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Posted on Mon Nov 2nd, 2015 @ 6:36am by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: Federation Hospital, Elas
Timeline: After "The Augusta"

By the time Vanora, Aleixo, and Cassandra teleported to the Federation Hospital, the emergency department team had Tang in an critical care biobed and were in the process of stabilizing his vitals. It took both of the Starfleet Intelligence officers to hold Vanora back as she screamed her husband's name and tried to rush into the operating room.

"You have to let them do their jobs, Vanora. If you care about him, let them do their jobs," Aleixo repeated.

After a minute, the mantra got through to her, and her higher brain functions kicked in. Vanora finally admitted to herself that there was nothing that she could do to help Tang, and that her presence in the OR would, in fact, interfere with his receiving of proper care. She also allowed herself to be treated by the doctors and nurses. They removed the knife out of her back carefully, and used an advanced muscoskeletal regenerator to repair the torn bone, cartilage, and muscle. It was far simpler to repair her other wounds. Lastly, she was treated for her concussion, and then sent back to the waiting room.

She sat in the waiting room with the Intel officers. Waiting.

Waiting does not sound on its own like a difficult thing to do, but for those who have suffered through the challenge, it is understood to be one of the most difficult experiences in life. For someone like Vanora, who lived in constant motion and always tried to improve the situation around her, being without purpose or power was torturous. She did not even cry. The tears that she had were already gone; the shed psychotropic tears had also required a pair of nurses to sterilize half the waiting room, as well as the three officers now waiting for news on Tang's condition.

Vanora vaguely remembered Cassandra and Aleixo trying to comfort her. At least initially; when she was unresponsive, they determined that she preferred to be left alone. This was far from the truth; Vanora felt more alone now than she had felt for years. It had taken her almost the entire time that she and Tang had been separated for her to get over being without him, and that came only with the help and company of Khelev. For Vanora to lose her husband again only a day after finding him was worse than the worst outcome she had imagined when she was in transit to the Tellun System. She had imagined that he would already be dead. And she had imagined that Kanoa's report was wholly fabricated and that Tang had never been there. The latter, she had thought, would have been the worst outcome; a continuation of uncertainty that would continue to haunt her for her entire life. But she had been wrong. There had been a much more injurious outcome, and it was the one she was threatened with now.

She was broken free of the turmoil in her inner mind only when--after an indeterminate amount of time that to Vanora felt like days or weeks, though the span was almost certainly better measured in hours--Cassandra placed a hand on her shoulder, and motioned that news was arriving. She looked up to see the head neurological surgeon coming out into the waiting room. The surgeon had previously introduced herself as Doctor Antilla, and was an Elasian of average height with bronzed skin, dark hair and grey eyes. "Commander Stele," she addressed Vanora directly. "Would you please come this way?"

It was lost on Vanora, but Cassandra and Aleixo exchanged a knowing look. Had she been more put together, it would have occurred to Vanora that good news was readily delivered in the open. She followed Antilla into a small room off to the side of the main waiting room. The dimensions of the space were similar to that of an interrogation room, but it was decorated and lit in soft, warm tones, and furnished with arms chairs and a sofa, and no table.

"Have a seat," Antilla offered, taking a seat in an arm chair.

Vanora fell silently into the adjoining arm chair.

"The knife wound to your husband's head was catastrophic," Antilla began to explain as soon as Vanora was settled, without any sugar-coating. "There was severe tissue damage to the frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex, as well as rupture of arteries, internal bleeding and subdural hemorrhage. Open craniotomy was required, and we were successfully able to stop the bleeding and repair the damaged arteries and veins."

"That's good, right?" Vanora asked, hanging on the glimmer of hope.

Antilla neither agreed nor disagreed, instead simply continuing her report. "It was a successful surgery, and we were able to stabilize his vital signs. But as I said, the wound was catastrophic, and the tissue damage extensive. When he was brought in, he had very weak brain waves. While there is some improvement and normalization, we are still observing irregularities." She seemed to repress a sigh. "The brain is the last frontier of modern medicine. We can extend function and replace damaged regions with positronic implants, but there is no true replacement for the original organ."

"What does all that mean? I am Elasian, too; I have seen maiming and death. Do not hold back the truth."

This time Antilla did sigh. "Your husband is currently relying on the assistance of the biobed to regulate his bodily systems. His brain shut itself down to protect itself as best it could. He is in a natural coma, and it's unclear at what level he would function at if he comes out of it. We will, soon, have the option to bring him out of the coma, but there is a risk that may lead to additional damage."

"Can I see him?"

Antilla nodded. She led Vanora through the wide corridors of the emergency department. For some reason, it stood out to Vanora that the hospital rather resembled a starship. They reached Tang's room and Antilla waived her hand in front of the sensor to open the door, allowing Vanora to enter first.

Had she had tears left, Vanora would have begun crying again. She felt an intense sensation of deja vu; it was as if she was seeing Tang in his prison cell on Beta Base again. Except this time it was worse. At least in his cell, Tang still had his voice and his shining eyes. And his spirit. Now, enclosed in the translucent biobed, his head partially covered by an advanced cortical stabilizer, he looked like a shell of himself.

"You fixed his legs," Vanora noted in a weak voice as she stepped up to the bed, looking over Tang carefully. She knew it was a deflection from dealing with what she was seeing; as did Antilla, who remained silent. Vanora stared at him for a long time. "Can I sit with him?"

Antilla shook her head. "Not here. Once he's further stabilized, we'll move him to a room where he can take visitors. But that won't be for a while longer. You should go home, get some rest."

At the suggestion that she go home, Vanora started laughing.


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