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Aftermath 1: Smoked Stern with a Side of Shrapnel

Posted on Mon Mar 27th, 2017 @ 1:46am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Jesse Davis & Lieutenant L'Nel Haadok & Lieutenant Jackson Smith & Lieutenant JG Luka Stern & Chief Petty Officer Zene Beddite & Petty Officer 2nd Class Carsine Grenzend

Mission: Mission 0: Coming Home to Roost
Location: Sickbay/Aruigzeb II/Prometheus
Timeline: 13 February, 2394 -1600 Hours

All members of the science away team materialized in the transporter room, save Luka. L'Nel and M'ndi were mid-crouch, crewman Potter slumped between them, as they had been when they'd ducked to present smaller targets to the lizards and falling foliage from the tree JJ had dropped to block their pursuers.

L'Nel set Potter's shoulders down on the transporter pad, barking "Emergency medical transport for two to sickbay," at the transport technician. The wide-eyed crewman didn't take the time to reply, and the transporter immediately demolecularized them again.

"Davis to bridge, do you have a fix on Stern?" JJ's voice was even though he felt overwhelming concern for the ensign's welfare. "We need to get her to safety."

"Yes, I have the Prometheus already on the way to pick her up. Beaming you to the shuttle. Bridge out" Malcom said.

The transporter energized once more, taking JJ to join the rescue team, leaving M'ndi alone in the transporter room.

The emergency transport program deposited Potter on a biobed. Nurse Trej was on duty. "He's been paralyzed by a biological agent, lizard venom. Dyspnea, non-reactive pupil constriction. Run an analysis of pulmonary and coronary function; make sure none of his internal systems are shutting down. And a neural scan. I'm going to take a blood sample and start on an antivenin."

The Prometheus arced through the peaceful blue sky, heading for the smoking black smudge above where the Tholian ship had been. Petty Officer 2nd Class Carsine Grenzend pushed the engines. Anyone at ground zero was going to need help fast... if they'd survived. "Any life signs?" Grenzend asked, scratching his head ridges. The command had come through straight from the top--some dumb Ensign insisted on not being transported to safety. Hopefully this mistake wasn't her last.

"Picking up three lifesigns near Stern's transponder--two are thready and fading, the third is strong but weakening fast. Seconds count, people." Head Nurse Zene Beddite said, her Benzite facial tendrils twitching with impatience.

It wasn't difficult to find a flat landing zone near the Ensign's signal--the destruction of the Tholian ship was total. A crater smoked in the jungle, huge pieces of shrapnel everywhere. The explosion had knocked down trees and incinerated vegetation a quarter mile around the wreck.

"There!" Zene said, pointing to a large smoking stump. "Get us as close to that as you can. Let's be quick about this, I'm picking up residual radiation. Let's avoid a course of anti-rads, shall we?"

As the rescue party got underway, the stench was terrible. Blasted, scorched, and wilted vegetation did little to disguise the blackened, still-twitching forms of dying fauna. The local lizard population would be a long time recovering from the devastation.

JJ lead the search team with two additional security officers, his eyes scanning for any sign of Luka while still keeping a watch for any surviving locals that might want to take their rage and confusion out on them. This was bad, he should never have left her alone, but what good would have come from his staying behind? He had been far enough back from her that even if they found her alive, he would have been vaporized. Being alive didn't feel that great at the moment, though - despite the possibility he'd made the right call, he'd left a man behind.

The team found an unconscious Ensign Luka Stern behind the stump, curled around a bundle clutched to her chest. Nurse Beddite rushed to her side, trusting the others on the team to keep an eye out for any injured lizards who had enough life to strike. The Ensign's uniform was intact, the fire-proof material was sooty but seemed to have protected Stern from the worst burns, though she likely had first degree across ninety percent of her backside. The skin of her hands oozed where they'd been exposed, and the back of her neck was a messy, cracked, second-degree wound. Some of her hair was scorched but her scalp seemed intact and she bled from dozens of small cuts. However, these were not the chief concern. A seven-centimeter long hunk of jagged shrapnel jutted from the Ensign's low back, just under her ribs.

Zene hissed. Tricky, tricky and, in proper Benzite fashion, she wanted to do this by the book. First, a hypo of clotting agents and a sedative, and a dose of pregabalin; the ensign was beginning to twitch and spasm as her body passed through shock. Zene had a another member of the team--she didn't check who, just drafted the closest person--to hold Stern down as she applied a light dressing to stabilize the shrapnel, then--"Lift!" They got Stern face-down onto the stretcher.

"Over here!" JJ called, having noticed the glow of a faint red pulse. He holstered his weapon and bent to lift the armored vest and it's contents. "This is what she was tryin' to save... damn, its hot!" The ambient heat from the creature nestled within was intense but manageable. Even so, it would probably travel better on the stretcher with Luka.

"Let's go, I don't like how close that spike is to her kidney. Gently now. Don't jostle her." The Firebird's Head Nurse kept one hand on her charge's back, making sure the shrapnel didn't shift as they transported her gingerly aboard the Prometheus. "Take us home," she told Grenzend.

Grenzend stole a quick look at what had once been the pretty human ensign he'd noticed in the mess hall, always with her nose in a book. Alive, thanks be to whatever powers watched over the young idiot. He made a mental note to write his wives on Denuobula when he got back to the ship--this was exactly the kind of head-strong behavior his eldest daughter would pull. Thanks to the powers she was still a grubling, but it would be good to remind the family to watch her, and good to hear their voices besides. It had been too long. He lifted the Prometheus as gently as possible, and set her down carefully in the Firebird.

Zene rushed in, holding the dressing on Luka's back, as Grenzend and JJ guided the stretcher into medbay. An armored vest stuffed with pulsing red shards sat on the stretcher between Stern's heels, emitting an alarming high-pitched squeal that sounded something like pain.

L'Nel's head snapped up as the doors opened and an earsplitting screech preceded the group into the sickbay. He frowned and finished administering the antivenin to Potter as he said, "What do we have, nurse?"

Zene motioned for Grenzend and Davis to help her hoist the new casualty to the bed. The patient cried out and tried to speak, but the screaming interrupted and overrode her words. Done helping with the move, JJ rushed to scoop up the bundle of what L'Nel recognized as the tactical vest the ensign had been wearing at the beginning of the away mission. The security chief was covered in blood from shifting the patient, and his hands and voice shook as he brought the bundle of shrieking red shards to the doctor. "It hasn't stopped since we left the planet," he reported, the events of the mission and rescue beginning to catch up with him.

A chill went through the doctor, and he snatched the vest full of Tholian fragments from the crewman and raced toward the isolation biobed--thank the old gods, if they were ever to listen, that it had been repaired just the day before. He placed the whole bundle in the bed and programmed it for a thermal cleanse routine. A glass tube closed over the bed and flushed with violent red light from heat lamps down the length of the bed. The internal temperature reached 400 degrees Fahrenheit in under ten seconds, a procedure intended to exterminate bacterial contaminants.

The creature's wails hushed, and the tension in the room deflated by half.

"Thank you, Doctor. Got to keep them.... warm," the new patient said weakly, then passed out.

L'Nel turned his attention back to Nurse Zene and the new casualty. He realized the person face-down on the biobed was Stern. She must not have gotten off of the planet... he'd been busy with Potter and heard only background buzz about a torpedo and a rescue mission. The ensign was covered in burns, first through third degree, and cuts from flying debris. Beddite had stabilized her, but they needed to get the ensign into surgery immediately to assess the worst of the damage.

"Prep for surgery. Does she have any other life-threatening injuries?"

Zene shook her head in the negative.

"Trej." The nurse came to assist, now that he'd made certain Potter's life signs were returning to normal and he was entering a natural rest state.

"After helping prep the surgery, monitor Potter and tend any other minor injuries from the crew on an as-needed basis. And keep the biobed hot. That's Tholian; it must maintain an ambient temperature of 202C. Whatever its other injuries are, I haven't a clue; monitor and inform me of any significant changes. And, if anyone wants to interrogate it--"


"Or otherwise disturb it, tell them under no circumstances until I'm out of surgery." The doctor wasn't taking any chances. He wanted to have good news when the ensign revived.

JJ leaned against an empty biobed, exhaustion starting to set in. "Good luck, Doc," was all he could manage to say as he watched the medical team get to work.

[To be continued in "Aftermath 2: What were you thinking?!?]

Commander Malcom Llwyedd
Commanding Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Ensign Jackson Smith
Chief Flight Control Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant Junior Grade Jesse Davis
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant M'ndi M'rron
Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Ensign Luka Stern
Alien Archaeologist/Anthropologist
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant L'Nel Haadok
Chief Medical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298


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