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Tentacle Spectacle

Posted on 29 Nov 2022 @ 10:12am by Lieutenant Amelia Warner & Lieutenant Commander Cintia Sha'mer

3,216 words; about a 16 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: Sickbay, USS Odin

There were so many of the damn things, Sha'mer saw through the sensors from Engineering. Her mind did its old trick where the sensors seemed to become her full awareness and she seemed to float in space, looking at the tentacle creatures which were attacking the ship.

And were beaten off. There were gaps in the ship (the sensors and graphs told her, but she could almost feel them as if they were a part of her) through which they tried to enter and were destroyed or had to flee. And though Johnston's firing patterns were beginning to flag, showing the fatigue of the man, it became harder and harder for the artifacts to approach the ship.

She activated the rest of the panel, acting as secondary tactical from down here, and noticed that as soon as Johnston saw it he transferred partial control to her. She saw the creatures wriggle and twist, break up one more time, they tried one more attack.

One coordinated salvo from Johnston and herself broke through their formation. And as if it had broken more than that, their spirit as it were, they fell back. Through the gaps in the hull several spindly figures emerged, some damaged, some still intact, and rejoined the others. They drew back.

And just like that it was over. It was all over.

As the people in Engineering began to ready themselves for the repairs which were going to be needed all over the ship, Sha'mer quietly logged out. Then she left, still using the now deactivated rifle as a makeshift cane and using her free hand to drag the bandaged leg along. It was still numb.

The red lights stopped winking as the doors to Engineering closed behind her and she heard Commander Petrova's message. Sha'mer was glad to hear her voice. "Medical attention, got that," she muttered to herself – what the hell, the corridors down here were mostly empty anyway. "Not critical, but what's left of this thing needs to get out, so I'll head there anyway. Guess I'll get started on those reports while I'm waiting."

It took awhile before she finally made it to sickbay, owing largely to the fact that she had to wait for quite a bit until a turbolift arrived – she didn't want to use side-to-side transport, since her situation certainly wasn't critical. Annoying, yes, but she wasn't about to keel over or anything.

As soon as the doors opened, the smells of sickbay in a crisis or the aftermath of one assaulted her: people moaning or crying, the smells of various types of blood from different races, people working with eerie calm efficiency. She recognised one of the figures lying on a biobed as that of the commander. Good to see that she was here.

Sha'mer looked around for a place to stand or sit out of the way of the chaos around her, found one in a corner of sickbay, and there she settled in to wait.

Amelia was just finishing up with the first officer and seeing her off to a bed where she could recover before the CMO turned to see who was up next...which seemed to be the ship's chief of tactical. Did the entire senior staff through themselves at these creatures, she had to wonder. She hurried over. "I see you're ambulatory, that's good. Let's get you to a bed and get you checked out."

Sha'mer blinked. Now that the acute threat was over and the adrenaline was beginning to wear off, she felt the drowsiness creeping up on her again. "Are you sure there are no more urgent cases?" she asked, looking at the chaos still around her. "I mean, I know this will need to be dealt with, but it's not life-threatening or anything." The last thing she wanted was to take up space on a biobed when someone else needed it more than she did. Though she supposed that most urgent cases had been brought in by now.

"What is it with everyone knowing my job better than me today," Amelia murmured to herself as she moved to help the commander limp to a bed. "I don't believe you've gotten a medical degree since your onboarding physical, so why don't you leave the triage to me, yes?"

The sights, sounds and above all smells of a sickbay in a crisis situation were slowly getting to Sha'mer, bringing back memories of her last involuntary visit to a sickbay, the time when she had been one of the 'urgent cases'. She barely registered what Amelia said. If it wasn't for the fact that her leg didn't want to cooperate at all, she would have bolted out of sickbay altogether to go to her quarters, have a sonic shower (despite how she hated sonic showers because their vibrations seemed always to be just at the threshold of her hearing range, no matter what the engineers said) and some clean clothes, and – oh, that's right, there was still that bandage around her leg and she couldn't get the damned brace off because it was fused shut or something and-

She recognised the rising panic. Get a grip, Sha! And even more annoying, using pain as a way to snap out of it didn't work either because she still couldn't feel her leg and the pain from whatever minor cuts she could see simply didn't, heh, cut it.

Once Sha'mer was properly on a bed, Amelia had her tricorder out and was doing a thorough scan. What she saw drew her mouth into a pronounced frown. "You've gotten yourself a souvenir. What happened?" Even as she asked the question, of course, she was closing the scanning device to prepare a hypo. "Veyo, need a surgical tray, full kit, thank you!" While waiting on that, she turned back to the tactical officer for what she had to say. This was both to help Amelia's understanding but also assess Sha'mer's mental state and shock conditions.

"If that's local anasthetic don't bother," Sha'mer said, eyeing the hypospray. "It's still numb. So. Yeah." She tried to collect her thoughts, which was getting harder and harder. "We were in the cargo bay, with Commander Petrova and a security team, trying to repel those things as they entered. They were… we were hiding behind some crates and they knocked those over and, anyway, long story short, I couldn't get away in time and one of those things managed to get one of their tentacles in me and wanted to yank me closer to-" tear me apart like it did with Ashley. She bit her lip and continued. "I managed to shoot it and I know others shot at it too and-" She remembered how her shot had hit the thing right in the middle of where the tentacles emerged, wriggling and writhing and seemingly filling half her world, the bright flare, the lightning crackles amongst the tentacles and the way they briefly stiffened before either going limp or exploding altogether along with the creature itself, she remembered the burning pain in her leg as the tentacle stabbed it, crescending as the thing desintegrated, and after that, nothing, nothing at all. "It exploded before it could get more tentacles in me," she finished, staring down at herself, at her stained and ripped uniform and useless leg. The word she didn't want to think about became harder and harder to ignore.

"The Commander ordered me to go to sickbay," damn and blast another thing she didn't look forward to, having to tell her that Kolak hadn't made it, that was something which needed to be done in person, she couldn't just put the cold hard words on a PADD and leave it to others to deal with. "Turns out one of the damned things had gotten into a turbolift shaft." It had happened so quickly, doors open, tentacles yanking him in and up, the brief deathscream of his mind, the last heartbeat-realisation that along with his life his katra would vanish forever too. Sha'mer pressed her hands against her face but she couldn't press the memories back. "So I decided to get inside a Jeffries tube instead," it had seemed like a logical decision at the time, "got kinda lost, ended up in Engineering and stayed there until the situation was over. And that's it," she finished lamely, and flinched at that thought.

"Not a local," Amelia said quietly in response before she started listening to the commander's story. It was for the woman's nerves and muscles, though, because they would need to remain still for this. What the brain could do and what the body might do could sometimes be surprisingly different. She pressed the hypospray and then moved down to the leg. She pulled out her tricorder again to check the position of the fragment. "First things first, we're going have to remove the brace and the fragment embedded. This is going to take a while, but between injuries and the medication, you shouldn't feel anything. Let me know if you do, even the slightest, as I work, okay?"

"I haven't been able to feel anything at all since the thing exploded. At least, not my leg. Feeling something would be… a relief, I guess." She watched Amelia work with almost clinical detachment. "It's weird, really… It has hurt basically ever since the original injury, last year. Made me so angry and frustrated at times. And now it's just… gone, along with everything else. I guess I almost miss it. Does that make sense?"

"I think I understand," Amelia said with a faint nod, even though her eyes remained focused on what she was doing since this was going to be tricky work. She called Veyo over, and between the two of them, they had to start with the brace and what was more like engineering than medicine to pull off the fused brace, but she couldn't properly get at the fragment with it there. "I believe we can repair the nerve damage, since having no feeling in your leg isn't conducive to proper use of it. Perhaps there'll be less pain after this, though."

A ray of hope flared up, but dimmed when another realisation hit Sha'mers tired brain. How well did Amelia know her file? She had been in sickbay precisely once, to update the files in person when she officially checked in on board and had avoided it ever since. In the middle of the hectic situation it wouldn't surprise her that certain details would have slipped the CMO's mind. Details that might become relevant as soon as the fragment was cut out of wherever it was stuck in. "You do know that regenerators of any type don't work on me?" she said. Hopefully Amelia just meant that it was the strange fragment in her leg which caused the numbness and the other effects, and everything would be alright once it was removed. That was a very feeble ray of hope, but it was the only one she could see and cling to.

"I'm aware," Amelia said, given that she'd read the file fairly recently. Comparatively. "There are some alternative treatments that might help, or at least can't hurt to try. But the most important part, and what may do enough, is to get this hunk of tech out of your leg. I can't promise anything, but it's got to happen either way." She was talking while using a delicate device to cut apart the brace to pull that off first.

"Yes, please," Sha'mer said with fervor. She couldn't feel it, but the very fact it was there was an all too vivid reminder of what happened. She kept remembering how the tentacle pulled her in, watching the other writhing tentacles getting closer and closer, ready to grab her and tear her apart… She shivered. "Commander Taliborn said he thought it's stuck in the bone."

Amelia swallowed down a curse as she finished a fine cut and started to pull at the brace, only to discover there was yet another fused section she had missed. The pulling had been very slow and cautious, because while Sha'mer may not have felt anything, there was still tissue to damage, but it didn't happen. She began a new cut. "I am afraid that Mr. Taliborn was correct in his assessment, although the good news is--" She hesitated to focus on finishing the next cut and finally getting the brace off. "--it is not lodged terribly deeply in the bone, so that will help recovery."

Sha'mer sighed. It was a relief, but she was getting too tired to really feel anything. "That's good." Automatically she tried to move her leg once the brace came off, only to find it didn't work – again. "I hope there won't be many patients after this… I mean, after me." She tried to focus again, which was becoming harder and harder now that she was finally sitting still, with nothing to do but wait until Amelia was done. "I guess I'll need to get a new brace after this, anyway." she asked, eyeing the fused and cut mess.

"I'm afraid so," the doctor agreed, not looking up from her work now as she moved on to the portion of alien technology protruding from the commander's leg. "You have no sign of concussion, however, so if you would like to be sedated for this next part, that would be okay. Your body is going to need all the rest it can get."

Oh, Sha'mer could feel that, the darkness waiting to suck her down, a temporary end to this nightmare. But if she let Amelia sedate her now, she wouldn't know what happened until after she woke up, while if she stayed awake, she would at least be able to see. See with her own eyes that the tentacle would be removed, even if she couldn't feel it. Know that that ugly tainted thing was gone. "I'll rest when it's gone," she whispered.

For her part, the doctor didn't really see a need for that, but it was the other woman's choice. "As you prefer," she said simply. She was cutting away the cloth around the leg, although some of it was stuck in areas that wouldn't be free until the tentacle hunk was. She removed all that she could, though, and quickly. "Veyo, spot monitor please," she said, holding out her hand until the small circular device was put in it.

Tapping into the small controls, she set it to let her know the moment nerve activty returned -- if it did at all -- since her anesthetic options were limited, especially when the possibility of sedation was declined. She placed it on a spot of uninjured leg, as close to the wound as she could. "I'm going to begin the process of removing this now," she let the commander now. "This could take a little while."

"Well," Sha'mer said with a minute shrug, "I'm not going anywhere." Even though Harva had cut off most of the tentacle which had stuck out, the little which remained looked no less disturbing, especially now that the brace and leg pant had been removed. It stuck her again how close she had been to suffering the same fate as Kolak and the others. "What's a spot monitor?" she asked, as much to distract herself as to satisfy her curiousity.

"It's functionally very similar to the tricorder probe we use here in medical," Amelia replied as she worked. Although the task did require a steady level of concentration, the question was easy to answer. "Except that it attaches to your skin and reads a limited area, but it will alert me to any change in the nerve input or output, if muscle tremors are going to start, blood flow issues, and so forth around the wound itself."

"Nifty," Sha'mer murmured. She half wished she had a tricorder herself so that she could see what Amelia was doing in there. From her own vantage point she couldn't see much. So instead she concentrated on trying to feel something, anything, from the leg on which Amelia was working. She was cutting into her flesh, she could see drops of greenish blood begin to seep into the absorbents which Amelia had placed around the wound. Surely she should be able to feel that? Not pain, of course, the hypo would've taken care of that, but some kind of pressure, maybe?

But thus far, there was still nothing. Not even wishful thinking or imagination could get her to feel anything.

As she worked, Amelia's eyes would frequently flicker up to the spot monitor. The longer it went without registering much of anything, the more concerned she became. She'd been hoping that some--if not most--of the issues were from the presence of a foreign object, but it was looking less and less like that was the case. "After I finish this, I'll need to take some more detailed scans and run some projections. I forecast now, however, that we'll need to make some modifications for your next brace."

The silence in itself seemed… well, it could just be a sign of intense concentration and it probably was, but still, it seemed fraught somehow, ominous. Or was that just Sha'mers own sombre mood? The monitor seemed to be silent as well, though of course, Sha'mer had no idea whether that was because the sound had been turned off (did a monitor that small even have a microphone?) or because it wasn't registering any changes.

"What modifications do you have in mind?" she asked once Amelia spoke.

"I'm not entirely sure yet," Amelia continued as she began separating metal from bone. The smallest of alerts blipped to show that as she worked, there was the tiniest of responses. It wouldn't be able to be felt through the medications for Sha'mer, but it suggested some level of self-healing would take place. Just perhaps not immediately. "Your nerve function and muscle response is not coming back as quickly as I'd hoped while I remove this piece of metal, so there may need to be some level of adjustment for that."

The sound was so minute that Sha'mer might have missed it if she hadn't been keenly straining for anything out of the ordinary. But it was there, and coupled with Amelia's next words, a huge sense of relief flooded her. "But it is coming back," she said hoarsely. Who cared if it didn't come back right away? "I was afraid it really wouldn't…"

Amelia kept working, resisting the urge to nod just from habit. "There are signs, yes. It may not get back to what it was before. I can't predict that yet, but it won't remain fully paralyzed and numb like it is now."

"To be fair, it wasn't much before this happened," Sha'mer said with a flash of a wry smile – the first smile, of any kind, since she'd arrived in sickbay. "But I'm just glad to hear that this isn't permanent. Anything is better than this."

"I'll do everything I can," Amelia said, simply but sincerely. She let her eyes flicker up once with a faint smile, before she got back to work. There was plenty left to do.


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