A Routine Procedure? - (Surgery, Part 1)

OOC: Part 1 of a joint post by Wandering Wolf, Winters, and yours truly

The large viewscreen had been “borrowed” from Captain Keller’s cabin. Dorian still chuckled to himself over the deckhands’ retelling of “biggest gorram nekkid movie collection” they’d ever put eyes to. As talk of their find moved to discussions of holding weekly screenings, the medic set to readying himself and his two “voluntold” assistants for the operation. In the end, Riley had given the assignment to Vas, and also Sister Lyen. He’d thought there might be another on the crew who would be suitable, but that deckhand’s perpetual hermitry had pretty much cut himself off from all his shipmates, much less the required doings of his own job. C’est la vie.

He sat in the chair they’d brought earlier, as it provided a more upright posture. To his right was a tray of neatly arranged surgical tools and supplies, including a coin-sized cut oval of biomesh, medical adhesive, and a small bag of saline solution. The hemostats and scalpels gleamed beneath the overhead lighting as he gave everything one final check.

Directly before him was the viewscreen, set to display two images at once. Dorian nudged the sensor dome of the ultrasound to witness a sonic portrait of his finger’s inner workings. The other image was fed from a common capture, an image of two backs clad in surgical gowns. Lyen and Vas were scrubbing in before stretching the skin tight surgical gloves over their hands.

Adler had done the same. He wore gloves and a mask, with a cap tied sideways to permit clear access to the damaged right temple. Over the right shoulder of his gown was draped a blue sheet, folded mainly to catch blood and debris as the wound was cleaned out.

Fifteen minutes ago, he’d directed both Lyen and Vas to inject Ultracaine around his right eye and over the fractured zygomatic...more to test their individual resolves than any sort of fine work he would only perform himself. Both had done well, wielding syringes with reasonable accuracy and very little tremor. Now, for the first time since the attack, there was no pain.

”Comfortably numb,” he thought of the classic opera from Earth-That-Was. Comfortable, indeed. If what Riley had to say about Mach was true, he’d be riding that buoyant well being for days without chemical intervention. No doubt that his judgment was impaired. Gorram right ...considering what they were about to attempt, Dorian wouldn’t have it otherwise ... “Sistah...Mistah Vas,” he said calmly. “Y’all ready tah begin?”

Vas was a little surprised to have been tapped to help the Doc with this surgery. More surprised that he was in such straits that he NEEDED surgery to save his eye! It perplexed the punk why the Doc would spare the crooked cop. Vas simply had to be content that it was the Doc’s call and the Doc definitely was a big-hearted ol’ softie.

“Okay, I said this already but … you know I’m a deckhand, not a doctor right? I’m not hiding any secret medical skills, just full disclosure.” He said nervously. It wasn’t a matter of squeamishness for the young thug but rather that the Doc’s sight hung in the balance and he had made everything sound delicate. The tools looked delicate. So many things could go wrong at the wrong time! One wrong twitch and he was positive Riley would be hanging him by his guts to the back of the trip as they traveled to Valentine.

“I think it’s natural for us to underestimate our abilities. You’ll never know until you try something,” Lyen sighed, “though I wish the stakes weren’t as high as ocular surgery.” It wasn’t visible through the mask, but Ly was chewing her lip fiercely. The steady tightening of her mandible indicated as much. It was understood that they were going to be cutting a man open, but it was the only way to save his eye. What would she have wanted? It was obvious to her that in order to do the most good and to help save this man’s sight, she would need to keep riding the carefree high the Lunar Veil had enacted upon her. With a nod, “I’m as ready as I’m going to get, but do you mind if I say a prayer before we begin?” She paused to watch Dorian’s good eye, as that was just about all there was to read in response. With Dorian and Vas’s assent, she began.

“By the power of every moment of your goodness,
may all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
May no obstacle come across your way.
May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.

For all in whose heart dwells respect,
who follow the wisdom and compassion, of the Way,
may your life prosper in the four blessings
of old age, beauty, happiness and strength.”

He listened as Lyen girded herself spiritually for the test to come. It was well, he thought to himself, that she could master such a calm, considering the unnerving nature of what was about to occur. Were it not for the Mach, he might be a touch on the jittery edge himself, just now. “Alright,” Dorian said. “What we’re ‘bout tah do is gonna be surprisingly easy. We’re gonna take our time, and only move on when evahbody is comfortable. What Ah want yah tah know is that mah life is not in jeopardy here. We are workin’ around an eye. We’re gonna touch it. We’re gonna move it, but y’all don’t need tah worry ‘bout your work doin’ damage.” He pointed toward the viewscreen. “Ah’m watchin’ all tha way. Sistah,” Dorian said, “yah see tha vertical line Ah drew down tha side of mah face. Kindly take tha first scalpel and make a smooth, even cut straight down tha line. Mistah Vas, you’ll follow with tha capture so Ah can see. Use tha sponge tah mop away any excess blood.”

Vas did not envy the nun in the least. As far as he was concerned he got the easy job! Mop up the blood, move the camera … all stuff the punk could handle for sure. “What? No broadcast across the cortex.” Vas joked with a tsk. “The masses will be disappointed.” He couldn’t help it. Sarcasm and jokes seemed a go-to for the young man at the moment. It wasn’t like he had something to hide behind like he was accustomed to. Still, there was a bit of fascination in the thug's eyes. Typically any time of field surgery there was a sense of urgency and running around due to a grievous injury. This was setting was … focused and quiet. Less dire but no less important of course.

A slight deer-in-the-headlights look came over Lyen when Dorian said that she would be the one cutting. But the gloves, gown, steel, and man in pain before her propelled her forward like some arm of the Verse. May all dangers be averted she heard her words echo. With an exhale, Ly reached for the first scalpel and held it suspended. Not certain how to hold it, she put her finger along the back of the blade; her eyebrows edged higher above her mask. “Like this?”

The blade felt cold through her gloved hand and she leaned in toward Dorian’s face. Floating for a moment, her face and scalpel inches away from Dorian’s inflamed eye, she watched him trained on the cortex to watch her cut. Then, slowly, she brought the blade down with the slightest pressure to trace his vertical line. Removing the crimson blade, the blood started to trickle down his temple.

“That’s it….just like that,” Dorian encouraged her hand as the scalpel cleaved the flesh of his right temple, trailing over the cheek before it came to a stop at the line’s end. “Very nice,” he observed. “There’s a metal pan. Yah can discard that scalpel ino it.”

Upon hearing the metallic ring of the first tool’s disposal, Dorian said, “the skin and underlying tissues of the face are very elastic. On tha tray, yah’ll see a pair of metal strips with curves on their ends. Those are spreaders,” he continued. Yah can hook one or both ontah tha cut skin as yah need, and pull it aside tah get tah where you’ll be workin’. Fah now, Sistah, use one tah open the incision forward.”

That instruction delivered, Dorian addressed Vas. “Mistah Vas, when she does that, yah’ll see tha zygomatic bone...the cheekbone. While she holds the incision open, you use the suction hose to pick up any little bone chips ya see.”

Vas peered into the incision, vacuuming up the blood to see the flecks of bone chips sitting there like white little splinters. The boy took his time slowly suctioning up the little bone chips, wiping the blood away and searching for more of the little splinters. If the Doc’s eye depended on it then he wanted to make sure he was going to do a good and thorough job. Where the company not mixed Vas would have vocalized the grim satisfaction that at least the jack off that did this number to the Doc was rotting in the trunk of that cops car in two pieces. He hated bullies. That man was a bully. The punk understood not everyone was good but the cop he had decapitated LIKED hurting people, he thrilled in it. It was an easy thing to spot and he was glad the man was dead.

Dorian watched the capture’s image on the screen. Vas was being meticulous, and also quite careful about what he contacted with the suction hose. When at last no shards from the original fracture could be seen, Dorian said, “Now, Sistah, yah see that tha bone is broken off from tha skull. That helps us, actually. Yah can take it out with yah fingers. There’s a cup of saline there. Just drop it in, and let me know when yah ready tah move on.”

“Alright,” she said, not at all feeling like it was in fact all right. Reaching into a man’s face and retrieving a piece of his skull was just about the strangest, most grotesque thing she could remember doing, though, there were those blackouts in her youth… Having followed his direction, the bone lay soaking in the saline. “You know, for patient and surgeon, you’re handling this very well.” It could have been a quip or a curiosity. Of course, she didn’t want to derail his procedure with unnecessary conversation. “What now?”

Dorian would smile, but lifting his cheek would only cause his surgical team difficulty. “Ah’m just watchin’ tha game,” he quipped. “Too bad we couldn’t swap this fah one of tha captain’s movies.” He activated the ultrasound and pressed its emitter dome to the skin below his right eye. “Yah might want tah use tha other spreader tah open tha back side.”

Once the second tool had come into use, the scene before them was alarming. Dorian’s right eye could be seen, but it appeared dangerously low when they saw the skull’s natural opening. “This is the toughest part,” the medic said. “Tha eye is low because a hole was broken intah tha bone beneath it. Now that’s one problem,” he continued, “but why we’re doin’ this is right here.” he pointed toward the ultrasound image. On the screen, the eyeball was a ghostly, unfocused sphere, surrounded by an almost unnoticeable enclosure of bone. But there, glowing prominent against the back, were three jagged little objects. “Those are bone fragments,” Dorian said. “They used tah be the orbital floor. Now, they run a risk of cuttin’ inta the eye or tha optic nerve. We’re gonna take ‘em out.”

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