Cheer up, it could be worse. I cheered up, it got worse.
Season 2: Episode 3: Determination is not always a good thing
Location: Field Hospital
Timeline: before Dorso's return
Danica materialized on the surface, just outside the confines of the camp’s shelters. She’d been hoping to visit during a period of lower activity. The science team’s investigations were ongoing and they hadn’t decided to beam to the city yet. So she took the break to head down herself. She wasn’t sure exactly where Anya was within the complex, so she decided to give her a little warning. =^= Lt. Kovitz to Petty Officer Neeze. You have a visitor .=^=
Anya, not the best at technical things, was talking to Home Guard personnel about what they might have seen in the area where Liorga and Ven… Dorso had disappeared. She’d leave the tracking of signals and life signs to the experts. Unfortunately, nobody was any help, and not for lack of trying. They were good people, those Home Guard, just not very good at security. But then, their day jobs ranged from shop assistants and undertakers all the way to bank managers, but nothing that would have prepared them for this kind of situation. Anya was frustrated but she couldn’t blame them. When the call came from Dani, Anya felt like she was saved by the bell. “Hey, great news. Where can I find you? I’m by the main gate.” Well, gap in the forcefield barrier, marked out by two logs placed in the ground so people wouldn’t miss it. Not much of a gate, but that’s what it was called now.
“I’m…” Dani paused looking around. “Not all that close. Give me a minute.” After navigating her way through the maze of shelters, she finally got within eyeshot of the gate. She saw Anya at a distance, but made a point of not acting too excited. She didn’t know who Anya had shared the news with. And regardless, the situation sounded bad down here. Liorga and the other guy she didn’t know were missing. She honestly wanted to check on Estelle too. “Hey there,” she said with a smile once in earshot.
“Hey”, Anya greeted her, not the best variation in vocabulary there. She closed the distance and gave Dani a hug. “Have you got any news? None of these people have seen anything.” Anya liked the chance for a good fight, a hostage rescue, but did it have to be her friend? That took all the fun out of it.
Dani pulled away from the hug slowly, shaking her head. “Nothing on my end. I’ve been focused on finding out what’s causing everything. But I heard about Liorga. Are you ok? And I know Estelle’s down here too. How’s she doing?” Danica was worried about both of the women. Liorga had been the connection that led her from Estelle to Anya. Until recently, she’d been borrowing the woman’s quarters. She hoped the Deltan was alright.
Anya nodded. “I’m okay. I’m worried, but it’s Estelle who’s losing it. She hasn’t said a single silly word since she’s heard the news. And you know something wrong with her if she doesn’t make jokes. She’s scared.” And then there was that bit with Sami, but Anya figured this wasn’t a good time to mention it, wondering whether she should mention it at all.
“I can imagine,” Dani replied. Estelle had been cracking jokes since the moment she’d met her. If she’d stopped that was a clear sign. And she also clearly cared for Liorga. Danica decided to change the subject for the moment. “What have they had you up to down here?”
“I’ve established base security and quelled a riot, so far”, Anya grinned. “Well, not all by myself, of course. Fernando helped. And we got to see Colonel vel-Cro and her fancy flying. She’s got this hover chair and it’s all decked out with shield generators and type III phaser emitters and command and control tech, it’s amazing. Even someone who has legs could benefit from that kind of hardware.”
“Wow you had a much more interesting day than I did,” Dani laughed. Anya’s day was much more colorful than viewing scanners all the time. “The situation sounds rough down here though. You’re all staying away from that illness I hope. It sounds brutal.”
“It seems random. Some of us have got it, others don’t”, Anya said. “I know I’ve been exposed… and now, so have you, I’m sorry to say. So far, I feel fine. Sami’s got it. Dorso’s got it, he’s the crewman who got taken with Liorga, and everybody’s worried he might not make it if he doesn’t get treatment soon. But Estelle did say that it’s not dangerous if we have access to treatment, so you needn’t worry.” Well, feeling miserable was enough to worry about, but Anya didn’t exactly want to come out and say that. If she had a choice between illness and injury, she preferred the injury. At least those could be worked around and one didn’t feel like one was about to die.
“Well, sickbay is going to have to take a look at me, but I’m about to come down again anyway to investigate ground zero, so I was bound to be exposed. I’m more worried about you guys who are down here under more extreme circumstances. If I get sick, sickbay is there. If Estelle goes down, there could be trouble.” Dani said looking around the camp. “If feel so weirdly conflicted though. We’re here to assist the local population and yet they’re the ones I’m worried will do something to endanger you guys down here. Have the riots been calm...well, calm for riots?”
“The exact opposite”, Anya said. “They were weird, beginning to end. Fernando says that’s normal for people in a panic for the necessary supplies needed for survival, but I’m not buying it. There has to be something else at play. They had clear instructions on where to go in order to receive aid, both food and medicine. They acted as though they thought the government was out to get them, actively do them harm. Even when they were met with clearly superior firepower, they did not surrender. We had to shoot the lot of them to subdue them. That’s extremely unusual, and not something I’ve ever seen before.”
“That’s weird,” Dani said, furrowing her brow. “Why would they be reacting that strongly? That doesn’t make any sense. Don’t they know we’re just here to help?” She looked around the fortification. “But if we think someone took Liorga, then clearly there are aggressors. Do you think your camp is at risk?”
Anya shook her head. “We’ve got force field barriers and these.” She pointed to the phaser on her hip. She hadn’t expected enough trouble to bring a rifle, just a hand phaser, but even that was sufficient. She was a good shot, after all. “I’m no stormtrooper, I usually hit what I’m aiming for.” She pointed in the direction of the surgical tent. “Would you like to check on Estelle, too?”
“Ok. It’s actually reassuring that you’re not packing too big a weapon,” Dani said with a smile. “Yeah, let’s pop in on the good doctor. I didn’t just come down here to see you.” She winked.
“Aw, and here I was feeling special for a minute”, Anya complained, leading the way. “Be warned, she’s not in a good mood.”
“I think you’re well aware you get special treatment,” Dani teased, but she got serious after that. “But good to know. Can’t exactly blame her, given the situation.” She followed closely behind Anya.
Estelle was working in the back, having left sample analysis to Julia. “When I say ‘find me an osteoregenerator’ I don’t mean this defective piece of surplus from the last war”, she chided a member of the Home Guard. “Use your brain for a change. Get one that works. How am I supposed to help you people if you’re incapable of reading labels and diagnosing your own equipment?”
“Do you see what I mean?” Anya asked, keeping her voice low.
“I do,” Dani whispered back. “That’s not exactly the Estelle I’m used to seeing. She’s definitely shaken. You sure this is a good idea? I feel like I’m just going to call attention to the problem.” She hesitated to walk much closer.
“You might have a chance to get her to take a break”, Anya suggested. “Most of us have been unsuccessful.”
“I guess,” the blonde said skeptically. “I suppose I don’t have anything else to do down here so she can’t shoo me away as easily.” She shuffled her feet uncertainly for a second. “Alright. Here goes nothing.”
Danica stepped more into view and put on her most positive persona. “Hey, doc.” She waved a little hesitantly.
“Dani, hello”, Estelle said. “I hope you bring some kind of positive news?” She wasn’t even considering a social visit.
“I’m here? That’s about all the news I bring unfortunately. Our scans are still ongoing. But I figured I’d swing by and check in on my off shift.” Dani looked around at the tent. “Looks like you’ve had your hands full.” She wanted to keep the doctor’s mind on non-Liorga topics.
“It’s been chaotic down here”, Estelle said. “Especially with this strange flu added to the mix. I’m also having trouble concentrating on the job.” She was at least self-aware enough to know that this was affecting her, even while she tried to not let it. “I want her back. I’m sure she’s scared.”
‘Well, so much for keeping her off that topic,’ Dani thought. She nodded, resting a hand on her friend’s shoulder reassuringly, at least she hoped. “I know. But she’s strong. You know that. She’ll be ok. You’ve just got to hold this place together while they get her back for you.” She wasn’t sure if her reassurance had done any good, but she tried to sell her confidence in Liorga’s return.
“I know”, Estelle said. “I’m trying.” She grabbed some more tea from the replicator. “Most of these people couldn’t find their own arseholes if I gave them a mirror on a stick, though.”
“Then they especially need you to hold it together. Everyone would start losing their butts and that’s no way to keep a camp in order.” Dani tried to inject her humor into that.
“I swear, the next person who shoves a weapon in my face demanding shit, I’ll punch him out cold”, Estelle grumbled. “Show them what someone raised on Andoria can do.” She wasn’t a great fighter but sufficiently provoked, and with the element of surprise, who knew?
Dani raised an eyebrow. “Have people been pointing a lot of guns around in sickbay? That seems...ill advised.”
“Knives”, Estelle said. “There has been uncommon violence, and I’m beginning to see its appeal.”
“I’ve always thought trying to attack a doctor is a bad idea. They know more ways to kill you than a lifetime assassin,” Dani joked. “Knives are pretty scary though. Are those the citizens? I can’t imagine Anya has been threatening you with knives. Unless you messed up her tent.”
“Yes, the citizens”, Estelle confirmed. “Some just can’t wait their turn.” She sighed. “And holding Liorga? What do they hope to gain? They must know we’ll come after them hard. All they do is make it painful for themselves, and for Liorga, in the process. I don’t understand that madness.”
“They must be banking on our goodwill. They know Elysium could level what’s left of their settlement from orbit. But they’re counting on us not doing that. That’s why I think Liorga is ok. If they hurt her, they lose their leverage.” Dani’s analysis seemed fairly logical from her point of view, but she wasn’t exactly a strategist. And in a time of crisis, decisions aren't always logical. She hoped she was right, for their Deltan friend’s sake.
“They could just walk in here and get help”, Estelle said. “But no, they have to do it this way. I hope they’ll catch that flu and die.” Certainly an uncharacteristic sentiment for Estelle, who had just one mission earlier made the case against turning over the hijackers to their smuggler overlord because she didn’t think they deserved to be executed for their failure.
The comment certainly flagged Danica’s attention. “Come on, no you don’t. At least, you don’t want them to die. Get sick and be miserable for a week maybe…” She didn’t want to push her luck. “Speaking of which, how’s that going? Any progress? I just exposed myself for it, so I’m hoping you’ve got at least a lead.”
Estelle shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m a surgeon. There are others better qualified for fighting viral infections, and they are on the job.” She could do it, or she’d never have been given the position of CMO back on the Tirpitz, small vessel that she was, but everyone had their strengths and specialities, and infections weren’t Estelle’s.
“A fair point,” Dani said. She didn’t feel like she was doing that well at distracting the woman. Maybe something more gossipy. “Hey, so not sure if Anya told you, but your little ploy worked.” She gave the doctor a suspicious squint.
“My little ploy?” Estelle wondered. “I don’t think I follow.” She gave Dani a confused look. So out of context, she had no idea what Dani was referring to. “Enlighten me?”
“Your little roommate matchmaking scheme. Suggesting I stay with Anya,” Dani said, with a fake disapproving look. “I imagine you had a plan there.”
“I did, true”, Estelle admitted. “I figured with you occupying Liorga’s bed, she’d stay over at my place for longer. I wanted to ask her to move in with me, while we were down here. I had just about got up my courage, too.” It really was difficult trying to distract Estelle from what was first and foremost on her mind but Estelle wasn’t entirely clueless. “I take it you and Anya got close?”
“Well, you’ll get to ask her once we get her back,” Dani said, before giving an entertained smile. “But yes, we got...close.” She put a little emphasis on the final word.
“Can’t say I blame you”, Estelle said. “Once things are better”, by which she meant once Liorga was back safe and sound, “you’ll have to tell me all about it.”
“It’s a deal,” Dani said with a smile. “Is there anything I can help you out with while I’m down here? I’m not exactly on duty at the moment.”
“That all depends on how up to date you are with biolab work?” Estelle asked. “Julia, a friend of mine, works on the analyses, and I’m sure she could use an extra pair of hands, a fellow scientist looking over the results, see if she’s missed something?” Not that Estelle would accuse Julia of being sloppy, she had changed a lot since they had last met so many years ago. “In here, it’s all surgery, and I won’t let you do that. No offence.”
“I’d prefer to avoid the surgery side of things honestly,” Danica replied. “I think I can help Julia out. If nothing else, a second pair of eyes or hands would hopefully be useful.” She patted her friend on the shoulder. “And hang in there. She’s going to be ok.”
“So everyone keeps saying”, Estelle said. “I just hope you’re right.” But she’d only be happy again once that actually came true. If it would, Estelle was far from convinced, with all the nutty things happening.