And all flesh died that moved upon the Earth,
Both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast,
And every creeping thing that creepeth the Earth,
And every man.
The Lambda Paz
sickbay was flooded with casualties-- so much so that six unconscious officers and crewpersons had to be placed on cots or were sprawled on the floor. Yet, as long as they were in no immediate danger of dying, they were not a high priority. The nurses would still attend to them every now and again.
One of those patients, a middle-aged human male Marine was helped onto a biobed when a young Ktarian male engineer was cleared to leave. A human male security guard picked the Marine up by his arms and a male Denobulan medical technician grabbed his legs. They gently placed the unconscious man on the bed while an Andorian female doctor attended to him, first assessing his condition with a surgical readout monitor.
Markalis was dealing with a patient who was even further gone. As the chief medical officer, she often got the most difficult of cases. At times like these, she wondered if she was worthy of the title. Just two years ago, she was a fifth year resident who had not even been considered for the position of chief resident at Starfleet Medical headquarters on Delos Four. If not for the war, she would have received a trauma surgery fellowship there. When a patient was knocking on death’s door, Aurellan wondered if she truly deserved this assignment.
“Cardio-stimulator,” she called to a Denobulan nurse. The nurse handed her the requested device, and Aurellan placed it on the unconscious human male’s chest. “We’ll start at sixty microvolts.”
The Denobulan nurse entered a set of commands on an EKG monitor, sending an electrical pulse into the man’s chest with the expectation of jumpstarting his heart. “Blood pressure still falling,” she said both grimly and calmly.
Another pulse, but readings remained the same.
“No change,” said the nurse.
Again, no change.
“Neural readings are still falling,” T'Pren, a youthful-looking Vulcan female doctor, reported.
“Cortical stimulators,” Aurellan snapped, “ten cc’s tricordrazine.”
The nurse handed Aurellan a hypospray while T'Pren attached the cortical stimulators to the patient’s forehead. The combination of tricordrazine and the cortical stimulators had no effect on those neural readings. Three more pulses, and he was still flat-lining.
“No brain activity,” T'Pren said with calm grimness.
“Time of death,” Aurellan reluctantly proclaimed, “1436.” She seated herself in an elevated metal chair next to the biobed. As she was taking a quick breather, the sickbay’s main doors opened and more wounded entered.
Doctors and nurse scrambled towards the wounded to assess each patient and find biobeds for them where available.
The first patient Aurellan scanned with a medical tricorder was a male Capellan Marine being escorted by a Brikar male security officer. “Third degree plasma to the face, neck, and chest. Prepare antibiotics and a dermal regenerator.”
The next patient was a human female engineer being attended to by the Denobulan nurse. “Multiple rib fractures and a punctured lung,” Aurellan said with a look at her tricorder. “Prep bone and surgical tissue regenerators. Get her ten cc’s of dexalin as well.”
After her was a human male security officer, who was barely conscious and being wheeled on a stretcher. “Multiple broken bones, internal bleeding, severe concussion. Let’s get him on a main biobed!”
Yet another patient in grave danger of dying. Despite all the inner doubts, she reminded herself that she could not save every patient. All she could do was try her best to free him from the jaws of death. “We need to bring down the swelling in the meningeal tissues,” she instructed the Vulcan doctor and Denobulan nurse.
“Still reading increased myxedema,” the nurse reported.
“Clamp off that artery,” Aurellan barked. “Try and reduce the hydrostatic pressure. Watch that intraparenchymal hemorrhage…”
Within the last hour, three different patients had died on her watch. For every patient she had either declared dead or saved from death, three more would pour into sickbay. Only when there was a lull in combat was there a lull in having to assess and prioritize the wounded and the dying.
While she was able to get an extended break, Aurellan went to one of the replicator stations in the main research lab to order another dose of a tranquilizer she normally took on a daily basis. She could easily obtain such a drug in one of ship’s pharmacies. Since others would need those medicines more than she would, she chose to leave that stock alone. But she was no good to any of her present and future patients if she was not functioning at peak efficiency. Despite the warning that exceeding the recommended dosage could leave a person highly susceptible to suggestion, she considered herself more of liability without that second dose than with it. After all, it was just one extra dose.
Her heart was racing so fast, she thought it would jump out of her chest. The temperature seemed to jump five degrees in the last few minutes as she felt sweat trickling down her forehead and the back of her neck. She was nearly on the verge of taking out all her pent up frustrations on the replicator if she could not get that tranquilizer soon.
“Unable to comply,”
the computer coldly said in response to her request. “Requested amount exceeds your optimum daily dosage.”
Silly me. Of course, my own authorization code won’t work.
“Override. Medical authorization two-three-seven, alpha red priority.”
“Unable to comply.”
“Fuck it,” Aurellan hissed while banging the computer terminal. The computer might as well have said, “Yeah, right, I’m not falling for that trick.”
She entered a set of commands on the terminal to have the requested drug replicated through manual override. Five vials perched on a tray materialized in the replicator slot.
A familiar shadow crept up to Aurellan from her right. She took a quick glance at the EMH and flashed a light smile. His presence seemed to lower her blood pressure, but not by much. She removed the tray and carried it with her to the office. Once there, she loaded one of the vials into a hypospray and injected the drug into her carotid artery. She felt immediate relief from that injection, even as she knew the drug would not take full effect for another hour.
“Twenty cc’s triataline,” the hologram nonchalantly noted. “Don’t you take that much every morning?”
“Yes, and how do you know that?” Aurellan shot back, annoyed that he knew things about her that she did not tell him.
“I am the ship’s Emergency Medical Holographic program,” he plainly stated. “I know everyone’s medical records.”
“Of course, you are,” Aurellan chastised herself. She sighed and held one hand to her forehead.
“You’re under a lot of stress.” Unbeknownst to her, the EMH was scanning her with a medical tricorder. “Elevated adrenaline levels. Blood pressure is one-hundred-fifty over ninety, heart rate…”
Aurellan snorted and looked up from the desk, seeing that her lover was checking her vitals. This was probably what the programmers meant when they said the Mark Three had a better bedside manner than the previous two models. “Will you stop that?” she demanded. “I’m fine…”
“Not based on these readings.”
Aurellan stood up and yanked the tricorder and hand sensor out of his hands. “Remember what I said about doctors being the worst patients?” she asked in recollection of a heated confrontation the EMH had with sh’Aqba in engineering over a missed annual physical and the discussion she had with him afterwards.
The EMH moved his lips to speak, but Aurellan continued. “This may be one of those times. I know from an intellectual standpoint that addicts say they are in complete control when the habit starts. I am
in complete control. It is just one
extra dose. You are not to breathe a word of this to anyone, and that’s an order. Understand?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the hologram calmly replied.
Even as he responded thusly, Aurellan still sensed that the holographic doctor would not let this rest even if he was willing follow her order. “I’d better let you continue your business here,” she added with a few light nods.
The EMH stepped out of the office through the ICU entrance to collect some spare instruments stowed in a drawer while Aurellan stood behind her desk in rueful silence, hoping that she really was in control of taking one extra dose of her prescribed medication.