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Phantoms [JL Ryan/Dr. Durandus]

USS Hermes Lounge


by Commander Kayshl Durandus & Ensign Katrista Ryan
[Stardate ]

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She was exhausted. The entire medical staff on the Station had been working overtime since the ordeal on SD 1702.28. Over 90% of the station had been injured, and people were streaming in non-stop. They were severely understaffed and supplies were running low. ~~I haven’t been this exhausted since the endoplasmic virus pandemic on Relva VII.~~ Steam lifted off the coffee that sat in a glass mug on the cluttered desk. Dr. Durandus stared at the swirls of brown and cream, mesmerized, rubbing the bridge of her nose and releasing a deep sigh.    

“Doctor?” A timid voice spoke from the doorway. Kay looked up and watched the small nurse slowly come into focus. “Yes,” she said finally, taking a substantial drink from her mug.    

“We just received another shipment from Starfleet. Since you’re currently the highest ranking Physician on duty right now, I need your signature.” The nurse walked up to her desk, setting a PADD in front of her. She noticed the periorbital puffiness becoming more prominent, a sign she was suffering the same level of exhaustion. She scrolled through the inventory for a few moments. Hundreds of cases of medical supplies were listed: Triptacederine, Melenex, Kayolane osteogenic-regenerators, as well as an extensive list of biosynthetic limbs and parthenogenetic implants. Also among the inventory forms were several temporary officer assignment approvals. She signed the PADD and handed it back.    

The nurse nodded, tucking the PADD in the nook of her elbow. “The Prosthetists will be here at 1100.” “Thank you, Lieutenant. Why don’t you go get some sleep. The incoming staff will be here in a few minutes anyway.” She gave a weak smile and left.    

Kay returned her attention to the onslaught of patient records in her PADD. Hundreds of patients were in need of various limb or organ replacements. So much so Starfleet had to request support from dozens of Federation planets and outposts. Most patients were placed on a waiting list as they awaited new shipments and specialists, but several hundred were ready to be prepped for surgery. Given her expertise as an anatomist, she was assigned several of the biosynthetic limb patients. She scanned the list, picked up her coffee, and walked out of the office.    

Sickbay was eerily quiet. Nurses and Physician Assistants walked about, looking like zombies as they attended their duties. Rows of biobeds filled the patient quarters area of the station’s Sickbay, most the patients sedated or in medically induced comas. She walked up to a biobed, looking down at the small sleeping woman. Kay watched her for a moment, chest lifting steadily as she breathed. Freckles were scattered across her cheekbones, and her hair was a short strawberry blonde that fell back against the bed. She pulled her gaze away and flipped through her record. Patient number 647013, Katrista Ryan, human female. Taking another sip and setting her coffee down on a nearby tray, she injected her with a hypo, slowly watching her come to.    

“Keep running! Don’t stop! Keep running! Don’t stop!” Katrista told herself again and again. It’d been her mantra since the monsters started chasing her. “Keep running! Don’t stop! Keep running! Don’t stop!” She had been running so long. She was slowing down. Too weak. She stumbled and fell…

Slowly she woke from her nightmare. The same nightmare that had plagued her since she was infected at the space station. Sometimes she wondered why she had transferred to the USS Hermes. But, then she would remember the pain and loss that had caused her to flee her old ship and stopped that line of thought. She still struggled with the loss of her fiance. She would always love him. She knew in her head that she needed to move on but her heart needed convincing.

Blinking away the fog, Katrista realized she was not alone. “Oh, Commander Durandus, I’m so sorry, I…” Attempting to rise in her confusion, Katrista was restrained by a gentle hand.

It was the same with all the other patients in Sickbay. Their anxiety always hit her hard. Years of working with trauma patients helped her tune it out, but it still was hard to ignore. Especially knowing modern medicine couldn’t cure everything that ailed them.    

“Easy…” she said, hoping to sooth her. “I’m Dr. Durandus. Unfortunately for you, there’s more than one of me in this universe.” She picked up a tricorder and began scanning her. “How are you feeling?”    

“I... I think I’m a little disoriented. Where am I? This doesn’t look like the Hermes’ sickbay. Where’s Dr. Swift?”

“You’re on Starbase 47. There was an outbreak and you were injured.” She set down the tricorder, helping her sit upright slowly. “Now I want you to remain calm. Can you do that?” She gave her a reassuring look, knowing what she was about to tell her would no doubt make her anxiety return. She watched her give a timid nod before she continued. “Your right arm was severed above the elbow by a phaser blast. Your humerus, bicep and tricep muscles, and all nerves and blood vessels were transected 15.24 cm below the axilla. I will be prepping you for surgery where Dr. Greenway will be fitting you with a biosynthetic replacement.”    

In disbelief, Katrista looked down to confirm that her arm was indeed missing. Before she could worry about herself, she had to know about her crewmembers. She hadn’t been with them long, but they were starting to feel like family. “What about the rest of my crew? Are they alright? Alive?”    

“Katrista…” Kay said, attempting to sooth her again, but knowing the attempt would most likely be futile. “Just breath for me, ok.” She tried to give her a moment, but knew that would most likely cause things to snowball.

Tears began to well in Katrista’s eyes. She raised her head and eyes to the ceiling. She would not cry. She could deal with this. She was alive. That was the important thing. She closed her eyes and took a deep, calming breath but it didn’t work. ~~KyDak. He is not alive, why should I be?~~ She would not think of KyDak right now. She would not. A single tear slid down her cheek. She went to wipe it away. Her stump moved as if the rest of the arm was attached. She laughed at herself before breaking down. Laughing and crying simultaneously, she didn’t know what she felt. ~~Oh, stars, pull yourself together, the doctor is going to think you’re crazy. Ha! Maybe I am crazy.~~

“I promise you’re not crazy,” Kay said, giving a smile.
                                                                                                                                        
Taking a few deep breathes, Katrista managed to calm herself. Looking into the kind doctor’s face, she was able to say, “I’m sorry. I’ll be okay. This is a lot to process. When is the surgery scheduled?”

Kay placed a hand on her back, smile still on her face, giving her another moment before responding directly. “Dr. Greenway is coming to fit you with the biosynthetic in a few hours. Your surgery is scheduled for 1500.” She slowly returned her gaze to her tricorder and continued her scans.

As the doctor completed her scan, Katrista stared down to where the rest of her arm should have been. Oddly, it still felt like it was there. If she shut her eyes or didn’t look down, she never would have known her limb was missing. ~~Okay, let’s think of this scientifically, you are a scientist after all. The electrical impulses from the severed nerves must still be functioning, sending signals as though the arm were still there.~~ Logical thinking helped her suppress her rampaging emotions. This had always been Katrista’s go-to coping mechanising when things were overwhelming.

“It’s called a phantom limb. Sixty to 80% of amputees experience it. It will go away once your nerves are connected to the biosynthetic wiring in your new limb.” Dr. Durandus explained. Katrista looked at the doctor in confusion. ~~I didn’t say that aloud did I?~~

“No, you didn’t. I’m Betazoid.” Kay smiled reassuringly. She looked down at Katrista, sensing all the turmoil in her head. She was handling it very well all things considered. That being said, post-traumatic stress what not something to trifle with. The tricorder beeped, indicating completion of the test Dr. Durandus had been conducting. She set it down on the tray next to her coffee, taking a seat next to her on the biobed. “I won’t lie to you. This won’t be easy. You’ve been through a lot.” She paused, watching her as she sensed a new wave of emotions wash over her. “If you need someone to talk to, day or night, you can contact me any time. I promise I’m easier to talk to than the XO version,” she said with a wink. “But, a counselor will be available as well if you prefer. I highly recommend you at least talk to someone.” Katrista smiled half-heartedly and spoke a barely audible, “thank you.” Kay sighed, standing and collecting a hypo from the tray. “This will help you sleep. I’ll let you have that choice.” She picked up her coffee and the PADD, taking one last look at her patient, sensing the return of the emotional onslaught that plagued her, wanting desperately to take that from her. “There are people here that care for you, Katrista. Remember that.” She gave one last reassuring smile as Katrista looked back at her, helpless.

“I think I’ll stay awake. Sorting through this is better than the nightmares.” She smiled weakly at the doctor who nodded then turned and walked away.


   
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