CERES Under Pressure

Discussion in 'Open Roleplay' started by Shay Lockley, Jun 29, 2018.

  1. Shay Lockley

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    Shay held up his hand terminal and tapped on the new notification. His bank details appeared on the glass display, the latest transaction being the 10K credited towards his savings, from 'A/C 29458'. He couldn't help but think of it as blood money - funds from the OPA, as promised, for his services. Not that he'd killed anyone, but it still didn't sit well with him. And here it was, an electronically traceable transaction waiting to be exposed by some Star Helix detective.

    It was his first day back at the hospital since his having tagged along the OPA's murderous adventure on the spin station. What he'd seen continued to disturb him - hours of lost sleep, constant rumination of potential repercussions from authorities if he was perceived to have been an active participant.

    One of them had approached him on New Providence, asking him to stay and help out at the station's infirmary. He had responded with 'no thanks', rejecting the lucrative extra pay on offer. He'd been way too involved, and wasn't quite ready to have his licence revoked by the medical board. He reckoned he could claim his work was on humanitarian grounds, but it all sounded too dodgy to him. So he left NPS by catching the next flight back to Ceres.

    He kept quiet, avoiding any discussion amongst other hospital staff members about what he'd really gotten up to during the several days he had off work. None of them needed to know, and he wished he could just forget about his brush with the most radical of Belters.

    Getting stuck in at work proved to be a good distraction.

    As usual, the tracking screen displaying the state of the department appeared disastrous. 66 registered patients, with 20 yet to be seen. 27 of them fully admitted, but waiting endless hours for a spot on the ward and thus unable to leave the emergency department. Patients on gurneys along the hallways, accompanied by paramedic crews stuck babysitting them, meaning less of them out on the streets to respond to other emergencies.

    In other words, a typical Friday evening.

    Three days of such pressure until the hospital was escalated to 'code yellow', indicating that it was now operating under internal conditions serious enough to affect service delivery. Only then did hospital administrators and executives made their mandated visit, nodding at bars, graphs and numbers on computer screens, murmuring amongst each other.

    "Fuck this place..."

    Shay watched as one of his colleagues walked up the staff station and slumped heavily in the chair next to him. Such despondent remarks were common amongst the ED staff. Morale was low and rates of burn out were at an all time high.

    There wasn't even enough time for Shay to respond, when the overhead comm system blasted an announcement: "Adult trauma call, ETA ten minutes. Adult trauma call. Ten minutes."

    He immediately darted across to triage/reception. "What is it?"

    "20 year-old female, attacked at Medina. Single punch to the back of her head. Blown pupil, abnormal posturing, trismus."

    "Ah, fuck," Shay grimaced. He could foresee this one patient taking up a substantial proportion of the department's available resources. Patients categorised with a lower triage scale would have to wait hours longer. He took a breath in, partly to help calm his nerves.

    "All right, let's get a resus bay ready. We've only got ten minutes."
     
    #1 Shay Lockley, Jun 29, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
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  2. Gully Foyle

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    There was murder in Gully's eye as she stumbled through the doors of the hospital.

    This wasn't a euphemism. Her face and clothes were spattered with blood, most of it someone else's.

    For once, a Belter wasn't the source of her problems. A crew of Martian smugglers had taken offense to the idea of being arrested, and resisted. Violently. The ensuing shootout hadn't resulted in any Star Helix casualties, or at least nothing that couldn't be fixed. The Martians were terrible shots sober, just like everyone else on this bloody rock, and they were three sheets to the wind by the time the young detective found them.

    Legally, their deaths had been justified. They resisted arrest with deadly force, and Gully responded with the appropriate level. Which is to say, her usual, brutal efficiency. Deep down in her soul, she knew it was murder. They had no more chance than children with sticks would have.

    That should have bothered her.

    It didn't.

    The Earther girl was quickly building a reputation for herself. No longer the fish out of water, she was a shark that prowled among the reefs of the Belt, eyes hungry, teeth flashing. She knew Star Helix wasn't happy with her methods. She never killed anyone who didn't draw down on her first, and she always gave them a chance to come quietly, but the trail of corpses was stacking up.

    The vast majority of the police force on Ceres was on the take in one way, shape, or form. It was so commonplace that anyone who refused to indulge on the side was seen as an aberration. Even the honest ones tended to use their discretion. A pachinko parlor that laundered money on the side wasn't a threat to anything but maybe good taste. There were bigger fish to fry, though even those fish were very careful to maintain the status quo. As a result, law enforcement tended to be very Darwinian. Only the slow and the stupid got caught, most days.

    Gully wasn't just an aberration. She was a threat. She stuck her nose in places where no sensible lawman would bother, and as often as not someone tried to bite it off. It just so happened that she had the sharper teeth.

    There was a bounty on her head, small but steadily rising. The OPA knew better, having seen her on Ceres, and besides, she wasn't worried about them so much. The gangs were a different story. It was only a matter of time before someone got lucky.

    That should have bothered her.

    It didn't.

    What did bother her was the bullet that had kissed her abdomen, drawing a long, shallow wound along her beltline, nearly from hip to hip. If the shooter had aimed another fraction of an inch to the right, it would have scrambled her guts. As it was, it was just a flesh wound. Painful, but not especially life threatening. If it wasn't for the fact that it might have nicked some of the muscle, Gully wouldn't have bothered coming in.

    Just the skin and fat, she could have dealt with. Superglue and a week or two's rest and she'd have been back on the beat. If the muscle was mangled, on the other hand, that could cause problems.

    The look on the receptionist's face as Gully walked through the doors, midriff of her shirt cut away and abdomen covered in bloody bandages, spoke volumes. Most of them about the subject of "I'm not getting paid enough for this shit."

    Gully wasn't quite sure what she muttered under her breath, but it sounded suspiciously like a slight against stupid cops who didn't have the sense to call a bloody ambulance.

    "Howdy," the Earther woman drawled, laying on the accent a bit thicker than was strictly necessary. "Ah hear y'all got one of them fancy doctor-men. Muh pappy didn't trust them, said they was all shifty, but if you could get one to take a look-see at this, Ah would be powerf'ly grateful."

    Pain meds always made her cantankerous.

    @Shay Lockley
     
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  3. Bodhi Xin

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    "Ah, he be alright," Bodhi said when a rushed nurse stopped briefly to check on Jason's shoulder. The young - even younger than Bodhi - OPA member was leaned forwards with one hand pressed tightly to the wound.

    Jason managed to lift the other hand and made a brief thumbs up.

    "I'm so sorry, we've had several emergencies but we'll get that looked at as soon as possible," said the nurse. He stood up and hurried away.

    "Mi tink your pale skin had him worried," Bodhi chuckled. Jason didn't seem to find it funny, but then he had been stabbed. The knife had been a pitiful thing and stuck in the muscle without doing serious damage, but it probably hurt a great deal.

    Belters were used to their share of hardship. They would wait until those in more need had been dealt with.

    Dreadlocks whipped around at the sound of a familiar voice.

    "Oye, komeng opened to up eh?" he called out towards @Gully Foyle as if he were asked about some bad weather rather than the bloody mess around her waist.
     
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  4. Gully Foyle

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    Gully flashed a crooked grin towards @Bodhi Xin despite the pain.

    "Pashang Dusters can't shoot for shit," she called back, her accent returning to normal levels of hick. The use of the Belter profanity came naturally these days. She still didn't have much of a grasp of the language, but the profanity was wonderfully satisfying.

    The receptionist logged her information, then motioned for the detective to have a seat and wait her turn.

    She gingerly lowered herself into the chair across from the pair.

    "Y'all look like ten miles of bad road," she said, without a hint of irony or so much as a glance down at her own midsection. It hurt something fierce in spite of the meds, but it was easier to deal with if she focused her attention elsewhere. "Still, that don't look too bad. "Papaw always said, if yer gonna get stabbed, start off with the itty bitty blades and work yer way up. Builds resistance."

    In her less than expert opinion, the boy wasn't in any real danger. Probably hurt like a son of a bitch though.

    "Of course, he also always said not to stick yer pecker in a knothole without checkin' for bees first, so maybe don't take him too seriously."
     
  5. Shay Lockley

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    For a short second, Shay had been more concerned about the specks of vomit that had just managed to splatter past the edge of his gloves, over onto the bare skin of his forearms. The poor young lady with the traumatic head injury had vomited, a thick spew of acidic, foul yellow-green mixture of digested food and drink, flooding out from her mouth and even spouting like a small geyser from the nasopharyngeal tube that had been inserted into one of her nostrils.

    Without a doubt, some of that vomit would've soaked back into her airway, which would eventually trigger an inflammatory cascade within her lungs. It wasn't something that could now be reversed, but something would need to be done in order to prevent it from happening again.

    "She's really biting down," one of the nurses said, fingers clutching the patient's lower jaw in attempt to open her mouth.

    Suction catheters dove in, sucking away the vomit after she was rolled onto her side. Intubating her was the next obvious step. Their patient had unreliable airway reflexes, was semi-conscious, and at risk of further vomits. Allowing her to drown in her own secretions would be seen as less than ideal.

    Shay tied a surgical mask over his face, and wore a pair of protective glasses. He nodded over to one of the other doctors. "Let me know which drugs you're giving, and when," he said, before proceeding to summarise a step-wise plan of the procedure with the rest of the team.

    The rest of the case went ahead like a blur. The neurosurgical team had paid a visit, swiping their fingers across the computer console to manipulate the brain scans that had been taken earlier. It seemed to take them ages before deciding to bring her up to the operating theatre. Too long, in fact, when they could've spent less time nitpicking irrelevant details and allowing the resuscitation bay to be vacated, so that it could be utilised for the next patient. But of course none of them cared. No one within the hospital gave two fucks about the emergency department.

    The triage nurse suddenly came up to him.

    "Shot across the abdomen, sitting outside in the waiting room."

    "... The fuck?" Shay frowned. "Why isn't she in here?!"

    "Couldn't get any of the resus rooms free until now," she said apologetically. "It looks like just a tangential injury. The bullet's scraped the surface of her torso. Didn't look like there was much bleeding."

    "You don't know that," he said dismissively. "You can never be sure where a bullet's gone just by giving it a quick look. Where is she?"

    The triage nurse glared back. "I've chucked her into resus two. And listen, Earther. We're bloody lucky to not have to worry about running out of basic supplies - yet. Let alone matching the luxurious 'UN hospital standards of care' that you're so comfortably used to."

    And with that, she stormed off, clearly annoyed at him.

    Shay shook off her remarks, and made his way into resus bay two. The lady was young - around his age. Dark blonde hair, her face only just expressing the slightest hint of pain as she laid down on the bed, assisted by another nurse. She held a hand over the front of her abdomen, underneath of which were a heap of large gauze dressings, partially stained dark red.

    "Hi," he said. "Had better days, hey?"

    @Gully Foyle
     
  6. Bodhi Xin

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    "Mi not so sure skin works like dat?" Bodhi chuckled. Once again Jason didn't seem to find anything funny about the situation. "Was opening boxes down at de belt and belta dropped packaging knife on him!"

    That was the story anyway. No one believed it, but when yen were put in the right places no one seemed to bother voicing the obvious. There was also the fact that a lot of people here genuinely supported the OPA and went out of their way to look after the freedom fighters.

    "Pretty sure bees..." Bodhi stopped his remark when someone arrived to look over Gully. Whilst he was impressed that she was still conscious and talking, she probably needed that looking at quite quickly.
     
  7. Gully Foyle

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    "I've had worse," she said.

    Her chart would reveal the sort of meatball medicine that made doctors the world over despair. The wound had been packed with hemostatic gauze, some of which had expired the previous year. Instead of completely stopping the bleeding, it reduced it to a slow ooze in some parts. An ampule of morphine had gone into her thigh, along with something for shock, though rather than saving it, the officer that had administered it had thrown it away.

    And, of course, Gully being her usual stubborn self, she'd insisted on taking the tube. Walking almost a kilometer's straightline distance and riding the tube probably hadn't done anything for her injuries. She felt fine, but anyone with that much morphine in them was probably feeling pretty good.

    "But hey, you should see the other guys."

    @Shay Lockley
     
  8. Shay Lockley

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    It was clear to Shay that this young lady knew the other man quite well - the one with the dreadlocks, having come alongside his companion who ended up being in the same resuscitation bay. Things were bad enough to the point that they had to double-up on beds, where patients had to share what was supposed to be a single room for the sickest.

    "Let me focus on you. Your mate here will get his own doctor to sort his problem out in a minute," Shay said, turning back to her.

    The dreadlocked man was definitely OPA. The injured man who was with him - perhaps a little less obvious. He was beginning to feel increasingly uncomfortable being constantly surrounded by who many viewed to be radicalists, and tried to manage his anxiety by focusing on his job.

    He lifted the dressings carefully. From the outside, it appeared to be a rather superficial -albeit lengthy - wound. Cleaned the epidermis and dermis along its track nicely, to extend just into the underlying subcutaneous tissue. Nothing further. The blood made it difficult to assess the wound depth, at least initially, but after a few dabs with gauze, the extent of injury became clear.

    "So, mind telling me what happened?" the doctor asked.

    @Gully Foyle | @Bodhi Xin
     
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  9. Bodhi Xin

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    Xin said nothing, he merely leaned slightly forwards. One eyebrow arched upwards as he waited to hear if this story was going to be as weak as Jason's 'I fell on my knife' or if Star Helix had been on official business today.

    @Shay Lockley @Gully Foyle
     
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  10. Shay Lockley

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    And before the lady had a chance to reply, Shay looked over to the man with the braided hair, who'd been doubled up into the same resus bay thanks to a serious lack of beds available anywhere in the hospital. Even though one would never consider to utter the words 'patient privacy' within this emergency department, this Belter had displayed too much curiosity and came too close to the recliner treatment bed that @Gully Foyle lay upon.

    "Excuse me," the young doctor said. "And who're you? Do you know her?"

    He shuffled his stance as if to place some distance between the stranger and his newest patient, whilst pulling on a pair of gloves over his hands so that he could inspect the lady's wound. He intentionally reached out to grab the tray of equipment nearby, dragging it between the lanky man and himself.

    @Bodhi Xin
     
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  11. Bodhi Xin

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    @Shay Lockley

    "Hah! Thought I did. Apparently she now da sole protector of da belt. Dis mi friend Jason. He fell on a knife so I kindly brought him down."

    Bodhi gabe him a gentle slap on the back that elicited another moan of pain.
     
  12. Shay Lockley

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    Shay didn't pay much further attention, at least not for a short while, to the braided-hair man and his injured companion, as another pair of medical staff began to focus on them instead.

    He turned back to his own patient, quickly re-inspecting the wound to finally be satisfied that it hadn't extended any further than what he thought it had. None of the injury had touched anything more than skin and subcutaneous tissue. None of her vital organs had been involved.

    "You're incredibly lucky," he suggested to her.

    One of the resus nurses began making up a set of antibiotics, reconstituting a small vial of white powder with saline and drawing it up in a syringe.

    Shay then realised he hadn't even properly introduced himself to his patient, nor had he made the time to find out what hers was. He blamed that on how awfully hectic the entire department was. If he was back at a UN hospital, this level of activity and complete standstill in patient flow would be seen as direly unsafe and totally unmanageable.

    But, according to some of the doctors who've worked at Ceres' Midtown District Hospital for many years, this was in fact only a little worse than normal.

    'I've seen worse', was what one of them had commented. To Shay, such a possibility seemed unfathomable.

    "Sorry," he turned back to his patient. "My name's Shay." He glanced over to the chart. "And you're... @Gully Foyle. Like I said, you're incredibly lucky. What is it that you do that landed you in such trouble?" he asked curiously.

    @Gully Foyle
     

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