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Posted on 30 Sep 2023 @ 4:39pm by Lieutenant Commander Harva Taliborn & Lieutenant Commander Cintia Sha'mer & Lieutenant Commander Derek Martin

2,753 words; about a 14 minute read

Mission: Miranda
Location: USS Odin, Sickbay

The hum of the transporter died away and she found herself from the relative peace and quiet of a distant Jeffries' tube in the midst of her least favourite place of the ship: sickbay. Far more crowded than usual, people moaning or shouting, others talking in reassuring murmurs, and all their thoughts and emotions were an attack on her mental shields, weakened by her brief excursion into Harva's mind.

The shock of all those sensations, on the other hand, neatly restored her to her senses, while it lasted. When she looked down at herself she saw that Harva's claw had sliced her right pant leg to ribbons. The brace was only still attached to her leg by the upper strap, the others had been sliced through. She had no way to assess how deep the actual wounds were because of the blood.

She was no stranger to blood, from both sides of the equasion, and knew that some wounds seemed to bleed dramatically while they were actually rather shallow. She also knew that these ones were not those kind of wounds. Wrong colour, and definitely the wrong speed.

Someone close by called: "Little help here!" and she hoped someone else would answer quickly, because this moment of lucidity wouldn't last too long.

Derek Martin was busy working on another patient to try to stabilize their fever. Their spleen had doubled in size and their lymph nodes were practically bursting when they'd walked in. Some people would refuse to show up to their own funeral out of sheer stubbornness. To be honest, Derek understood, even as he silently cursed and tried to work on the console. When the call came for help, he turned from the computer over the biobed and looked at the injured officer.

"Take over, and keep his fever down!" Derek grumbled his last grumble about the patient as he handed off the care to one of the medical assistants while he stepped through the hustle and bustle toward Sha'mer. He knelt down and began looking her over.

"Well you don't look sick. I think you're the first good news I've seen come in here all day, Commander. Can you stand? Or do you need help?" Derek asked, offering his shoulder.

Sha'mer blinked up at him. Good news? Was the man serious? "My leg has been sliced to bits. If you don't get a tourniquet for that leg I'm going to bleed out." She meant to say it curtly, but already her voice sounded slightly slurred. Loss of control. Fuck. What was left of the fabric of her pant leg was drenched with blood and she could feel it begin to pool under her leg as well.

Her hand scrabbled to undo the last remaining clasp of the brace, ineffectively. It was trembling badly. She harnessed her mental skills to tear the damned thing loose. No time for subtleties, not any more.

More. She needed to tell him more while she still could. "After that… Leg was fucked anyway. Brace isn't a fashion statement. So I'll need a hand." If I haven't passed out by then. "Oh. Important to know." She hadn't met this doctor yet, and it was doubtful that he'd recall her medical file or have time to read it. "Regenerators don't work on me. Dermal, neural… so it'll have to be done the old-fashioned way. Stitches. Glue… I think that's it."

She wanted to close her eyes but forced herself not to do it. Too afraid she wouldn't get them open again.

"Hence the urgency, ta," Derek said and pulled on the ripped pant leg, tearing away two strips. He tested the material with a quick jerk of the fabric and wadded it into a hard ball which he pressed onto the femoral artery before quickly tying the tourniquet into place to stem the blood flow. The ball of fabric served as a hard constant pressure held in place by the other portion of the tourniquet.

Derek worked swiftly. What he lacked in bedside manner, he often made up for in a simple unshaking swiftness. "Alright. Now let's see to suturing up that leg," he said and snagged a technician walking past. "Bring me an emergency field kit. Now, eh?" he gave his order and then looked over at the Commander.

"We'll get your leg stabilized right as rain and then get you on a bed and you can tell me how all this happened," Derek said, eyes flicking from one eye to the other to get a sense for the reactivity.

Sha'mer began to nod, aborted the motion almost immediately when she realized that movement alone would almost certainly topple her over. She appreciated the man's directness and decisiveness. He didn't waste time with idle chitchat, but actually listened and acted. "Yes. Good."

The world was still swimming around the edges. The flow of blood had been stemmed, but whether she'd remain conscious for long was still up in the air. She distracted herself by looking at her now exposed leg, assessing the damage with almost clinical detachment. There was the pre-existing damage – the crookedness and mass of scars from earlier fractures, the deep puckered scar on her thigh where the tentacle from one of those mechanical invaders had pierced her leg to grab her and pull her in, the still-not-completely healed fracture under it and the spindliness which came with the partial paralysis which was the result of that tentacle thing's attack. Now three deep furrows were added to the mess, starting just above the knee and running down to end just above the ankle. The sharp claws had cut as effortlessly through skin, blood vessels and muscle as it had cut through the tough fabric of her pants and the straps of the brace. "Yeah, that's gonna leave more scars, alright," she muttered.

"That was me," Harva's answered Derek's question, with a deep resonating bass. He held up his right hand, still damp with her blood. "I - ... I was confused. Didn't know where I was. When I was. Thought - believed I was somewhere else. I - " he trailed off, shoulders slumped, and even through his black fur he looked terrible, the disease that was going around had taken its toll on him. "I'm sorry - " he managed.

The technician was back in a flash with the emergency field kit and Derek set right to work. His hands were steady. "Keeeeeep talking, Commander, both of you that is, tell me what's going on, what did you think was going on Harva?" Derek asked as he worked on Sha'mer. The retractor held open the wound to allow the forceps in so his stitching could work neatly through the major vessels. The tourniquet did its work. The organic material of the suture thread would dissolve over time, allowing for the body's natural healing to take over even as he pulled them tight to seal the vessel. Six. Seven. Eight stitches. Then he moved to another set and began stitching some of the flesh closed. "You're going to have a nasty scar with this," he told Sha'mer.

"Remember what we talked about with scars Harva? Tell me about that conversation. Stay with me, both of you," Derek said. Keeping them awake and conscious was going to be critical at this stage, as he needed information.

'A doctor's chief diagnostic tool is subjective information. Objective scans are only as good as the subjective complaints they are based upon.' The maxim played through Derek's memory as he remembered decades ago sitting in classes on Deep Space Five.

"I came down to check on some systems after the computer reported they'd been taken off-line. That's where I found the commander." Sha'mer chose her words carefully. That also helped with keeping her focus. It also reminded her that the phasers were still offline and that she would either have to go down again herself to enable them again or – more likely, given the situation – order someone from her department to do it. If there was anyone left, she thought wryly to herself. It almost seemed as if more than half the ship's crew was piled up here in sickbay.

The comment about the scars made her shrug – another motion she quickly aborted, as it made her sway and nearly topple over. "As I said before, it was already… in bad shape to begin with. So at least you picked the least harmful place to strike," she added with a quick look at Harva.

"I struck to kill. We're both lucky," Harva rumbled, though none of his usual energy was there. "You pack a punch, Commander. I'm glad for it. As for where my mind was, what I saw, that's - ... classified," Now to quickly change the subject. "I'm unhurt. Just - dazed. Bursting headache. Got hit by - I think that was a stun setting, just - need someone to check me over, when they have the time. Not an emergency."

"What's lucky is I just happened to have nothing more pressing to do than stitch ripped open arteries together. But in either case, I'm glad I happened to be here," Derek said to both of them. He finished another suture. One of the wounds was closed and he worked on the next claw mark.

"As for what is and isn't an emergency, that's also my department, and as of right now you need a lot more than just a quick checkup, Commander. If you're hallucinating about being in a different place and time, I need to know why. As of right now, you're both suspended from duty until I can properly clear you." The doctor looked from one to the other.

Sha'mer pulled a face. She had hardly expected the doctor to just slap a bandage on the leg and call it a day, but it was frustrating nonetheless. "I'm fine, other than getting clawed" and losing quite a bit of blood in the process, but she didn't add that. "And stun setting, indeed," she said with a nod to Harva. "Type one phaser."

"Yeah, I figured something like that, considering I'm not a snoring sack of potatoes on the deck plating. Instead I just feel like I got run over by a starship," he muttered, wincing as he sat down on the ground. "You're right, of course, doctor. I fully submit to your judgment. Just - maybe keep someone with a heavy sedative at the ready in case I regress again, maybe."

"I can keep an eye on you for now," Sha'mer muttered.

"Good. I'll give you cots on the floor right beside each other. You can have plenty to talk about," Derek said, making quick work of the second gash which wasn't as deep before moving to the third.

"As for you, Harva, I want to do a more full workup on you. As you can see, we're a bit full up and whatever it is sending people here by the dozen isn't exactly picky on its genetic or physiological makeup. The more data the better. Speaking of genetic makeup, how are you feeling beyond the leg gash, Commander? Anything to report? Is there any sickness? Any hallucinations? Lapses in memory? Loss of balance or feeling dizzy or faint?" the doctor asked, his fingers stitching through the injured flesh even as he tried to keep his mind occupied on the problem facing sickbay and the entire ship.

"I had a slight headache before all this started," Sha'mer said, "but nothing outside normal parameters. No hallucinations, my memory seems quite fine. Dizzy and faintness, yeah, a bit, but that would be consistent with, oh, I don't know…" Her fingers fluttered towards the tourniquet. "None of those things before this. And loss of balance, well, that's always a bit tricky to begin with."

"Hmmmm, but nothing neurological. Before this no feeling faint, nothing else," Derek pressed again to make doubly sure, looking up at Sha'mer for a brief moment as he tied yet another set of sutures together. The third gash was pulled tight and Derek moved his gaze back to his fingertips and the forceps which tied the knot in the sutures.

"Not before this, no." Her voice sounded strained as the knots were tightened. Adrenalin or whatever things kept her going was wearing off and the cuts were starting to smart in earnest now. "Is there no way that you can send me back to my quarters after this?"

Harva remained quiet, closing his eyes for a moment, though realizing that might look worrisome to outside observers. Like Derek. He opened his eyes again and simply watched the man work.

Derek looked at Sha'mer and bit his lower lip. "Fine. But I'm going to place you under quarantine there. I still want to run some tests, but since you don't seem to be exhibiting features of whatever is causing this deluge of people, I want to know why," Derek said. His attention turned back to Harva as he began to work bandaging the freshly stitched wounds and applying gauze.

"And you? Same symptoms, hallucinations, dizziness, fainting, when did any of this start coming on for you, Harva?" Derek asked.

"Insomnia, no appetite - haven't slept and eaten in a day or so," Harva began, focusing his gaze on the doctor, though with some effort. "Then came a headache, followed by nausea. Body started to ache all over. I tried to keep alert with some reading, but - must've dozed off for a moment or something. That's when the delirium came."

Sha'mer nodded, only half listening to Harva's answer. "That's fine." The relief in her voice was clear. At least she wouldn't have to stay here, where the concentrated presence of too many minds would press against her already fragile shields, and where the smells alone was enough to induce nightmares. "I'll just need something to fix that brace in place." Without it she wouldn't be able to walk at all.

"We'll get you set up. In other news, your leg should heal just fine," Derek said and untied the tourniquet to let bloodflow back. "Let your clotting factors pick up where I left off. Change the bandage at least once a day. If you notice any weeping or pus or anything unusual, you let me know." Derek gave his discharge instructions.

"As for you, Harva, you're under quarantine too. I want you in your quarters as well. Confined there for a bit. No visitors. You've got 'it'. Whatever 'it' happens to be," Derek said firmly. The Doctor waved down an orderly. "Kindly help Commander Sha'mer back to her quarters and get her set up and comfortable to rest her leg."

The orderly, a Vulcan, nodded firmly in understanding.

"We'll figure your brace out soon enough. I just have to deal with these pressing matters," Derek said apologetically.

"That sounds good. Thanks, Doc," Harva flicked an ear, turning his attention to Sha'mer. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but finding no words that he felt would suffice, he closed it again, and with effort and a wince hefted himself to his feet.

Sha'mer winced when the tourniquet was released. Placing it had hurt, leaving it on had hurt more, releasing it – well. "Thanks," she said hoarsely. "And I'm sure I can improvise something. Duct tape, if there's nothing else. Don't worry about me once I'm out of your hair."

A Vulcan to help her back, that at least was some luck. Touch-telepaths themselves meant that they at least had great mental discipline and she could touch him safely.

The orderly helped her to stand and steadied her when once again the world swam and spun around her. Once it stopped spinning, she gave a nod of thanks to the doctor and looked at Harva, on his way out. "We'll talk later," she said softly, knowing he could hear her perfectly well. "Once you feel better. But please feel better first."

Derek turned and began giving Harva the once over to check out his general health. "When did these symptoms start? You mentioned the lack of appetite and nausea about a day and a half ago. Any other symptoms begin earlier?" he asked.

"Hm? Oh. No, that's about when it started," Harva mused.

"Alright. Then you're on quarantine until further notice. I'm going to need you in your quarters and I'll need you to answer a few questions including who you've had contact with since just before symptoms began," Derek said and began the medical questionnaire.


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