Like many other Dominion military structures, barracks are capable of hovering in atmosphere. Right now, though, this particular box-like building is parked on its six landing struts in the midst of Mar Sara City. There are a few marines milling around outside it, and Lilly moves Imogen through them, not acknowledging anyone until they are stopped. A marine by the door says, “Hey, I don’t recognize you. Who are you two?”
“We’re with FRAWD,” Lilly says. “We’re looking for a medic, sir.”
“FRAWD?” he growls. “Well, I guess that’s technically Dominion government. You want the medics to touch you up? I suppose they could use the practice.”
Lilly does not mind his attitude. “Great. Point the way.” The marine simply snickers and steps aside, unblocking the stairs and leaving Lilly to find her own way around the barracks. She ushers Imogen inside, where loud rock and roll music fills the halls. Hammocks are strung three-high in the rooms. The packed place feels familiar to Lilly, and she looks around for the map that is supposed to be posted on each floor, locating it in the standard place. She heads down a dimly lit corridor toward the medics’ quarters, glancing over at her uncharacteristically quiet companion. The gauze is soaked through, and the trail of dripping blood adds its contribution to the already filthy barracks floor.
Along this corridor, they pass several rooms. In one, two marines in powersuits are arm wrestling. These guys and their fun! Lilly thinks, but she knows she has a job to do right now, helping her squadmate, and she keeps going. The next room seems at first to have a boxing match, but the reek of alcohol that hits her nostrils as she passes the doorway makes her re-evaluate the scene as a drunken fistfight. The final rec room features a solitary marine reading, but Lilly notes the book is upside down.
At the end of the hall, the door to the medics’ quarters are closed. A sign says Medical Office, but there are no hours posted. Lilly knocks on the door, and a slot opens at eye level. “What do you want?” a voice from the other side demands.
“Sir, we’re with FRAWD. We need a medic,” Lilly says succinctly, pointing at Imogen’s arm. The eyes narrow suspiciously, looking further down the hall past Lilly, as if expecting a trap. She hastily fishes out her ID, holding it up high. Imogen fumbles hers out with her left hand, and Lilly passes them both through the slot.
They hear him muttering, “FRAWD… Dominion… Okay, come on through.” He seems to have stopped reading before reaching the fine print on the back of the cards that says privileges do not include commissary, medical, or the post exchange. He hands back their IDs as they enter the room.
“You the medic?” Lilly asks. He claims the title of manager, but it seems like he is just what passes for a receptionist around here. He points her to a room in the back. “Thank you, sir,” Lilly says, and then she guides Imogen through.
In the treatment room is a middle-aged woman with dark skin, her dreadlocks held back by a hairband. Her uniform reads Lt. Thurston. “What happened to you?” she asks, seeing the blood-soaked gauze on Imogen’s arm.
“Um…” Imogen seems startled to be addressed. “Some…” It takes a moment for the wheels to resume turning. “A weapon misfired.”
Theola Thurston pats the examination table. “Let’s have a look-see here.” The escort helps the patient up onto the slightly elevated surface. “What kind of weapon was it?” she asks, as she unwraps the bandages. Then she sees the arm itself and is taken aback. “Some kind of… knife?”
“Uh, sort of a… giant glove,” Imogen says.
Why is she being so difficult? Lilly wonders. She needs to be patched up!
Thurston sighs. This patient is clearly being evasive. “Look, if I’m going to fix this, I need to know what happened to you. This wasn’t a gun. This doesn’t quite look like a knife, either. Were you welding something?”
Imogen turns to Lilly and nods her head towards the door. “Can you kick that closed?” Lilly does so.
“What’s the problem? What’s going on here?” the medic asks.
“It was a protoss psi-gauntlet,” Imogen admits.
“A protoss what? Were you fighting protoss?”
“No.” Imogen pulls her bag off Lilly’s shoulder and fishes out the psi-gauntlet with her left hand. She holds it over her right arm, so the medic can see how it would line up, and then she turns it, to show Thurston the bloody interior. “It’s got some sort of teeth inside it.”
Ugh, so many idiots work for the Dominion! Theola groans internally. “And you stuck your arm in there.” It is a statement, not a question.
“Aye,” Imogen begrudgingly admits, sensing the imminent lecture.
“Well, now that wasn’t very smart, was it?” Thurston says, tapping one of the posters on the wall. The small clinic is decorated with a variety of cautionary signs, some warning about STDs, others advising, “Don’t be dumb.” The one she is highlighting right now shows a marine holding a nuclear warhead with the banner, “Don’t play with weapons you don’t understand.”
“Can you fix her?” Lilly asks.
“I can try. Having this device is certainly helpful. Do you know anything more about this?” The patient describes the sensation of the teeth clamping down on her arm and theorizes that they are somehow related to holding the glove in place. Theola has seen one of these on a battlefield before but at such a distance that details were not visible. “Maybe protoss have thinner arms. I’m not an expert on protoss physiology… For right now, I’m not going to worry about where you got this. Let’s see what we can do to fix you up.” She turns to the one who brought in the patient. “Now, I just need you to restrain her carefully. This might hurt.”
Lilly looks questioningly at Imogen, who nods back. Lilly holds her, and the medic sets to work. Because of the potential for nerve damage, no painkillers can be employed until she figures out the full extent of the damage. It is not a pleasant procedure, but by the end of it (and after a few pints of plasma), Imogen’s arm is all stitched up and color has returned to her cheeks.
“There, that should take care of it. Just don’t go sticking your arm in places you don’t understand. DBD.” The patient looks confused, but her companion nods understandingly. “Now, where did you get this device?” Thurston asks. For once, rather than trying to hem and haw or stall, the patient is forthright, explaining that they came across the gauntlet in the course of one of their investigations. “You know you’re supposed to turn over any alien technology to the military research labs, right?” Thurston checks.
“We haven’t completed our mission yet. Of course we know what the proper protocols are, and we’ll be complying with those as soon as we get back to Korhal, we will.”
“Ah, your investigation is still ongoing. Okay. Well, if when you’re done with it you want to drop it off here, I have the appropriate paperwork. But just remember, this thing is dangerous. Like I said, I’m not an expert on it, but based on what I saw of what it did to you, it could have chopped off your arm.”
“I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding that it’s dangerous now.”
This bears repeating: “You were this close to not having an arm right now. Not just having your arm broken, but completely cut off. Is this thing powered by blood or something?” Thurston mulls that over for a while. “Studying protoss technology might be an interesting change of career. They probably get in fewer bar fights…” She smiles at the two women in her clinic. Yeah, this is worth pursuing.
Lilly and Imogen take the medical forms into the reception area to fill out. They read through the dense document to make sure the psi-gauntlet is not specifically mentioned. The injury is described as “wound from alien weapon,” which Imogen decides is vague enough. Let them file their forms, she thinks, finally clear-headed again. Maybe Jefferson Duke will have gotten them health coverage while they were in the field. If not, they will deal with the consequences later. For now, though, she would like a stiff drink.