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"Might as well. Caf can't be any worse." He lifted his mug in a salute to the recruiter at the other table.

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MEDCENTER SURGICAL COMPLEX, SECTION N- ONE, DEATH STAR

When the only tool you have is a knife, the old joke went, every problem looks like a steak. Thus Uli, being a surgeon, was primarily concerned with procedures surgical-after all, if your speeder breaks down, you don't call a plumber. But there was more to it than just the operation under the sterilizing lamps. Until the patient was back on his or her or its feet, he or she or it was the surgeon's responsibility, and there was another old saw that spoke to this: You cut it, you take care of it.

That was precisely why a surgeon had to know a certain amount of general medicine before he was allowed to pick up a laser scalpel. Because if your wonderful cardio- thoracic procedure to repair a ballooned aorta before it could burst in a deadly aneurism was perfect, but the patient died two days later in recovery, that brought up the third hoary old saying: The operation was a success, but the patient died.

There were surgeons who could separate the two and still sleep at night, but Uli was not one of them. And so he found himself standing near the bed of a grizzled old

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