‘Crew, this is a ship-wide broadcast. Emergency stations. All non-essential medical personnel to combat positions. We’ve got a flight of Vanduul incoming. Nine at least. Scythes and Voids. We will assist the UEE Jayz in holding them off.’
Even hidden away in my corridor, tending to the wounded, I can feel as the ship starts buzzing with…with something. Anticipation. Fear?
Now for the big question.
Am I essential personnel?
I really have no idea.
I stand, stunned, for a minute. Not even a week ago, I was on Earth, I was an actor. Not a good one, or a respected one, but the most danger I had to contend with on a daily basis was getting poked in the eye with a makeup brush. Or the creepy stalker girl I had. What I wouldn’t give right now to wake up in my own bed, her admittedly quite pretty face pressed up against the glass of my apartment window, to realize this was all a weird dream.
No I’m surrounded by wounded UEE marines in an Endeavour that’s about to be attacked by the Vanduul.
Talk about life changes eh?
The voice comes on through the mg.earWorm again.
‘Damnit, Dannet, are you going to move? Or are you going to stand there like a half dead…whatever you are?’
The voice sounds familiar. Female, she’s one of the staff I met during the ‘welcome aboard’ party they threw, but… I just can’t remember her name. Or much else from the evening.
‘ummm…’ I start, ‘What… what should I do? Where do I go?’
‘Argh. You’re useless. Fine, have you ever handled a Turret?’ I like her voice. She’s angry at me clearly, but…maybe once this whole mess is sorted out, I can ask her for a drink.
‘umm…no?’ Okay, maybe I need to remember how to make conversation before asking her for that drink.
‘Fine. You’re now officially essential personnel. Go help Dr. McBoy in the Operating room. He needs an assistant.’
‘uh, okay, thanks!’ I say.
I don’t get a response.
At some point I’ll have to get someone to show me how this earWorm thing tells me who’s talking, but until then…
The dash to the operating room takes less than a minute. The doors slide open as I run up, and…
‘Damnit!’ Dr. McBoy is in the center of the room, the soldier he ran by with earlier lying on the slab before him, auto-doc hovering above, doing its thing, patching the marine up, slowly rebuilding the marine’s throat capillary by capillary.
‘Damnit!’ Dr. McBoy yells again. And he’s pointing at me.
‘Yes sir?’ I ask, feeling strangely military.
‘Grab one of the handi-heals off the rack, and get to work!’
‘Yes sir!’ I say, moving quickly to a rack of medical implements on the side wall. I pick up a handi-heal from the rack, check its charge and nanite levels, then I turn and scan the operating room.
Dr. Bones and three other doctors are immediately discernible in blood-stained white scrubs. Fifteen or so marines are lying around the room, including the one on the auto-doc table in the center.
I move quickly to one of the injured marines, checking his status deftly. Pulse, heart-rate… He’s propped up against the wall near the equipment rack, a large portion of his stomach’s burnt out by laser fire, but at least it’s cauterized. He’ll be stable for a half-hour at least, and even then, he’ll need the auto-doc. A handi-heal won’t fix up a hole that large.
The next marine in the line I can help. It looks like an incendiary went off near him; his left side is charred and blackened. He’s groaning, gritting his teeth, and he keeps banging his right arm against the floor in anger, but he’s alive and conscious.
I need him to be otherwise. Unconscious, not un…alive…
You know what I mean.
A quick injection of Vicophene, and I’m able to lay him down on the floor of the operating room, able to cut away his armour. The stuff is tough, and I have to take most of it off him, but eventually I’m able to get his wounds exposed.
And then I get to work with the handi-heal.
I get it set for burns, and start a slow spray. The first layer coats the burnt skin, the nanites ‘eating’ the damaged tissue, then dying. First coat done, I switch settings again. The second slow spray sets up a different set of nanites. These take the materials left from the first wave; the dead nanites and removed skin, and it uses them. It starts rebuilding with them.
The handi-heal helps guide me. As areas of nanites on the marines body run out of materials to work with, I spray another, third coat; a material-delivering coat.
It’s called a handi-heal, juvenile, I know, but…
I’ve made fun before about only having to hit ‘heal’ on an auto-doc to have it run, but it’s not that simple. The auto-docs, the handi-heals, they can do a lot themselves, but they still need a human working them, making the decisions, targeting the damaged tissue. Let a wave first-type nanites loose without giving them instructions, and they’d eat through an entire person.
I’m concentrating. I know in the background the other doctors are working on other marines, but I’m focused.
A final coat of spray; no nanites this time. The final coat kills off any of the nanites that were leftover, sets a protective coat over the marine’s new skin. The marine is healed. He’ll be fine, with time. He’ll wake up hungover from the Vicophene, and aching, but given a week or two, he’ll be back to the battle.
I stand up and stretch, cracking my neck. One down, too many left to go.
And then the ship gets hit. Something big hits it, a torpedo, or a suicide run from a Vanduul, I don’t know.
What I do know is I’m thrown back, backwards towards the center of the operating room.
I feel my head hit the edge of the operating table in the center, then hit the ground.
I see my vision begin to spin and blur.
‘Damnit!’ I hear Dr. McBoy yell. Again.
As my vision fades, one last thought runs through my head.
That better not be my new nickname. Again.
Join us next week to find out if Dannet’s new nickname is Damnit in: Episode 5: James ‘Damnit’ Dannet.