“Doctor! I need some help over here!” someone shouted from a couple tables over. There were people on all four tables, and several more waiting, in varying states of pain and misery but Freya only had one pair of hands.
“I’m a little busy right now.” Freya called back, not looking up from her current patient. She didn’t recognize him under the thick coat of blood on his face; she probably wouldn’t recognize him anyway. It was better that way though. Otherwise she would be forced to decide who the most important person to save was in this case. That was a decision she was unwilling and unequipped to make.
“But Frey….” She called out again, her voice was frantic but Freya barely spared her a glance.
“If I take my hand out of this patient he will bleed out in seconds – you’ll just have to do what you can.” Freya snapped at her before returning her complete attention to her patient. She heard some huffing and mumbling from the other side of the room but ignored it; she could only save one person at a time.
She tuned out the chaos of the room around her as best she could at times like this – and there were a lot of times like this lately. Although she was the only doctor, she’d given crash courses in basic first aid and medical knowledge to a small team of people so she wasn’t trying to run between a dozen or more people at one time. It had taken a couple months for them to evolve into a working team and even now they encountered problems but that was mostly due to the situation they were in.
The mystery patient was stable now so she turned him over to someone else and started across toward the girl who had been summoning her. The floor and walls around them shuddered, sending Freya sprawling and causing a new round of loud shouts and chaos.
By the time she righted herself, the others were still clutching the patients to make sure none of them fell from their tables. The shuddering continued for several more moments and chatter started to fly. Words like “bombing”, “attack” and “wounded” flew around the room as Freya continued on her way. Once again forced to tune out the extra noise, Freya didn’t have to look at the patient long to know that he was dead. Unlike the other patient, this one she recognized. “Brandon,” she muttered.
The girl who had called her over earlier looked smug for a moment – as if she’d been right to give Brandon more importance than the other patients. “What do we do?” she asked, after Freya made no attempt to start repairing the large head wound he’d sustained.
“Nothing.” Freya said. She reached up and placed her hand over his face, gently closing his eyes. “He’s dead.” Freya turned away from the table so she could move on to the next person she could actually help.
“But…” the girl sputtered. “This is Brandon! You have to DO something!” she shouted, drawing the attention of just about everyone in the room. There were several gasps as people realized who was on the table.
“Do what exactly?” Freya hissed, turning her attention back toward the girl. “He’s dead! I can’t bring him back from that. Now move him out of here so we can make room for someone who can be saved.”
“If you’d come over when I called…” the girl started to argue.
“He was dead before he came in here – his heart just didn’t know well enough to stop beating.” Freya said. It was cold and blunt but it was a fact – a fact that caused some of the people to recoil from her. “Get him out of here.” She said softly.
A couple of hours passed before Meng burst into the room, fresh from the latest battle scene no doubt. The shudders had ceased and the stream of wounded had slowed down to a mere trickle in the last half hour. “Where is he?” Everyone knew who he meant and turned their focus to Freya.
For her part, Freya didn’t even flinch for their icy stares. She looked up from her patient for a fraction of a second as Meng’s shadow fell over her. He was a looming presence to be sure. “He’s dead.” Freya said. “And you’re in my light.” He shifted slightly and then staggered back even further as if she’d punched him in the gut.
After several hours of patching together people, Freya was finally able to look around and see no one was waiting for her. She was tired – exhausted really – and wanted to fall into her soft, warm bed. She missed her soft, warm bed but would take the hard, cold cot that would be waiting for her instead. She practically ran into Meng on the way out of the makeshift medical ward.
“How did he die?” Meng asked, following her even as she pushed passed him.
“You were there, I’m sure you saw him get his head blown open.” Freya snapped back at him. Meng didn’t respond. “He was brain dead before he ever reached the table, it took his body a little time to catch up that fact.”
Meng simply nodded – as long as she’d known him he’d done everything to hide any sort of real emotion but Freya could see it in his eyes. Brandon’s death had shaken him to his core. She considered saying something but was too tired to guard her words – so instead she opted for silence. “Where are you going?”
“To get a shower and to sleep.” Freya said. “Try not to kill anyone for at least six or seven hours.” A very small part of her regretted the words and the implication but she didn’t try to apologize. She left him standing there in silent rage as she slipped into the room she shared with a half dozen other people.
Freya struggled to keep her head above water but she was being dragged down slowly but surely. She wanted desperately to give up and let the warm water pull her down so she wouldn’t have to fight anymore. Why should she have to fight so hard to stay alive? Her arms stopped moving, her legs stopped swimming and her head sunk below the surface. The first gulp of water was almost a relief but it left a metallic taste in her mouth. With one last ounce of energy and fight, she opened her eyes and pulled herself to the surface only to realize she wasn’t drowning in water.
She was drowning in blood. The blood of the dead, the blood of the wounded, the blood the living – all of it swam around her, ready to embrace her.
She shot up with gasp, cold sweat beaded on her face and her damp shirt clung to her skin. She took several deep breaths before collapsing back on the cot. She tried to close her eyes again but all she could see behind her eyelids was death. She could only hope that exhaustion would take her soon.
Captain Hunt was tired. They were all tired and it was becoming more apparent with each passing week. Even those that had remained loyal to the Council – such that it was – were arguing with each other on an almost constant basis. At this moment, Commander Katou and Lieutenant Kawolski were arguing about the priorities of the engineering department. “My lab has been laying in ruins since those damn rebels attacked last week! Where are your engineers Lieutenant?” Katou asked.
“The engineers are trying to keep this ship in flight. Unless you’d rather we lose life support or go careening into the moon.” Andy replied with all her usual snark.
“It’s been four months since the alien sabotage was discovered, surely you’ve isolated it and corrected the issue by now.” Katou replied with a smug look on her face. Though Andy had remained on this side of the conflict – Katou never considered her a loyalist.
“Isolated yes, corrected is a more difficult matter.” Andy begrudgingly admitted. She hated to admit any failure on the part of her engineers or knowledge but the aliens they had transported had left behind one hell of a mess.
“Enough.” Hunt interjected. “Explain Lieutenant.” He turned his attention to Andy and all but dismissed Katou’s complaint about her lab. His first priority was to keep or make the ship functional again.
“The aliens’ sabotage is like a virus – every time we get one area cleaned up, it seems to spread and knock some other system out. Between that and the constant battles between the Sons of Liberty and our own security teams…we’re lucky we’re still flying.” Andy said. “And with most of the engineering crew on the other side; dedicating even one engineer to repair a single science lab is simply not an acceptable use of resources.” She looked over at Katou with an unapologetic shrug.
“I have to agree with Lieutenant Kawolski.” Captain Hunt said. Katou started to voice and objection but he cut her off. “Any chance we’ll be able to break orbit Lieutenant?”
Andy shook her head dismally. “No sir, we have no defenses and very little in the way of engine power. Even if we could break orbit of the moon, we’d be limping at best.”
Hunt nodded, he’d already known as much already but they’d been orbiting this same moon for months now and even he was ready to move on. “Mr. Ice?” he turned his attention to the screen that was now filled with Julian Ice’s face. “Report.”
“We’ve picked up a couple of alien craft in the area but they haven’t made a move. They are the same construction as the vessel we assisted so more than likely the same species.” Julian said. “I have the fighters on constant patrol so we’ll be the first line of defense if they do make a move.”
Hunt nodded. “Very good.” Near as they could guess, the sabotage had been intended to cripple the ship long enough for the aliens to swoop in and take them with little to no fight but Andy had noticed it before it had done significant damage. Unfortunately detecting it and repairing it were two completely different jobs, which is why they’d been limping around a moon for months while a squadron of fighters was the only thing standing between them and decimation.
And then there was this issue with the Sons of Liberty. On a second screen, Bonwick was waiting her turn to address the meeting and Hunt wasn’t sure he wanted to hear her report either. With nothing else to give his attention to, he turned to her. “Report.”
“On a tip from an informant,” Hunt knew that meant that she’d very nearly tortured the information out of one of the prisoners, “We raided an area believed to be one of the rebel strong holds. There were several rebels there and initial reports suggest at least a dozen were killed along with the ones we took prisoner.”
“And losses on our side?” Hunt asked, mentally preparing himself.
“Six dead, several wounded.” Bonwick said. Unlike the others who cringed at the report, Bonwick was undaunted. In her mind, it was an acceptable loss for the damage dealt.
Hunt pinched the bridge of his nose but nodded in acknowledgment. “How many is that then total?”
“On our side, one hundred and seven dead. For the rebels – at least twice as many.” Katou said.
“In four months…” Hunt said, though he was speaking to no one in particular. Even Katou could respect the magnitude of the numbers. In four months, one fifth of the population of the ship had been killed.