Episode 6: War Crimes
Timeline: MD135, 1722 Hours
When it happened, it happened fast, and nobody was ready. After all, who expected a red alert in the middle of a starbase? Nevertheless the sirens suddenly began to blare and the red lights began to flash as a deck rumbled beneath everyone's feet. In Sickbay, there was no time for anyone to check their bearings as the comm flashed to life.
=/\=Bridge to Sickbay, medical emergency on Deck 6, Section 14, Jefferies tube 6-Bravo-12,=/\= a hurried man's voice called. There was silence for a few seconds before the voice returned, adding, =/\=Sickbay, cancel my last, we're doing a medical site-to-site transport. Standby.=/\=
No sooner had the man said 'standby' did a whirl of blue sparks appear over on one of the biobeds, soon resolving into a body. As the sparks faded, the body appeared to be a female Andorian, but her entire right side was horribly burned from head to toe, her antennae reduced to stubs, her white dress reduced to charred shreds, much of her blue skin turned black and orange. The transporter sequence finished and the Andorian girl immediately screamed, writhing in agony atop the biobed, her frenzied, terrified movements only making the horrific pain even worse.
"Steady, steady, steady" Doctor Durrell muttered as he pulled on his doctor's jacket, a clear sign of him crossing from being a Starfleet Officer first and a specialist second to the other way around (he again filed a mental note to remind the irritating new Counselor to stop prattling on about how she was medically qualified). His voice was calm; the new new team, merging the survivors from the Ulysses with those from Nogura, were still very green. Durrell sensed their desire to help the prone Andorian before them; how to do it seemed, well, beyond them at this stage of the Department's rebirth.
He looked down at the patient, silently and swiftly placing a neural caliper on her forehead. "Sleep now, I have work to do," he said in a soothing voice as he immediately placed the patient into unconsciousness. "Monitor sensory and neural activity," he muttered to one of the nurses. "And get a spare hand to call up Grey's Anatomy, obviously the Andorian Annex," he said flippantly. "I am going to need to look carefully at the antennae, but not until the rest of it," he waved a hand at the still patient, "is stabilised".
It was at that unfortunate moment that Tara came rushing through the Sickbay doors; she'd had to override the turbo lift's speed limiters to ride down from the upper decks so fast, but she hadn't wanted to wait a second to check on Meibei. Seeing the sweet Andorian who made her smile so effortlessly laying on the biobed all burned and now unconscious sucked the air from Tara's lungs. She remained several steps away so as not to disrupt the flow of medical personnel, but she was close enough to have the image of the beautiful Meibei now burned and disfigured permanently etched into her memory. She looked to the doctor and seeing his face reminded her of the words that had left his mouth just as she entered. She squared her shoulders and cleared her throat so her voice wouldn't break when she finally spoke.
"Doctor, I do not mean to belittle your experience, but rather to call out your professionalism; you will be on report the next time you refer to a patient as an 'it' out of place," the Trill Commander state sternly. "I'm here for an update of Lieutenant zh'Khessi's status; once you have an update, of course."
"Breathing is stable if shallow, she has severe burns that will require prolonged dermal regeneration, and I am not hopeful on our ability to rebuild the antennae". The Doctor was furious. "And, Commander, I was referring to the injuries, not the patient. But as you seem to have come to your conclusion before having the courtesy to check with the physician," he said with bitterness, irritated that Neprem had, in his view, 'shot first', and 'thought later', "put me on report. The equal and positive reaction will be an allegation of bullying based on your compromised emotional response, followed by my resignation and tenure at a medical facility where I am not forced to treat while having a grammatically-triggered argument with an Exec. Please allow me to attend to the patient," he hissed. "Now" he said to a nurse, "respiratory remains too shallow. Apply a genetronic replicator to the lungs, setting at point five, we'll increase as we understand the level of damage."
Tara narrowed her eyes at the doctor, but bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from saying anything further. Perhaps she had spoken out of turn, but as he acknowledged himself, she was emotional, yet he made a conscious decision to argue back instead of focusing on his patient; discussion on his professionalism could have waited until later, unlike Meibei, who in this moment needed every second of his attention. But Tara said none of that, and watched as the Doctor and his nurse tended to the rather crispy Andorian.
"Is her life in any danger?" Tara asked, her voice much softer as she focused on Meibei, trying to ignore the sight of the horrid burns by recalling the woman's smile; seeing the burns and smelling the telltale scent of charred flesh was making Tara's stomach churn with the recollection of Arjin's death on Deep Space 10, and with that came Arjin's memories of his death and the agony he had been in before the end came. Tara's hands began to shake and so she folded them behind her back where no one would notice that she was trying to hold them still. "Is she in any pain?"
Durrell shook his head sadly. "No, Commander, your friend is in no pain. But only because I have supressed most of neural and sensory function". He waved to the biobed, pointing various wounds out. "Her burns are terrible, and will need a rigorous programme of skill regeneration, as well as sensory engineering". He closed his eyes. "My real fear is the antennae," he said without emotion, the scientist wrestling with the equation. "They are so integral to her sensory system that we will work hard to rebuild them. Thankfully, some of the team here from the Ulysses remembers our recent Borg liberation. We helped Ithythao zh'Vhiahren. But that was a cakewalk compared to this." He offered a sad smile to the XO.
Tara nodded in acceptance as he gave his response, now worried that the antennae could not be rebuilt, but with a deep breath she reminded herself 'one step at a time', Meibei had to survive the burns first.
"Thank you for the update, Doctor," the Trill Commander said, unable to take her eyes off of Meibei. "I'll get out of your way, but I will remain near Sickbay for further updates; aside from my own peace of mind, it is important that I'm informed as soon as she's awake and able to speak because we're dealing with sabotage and she may know something that could help the investigation."
A short while later, Captain Drayton appeared from the turbo lift at the end of deck 8 and made a swift beeline for the medical bay, hoping to find the XO for an update. He saw the Doctor first, dealing with the injured personnel.
"Captain," Durrell said with real warmth at his Commanding Officer. One of the handful of senior staff from Ulysess that had followed his CO to the new ship, he respected the Captain, even if they didn't always see 'eye to eye'. He raised a hand as Captain Drayton's eyes alighted on Meibei. "It looks worse than it is, I assure you. She will be extremely disoriented, and emotionally scarred, but I will operate on the antennae as soon as I have levelled her core systems. I don't know, even if, when she is recovered, what she'll remember. Her nervous and sensory processes have taken incredible trauma".
"Anything you can tell us about the explosion based off of her injuries?" the Captain queried, looking over at Neprem briefly before diverting his attention back to the Doctor who had joined him on Nogura from the Ulysses.
"If she had been any closer, she'd be dead," which seemed like a standard reply for such an event, but was nevertheless true. "Whatever caused it was not pretty."
"Can you wake her?" the Captain queried. "It would be really useful to hear if she had found anything out before the explosion that could benefit our investigation."
"She's in an extreme amount of pain, even if I was willing to wake her, there's no guarantee she would be coherent enough to tell us anything," the doctor replied. "I must get back to my patient, Captain, but the Commander seems intent on staying."
"I'll find out what she knows the moment she's stable enough to be woken," Tara ensured her Commanding Officer.
"As soon as is possible," the Captain nodded slowly, "without what she knows, our mission could be significantly more difficult," he added before turning and vacating the sickbay almost as swiftly as he had arrived.
For Tara as she watched Meibei sleep, 'as soon as possible' could not come soon enough.