Something flickers across the Pantoran’s face, and Gomarr grows a little uncertain. He has not spent very much time on campus yet. “They do call it C of C, right?”
At the mention of school, Tcho tenses up for a moment, but then it occurs to him that if this man is viewing everything through an academic lens, then that gives Tcho a lie he can work with. He is about to respond when there is a knock on the door and then it is thrown open.
“Ha, ha! Helio Star—Where’s Helio Starburst?!” the interloper demands.
Gomarr and Tcho each look to the other for an explanation. Then Gomarr turns to the intruder. “Wrong room, pal.”
“Wait… that’s not stage blood, is it?”
“Oh, no,” Gomarr replies with a snort, “that’s the real stuff. You can tell because it’s really sticky.”
With a startled oath, the person leaves, drawing the door closed behind them. Tcho saw the look of alarm, though, and he cannot risk lingering while they inform anyone of his whereabouts. I need to get out of here. He starts to climb to his feet, catching himself on the edge of the table as he lurches to one side, woozy.
“Whoa, whoa, take it easy, pal!” Gomarr cautions. “Buddy, you’re about to fall over. You’re messed up pretty bad. We should take you to the ship’s hospital.”
Tcho slides some plates off a metal platter and tips it to try to see himself in it. Gomarr steps to assist, shoving one of the sandwiches into his mouth and then taking hold of the reflective surface. Tcho carefully turns his head, pressing delicately at the edges of the wound. “It probably doesn’t really need stitches,” he mutters to himself. “Probably just some synthskin. That shouldn’t leave a scar…”
Gomarr snorts. “Where you gonna find blue synthskin?”
Tcho drops a hand to his hip, then looks around when he realizes his satchel is not there. He sees it on the floor with the jacket. When he leans over to pick it up, he has to again grab the table against the wave of lightheadedness that rolls over him. He steadies himself and snatches up the bag, then goes through it for the sophisticated medkit he used to treat Jai Tessa earlier that day. Of course his kit contains blue synthskin, but more practically for right now, it has painkillers. He applies a stim applicator very deliberately to his jugular vein, grateful that the trooper’s knife did not catch it. Tcho closes his eyes for a moment and releases a long breath, relaxing some of the accumulated tension from his shoulders and bruised back as the fire in his neck dims.
“You got a medkit, pal? Okay! Oh, and you got stims. Good. Left mine at home.” Gomarr munches through the second turkey club. “Didn’t think I’d need them on the cruise ship. I was wrong. Learned an important lesson today. You got the good stuff, too. Good move.”
“What’s going on down there?” Tcho asks vaguely, still not sure of his current location. Let the mark fill in the details, that is the way it works.
“There’s some kind of fight down in the skating arena. Didn’t want any part of that! Somebody shooting a blaster… not a good time. You got caught in the crossfire. That’s the worst place to be.”
The crossfire? Tcho will happily agree with that assessment. “Oh, yeah, I got knocked over on the ice.” He gestures at the gash on his neck that is definitely not from a blaster. “This must’ve been from somebody’s skate.”
“We should get you to the ship doctor. They have hospitals here. Trust me, you’re entitled to medical care.”
That sounds like the worst place Tcho could possibly go other than right back down to the rink. “Oh, I don’t want to file any claims or anything. That’s going to make the ship people unhappy with me. It’ll just add to the expense of the trip. Maybe I should just go back to my cabin.” He glances around the room, verifying that the one door is indeed the only way out. There are no vents, no hatches, no windows.
Gomarr shakes his head. “Buddy, you can walk right now, but you are messed up,” he asserts. “If somebody flicks you over, you’re not going to get back up again. I mean, you do a homework problem that’s too intense, and it will be too much for you.”
The Gamorrean’s continuous pessimistic commentary keeps drawing Tcho’s attention back to his aching back and neck, which is not where his focus needs to be right now. But it is also convincing Tcho that this man is genuinely concerned about his well-being. Tcho offers him a grateful smile. “Thank you for checking on me.”
“Yeah, well, you passed out on a chairlift, man.”
Oh, I’m still near the chairlift. Good to know. Tcho concludes he is in one of the restaurants at the top of the Snowscape hillside.
“You really should see a proper doctor,” Gomarr reiterates. “I do some first aid because I did a lot of field work, but you really should see a doctor or a medical droid.”
At the mention of droid, Tcho thinks of how easily distracted Jai Tessa was by that topic. If he can just get this professor to focus on his own interests instead of Tcho’s treatment, maybe he can move them along more smoothly. “So what is your field of study if it’s not medicine?” he asks, as he drapes his satchel strap over his head so that it rests on his uninjured shoulder. He slips on the burnt coat.
“You want to learn what I do? I’ve got a lecture on this ancient blaster later this week. But that’s not what’s important right now.”
“Oh, so could a person maybe get advance credit if they were to help you with this?” Tcho begins wrapping his neck with the red and black scarf to hide both the blood already on it and the full extent of his neck injury.
“Buddy, we’re talking about your life! Don’t worry about the credits right now!”
“Academia is my life!” Tcho twirls the free end of the scarf, showing off the College of Corellia logo. “Go C of C!”
“Yeah, go… what are we, the Rockets? I don’t even know,” Gomarr admits.
There is another rap on the door, and this time it is the clerk from reception, encouraging Gomarr to get a move on since he has ordered no additional food. “There’s a fee if you hold the room for more than an hour.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Gomar agrees, as Tcho heads towards the door out of the room. “My student was just helping me out. He had a rough day.”
Tcho smiles as his new identity starts setting roots already. Standing near the door, he gestures toward the hallway. “After you, professor.”