USS Vesta

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Life in the (Medical-Grade) Fast Lane

Posted on Sun Feb 12th, 2023 @ 12:24am by Commander Jonathan Mantell & Aaron Corrino
Edited on on Sun Feb 12th, 2023 @ 12:25am

Mission: R&R: The Reprieve
Location: Esquimalt Medbay
1528 words - 3.1 OF Standard Post Measure

"There's nothing but four walls of Starfleet grey in here..." Jack did his best to sound sufficiently sad and lonely. It was a tricky balance, he couldn't come across as moping, because who wanted to be around someone like that? The boy found it nigh impossible not to mope, confined to a medbay that wasn't even on Vesta, without even Doc Martin to beg and wheedle at to get released.

"Isn't that what it's like in Engineering, too?" The mousy-haired boy on the other side of the comm-line poked a hole too-easily in his best friend's reasoning.

Jack turned away from his diversion, exaggerating a frown of disbelief at the tiny form of Aaron on the padd screen. It was propped up against the motor casing the Only engineer had removed first, surrounded now by an array of components from the hover chair's motor. "Not at all!" Jack insisted, folding his arms. It stained the front of his medical gown with grease, joining a few other places already. "That place is alive! The warp core's always swirling around, and the plasma conduits are humming, and the slipstream drive watches over everything. Plus there's always someone there with ideas and ambition!"

The Only boy gave a sour look as he turned away, unwrapping himself to work on the component he was adjusting. The hover chair was standard Federation medical-grade. Which meant slow, with a capital S-L-O-W. That was the pace everything moved here, even Jack felt his thoughts more sluggish while he was trapped pending medical release. "This place is deader than dead. Either you're here 'cause you're dying or you're about to be."

"Which one are you?" Aaron needled, and this time his face broke open in a grin.

"Dying, definitely dying," the Only quipped dramatically. His head whipped toward the screen when Aaron giggled. "If you don't believe me, just come by and breathe the air. It even smells like death."

"I would, but..."

Jack leaned into the padd, trying to interpret the mixed emotions on the olive-skinned boy's face. His friends had been kept away from the medbay most days by the station's draconian rules against civilians going about without a chaperone, even the adults it seemed. The boy was about to suggest a few ways to get around that, even willing to ask one of the medbay staff —it's not as if they had better things to do.

"My dad has the day off, and we, well, we already made plans. We're gonna go to the carnival on the promenade," Aaron chirped, far more happy about this than Jack would have liked.

"Oh," he said, dejected.

"They've got rides inside the space station, and there's food and tons of holograms so it's like being on a real planet. Oh, and dad says all the carnival workers are original EMHs, like the ones that haven't been in service for twenty years!!" The boy on the other end of the call was clearly enamored with the prospect, and Jack felt a surge of jealousy.

"Yeah, don't worry about me. It's not like I can go anywhere." Jack stared at the component in his hands, it might have melted if his eyes were the plasma torch he wished he had then.

"Oh..." Aaron grew quiet, perhaps realizing his friend's temperament. More softly, he ventured, "Whatcha working on?"

"Just some stuff," Jack told the padd, which was positioned to show him more than the chair he was adjusting. A heavy breath brought him back to the component he was tweaking, finishing his adjustments with the micro-coupler. "I'll show you when you come by tomorrow."

"Okay," Aaron paused, and then said quickly, "Don't be mad, Jack, it's just my dad know..."

"I know," and the Only boy turned back to his friend's forlorn face. He hadn't meant to make Aaron feel guilty for leaving him high and dry. Well, maybe just a little bit. There was only so much of a medical center that Jack could take, and he'd long since passed the threshold. "You're not Starfleet, so you can't come onboard for the next assignment, but your dad's going."

"Yeah..." Now it was Aaron's turn to sound dejected. "I'll be there tomorrow, I promise."

Jack gave his friend a smile at last, putting an effort into being understanding. It came a lot harder after his ordeal, especially after waking up during the confusion of Vesta's transit back to normal space. The medical staff on the Esquimalt were professional and tolerant, but Jack was hardly at all at ease in the unfamiliar station. "I know you will," the Only told him, "maybe I'll activate the EMH here just to have someone to talk to."

"Oh, do it!" Aaron encouraged, "And then tell it that all its grandfathers are having fun at a carnival. The look on his face will be priceless!"

"If I didn't know better, I'd call that a Rashane-worthy idea."

Aaron shrugged, "What can I say? I guess he's rubbing off on me." He looked off-screen for a moment, then turned back to Jack, "I gotta go. Tell me what it does!"

"Sure," Jack answered, the smile a genuine feature on his face now. "Tell me how the carnival is!"

He caught the last frame of Aaron's curly hair bobbing before the screen winked out, ending the connection. Even the short conversation had lifted the boy's spirits, enough to find himself humming a musical ditty as he worked. Jack finished reinstalling the component, thinking strongly about giving Rashane a call, or activating the EMH as he'd joked about, when the doors to his unit opened. At the risk of breaking his concentration, he barely paid it any mind until he heard a horrified voice.

"What are you doing on the floor?!"

Jack was nonchalant about his answer, "Fixing your chair."

He had another component in his hand, ready to adjust it with the micro-coupler when a shadow loomed overhead. It blocked out the light he needed, and Jack looked up to see the blue shirt hovering above him. The Algolian woman had out his tricorder, and the boy's expression turned to exasperation as the medical scanner waved over his body.

"Why?" the blue shirt asked, as if making conversation was going to distract the boy from the obvious examination. "Is it broken?"

Jack decided not to complain about the impromptu exam this time, it would only bring a hurried doctor around to change something on his chart and declare a need for another day of rest and observation. The Only had tried that yesterday, and that's why he was still stuck here today with no end in sight. "Oh yeah, it's slow as sand." If he couldn't protest the medical exams, he would definitely protest the medical equipment. "My grandma could walk faster than this thing and she's been dead for 500 years."

The joke fell into the silence between them, made more awkward by the tricorder's warbling noise. The Algolian thought best enough to shut it and stepped back out of Jack's light. With a shrug of his shoulders, he went back to work.

He barely heard the pat of the bio-bed cushion behind him, but Jack definitely heard the woman's command-framed-as-a-suggestion attempt. "I...think you need some more bed rest."

"Rest?" The boy peered up at the woman, wondering if those ridges took up the space needed for brainpower. Then again, all blue shirts seemed to suffer from the same prediliction, not enough common sense for all their supposed intelligence. "I'm trying to pimp out your chair and you think I need rest? Maybe you need to see a doctor."

"I am a doctor," the answer came quick and percussive, and Jack could have sworn he heard a comedic set of drums somewhere.

"Are you really?" Jack asked, and then asked again, "Like, really really?"

She didn't seem to see the irony at all. "Yes."

He drew out a long sigh, "Well..." Jack put on his best impression of a doctor's bedside manner. "Then I have some bad news for you."

He paused, hoping the woman might ask or at least show a hint of curiosity. Nothing. She was definitely one of the dead ones in this place, he decided. "You're not a very good one."

The woman finally seemed taken aback by his prognosis, and took a step toward the unit door. "...I'm gonna go get the Chief Medical Officer."

"You do that," the boy muttered, turning back to his work. A new urge compelled his hands to hurry, wishing there was a chip he could adjust on himself to that effect. Jack still had a dozen more parts to put back together before he could test drive it.

And then there would be the inevitable fixes to that, for nothing ever worked on the first pass. If he was lucky, though, the boy engineer would have his hover chair zooming before the end of the day.

Jack was not going to let a carnival pass him by without attending, doctors be damned!


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