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As Far As The Eye Can See [CD]

Posted on Wed Apr 17th, 2019 @ 3:16pm by Emergency Medical Hologram & Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis & Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic

Mission: Mission 4: Riding A Pale Horse
Location: Sickbay, USS Trinculo
Timeline: 29 July, 2394 - 0045 Hours


Gianna Djokovic had no idea how long she'd been unconscious and it was clear by her reaction upon waking that she was startled and disoriented. She looked at her white-clenched fingers, the very fingers she saw wrapped around the throat of the nurse in that moment, and immediately released her grip. Her expression turned slowly from mortified to soft puzzlement as it dawned on her that she was on a Federation ship -- but not the ship she was familiar with. "I... I'm sorry," she stammered. Her fingers clutched into a fist and she pulled them close to her chest, as though believing she might not be able to control them again. "Where-- where are we?"

"I'm Nurse Sakei and you're on board the USS Trinculo. You've been asleep for quite some time. You developed a horrible infection due to your injury," the nurse, a petite looking woman of Asiatic heritage, said. "Don't worry though. You're stable now. How about some water?"

Gia nodded to the offer and when Sakei left to fetch it, she swung her feet around to get up. "Computer, locate Emily Mox."

=^=Emily Mox is not on board the Trinculo=^= The familiar computer voice replied.

Another familiar voice reached Gia's ears.

"Nurse, why didn't you inform me that my patient was awake? I am the doctor, you know," the EMH said.

Nurse Sakei sighed and then turned away from the patient bed. "Yes, doctor, I know. And I was going to inform you that Crewman Djokovic was finally awake after I made sure she was stable and comfortable."

The EMH looked like it was trying to find a fault in her actions and then smiled. "Well done, then. Now, could you see to the young Ferengi patient? And keep a close eye on her. She keeps talking about updating my programming. Sedate her immediately if you think it is necessary."

"Finally, someone I recognize," Gia said as the doctor approached. "Where is Emily?" she pushed him.

"By Emily you must be referring to Emily Mox. She was seen by Dr. Quilnar and was pronounced sound of mind. It was thought that a familiar environment would be best for her mental health and she was transferred back to the Firebird," the EMH said. "Although from what I have been able to deduce, that ship isn't fit for habitation, no matter what Captain Llwyedd says. Now we should discuss your medical status. Can you tell me how you are feeling?"

"The Firebird?" Gia asked, obviously surprised to hear it was still a thing. Last she had seen the ship it was being relentlessly bombarded by Maquis ships as her escape pod was falling away from it. "I need to be transferred back there," she declared, hopping down off the bed and landing unsteadily on wobbly legs.

The EMH grabbed Gianna by the shoulders to make sure she didn't fall. "I assure you, you are not going anywhere until I or my superior has cleared you. You are in no condition to leave the Trinculo. You have a severe infection in your eye socket and once that is cleared up, we need to discuss your treatment options," The EMH said. "And if you refuse to listen to reason, I will be forced to restrain you. So, why don't you lay down and we can talk about our next course of action."

Her first instinct was to pull away from the doctor's touch and when she did, she steadied herself by holding onto the biobed for support. "No-- just-- I'll listen, just --please don't restrain me." Her legs shook with effort beneath her until she slid herself back into bed, pulse beating wildly on the monitor. She was not used to being this weak. "What about Kevin? Was he rescued?" she asked quietly.

The EMH picked up a medical scanner and ran it over Gia. He frowned. "What? Kevin? I'm sorry I am not familiar with a Kevin. Although there is a Vulcan officer on board named K'van, if that is who you are referring to. Tell me, how does the eye wound feel? I was forced to remove some of the infected tissue and bone."

Gia had thought about Kevin many times when they were running away. If they found help, she was supposed to have advocated for his rescue and asylum in the Federation. In the end, she failed him again. She abandoned him on that planet, where he would continue to live under the oppressive regime of the Seekers. The idea made her stomach clench in guilt and dread. Then the Doctor's other words sank in.

"Bone? You removed bone from my face?" Gia asked, frowning as her fingers instinctively probed the edges of the bandages. "It's... I don't know... It's kind of throbbing, I guess, but it's not as bad as before?" She paused and took in a sharp breath as she came to a realization, "You... you couldn't save my eye?" She didn't even want to look at herself in a mirror at that moment, afraid she wouldn't recognize the disfigured person she'd become.

The EMH shook his head. "No. It was badly damaged and then the infection was very aggressive. If we hadn't removed the eye, you might have died. The good news is that your optic nerve is intact. You are an excellent candidate for a cybernetic eye. Or we could attempt to grow a new eye. That would take longer and have more risks but it is certainly a possibility. Once we get either in, you'll look very much your normal self again," the EMH said.

Truthfully, she wasn't a fan of either option but this mission hadn't cut her any breaks so far, so she was learning to accept harsh realities as graciously as she could. "I was rather attached to the old one," she said sulkily, knowing most attempts at any humor would be lost on the EMH.

Gia tried to imagine what Emily would say when she saw her next time. She'd clearly be impressed with a borgified eye -- would it be inappropriate to ask for a model that glowed red? Maybe it would help targeting in low light or judging a shot distance better. She rolled her good eye upwards and let out a sigh. "When, then? If it must be, then let's get on with it."

The EMH ran the medical scanner over Gia's eye socket, humming a classical tune to himself as he did. He finished and placed the device on a tray. "It looks like the infection is almost gone. Everything looks good. I just took a more detailed scan now that the inflammation is gone. With those exact measurements I can begin design of a cybernetic eye immediately. This is a specialty process so I will need to confer with our Chief Medical Officer. I also will determine which, if any, special features would be appropriate to include. Or would you rather the eye be as realistic as possible?"

"Oh. I... I think it should have all the special features," Gia answered, tongue-in-cheek. She was clearly growing more relaxed with the doctor and the environment to be able to have a light conversation about the situation. "I am a security officer. Eye sight is important so I can disable intruders from as far away as possible." She paused a beat. "What kind of features are we talking about, anyway? Night scope? Zoom? Target tracking?" She imagined haggling prices for upgrades on the black market and then she thought about Fhiri. "They're not hackable, right?"

"Well," the EMH said with a slight frown. "I do see that you are a security officer on the Firebird. However, your clearance is relatively restricted. I will have to discuss the special features you are allowed to have. Who would be the best to contact? However, I can assure you that the device will not be hackable, as you say. Unless it is removed and hardwired to the maintenance program."

"You know, I really don't care what features it has. I would just like to have depth perception back," Gia relented with a shrug, "but you can talk to Lieutenant t'Aegis and make sure." She seemed to recall seeing t'Aegis at one point, but her memory of the rescue was very foggy. "She's... she's okay? She made it out?"

The EMH nodded. "From the manifest I have access to, there were very few casualties. A number of injuries, yours included but for the most part, your crew has emerged from this fiasco relatively unscathed. Now, I would like you to rest while I look over your readings. I will also contact Lieutenant t'Aegis and see what her recommendations are. If you need anything, please ask the nurse to attend you," the EMH said and walked off.

"Unscathed. Not the word I would use," Gia muttered to herself before pulling the thin blanket snugly across her shoulder and making herself comfortable. Despite all the background lighting and ambiance of a sickbay, she fell into deep sleep with relative ease.

Nurse Sakei was finishing up her last report when the doors to sickbay swished open and a straight backed lieutenant entered. Sakei had been expecting this visitor and had cleared the visit with the chief. She stood and made her way over to the Romulan, a small smile on her face.

"Lieutenant t'Aegis," she said. "I've been expecting you. Petty Officer Djokovic is in one of the private rooms. It is just that way, second opening on the left." Sakei said, pointing. "She might have fallen asleep."

The Lieutenant nodded. "Thank you, nurse. I will sit with the petty officer for a while." She followed the directions and silently entered Gia's private room, not to wake her. Even though that was what she was here to do, eventually.

It was an uneasy sleep and as soon as the shadow of Rhiana's entry was detected, Gia threw open her eye and tensed like someone expecting confrontation. It took her a moment to place the familiar but out-of-place figure. "Sir," she said, sounding surprised as she moved to prop herself upright and make herself appear less of a useless bedridden lump. She looked much more alive than the last time Rhiana had seen her. "I'm sorry, I didn't know you were coming--" she looked around to the chair and the cabinetry. "-- and I'm not sure what they did with my uniform."

"I do not expect my staff to be wearing uniform when they are confined to sickbay," Rhiana stated in her usual, rather stiff tone of voice, hiding behind that attitude the relief she was feeling that Gia was conscious and apparently in relatively good shape. Considering the circumstances. She herself was wearing uniform, even if it was not as pristine as before the crash. She had possibly been wearing it for couple of days already. The Romulan stepped closer to the bed and sat down in the chair next to it to make it easier for Gia to look at her. "You should lie down again. You still need rest." She looked at the petty officer in the semi-dark room. "How do you feel?"

"Ready to be done with all this," Gia said, glancing toward the door for a moment. It wasn't that the sickbay crew wasn't welcoming or adept at their duties, it was that she didn't like being off-line and away from her family. "How is everyone? How is Emily? Max? The Chief?" she asked, thirsty for any kind of information on the crew.

"They are well, considering the circumstances. You will be able to meet them on Empok Nor. We will be arriving there tomorrow," Rhiana informed Gia, then fell silent for a moment. "I am also here to speak with you about your treatment."

"Alright," Gia replied uneasily as she settled back against the inclined bed again. "It's bad enough that they called you here to tell me," she surmised with a worried expression. "The doctor told me with reconstruction it wouldn't be very noticeable."

"If the doctor is skilled, reconstruction of the bone and tissue will not be noticeable at all," Rhiana explained. "You will know, of course, but you will not be able to tell from looking in the mirror. You will be whole again." She paused for half a second. "Why do you want a cybernetic eye?"

"Why?" Gia was surprised at the question and her visible eyebrow furrowed at her superior. The doctor had informed Rhiana that she chose that option, but not the reasons it was a better choice? She tried to hide a restless irritation at the feeling of being stuck in a bureaucratic sinkhole. "Well. He said growing a new one would be slower and that it might not work at all, I think. I just want to get back to work. Back on duty, on the Firebird, sir."

"Growing a new eye will indeed take somewhat longer and there are more risks involved, but implanting a cybernetic eye is not without risks either," Rhiana explained patiently. "I ask because it is a difficult choice and a choice you will have to live with."

"Really?" Gia lifted the bandage to display the open wound. "Because I don't think it's that difficult of a choice, Lieutenant. Something has to be done," she said as she tugged it back down. "Whatever is faster. Whatever gets me back to perfect vision so I can kill the next bastard that tries to pull something like this on someone I love." She'd gotten unexpectedly emotional somewhere in the middle of this and she hated that she did. She wiped away a drop of moisture from her good eye.

Rhiana looked at the empty and incomplete eye socket without a change in her expression. It looked gruesome, but wounds usually did not shock her. Furthermore, she owed it to the young petty officer to still be able to look her in the eye despite the disfigurement. "'Faster' may merely mean a day or two," the Romulan explained with seemingly endless patience. "In the end, you have the choice between a new eye that is a part of you, grown from your own cells, and a cybernetic eye, that will always be a foreign body. To regain perfect vision, a normal eye will be sufficient." She suppressed a sigh. "I am certain that your treating physician will order you to attend counselling sessions. You will do so. If you need an additional approach, however, I will make myself available to work with you on the holodeck."

Gia's face flushed from an anger that she couldn't exactly source but was probably spurned on by a mounting bureaucracy that was now represented by t'Aegis. She didn't understand how things could move with such lackadaisical slowness and indecisiveness. Didn't they have places to be and jobs to do? Why was everyone holding her back? It would do no good to voice her frustration, though, and in the end she agreed with a tight, "The counseling is fine," escaping her tense lips.

"The eye I want to be perfect, though," she pressed further, and after a moment more, implored, "I can not afford to be less than perfect. Please approve the implant. Sir."

Rhiana took a deep breath. Even though it was illogical, she was slowly losing her patience with Gia. "Petty Officer. I will approve anything you want - within reason. That is not the issue here. I, too, want you back on duty with perfect vision. But this perfect vision can be achieved in two different ways: a cybernetic eye or an eye grown from your own cells." She raised her hand to prevent any interruption. "Time is not of the issue here. You have been unconscious for almost one week. No-one expects you to return to duty as soon as you can get up. Quite in the contrary. Not only will the medical staff not clear you for duty as long as you are not fully healed, but I will not permit it either. Furthermore, the Firebird will require extensive repairs, if it is salvageable at all. Right this very moment, there is no duty station for you to return to."

Gia heard 'I will approve anything you want' and the rest of Rhiana's monologue flat-lined into background static in her head as if she were listening to a history lecture. She waited politely for the officer to stop talking before she continued, "Good. What do you think about some enhancements, then? The doctor said there were some. I was thinking, at a minimum, infrared night vision, optic zoom, and heat vision. Don't you think heat vision? Tracking through the forest would be helpful."

The chief of security/tactical rose to her feet. "I will not have a Borg in my department, Petty Officer." Her voice was close to chilling. "I will advise your doctor to schedule intensive counselling sessions for the next few days and to not proceed with preparing a replacement eye until you are of rational mind again."

"Sir!" Gia's outburst cut across Rhiana's unfair dismissal, but she waited until the woman finished talking to continue her objection. "You said I had a choice!" She threw back the thin blanket that covered her lower body and started to get out of bed. "I've made my choice and I am not changing my mind." Her heart pounded in her chest like a drum reaching apex while her toes landed on the cold floor. She wanted to look the Romulan level in the face, to tell her how much she needed all of it to be behind her, to assert herself and not cave in to someone else's worldview, but the words were not there. Instead, the memories flooded back in a tide of jumbled consciousness.

The guard's strong hand closed over hers on the machete, and slowly began moving the weapon back towards Gia's exposed throat. "Why can't you go quietly?" He grunted.

Gia felt herself loosing a battle of strength as the blade pressed into her neck and looked over in time to see the Seeker had Emily by the back of her neck, his black glove wrapped around her tiny neck like a snake. "Stop!" he shouted. There was a pain of regret in her stomach, guilt for whatever fate befell the farmer Kevin, and then the darkness of the pain, blood, and despair that followed.

The young security officer found herself crouched on the floor, sobbing, when she came back to the current surroundings of her room in sickbay. "I will not go quietly," she whispered to Rhiana's boots.

It broke Rhiana's heart to see the young woman in such a state and yet, she hesitated for several long seconds. Torn between keeping up appearances and compassion. In the end, compassion won. Rhiana sank down to her knees, gently took Gia's shoulders and made her rise a little off the floor, then took her in her arms and hugged her.

[Four Days Later]

"Nurse Sakei," the Trinculo's EMH said. "I believe our patient is coming out of the anesthesia. 20 cc of Klypetrium please." He picked up a medical tricorder while the nurse prepared the hypospray, and ran it over the patient's new cybernetic eye. "And the implant is operating well within acceptable parameters."

Nurse Sakei nodded and handed over the hypospray. The doctor pressed it against Petty Officer Djokovic's neck and it hissed. He watched her eyes flutter and come open. Both of them.

"Welcome back to consciousness, Gianna. How do you feel?" The EMH said.

Gia squinted against the bright overhead lights as the EMH's words rang in her emerging senses. "Hm?" She looked over at him, ran her gaze across him from head to chest as she remembered where she was and what was happening. "Good. I think. Do I still have a hole in my face?"

"Of course. You have multiple holes in your face. It is how things are supposed to be given human anatomy. However, if you are referring to your wound, no. You might not even realize that you are now seeing through the implant and that means the procedure was a complete success. Not that I would have expected anything less," the EMH said with a smug smile.

Gia took turns closing each eye and smiled as she realized the EMH was right, she couldn't tell a discernible difference between each eye. "It's amazing," she whispered. The nurse held up a small mirror and spent a moment looking at the new eye from various angles. "It looks exactly like the other one. You can't even tell."

"That is the point, isn't it?" The EMH said. "Now, I have included some of the features approved by your superior but standard procedure is to activate them at a later date in case of complications. This model has a zoom function, an image and video capture function, and a night vision function. Once you are acclimated, those features will be brought online one at a time over the course of a few weeks. I have spoken with myFirebird counterpart and he agrees with this course of action. He's quite sensible and agreeable. Do you have any questions?"

"Just one. When do I get out of here and back to work?"


Lieutenant Rhiana t'Aegis
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Petty Officer 3rd Class Gianna Djokovic
Security Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Emergency Medical Hologram
USS Trinculo NCC-71867
(NPC by Llwyedd)

Petty Officer Second Class Rache Sakei
USS Trinculo NCC-71867
(NPC by Llwyedd)


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Comments (2)

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Sat Apr 20th, 2019 @ 7:58pm

Favorite part: "Well," the EMH said with a slight frown. "I do see that you are a security officer on the Firebird. However, your clearance is relatively restricted. I will have to discuss the special features you are allowed to have. Who would be the best to contact?

THAT'S the part that let me sit back and appreciate the quality of the overall story. i.e. In most similar situations in fiction, the protagonist gets whatever features they want. "You want an eye laser? You get an eye laser!"

(I loved that for once, the protagonist of a story gets reined in by the realities where we don't get all the state-of-the-art bells and whistles. Not everybody gets to be Robocop or the Six Million Dollar Man. Most of us wake up with a glass eye and a bunch of weaselese about how our health insurance and annual income don't cover replacing that particular injury with advanced 007 spytech.)

With THIS story, Gia gets to fight against her own understandable impatience and against the advice of those who can see the bigger picture in her life. (On that note, I was impressed how this post let the characters and the audience ponder the pros and cons of transhumanism, too.)

It read like the first several minutes of a televised Star Trek episode, allowing everyone to be exposed to both the technological argument and the natural argument of the real issue. There were logic and emotions battling sidebyside, and that's hard for a lot of writers to do IMO.)

My only complaint is that they seemed to let Gia win too easily, without her maturing and/or developing through the ordeal. Granted, maybe this was just because the post was running longer than the writers intended.

By Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt on Thu May 23rd, 2019 @ 9:05am

Reading Gia's fight for her eye was great. We got to see the process of her decision, and that made the end more satisfying than a magical wave of the hand to restore the eye. That said, I hope we also get to see the results of that decision as she struggles to adapt to this new eye and the inputs that are not usual for the human brain to process. I hope for, and look forward to, a follow-up JP with Gia, Rhiana, and the EMH.