Season 2: Mission 2: Just Breath
Location: Eclipse Casino
Timeline: during the skirmish with the Elysium
Things hadn’t worked out as Estelle had planned. She’d wanted to turn off the ventilation system, her reasoning being that shit hitting the fan wasn’t remotely as problematic once those blades were stationary, but something else had decided to provide the necessary air movement after all - hull breaches. Thankfully, emergency forcefields had held, and there were now bulkheads in place that sealed off the rest of the ship. One crewman had not been as lucky as the others, however, and was now lying on one of the cots, minus the lower half of a leg. Estelle had stepped off to the side and was in the process of cleaning herself off, and putting on a fresh set of surgical garments.
“Doc! Doc!” Petty Officer Liorga called out as she and Justice carried Ensign Norris into the casino/ makeshift sickbay, “Doc, it’s Ens. Norris, she got nailed pretty decent on Deck Three.”
“Is jus’ a scratch.” Gallia protested, though her hand looked and felt like Hell, “I’m fine, just ge’me back ta work.”
“Sir, please, be quiet, save your strength.” Liorga said, laying Norris down on a nearby biobed. Contrary to the young Ensign’s protestations, this injury was much more than a scratch, she’d damn near lost fingers when that panel blew out on her and her hand looked like a pizza that had been forgotten in the oven.
Estelle finished zipping up a freshly replicated jacket and stepped away from the replicators. There was the scent of coffee about her, something she made a habit of replenishing whenever there was time between patients. “Hi, good looking, get sick here often?” she greeted the young Ensign, mostly so the unusual words would take her mind in a different direction while Estelle visually checked out the hand.
“Nah, this is me first time.” Gallia joked backed, “Though if all the docs look like you I might make a habit of it. Tell me, you from Aberdeen?”
“No, I’m from Andoria”, Estelle said in the best approximation of a Scottish accent she could muster, which was pretty good for a foreigner. She grabbed a hypospray off the tray and injected Gallia’s shoulder with an anaesthetic that would numb her arm after about half a minute. “The boss has bigger teeth than me, but other than that he’s a spitting image”, Estelle added.
“That’s interesting.” Gallia replied, though the hypospray was already starting to kick in, “Though as a rule the loveliest lasses in the galaxy, all of us from Aberdeen. So,” She turned the conversation back to business, “How bad is it and when can I get back to work?”
“We’ll see”, Estelle said, looking at the tricorder readings. She looked around, there wasn’t much of a waiting list, one of the nurses was treating a minor burn which Estelle thought the guy might just as well have kept working with and come see her when all this was over, and another was setting a broken bone, something Estelle had been pleased to notice the nurse was very well able to do on her own, without her help. Which was good, since she had been finishing the amputation anyway. “There’s no waiting list at the moment, so you can come right in.” She looked at the other two engineers. “You two can go back to work, though. I’m sure she won’t run out on me now.”
“Uh, Doc, you can’t be sure when this one will take off on you.” Justice offered.
“So true.” Liorga agreed, “One second she’s talking to us, assessing the situation, the next…. POOF! Right into a fiery hell of a deck. I mean, we’re going because I’ve got to run the team now, but you’ll need to keep an eye on this one, we’d like it if she didn’t get dead.”
“Right.” Justice nodded, “She’s useful.”
“For an Ensign.” Liorga added, she’d met very few Ensigns worth peeing on if they caught fire, this one had impressed her, no fear of getting her hands dirty.
“Right.” Justice concurred, “For an Ensign.”
“I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m asking around for autopsy volunteers”, Estelle chuckled. She offered Gallia her left hand to help her up off the cot, as she wasn’t going to attempt the operation out in the open. Some people might not appreciate the eye-full. “Come now, I’ll put you back together.”
“What about him?” Gallia pointed to the young crewman on the other bed, the one with pieces missing, she thought his name was Case but wasn’t sure, “My problem’s minor, ya oughta take care a’ him first.”
“He’ll need a new leg”, Estelle explained. “Nothing I can do now. The rest of him is floating out in space somewhere, and I don’t think we’ll be able to retrieve it. He’s stable and not in pain, though.” She smiled at Gallia. It was always the good ones who worried about the others first, quite unlike the guy who had come in with a minor burn. “Let’s get you looked at before someone else comes in and takes away your slot.”
“Of course, Doctor.” Gallia nodded, her Grandmother had been a Doctor, always told her not to argue with them, at least not to excess. She followed the Doctor as instructed, passing Case and saying, “Hang in, Case, we need ya.”
Justin Case, an otherwise cheerful lad who’d certainly have found a way to flirt with Gallia even missing parts of him and lying stretched out and unable to move, was also unable to respond by virtue of the drugs Estelle had given him which kept him unconscious for the duration.
“Take a seat and prop your arm up here”, Estelle instructed. She didn’t need to put Gallia under. She saw the wound wasn’t severe enough for that, but it did need to get treated. “You’ve got two severed ligaments in your index and middle fingers, which is why you’re not able to move them as you normally would”, she started explaining. “If you want, you can watch me tying them back together, like shoelaces.”
“Oh, ya gotta fix that.” Gallia laughed, “Otherwise I might not be able to signal to the idiot drivers next time I’m home.” She looked down at her hand, thinking about what the Doctor was about to do; Always loved seeing how machines work, she thought, guess this time we’ll see the innards of the human machine, “Alright, give us a look, Doc.”
Estelle pressed a few buttons and an image of Gallia’s hand, its underside where the cuts had appeared, was displayed. “It will start bleeding a little once those cauterised… well, burnt pieces of flesh are taken off”, she said. “But that’s nothing to worry about, I’ll carefully do one after another. I’m not Dr. Acula, after all.” She first used the laser scalpel, which was not the bloody part of the operation, so her pair of tweezers with its set of carefully guided tractor beams could put the ends of the severed ligament back into position before the autosuture closed the seam.
“I’d like ta have a look at some of your machines one day, Doc.” Gallia said, unfortunately she hadn’t had the opportunity to learn as much about the medical equipment as she’d have liked, focused mainly on the main engines and damage control as her studies had been, “You know, should somethin’ happen, I’d like ta be able ta fix it.”
“That is good, I’ll call you next time something breaks in the middle of the night.” Estelle then started removing the burnt flesh, which caused some of the larger blood vessels to spill a little, but it was all carefully kept under control. "On my last ship, I called the engineer during the night shift because my replicator was leaking from its gel packs. He came in, tossed a few isolinear chips into it and told me to call again in the morning if it didn't get better."
“Oh, ouch.” Gallia laughed, “Nothin’ like a taste of your own medicine, hey?”
“No laughing, you’re moving too much”, Estelle said. “Hold still!” She had switched the scalpel off but couldn’t continue the treatment while Gallia was shaking.
“Oh, sorry.” Gallia said, quickly going silent, last thing she wanted was an elbow where her wrist was supposed to be.
“You’re lucky, this didn’t go through the bone here”, Estelle said shortly after resuming the treatment, pointing out where it had gone right to the bone. “Else, I’d have to ask your friends to go back for your finger.” She turned sideways to look at a magnification of the injury on her viewscreen. “Now for the delicate part… wouldn’t want to lose your feeling in your fingertips, would you? It sucks being out of touch.”
“I’m sure they’d have been happy to give me the finger.” Gallia joked, though she didn’t laugh, “And, no, that is the exact opposite of what I want out of this, Doctor. Thanks for asking though.”
“I wouldn’t want to presume”, Estelle smirked. A long, drawn out “There” later and the severed nerve was re-connected and the cellular damage repaired. “Good, now the rest is cosmetic.” She started the process of dermal regeneration, which left slightly reddish new skin in place of the old one. “It’ll feel a bit raw for a few days, some new callus will have to form.”
“Looks good as new, Doc.” Gallia smiled, “Thanks. So, am I clear to get back ta work then?”
“It’ll be a while before the anaesthetic wears off”, Estelle explained. “You might as well stay here until that happens, enjoy some coffee. It’s freshly made.” She hadn’t heard anyone else come in, and ever since the Eclipse had gone inside the shields of the Elysium the ship had even stopped shaking, something Estelle only noticed looking out of the motion-stabilised surgical ward, with the rest of the deck now motionless. “I think we’re through the worst now.”
“For you maybe.” Gallia sighed, helping herself to the offered coffee, “Repairing everything after this, that’s the worst part of it. Course, we probably don’t have to fix this one anyway. Least I hope we don’t….”
“I’m certainly looking forward to starting work on the Elysium”, Estelle smirked. “I gave up a post as Chief Medical Officer on an Intrepid to become surgeon on a vessel with actual medical capabilities, and where do they put me?” She shook her head. “Don’t get me wrong, the Intrepid is a fine ship, as a tactical scout or a short range science vessel, but her facilities are fairly limited. And that EMH they put on here. I liked the Mk I, but this current Mk IV is just insufferable.”
“I can recalibrate his attitude if ya’d like.” Gallia offered, “And the Eclipse isn’t bad, but it’s obviously not been mainline for a while. I guess I’m a nutty perfectionist when it comes to my ship, want everything in place, online, and working at optimum capacity.”
“I served on an Excelsior, for my first tour”, Estelle narrated as she got herself another refill. “Old girl, the Herod. She was patrolling friendly space, her last refit more than a decade ago as part of the Dominion war effort, but we had space in sickbay, and got to install new gear without having to compromise like on a smaller ship. Of course, that was largely because it’s no use training the cadets on technology that’s a century old.”
“I did a Cadet cruise on an Excelsior, too.” Gallia replied, “The Potemkin. The engines were as good as any new one in the fleet, their Chief Engineer was such a stickler. Probably where I picked up some of my bad habits.”
“Careful with those habits here, you might end up in the dog house”, Estelle grinned. It was the new nickname for the Chief Engineer’s office, she had decided.
“Probably.” Gallia nodded, “So, uh, any idea what to do for fun around here?”
Estelle shook her head. “No, I’ve not been with this crew long, haven’t even set foot on the Elysium yet.” She emptied her mug and grabbed the put to get more. The prescription label on the cup did read “refill often”, after all.
“Dr. Hertz!” a voice called out from the other side of the room.
Estelle looked over, saw someone else had come in, and put her half-emptied mug down. “Excuse me… stay here until the feeling returns. You may leave if there’s no discomfort.” She gave Gallia a smile, an encouraging hand to her good shoulder, and then hurried off in the direction of her new patient.
“Thank you, Doctor.” Gallia nodded, draining her mug and leaving; the feeling had returned and she didn’t want to be in the way.