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Cleared to Die

Posted on Wed Jun 15th, 2016 @ 4:39am by Ensign Otoha Takahashi RN & Major Storr Garlake

Mission: S1E1 - Booby Trap
Location: USS Vindex - Sickbay
Timeline: 1900


Storr was alone in the turbolift as it near-silently glided downwards, his belly satisfyingly full. He glanced down at his PADD and checked off the "Commander's Welcome" and "Executive Officer Inbrief" items on his inprocessing checklist, while the next item was "Initial Physical Assessment". Garlake smiled. The Marines, unlike the Fleeters, had a very different perception of the medical corp; with combat medics and corpsmen deeply embedded in their ranks and extensive SABC (Self-Aid Buddy Care) training given to all Marines, there existed almost a brotherhood between the two departments. Not that there wasn't somewhat the same between Fleet Security forces and Marines, but he viewed Tac/Sec almost like the annoying little brother versus the medical corp who kept countless Marines from dying and even returning back to the battlefield after injuries even a generation ago that would have incapacitated or killed. Besides, devil dogs had to be fit-to-fight not just on the sparring mats or the firing line but also the biobed. What good was a sick Marine to the fight?

The doors opened with a *swoosh* and Captain Garlake made the short trek to Sickbay, the entrance different than any other as it was wider (to accommodate biobed transport) and emblazoned with a transparent medical caduceus on translucent access doors. They admitted him into a very large, well-lit and sterile room where a petite Asian nurse sorting through an extensive inventory of premixed hypos.

"Howzit [Hello]," the Marine said, smiling at Nurse Takahashi and extending a hand. "Captain Storr Garlake, Marine CO. Looks like I need to get cleared to die."

Not being familiar with the Marine psyche, Otoha had to stare for a moment. She took a lady's hold of his hand, "Die, Captain?"

He chuckled as he shook her hand, being careful not to accidentally break her. "Well, the flyboys need to get 'cleared to fly' and we're a bit more...ah, expendable. Of course, we generally try to avoid the dying part and if it's unavoidable, at least take as many with us as we can."

Otoha spoke the words that she pretended to write upon her clipboard, "Deep level of anxiety... vents as casual black humor." She then held the board close with crossed arms, "Weapons go in that basin there... All of them; blade, boom, and beam."

Storr smirked as he took in the nurse's petite and lithe frame. She couldn't be more than...80 lbs, soaking wet and probably had to run around in the shower to complete the process. She had meticulously cut hair that framed her traditional Asian structured face and deep brown eyes. She had some spunk, too. He liked spunk. "Well, we all have our foibles, I suppose," he replied. Having been in travel status, he hadn't armed himself to his usual preferences but produced a lightly modified Type I phaser and vibroknife and placed them obligingly in the box. "What's yours?"

"My weapon of choice?" With hint of a smile, she maintained solid eye contact. She held up a hypo and then suddenly threw it dagger style at his leg. It injected upon impact with rather painful force.

"Frack!" Storr yelped, a sharp pain emanating from his upper right thigh. He looked down and immediately removed the offending hypospray, nearly crushing it as he held it out back towards Ensign Otoha. "I meant your foible! Though, I suppose masochism is probably high on the list."

She returned a deadpan look, "My foible? I mollycoddle people too much." After a momentary stare, she explained, "That's a vaccination." After she retrieved her hypo, the nurse lowered her head in a gaze at him and beckoned him with curled finger. "Up here, please?" The biobed had the back rest heavily inclined. It almost looked like an ergonomic cockpit seat. "Which would be your preference, Captain? Sitting quietly of your own free will, force restraints, or paralysis drug?" Her calm, motionless stare conveyed her expectation of cooperation.

"I suppose it depends upon the activity, though I'll start with self-discipline," he said with a wink, plopping himself into the unfamiliar examination "bed". "If you start getting the needles out, though, we might need to revisit our options."

Otoha stepped over to the medicine cabinet. Affixed to the wall was a small, glassen case. Inside was a centuries old style hypodermic syringe, "I keep my options open. Now..." She picked up a small casing and approached, "For the neural reaction tests, we can insert Borg-style brain probes into your skull. Or..." She opened the case and produced visor glasses, "You can put these on."

"Again, self-discipline, though I doubt you'd have any compunction utilizing Borg technology to antagonize your patients. You know that there's such a thing as "bedside manner", right? Or were you too busy reading Marquis de Sade?" the Marine CO retorted, placing the visors over his eyes and taking in the complete blackness. It was almost soothing if it weren't for the knowledge that an over-exuberant nurse was even know plotting his near-demise under the guise of a physical examination.

"Suck it up, Marine. I have seven hundred and eighty people to ensure are fit for duty. There isn't time for lolly pops and hello kitty stickers." The nurse utilized her wrist book to type commands and her contact lenses to display diagnostics, "Time for the Tinkerbell Test. You will see a bright dot of light. Please keep your head still, but follow the dot with your eyes."

"Watch the muggie [bug/gnat], got it."

The bright dot did indeed appear. It darted to and fro, up and down Storr's field of vision. Otoha studied the diagnostics, "I am testing your reactiveness and how long you can concentrate on following it. You'll tire soon, but keep trying anyway. I'll be able to see when you need to stop."

Captain Garlake played the game for as long as he could, which surprisingly began to take more and more effort. He never would have thought that simply concentrating on a singular light source would be difficult for any period of time but between the movement, change in brightness and size, and flicker frequency, he found himself tiring far sooner than he anticipated.

Thankfully, the dot slowed to a solid, medium-sized ball stop directly in front of him. "Keep looking." Suddenly, the dot split in two, one shooting off to the left and one to the right.

"Jislaaik!" Storr grumbled as he stood and ripped the visor from his face. "What, you think I'm some sort of Soukaran iguana and can split my eyes? What kind of test is this other than seeing how ridiculous you can make it?"

"I don't want to hear you complain. You need to practice optical surprises like this in simulations in case your targets split on you." She removed the visor and checked the diagnostics being collected on him, "You drink alcohol?"

"Before I answer that question, back to the first; have YOU ever been in a situation with splitting targets? Ever had to divide your forces in front of a numerically superior foe? Ever have to decide which space pirate to frag because it was either you or your buddy that gets the zap? It's vrot [bad or spoiled] and you just deal with it the best way that you know how... no eye-splitting."

Her answer was cryptic, "Captain, I am a split target." She put the visor away, "I've never been in physical combat. The nature of my battles is unseen, with people who don't take proper care of themselves, who needlessly abuse their own bodies."

Storr shook his head and regained his composure before sitting back down and meeting her gaze, genuine concern and seriousness replacing the former anger. "You know, PTSD and TBI are real things and something I've known many a Marine successfully beat. If you ever want to talk about it, I'm probably more qualified than most."

Otoha returned a nod, "Tramatic brain injury can be treated. That's simply a matter of tissue restoration. PTSD? I grieve for those soldiers. Counselors and mind healers are called upon to heal what proper psychological preparation could have prevented." She tipped her head, "I am actually interested in hearing your perspective sometime." She prepared the next procedure, "It cannot be soon, obviously."

He nodded. Why in the world had he let this diminutive Asian nurse get under his skin? Looking over to the glass case, it wasn't just her that obviously got under skin here either. "Look, sorry about earlier...I guess this is a bit more than I anticipated for an intake physical; either you're very 'energetic' about your position or all the other nurses at my previous posts were woefully inadequate at their job."

"Thank you. With such a large crew, the more proactive diagnosis and treatment that can be done during intake, the better. Now... alcohol. Would you like to talk about it, or are you in denial?" She studied Captain Garlake carefully, searching for traces of emotional unease or tenseness about the topic.

He snuffed. "Denial? Hardly. I imbibe and enjoy it greatly. Smoke, too. Occasional walks on the beach, moonlit nights...that sort of thing. Anything else?

She stared for a few moments, "There will be, if some of those enjoyments turn out to be a mask for addiction." Nurse Takahashi lowered the biobed back to full flat position, "Please lie on your stomach, rest your chin upon your hands."

Leary after the last two encounters, Storr nevertheless complied and attempted to envision what evil machinations Nurse Takahashi had in store.

She placed a stool at the head of the bed and sat down. Her tone became gentle, even soothing. "Now... take a deep, relaxing breath." Her contact lenses sparkled faintly as diagnostics displayed for her eyes. "Juuust relax. Take a moment to feel the quietness in the room. Very good."

Relax? With her anywhere in a 10 mile radius? The Marine Captain was apprehensive at first but the cool air, soft surface beneath him and near-silent thrum of the engines and air intakes quickly worked their magic. In moments his breathing was rhythmic, eyes closed and mentally moving far away from his current predicament.

At that moment, Storr was hit with the chiropractic force of a three hundred pound Sumo wrestler body slamming down upon his back. His entire spinal column crackled like a handful of dried bamboo chutes being broken.

"HHURRrraa...!" Garlake roared, though cut off mid-guttural by the air having completely escaped his body and finishing with only an odd, wheezing sound. Stars bounded across his vision as he felt his body contort violently from tip to stern, his heels threatening to meet his scalp before returning to the biobed with a sickening *thump*.

Otoha explained, "That was chiropractic force to loosen your tightly bound spine. Prolonged G-forces and heavy burden bearing have hunched you in unhealthy ways." She rested her hands upon him gently, "I apologize for that, but I needed you to be fully relaxed. If your muscles were tense, then the treatment would have been less effective and much more painful. Take a moment to rest. Are you all right?"

She wanted a response? Storr was sure that he hadn't yet taken a breath since her "maneuver" and could barely cough, let alone compose thought or a response. After a few more moments, his breathing returned to normal. The Afrikaner started to laugh.

", I don't...[pant pant]...sheesh. Yeah...I'm...I'm lekker [good]"

"Good, because I need to do it again." Again, Storr was body slammed for more snap, crackle, and pop. "All done with that. You may sit up, now."

Captain Garlake obliged, though much slower than he would have rathered. He was a veteran of battles that ran from zero-g to boarding actions to rear-guard actions to entrenchment and he hadn't run across anything half as fearsome as the Vindex intake physical. To say that this was unexpected would be a massive understatement.

"You say 'with that'...are you going to bring out the rack next?"

"Actually, we can shorten this first physical session considerably. I've downloaded your life support diagnostics for recent Marine training courses, so a cardiovascular stress test is unnecessary. Your reactiveness and pain thresholds are within tolerable ranges. Vision and concentration appear to be adequate for pilot requirements." She turned off the bio-infuser, a transporter based technology which removed needed samples, filtered metabolic wastes, and infused medicines. "I should think we'll only need about two more hours, here. Then, we'll schedule for part two of your intake physical with Doctor Fields."


Capt. Storr Garlake
Nurse Otoha Takahashi

USS Vindex
Bravo Fleet


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