The Second XCOM Saga, part 51, interlude 57
by Dan Repperger
As written by Dan Krenzke…
Doctor Diane Barnes wanted to have the greatest challenge she could find for her internship. As a newly trained surgeon, specializing in trauma, XCOM was the dream assignment she would have prayed for — if she prayed. Her cocoa skin and springy, black, shoulder-length hair belayed here African-ancestry. Her green eyes spoke of a European background. A tall woman at 5’8”, she kept her thin frame in top, athletic shape. She’d heard of the tussle in the lab when a couple of the warriors decided to have a ‘physical training session’ in front of the techs. Boys thumping their chests and showing their bravado. So typical.
She sat in her office, when a pounding at the door got her attention. Dr. Shen was there. “Training accident. They have wounded.”
Dr. Barnes grabbed her lab coat and followed her superior to the trauma center. “How many?” the intern asked
“One,” answered Dr. Shen.
“It’s enough. It’s him,” Dr. Shen gave a humorless smirk.
They got to trauma room 1 as the medics rolled in the causality. Dr. Barnes asked for a status from them. It was the causality that answered through the delirium of pain. “Broken ribs on the right side with electrical burn on the skin.” She looked at the stained armor and saw “KRENZKE” stenciled on the left side of the chest. The medics found the emergency releases on the armor and popped it open.
“How much pain medication has he been given?” asked Dr. Barnes. Something caught the corner of her eye. She thought it was a dog.
“None,” the patient replied through gritted teeth. “RUFUS!” The shout nearly caused the former Marine to lose consciousness. “Get…out…of…here…NOW!”
Alex called the Rottie and he left the room, reluctantly.
“What is a dog doing here?” Dr. Barnes asked with astonished indignation as she filled a syringe with morphine.
“He’s just worried about me,” answered Krenzke, before asking, “What’s that?”
“Morphine,” the doctor replied as she removed the needle from the bottle.
Medics continued to hook IVs and monitors to the patient as he said, “Doctor if you’re a drug addict, is shooting up in in the trauma room a good idea?”
She stared at him in bewilderment, “It’s for you.”
Every med tech stopped and moved away from the gurney. For a moment all that could be heard were the monitors indicating the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure.
The former Marine laughed as best he could with broken ribs. “You’ll need that shot if you try and give it to me.”
Dr. Barnes looked at a particularly large, Mediterranean tech and ordered him to restrain the patient. “No, ma’am,” defied the orderly. “He’s crazy.”
Fed-up, the doctor went to administer the dose without assistance. Deftly, Krenzke half-sat up and got her in a wristlock. She dropped the needle. The monitors began to alarm. Blood trickled from the patient’s mouth as the pressure ceased on the doctor’s wrist and he collapsed back on the gurney.
* * * * *
Dr. Barnes was checking the charts on her only patient. He slept as his breaths came in shallow pulses. His ribs were taped, and bandages were in the streaks where electricity had arced between the armor and his underclothing. The thin burns looked like rivers that made the attempt to connect the dots of the other scars. The hideous part was where they zigzagged across the plasma scars he’d already acquired.
It was the collapsed lung that had her most concern. She checked the tubes and the drainage from his chest. He awoke. “Hello, Doc,” he whispered through short breaths. “How…am I…doing?” He could feel the fuzziness of pain killers clouding his mind.
She grabbed a chair and sat next to him. “You had your lung punctured, badly. The only reason it didn’t collapse was it filled with blood.” Her explanation was sprinkled with genuine care. “You been out for 36-hours. How are you feeling?”
“Hungry…and hung-over,” answered the former Marine. “Haven’t felt like this…since my twenties.”
Dr. Barnes did a quick check of his chart. “How old–”
“Old enough…to be your father,” Krenzke answered before she could finish her question.
“Barely,” she retorted with a half-smile as she looked at him. She saw something pensive in his face. “What is it?”
“Forgive me…I was completely sel….selfish and wholly consumed wi…with my mental and spiritual pain,” his words continued in a whisper through the steady, panting breaths, “with using the phy…physical pain in a futile attempt to…to heal the wounds only God can see.”
“Well, as soon as the drainage has cleared, we’ll get the nanites in you to repair the ribs and lung in 12 hours after deployment,” explained Dr. Barnes. “New tech you folks have developed here. The scars–”
“Leave them. They remind me all wounds heal.”
The doctor nodded. “You know where a girl can get a decent meal around here?” she asked as she got up to leave.
“I’ll take…you to a nice place…off post,” Krenzke grinned.
“Aren’t we locked down?” she asked.
“Don’t…don’t worry. My charming personality and good looks have a way around here,” the former Marine attempted to laugh.