Nine Lives Minus One More
Lots of crunchy trauma detail from Kim, all of which I love. Rock on, girl!--Maer.
Pages. The post surgical write-up had been pages, pages detailing slight burns and multitudinous shrapnel damage, lacerations inside and out, liver, pancreas, and intestinal trauma, lung collapse and a minor concussion from the blast and the trauma of violently hitting the ground. Oh yes, she noted, skimming through the pages for the fifteenth time, Arden had meticulously noted that her heart had stopped during surgery as well as the fact it hadn't been beating at all when they had gotten to her. He wrote an excellent medical report, that Arden, Kiera thought to herself, listening to the gentle beep of the monitor attached to her friend. Detailed, objective, complete. If she hadn't been there herself, working to save Rina, her hands and clothes covered in the little engineer's blood, his report would have allowed her to imagine everything perfectly. But she had been there, watching as the explosion erupted around Rina, throwing her back and puncturing her with a million tiny bits of metal.
She had never imagined that she could run so fast. She had torn up her knees hitting the ground beside the engineer's still and limp body, Arden in lockstep beside her.
Joshua's anguished cry would haunt her for a while, as would Nika's cursing and tears. She looked up from the report and made a note on the clipboard for Arden for when he changed shifts with her, writing the monitor and condition details that he would need to track Rina's progress. She would have to apologize to Joshua; she had snarled at Nika to hold him as she had broken into a run to get to Rina. But she couldn't chance that he would get in the way. She'd like to think that he had the common sense to stand back, but. . .. Not many people got to see the love of their life nearly killed in front of their eyes. She didn't know if Nika had paid attention. She herself hadn't had time to look or care. She and Arden had worked on Rina for nearly seven and half hours before they finally decided that the little engineer might have a chance to make it through the next few days, their eyes burning from not blinking in concentration, their fingers stiff from stitching and stapling her body back to some semblance of normal. She and Arden had argued who needed to take the first shift; at the end, they both did, neither of them willing to leave lest Rina die during the night.
Exhaustion had finally driven them to sleep. By the second day, Nika and Joshua had sworn to wake them if something happened beyond the soft beep of the monitors and the following four hours had been like heaven. But she and Arden had come back after their power nap, both of them aware that Rina was still on the edge of death, injuries not first apparent making their way to the fore. Both doctors had hovered over Rina, their conversations terse and professional, stepping around Joshua or occasionally forcing him to get on one of the other beds to get out of their way. As time wore on and Rina seemed to be holding stable, she and Arden started to switch watch over her, allowing each of them to get much needed sleep.
And so here she sat, watching Rina's still body, four odd days out from the blast. That morning, she and Arden had decided that Rina might be brought out of the coma that they had kept her in, thought that the pain might be down to a level that pain-killers in the IV would be enough to hold her so that she could be awake for a time. She had already sent Joshua to bed two hours before. Off his meds and not willing to sleep lest Rina die while he slept, it had taken Arden, Nika, Beggar, and Kiera to make him go to bed in his own room before he too had to be put in medbay. Kiera glanced again at the blinking readouts. The monitors told that the Russian was close to consciousness; it was just a matter of time. She would let Joshua sleep, she decided. If Rina woke ok, then she could be awakened again for Joshua. Four days was a long time just to have catnaps to maintain function.
She already had a tranquilizer ready if Joshua came back before he had slept for at least six hours. All she had to do was convince him to lie down on one of the adjacent beds and slip the needle in his arm. She smiled tightly. He tended to be a bit too trusting. By hook or by crook, the man was gonna sleep. The dark circles under his eyes were so deep that she could eat cereal out of them. Her own smudged eyes narrowed as she looked up from the report to study Rina's face.
Come on, dammit all!. Wake up! Wake up so that I can cuss you out, you suicidal idiot!
The second the smell hit my nose, I knew. I turned around and yelled at my crew to get out of there.
Joshua, I’m sor—
A thousand miniature suns ripped through me and the hand of God smote me down. Everything went red and the howl of a soul torn asunder followed me into the black …
I picked myself up, my ears ringing from the blast and incredibly I could still hear. I clawed to the view port and heard the Lieutenant scream his last as the Black sucked him in. A shock ran through my girl. I heard her groan, gravely wounded. I heard the brittle crack! of the view port giving way …
Go! Go! Go! She’s gonna blow!
The Universe roared as the view port shattered, hungry for me, demanding her due. Every inch of me on fire, swelling impossibly tight inside my skin, I fought my way to the pressure door and got everyone behind it. Safe …
And turned around to find us in Hell.
The engine room was already going up, flames were crawling across the consoles and the fire suppression system was failing. Blinking tears past the smoke, I saw Ortiz pinned under the fallen girder with the fire coming fast for him. Shrugging off the crew’s hands, I dove through a gap in the flames and slid to a halt next to him. It was searing hot, my hands sizzled as I grabbed that girder and it resisted, then inched aside. It was getting dark from the smoke, getting hard to breathe, the fire and the shouts from the crew making it difficult to hear my ship, my girl … Somehow I dragged us back to the others, left Ortiz with them and dove back for the manual release for the suppression system. I got the panel open and yanked hard on the lever and thanked God when the retardant filled the compartment. All for nothing. I felt the shot that killed my ship, rocking us hard a-port, heard her groan from bow to stern, and screamed myself raw …
“Nnnyetttt…!” The word sliced my throat like razors and it brought me awake. Something bound me at ankle and wrist. I yanked to win free and agony ripped through me all the way up from my toes. I had never been in so much pain. Not when Janus took my legs out with that girder as she died. Or when the Reaver laid my shoulder open with his axe. Or even when I put my hand on Joshua’s gun and pulled the trigger.
Butterfly kisses compared to this.
I panted, tried to get my breath, to stay on top of it. Tried to wrap my head around the fact that somehow I was still alive.
The clipboard and report hit the ground as Kiera sprang out of her chair to hold Rina down, sliding a cool hand on her cheek as she pressed a gentle hand on her chest. "Stay still, dammit," she growled softly. "You undo all the work that Arden and I did and I'll kill you." The hand on Rina's cheek slid to move a strand of hair out of her eyes. "Can you open your eyes? How is the pain?"
Past blended with present and for a split-second I was convinced the Feds had found me, had pulled me from the wreckage of my ship, and had the rifles on the firing squad loaded and ready. Get up! Get out! MOVE! Someone spoke to me, laid a hand on my face, and I threw myself at my captor. Or tried. For years I’d never questioned my ability to act, to move, to win. I’d been shot, stabbed, frozen, and cooked. I’d had a ship fall on me and I’d survived. I’d overcome all those things and my body had never let me down. Until now. I thought the pain on waking had been unbearable. I was wrong. Before I’d managed to shift two inches, I was plunged into pain so intense it made me blind.
Be still. Be still. Be still …
But again my body betrayed me. It stubbornly kept breathing, sucking down air, every breath excruciating. Short yelps, ragged and shrill, ripped through the air and I dimly realized it was me. Then my memory caught up with my ears and I recognized who held me down, whose hand cupped my cheek. I drew breath to speak and the pain of it made my words hoarse as I bit back a scream.
“Kiera…?” I sucked in another breath as everything came flooding back—the bomb bay, the barrel, the chemical trigger fizzing to life under my hands, my desperate attempt to clear them out of there. Sobbing now from the effort, I had to ask. “Everyone … ? Okay …?”
Dear God, please let them be all right. Please.
For a brief moment, there was a bit of concern and worry in the green eyes that stared at her. But as quickly as it came, it was stomped out. "We're fine; you're not," Kiera snapped. "Now lie still!" She didn't dare press any harder on Rina, lest something else in her body fail. She took a deep breath, aware that her tone was anything but soothing.
"Look honey," she finally managed after an internal tirade of cursing that probably sealed her fate to Hell. "Just shut up and lie there and listen. I know it's a bit hard to hear me; the explosion damaged your ear drums, but they're better than before and should heal okay in a day or two. Everyone is else is just fine. You are tied down so that you won't move, awake or asleep, so stop fighting. Arden and I don't want you moving. But you're safe and on the Equinox. And despite your best effort to kill yourself, I think you just may live." She lifted her hand off Rina's chest and stroked her face again. "You understand?" She moved to take Rina's left hand gingerly. They had only had to slightly reattach the thumb on the left hand so it was the safest to take. The other one was a bit aggressively peppered by the balls and lay bandaged and tender. "Tell me what number your pain is from 8 to 10 and if anything hurts more than anything else."
“Spasiba Bogu …” Relief made my insides go to water, even as pain clothed every inch of me in fire. I lay there and breathed and gathered my thoughts, despite, and managed to answer. “It’s … 11 and everything … hurts … Make Joshua … eat ... sleep. Tell Beglan to …” I had to stop as my lungs made me pay for it.
"He's too busy praying for you. I ain't telling him crap." Irritated relief that Rina could speak and seemed to remember the crew finally softened her face. "That boy is too damn sweet for the likes of us. He prayed outside the room for you during your surgery. And Arden and I needed the help." She reached over to adjust the feed on the painkillers. "I'm upping your dosage of painkillers so that the pain won't interfere with your body healing itself. And I'm putting you back under in a minute. I just wanted to see if there was anything left in that stubborn brain of yours. Arden will be pleased. It'll be a delightful page and half of his report on you." She took Rina's hand again and her voice was soft and controlled. "Damn it Rina. You, Nika and Joshua are gonna be the death of me. Don't you ever do this again!"
Kiera’s anger was a strength and a comfort. Anger, resentment … those I could have taken, but pity? tears? No. Not then. It would have broken me. It took too much to stay coherent under the pain, to hold myself together, without extending myself for another’s sake. It was selfish but it was necessary and I thanked whatever God might be listening that Kiera understood. So she gave me her anger instead of her tears and helped me through the next five minutes.
“Promise …,” I breathed, my eyelids fluttering as the meds worked their magic. “Never again… Love you … too…”
The sound that came from Kiera's throat was unusual, a grumble turned into a curse morphed into a sigh. She squeezed the little engineer's hand with tender affection. "Yeah, whatever," the sounds finally evolving into words growled as Kiera blinked. "I'm gonna tell Joshua that we've woken you and you are as annoying as ever. But not before he's slept six hours. He's only two into it, so maybe, just maybe, Arden will wake you both up for one another. I'll mention it to him as a nice thing to do. He's kinda soft-hearted that way. Not like me at all. I'da drugged both of you to sleep until way into next week just for the peace of mind."
She leaned over quickly, kissing the only spot on Rina's face that seemed to be untouched and then pressed a few more buttons on the IV machine. "Nite nite, my little one. I'll tell everyone that we're not rid of you yet."
The relief was damned near immediate and to my shame I moaned from it. I went limp, the bed swallowed me up and Kiera’s hand in mine was the last thing I knew when oblivion took me.
A sigh escaped her lips, relief making her almost, but not quite giddy. Easy, Kieracat. She ain't outta the woods yet. She rechecked the monitor readings as Rina faded back into unconsciousness. She go wake Joshua when Arden took his shift in the next hour. He'd probably be dreaming about Rina and despite her inclinations, she wouldn't keep him waiting, asleep or awake. He'd sleep better knowing that Rina had at least woke up coherent as it were. Glancing at the mess on the floor, she shrugged. First things first. Going to the comm, she pressed the button for the bridge and found herself grinning as Nika answered.
"She woke up and is still full of piss and vinegar, Nika," she announced cheerfully. "It will take a damn nuke to kill her." Nodding at Nika's happy shout, she let the button go and went to retrieve the clipboard and report from the floor.
It'd take her the rest of her watch to get enough details together to make Arden happy. And for once, she didn't mind at all.
Go to Kiera's Crew Page or Rina's Crew Page
Go to Peripatetica
Go to Timeline, Season Five, Jan 2522 to Aug 2522
Go to TIMELINE