A Safe Place

“Mah apologies,” Dorian said as he hovered over his patient. “All tha new equipment’s kinda like medical Christmas,” he chuckled.

Vas Jat lay upon his side, his body’s weight pressing into the new exam table’s adjustable support padding. A series of wireless contacts was affixed to points on his chest, abdomen, wrists, and ankles. Owing to the medic’s observations, another pair were suctioned onto the crew chief’s temples. Above and behind glowed a large view screen, alive with several different displays and fluctuating number readouts.

Adler was busy at Vas’ back, hovering over each open welt with the tissue bonder. “There’s still some healin’ tah do,” he said when the job was complete, “but yah should be back on yah feet tomorrow mornin’.”

After a full series of scans and bloodwork, Vas’ health could not be denied. His electrolytes were out of balance, owing to the electric shocks. And of course, there was the fractured nose to reset. But thankfully, no head trauma or intracranial bleed or swelling. But for the mild surface damage, Vas Jat was in the bloom of physical fitness.

Of course, there was the psychological aspect to consider, and Dorian had seen enough aberrant behavior to warrant some qualified attention. Qualified…not me, he mused as he removed the little contacts. Antisocial personality disorders were definitely not the sort of treatment targets outlined in the program. Such an ailment was definitely a “first world problem” when compared to the hard edges of life on the rim. But Vas was his friend. And so long as they lived in close company, Dorian had both opportunity and option.

“Now,” he said as the table cycled smoothly into its’ chair setting. “Listen carefully. You’re off duty til tomorrow mornin’. Keep that nose cuff on ovahnight. Yah electrolytes are outta balance. Ah gave yah an injection tah help jump start ‘em. Since our mechanic knows her way around a kitchen, Ah asked her tah put together a special meal that’ll help set ya tah rights.”

The medic offered up a simple scrub shirt and socks. “Put these on. Then go eat. Lie down, drink lots of water. Rest,” he emphasized. “Tell that high spirited paramour of yours that yah offline tahnight. Adler smiled. “Now go on…git.”

He watched as the younger man padded cautiously out. There were certain aspects of psychology that Dorian understood…the base motivations and physical tells of people who faced him at the card table or the end of a drawn pistol…the nuances of women to whom he was attracted, and the behaviors of patients on his table. He could read and act upon all of those with a comfortable self assurance. But the sort of life programming that directed Vas Jat was decidedly beyond his skill set. He’d need to do some research, perhaps consult Dr. Lao for her wisdom.

Once the infirmary was cleaned, Adler leaned through the doorway. The girl Serena was still parked in a chair, knees drawn protectively beneath her chin. He’d managed to immobilize her damaged hand, which should’ve offset her pain. Despite that, one need only glance into those terrified eyes to see that she had other traumas in need of attention. “Miss Serena.” She’d been looking right at him, yet the act of speaking her name still inspired a flinch. “C’mon in,” Dorian gestured. “It’s alright…Ah’m gonna treat yah hand.”

She did as directed, but with a timid sort of hesitancy. The exam table was still converted into a chair format, though one armrest had widened to serve as a treatment surface. Her eyes darted nervously about as Dorian stood above her. “Ah’m gonna attach these,” he showed her the little suction cup contacts. “Here, here, here, and here,” the medic illustrated by pointing to spots just beneath his collar bones and either side of his stomach. “Also, here and here,” he continued, indicating both the left and right biceps. The demonstration had no effect; the moment he attempted to slip fingers beneath her collar, Serena’s eyes widened. She cringed away, pressing her body into the opposite arm rest.

“All right,” Dorian said quietly. “All right.” He seated himself on the stool. “Let me tell yah ‘bout that chair you’re in,” he said gently. “It’s nice. Ah can swivel it around. Ah can also make it lie flat fah someone who needs it. Ah can even pump up tha padding tah offer support fah hurtin’ backs or broken legs.” He showed her the remote control. “But,” he continued, “tha most important thing about that chair is that it’s tha safest place on this boat.”

A frequent misconception about Asian folk was that their faces were inscrutable. Serena was still wrought in her fear, but Dorian noted a budding curiosity beginning to take root behind her eyes as he spoke. “Doesn’t matter who yah are, what yah’ve done, or who yah might be afraid of,” he continued. "Ah’m tha medic on this boat…Ah'm your medic. While you’re in mah chair, you are completely safe.” He raised one of the little contacts before her eyes. “These help me tah see things like yah heart rate and blood pressure. Ah need them tah make sure yah alright,” he said. “Can Ah put them on yah now?”

Tag Serena

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