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The Autopsy - Backpost

Posted on Sun Nov 8th, 2015 @ 7:46pm by Lieutenant Lor Lorix & Lieutenant JG Lydia Whitlock M.D., J.D. & Lieutenant JG Geneviève Charmignon
Edited on on Sun Nov 8th, 2015 @ 7:47pm

Mission: Resurrection Day
Location: Sickbay - Morgue Unit

***Morgue, USS Gladiator***

"Are we ready?" Lydia asked, as she looked around at the medical team who would be assisting with the autopsy of the Betazoid female cult member found dead in the ship's shuttle bay. Whitlock wasn't trying to insult anyone's intelligence by asking such a simple question, but rather, she wanted to make sure everyone understood protocol under the circumstances. After all, the average Starfleet medical officer didn't complete autopsies every day, let alone autopsies on suspected murder victims pursuant to a criminal investigation. They'd quickly, but thoroughly, reviewed protocol just to minimize potential errors, including contamination. Infrequency was not an excuse for sloppy work, after all.

Gwen nodded silently, her fingers laced as she tried to keep from looking nervous. Autopsies always gave her the heebie-jeebies, even though she had done dozens of surgeries in her lifetime. Also, it was something about working on a telepath, like a little part of her brain that still believed that the dead lady would still be able to read her mind. She did her best to shake it off so that she could do her best during the autopsy.

When Keira had heard there was going to be an autopsy and then found out that she had been asked to be involved, it had taken all her will-power not to let out a hoot. Honestly, she had originally thought of going into forensic science but that sort of required you to be stuck under Security and she wasn't really the sort to be able to compete in that. She had been off-duty and had whooped for a bit in private after the call. Most likely, she suspected that her very high marks in anatomy classes could have been what raised a flag for this assignment, and she was sworn not to tell about all the pig and cow carcasses that she helped Commander Naxton with off-the-books later at night during her time in the Academy - mainly because the Commander hadn't been authorised to do his own private research in the Academy labs.

Keira had to hide a smile, "Aye aye, Lieutenant. Ready with the organ bowls."

Satisfied they were as prepared as they were ever going to be, Lydia tapped her comm badge. "Pathology team to transporter room, we are ready to receive, now." She had contacted the transporter room earlier to prepare for the arrival of the body, so she didn't need to repeat herself now. Deliberately avoiding reference to the "body" or "the corpse" seemed to her to be more respectful of the deceased sentient being she was about to cut open. Whatever her affiliation had been, the deceased Betazoid deserved to be treated with respect and dignity even at the end.

Lorix was just arriving as the body materialised on the "slab" - which was a horizontal bio bed with a collection point at one end for any fluids released but uncaught. This processed the fluids into specimen vials and transported them direct to the Pathology Lab for Histological examination.

In the meantime the body which would be investigated could then remain intact on a support network of rollers with hover function in case of any need to elevate or contain any damaged parts, in the case of a body which had been subjected to any trauma or damage.

Lorix looked it over. It was spotlessly clean and clearly all set up and ready. The surgical workings of this part of the Sickbay were as detailed and intricate as those which were in place in the main Operating Theatres on the other side of the Unit. The only things that were different were the anaesthetic administrating instruments that belonged in the Theatre but not here.

With her experience, Lorix was able to scan the scene and see what was in place and what was missing. It had been set up well and she approached Lydia to commend her for setting it all up so comprehensively.

"Good morning" she smiled. She had already 'scrubbed up' on her way into the Suite and had the spray on protective 'glove' equivalent on her hands and wrists.

As always, the Autopsy Suite was cool. It was protocol to keep bodies as cool as possible because overheating would degrade any forensics and was not at all desirable, but it did make for a feeling of chill which was not only physical but seemed to spread to an emotional level too. Lorix had always put that down to being in the presence of death and the need for solemn thoughts and behaviour to show respect and seriousness regarding the important work to be done here.

"Good morning," Lydia offered with a polite but somewhat subdued smile. Whitlock was tempted to ask the CMO if she wanted to take the lead, but she thought better of it. If that's what the senior physician had intended, she would have done so by now, and making such an offer would only convey a lack of confidence on Whitlock's part. She wasn't fully confident, to be honest, only because she was still feeling out the Gladiator crew generally and the CMO in particular.

Seeing there were all gathered, Lydia began her narration after instructing the computer to record. "The subject is a Betazoid female approximately X (TBD) years old. Preliminary visual inspection reveals a deep gash across the subject's throat as the only immediate signs of trauma. A cursory visual inspection shows no other obvious indications of injury."

Lorix allowed this to roll without comment. It was clear that the ACMO had assumed she was expected to take this procedure on and that was okay by Lorix. If asked, the CMO would have given permission to go ahead. It was good experience for Lydia and as a teacher, Lorix was best placed to just let her take on what she was confident to do but be there to support her or assist if she got into difficulties.

It was also an ideal moment for the medical team to try out a procedure as a whole team and this was also something that Lorix needed to observe and learn about herself.

She had come into this department in the midst of a shipwide emergency situation so she had seen from alongside, just how this "team" worked under pressure and as individuals. Now she needed to learn how they all functioned when they were more relaxed and more importantly if they would stay a group of individuals or if they were amenable to team building.

Standing slightly back, Lorix observed and made mental notes.

Gwen knew she needed to stay focused, but her mind was drifting. Her son had to stay home sick today, and she was nervous leaving him alone. She looked at the poor woman on the table and couldn't help but to think, This was someone's daughter. Someone experimented on her, and now she's dead. This could have been my daughter. it still could be... she shook the thoughts away as she realized that this was a dangerous line of thinking. She looked up at the others in the morgue, hoping none of them saw her lapse into weakness. She put a very professional expression and prepared to get her hands dirty.

Before continuing with the narrative proper, Lydia took the time to note who was present and their positions for the recording. She then took the time to take extensive photos of the body using a holo-camera. Next, they would need to take extensive skeletal scans to determine if there were any hidden fractures.

Whitlock paused the recording as she asked, "Who'd like to help me complete the skeletal survey?"

Keira's hand shot up like a 4 year old, "Yes please." When she realised she was hopping from foot to foot, the redhead blushed, "Oops, sorry. Decorum. Used one of those in an anatomy class in my third year."

Picking up the high-resolution scanner that would give the most detailed view of the skeletal structure, she adjusted the calibrations to record human bone and leave out softer organs. Hooking it to the rail above, Keira pressed the button on the cable and the device begun slowly trundling down the length, a red beam of light showing across the table to show where the scanner was up to.

As the scanner worked, a detailed view began appearing on the viewscreen.

Lorix noted that there was extensive damage to the bones in the throat and hands. This patient had attempted to defend herself. She didn't comment officially at this point but as the narration recording was still on pause she quietly said that she wondered if this patient's hand injuries were relevant and left the rest for Lydia and the others to debate in response.

Lydia observed the broken bones in the neck and hands as well and considered what such injuries represented. The neck wound was the injury immediately visible and would certainly be enough to cause death, but the broken bones were indicative of strangulation. Given that, then the broken hands were the woman's reward for trying to prevent her own death.

For the benefit of the others, she offered, "It appears the neck wound was simply the coup de gras. Fractures in the neck indicate manual strangulation with enough force to cause death in itself, but can someone look for the signature petechial hemorrhaging in the eyes?"

Whitlock was referring to the tiny specks of blood visible in the eyes that would signal asphyxiation.

"Difficult to determine in Betazoid eyes" Lorix commented as she attempted to raise the eyelids to look. "Their Irises are so dark and take up so much of their eyeballs that there's not much space to show.....ah... here they are..... Confirmed. Petechi present." she nodded and let the eyelids drop back closed.

After Lydia recorded her findings via the voice recorder, the autopsy continued rather routinely for some time. After the nervous anticipation of making the tell-tale Y incision had passed, things were as they were expected to be, with normal looking organs. Normal, that was, until they got to the brain.

"Let's take out the brain and weigh it. We can see if there's any damage to the lobes dealing with Telekinesis." Lorix suggested and handed the little circular saw to the ever enthusiastic Keira to open up the cranium. "Would you like to do the honours Keira?" she asked rhetorically, knowing in advance what the answer would be.

"Aye aye, Skipper."

Taking the tool, she pressed the button to get it whirring and then mentally going through the different parts that she had studied, the redhead carefully used the saw to make the correct cuts before turning it off.

"How's that, Lieutenant?"

"A very neat job, thank you Kiera" Lorix replied and lifted out the subject's brain, her face darkening and a frown deepening over her eyes as she saw there was a lot of damage and scarring evident.

Whitlock turned off the recorder and said, "Good God, what did they do to you?" She turned to the team and Lorix in particular. "Have you ever seen scarring and damage like this?"

Lorix' expression was grave. "Never." she replied in a low voice. "The Spirits know what kind of Hell this poor soul was put through."

Taking the tip of a manual scalpel, Lorix lifted the top layer of scarring at one edge gently. "It goes on for layer upon layer" she shook her head sadly. "They didn't stop. They just went on and on and on....." she let go of the tissue, put the scalpel down and measured with a laser measure, depth, width, breadth... all dimensions carefully mapped. Then she took a 3-D scan of it all and put it together on the monitor so that a model could be made to visualize the amount of different cuts, intrusions and distortions that could be detected.

"I'm surprised she survived long enough to need to be strangled, poor thing." Lorix muttered.

Gwen shook her head, "Why would anyone do this?" she murmured, "What good did it do? She was young..."

Lydia took a look at the monitor and considered possible hypotheses. "The most severe damage seems to be concentrated in the part of the brain that controls telepathy. If I didn't know any better, it's almost like whoever did this to her didn't understand the physiology behind telepathy and was using her for research purposes. Still, that doesn't make much sense, does it? Medical science may still have more to learn about telepathy in Betazoids, but it's not completely in the dark."

"Perhaps......" Lorix was thinking aloud. "Maybe they were trying to upgrade her...... you know, make her stronger, more effective..... there's some form of evidence here that something electrical was either inserted or some electrical impulse beamed in. There's evidence of heat scarring as well as surgical. Internal melt marks... here.... and again here..... This is hideous. It's barbaric. I don't know what they were trying to do but whatever it was it has to have been agony for her. Even if it was done under anaesthetic the healing process must have been dire." Lorix shook her head in horror and did her best to keep her breakfast down.

"Do you think they were thinking they could boost her synapses by warming her cerebral fluids? Surely nobody could be that stupid? But what else? If it's torture it's surely too elaborate.... why go to such lengths when there are simpler ways to just inflict pain? I guess all we can do is record the physical evidence and leave the supposition and investigation of why, to the Intelligence team." She did a few last scans for the record and handed back to Lydia to finish up.

"Let's put the poor thing back together and prepare her for a decent space 'burial'. We'll have to put her into cryo until she's released back to her family after the investigations are concluded.

While one part of Lydia focused on the medical efforts she needed to make, another part of her couldn't help but think about the psychology behind the person or persons who had inflicted such damage on this young woman, a consequence of not just being trained in both fields, but also serving in dual capacities during her career. Fairly quickly, however, she realized there were too many rabbit holes to go down and at the moment, even if she could understand the why, she knew it wouldn't make her feel any better. Hearing Lorix mention the young Betazoid's family, she offered, "I know it may be a long while before she's released to her family, but I'll be sure to reach out to them just as soon as we get the all clear. It's the least I can do," she added quietly even as she continued to do sew her back up to at least approximate the young woman her loved ones might remember.

Gwen moved in next to Lydia, sharing a sad smile with her, then getting to work to help sew the Betazoid up again. She worked silently but quickly, and they got her back together fairly quickly.


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