"...surgery to make electrical connections in order to restore nerve function appears to be successful as of three days post operative. Patient able to move his toes on command. Prognosis: Positive" Freya filled out the last of the chart and submitted it to the computer. Andy was on her way to help Julian get completely suited up so that he could be released. "Okay Doc, I'm here." Andy called just as Freya finished.
They stood on either side of Julian's bed, prepared to help him since he hadn't tried to do more than move his legs some in the last few days. But he was stubborn and insisted on trying to get up on his own.
"This is a bad idea." Freya fretted, chewing on her lower lip. While she had every confidence in the surgery and the exo-skeleton, she also knew it would take him time to be up and walking.
"Oh just let him try," Andy said casually. "He's got to try eventually."
"Right!" Julian said, slowly pushing himself up on the bed. He groaned some, the pain from having two surgeries so close together made him want to submit to Freya's wheelchair suggestion for a second - but he was sick of the thing.
He wobbled slightly as he sat up in the bed but her righted himself and waited for the pain in his back to subside before making the next, much larger attempt. When he stood on his own two feet, he felt incredible joy and hope. Followed by weakness as he tumbled forward. Andy caught him, though she strained under his weight and that of the exo-skeleton. Freya came around and together they got him to his feet and he was able to make himself walk a few steps before the struggle became too much and he succumbed to the wheelchair.
"For three days post op, that was great Julian!" Freya said grinning broadly. "We'll start some physical therapy right away so you can build up your strength and stamina again."
"Isn't this thing part machine?" Julian asked the following week, looking wearily at the pool. He'd gotten used to the slightly bulky exo-skeleton and could stand and walk for longer periods of time - but he wasn't going to be running any marathons any time soon - and he wasn't going to let himself get electrocuted in the pool either.
Freya chuckled. "Andy assures me that everything is water tight. They designed it that way so you wouldn't be inhibited at all." she slipped into the pool and then beckoned him in. "Come on."
Julian lowered himself in the pool cautiously and slowly relaxed as electricity didn't surge through him - well any more than already was. "Okay, how does this help?"
Freya swam over to him and took his hands. "The water helps with the weight but also will help build up muscles and stamina." she triggered the panel in the wall that contained the pool controls and a slow but steady current started in the water. For over an hour, they walked and swam against the current together.
Eventually Julian graduated from the pool and was walking fairly well with the exo-skeleton. Although it was awkward at first, he'd grown used to it. But in order to get back to duty, he knew he had to be doing better so he pushed himself harder.
By three weeks post surgery, he was ready to return to duty. He wasn't as fast as he'd once been simply due to the mechanics of the suit but he knew he could meet the bare minimum standards now and in time, hopefully, he could push the exo-skeleton, and himself, even further.
"He's physically fit for duty Captain." Freya reported. She handed him a chart with all the necessary data and waited as he looked it over.
"Very good Doctor. I look forward to having him back on the bridge." Captain Hunt said with a nod. "I'll have the schedule altered accordingly."
"This strike is a waste of time!" Brian shouted. "It won't do any good; it's been a month and the ship is still flying!"
"Calm down Brian. It requires time and patience. Over half the ship is considered an embryotic, and every day we get more and more people supporting our cause." Meng said.
"And all for what? So they can sit around out of work? It hasn't been a hardship on any of the ancestrals so it won't do a lick of good!" Brian spat. "We need to strike now! With force! Not talk or strikes or whatever other passive method you have - the only thing they'll ever respond to is force Meng!"
"And they'll respond to it with more force!" Meng said firmly. "What good would that do except to spill blood and start a civil war?"
Julian walked onto the bridge confidently. He was on time and he was on his own two feet. Andy smiled at him as he entered and a small cheer went up from the others when they saw him.
"Ah Mr. Ice." Captain Hunt stood to greet him. "It's good to have you back." he said.
Rob Jamison, who was working the shift before Julian, stood when he came over and smiled. "Been keeping your seat warm." he said with a wink.
"Thanks." Julian said. He closed his eyes and couldn't help but absorb the moment as he sat down in his seat. It was good to be back.
His first shift back was going smoothly; but then the ship often went months without meeting another ship or hitting any bumps. "Captain?" Katou called out from the science station.
"Yes Commander?" Hunt asked, looking over toward her.
Andy had left her station at engineering at the same time and had popped out one of the keyboards from the wall. "We're getting a signal...I'm trying to clean it up now." she said. "Feeding it through the translator as well"
"To any avai....ble sh.....ease resp....Have suf......d cas....ties...." the audio feed piped in through the speakers.
Andy and Katou worked quickly, their fingers flying across the keys. The image of a man flickered on one of the screens for a moment before disappearing and then coming back.
"I think I have it now Captain." Andy said. "To any available ship, please respond. We have suffered casualties and our life support is failing, we are in sector seven dash gamma. Repeat, to any available ship..." the message repeated itself over.
"I'm scanning the sector they indicated Captain - it's where the beacon is coming from." Katou said.
"Picking up a small vessel, unknown origin." Andy continued.
"Life signs?" Hunt asked.
"Too hard to tell this far out." Katou replied.
"How far?" he asked.
Julian plugged in the course at his station. "It would take us about two days to reach them sir. Not picking up anyone else in the area."
Hunt nodded. "Lay in a course then. Hopefully we'll get there in time." he said, resuming his seat in the center of the bridge. The crew of the bridge felt the slight course alteration more than anyone else did.
Freya browsed through the dinner selections on the replicator and finally settled on Grilled Leindamon; it was a fish like dish that had been entered into the system decades ago and a current crew favorite. She heard the door slide open as the plate of food shimmered into existence.
She quickly moved the plate from the replicator and poked her head out of the small kitchenette in Julian's quarters. "How was your first day back?" she asked startling him.
"Fairly uneventful until we got a distress call." he said coming over to her.
"A distress call? Are there wounded?" Freya looked at her comm unit, wondering why she hadn't been called.
Julian chuckled and took her hands in his. "We're still two days away from them Doctor Ryan, I'm sure you'll be on hand when the time comes." he said. Looking past her he saw the meal and grinned. "When did you learn to cook?"
Freya smirked. "Oh just while you were out." she said. "You see this fancy replicator device? I can push buttons." she said.
Julian laughed and she served him up a plate. "You can push buttons very well though." Julian said between bites.
"Thank you." Freya said with a laugh. Everything had been looking up since the surgery. Months of drama and things keeping them apart had finally stopped it seemed.
After eating, they cuddled together on the couch and Freya felt the ache coming back. She knew he'd ask her to stay the night and she knew she'd have to leave. Though, for the first time in years, she felt like she might just say yes.
"Freya." Julian said between kisses.
"Yes Julian." Freya had intended it to be a question, but it had come out as an answer to the question she knew was coming.
Julian pulled back enough that he could looking into her beautiful blue eyes. "Will you marry me?" he asked.
Freya looked back at him and she knew he was entirely serious, he really wanted this. "No." she said simply.