by Sebastian Blade
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved
Please do not archive - When the story is finished, it might get made into an ebook.
Jody really did think about calling off, getting tickets to Maui, stealing Alin out of the his office. He was still thinking about it when he parked his little brown car. Alin thought Jody's devotion to the hospital was as intense as Alin's devotion to peacekeeping was. Jody let him think that. It made life easier. Alin loved Jody as much as he loved peace and Jody had no desire to make his husband choose. In the wars, both of them had had too many choices taken away.
When Alin was ready, Jody would walk away from the hospital without a second glance. He'd take up family practice. They'd never spend another night apart. Even if it took a life time for Alin to put his demons to rest, it would be a life time together for every moment they could have.
What ever demons Jody had carried out of the wars with him, he'd lost them the lab tried to reacquire him. They'd stripped his mind of memories and personality, everything that had made him him, except for the memory of Alin. They'd wanted a weapon and that's almost what they got. He did not remember killing them. He remembered running feral in a warehouse district until Alin hunted him down. He'd stolen a dog from the lab. He'd been a Peacekeeper as well before his abduction. He never regained who he'd been. Alin put up with him anyway and at least once said the experience was an improvement.
Medicine was just what he did while he was waiting for Alin to come home.
Peace was what Alin did while he sorted out the darkness that love couldn't really touch.
The hospital elevator swallowed Jody and his thoughts. Until Alin came for him, he would put people back together as if that were the full measure of the world.
He scrubbed in for rounds, taking great comfort in the simple and repetitive tasks. In his white coat, he stepped out onto the ward. Mission. He smiled, a carefully practiced smile, not the twitchy and shy smile he shared with Alin, but with a perfectly genuine seeming and human smile. "Good morning, Mrs. Anderson."
"Good morning, Dr. Mark," the woman said. "Did you get permission to kill me today?"
Jody decided to treat that statement like it was more than half a joke, which he found amusing, and endearing, as if that made them closer. "I still didn't put in the paper work. Besides, who would take care of your grandson?"
"You're a bastard," she snapped, all friendliness gone. She'd known before she was brought into the hospital who had killed her son and she'd made it perfectly clear how she felt about the young man who was her doctor. She'd been homeless though and the hospital had been perfectly willing treat her acute symptoms and ignore the chronic conditions that would kill her.
Jody decided it would be best to lower the presentation of friendly camaraderie. A much more genuine and cold, almost machine like expression hardened his blue eyes. "I think to be a bastard, I'd have had to had at least one parent." He reached into his pocket, withdrew a small photo print of a boy with red hair and lost looking green eyes. He held this out to her. "His name is Jack. I found him on Sakura Ring. He is a genetic match to both you and your son. There is a 99.4% chance that he is your progeny. This is enough by law to have his custody transfered to you. He has no other living relatives."
Rage burned over her and she grabbed the photo, attempting to claw him in the same motion. The rage paled as she looked at the photo though. She didn't say anything, just stared at this lost little boy.
"He will arrive in three days. I have arranged an apartment suitable to you both. You are an accountant. You will have the surgery to repair your heart. You will work. You will take care of this boy."
"Who the hell are you," she spat, but she pressed the boy's photo to her chest.
"I am Dr. Jody Mark. I am the man who killed your son. I'm sorry."
"I can't pay for heart surgery."
"I have made arrangements with the War Survivor's Fund. You are not indebted to me in anyway. Please sign the consent for treatment so that we can proceed." He held out the data pad and stylus.
She signed. He bowed politely, about faced, and continued with his rounds. Moving through his rounds with efficiency that did not win him friends, he found comfort in the mission like amount of work being a doctor provided him.
During his court mandated meal period, he reviewed medical journals, which he knew he wasn't supposed to be doing, but he felt it was an acceptable risk. He spent thirty-two seconds observing a web cam pointed towards a Maui beach. He forgot to control his body language during the last eighteen seconds of observation and smiled, the kind of smile that made his heart beat in a way that represented the connection between emotion and physical being.
An incoming message notification popped up on his data pad and he tapped to accept. Raw data from emergency crews scrolled across his screen at a pace fast enough to engage parts of his mind that had used the Zero system. His eyes lost all semblance of humanity, scanning, lingering in places to send information back to the data system, triaging seventeen victims in under two minutes. Only two were close to death, a parent and a child, the same surgeon would be the best choice for both. He scheduled the child for surgery, checked on the parent's organ donor status.
His food, only half eaten, was abandoned. He had learned that he could not run in the hospital. He could navigate the traffic of hospital hallways even at his highest speed, but that speed severely disturbed his co-workers. So he walked. He could walk a four minute mile.
"Mark!" The newest resident yelled as Jody rounded the corner, headed towards the emergency reception. "Don't run!"
In full mission mode, he assessed the woman, reviewed her education and skills from memory. His eyes narrowed very slightly and he came to a complete stop in front of her. Out of respect he explained, "Walking is defined as a progression of steps where one foot must always be in contact with the ground. I was walking. I am assigning you to OR Four. Expect juvenile victim, pneumothorax, dextro zygomatic fracture." He looked at her slightly confused expression and continued, "Stabilize the patient, expect consent for continued work."
She held up a hand, mouth open. "Who put you in charge?"
He focused on his data pad for a moment, fingers moving so rapidly and efficiently that her mouth was still open when he looked up. "I have transmitted my authorizations. I apologize for not previously advising. In cases of emergencies with more than five victims, the region defers to my triage recommendations. I am not your training physician, but your failure to establish an understanding of your working environment will be noted."
Now he needed to run, even though that broke his agreement with the hospital administrator. By the time he got there, six emergency transports were arriving. The front waiting room had been cleared as he'd requested. One patient after another, he directly scanned vital data and confirmed or amended treatment plans. Other doctors and nurses swarmed the victims too, but Jody moved faster, assessed faster, sometimes left the conscious victims more upset than before he'd triaged them, because he spared no effort at all for making socially acceptable facial expressions.
He scanned the data on one of the last victims, age in the late sixties, probable anti aging treatments, unavailable medical history, even after a second request, which cost him three seconds. Burns tattered his shirt, mottled his skin. The very subtle and not sought for scent of chemical explosives registered in Jody's mind. His breath froze. Facial recognition kicked in a moment later and he gently took the man's face in his hands and really looked. At this point, he'd been slowed for maybe thirty seconds and the activity around him began to slow as well. Facial reconstructive surgery, very good, but still leaving the slightest clues that allowed Jody's mind to peel it away to probably previous configurations, to compare to his bingo book from the war, something he hadn't even remembered that he had.
His gasp echoed through the room.
He lay in a metal ventilation shaft, silent, clothed only in tight black shorts, a skin tight green shirt. The interrogation room below him had the best security on the ship, at least of the places he'd considered extracting 02 from. This had not been his first choice for an extraction point. It was unlikely that 02 would expire during interrogation. Chances of preventing damaging information transfer would have been greater if he had destroyed the entire ship. The second best plan would be to extract 02 from the holding cell, but he had successful tapped their data stream and knew the plan would not return 02 to the holding cell for between twelve to eighteen hours.
The interrogator was a tall man, proportional, wearing a black uniform and a black water proof protective coat that fastened in the back. The air, even scrubbed, still smelled like burning flesh, urine, blood, and fear. Fear was instinctive. There was no shame in fear.
Emotionless blue eyes scanned the room as the man moved.
Restrained the metal wall, naked, only the balls of his feet reaching the floor, 02 clenched his jaw and glared defiantly. Lack of clothing made it easier to assess his injuries, which so far consisted of extensive first degree burns from the heated metal instrument that the interrogator was explaining to 02. Electrical burns around his hips and shoulders suggested there might be minor muscular damage, but 02 didn't hold himself as if he had broken bones. In utter silence, 01 continued removing the grate the kept him from the room.
Then 02 screamed. The sound echoed through the interrogation room, ricocheted through the ventilation shaft, stripped 01's nerves free of programming until even less humanity remained. The grate tore like rice paper and he poured through the small opening bonelessly, body molded to his needs without regard to what was or wasn't possible. He snarled. Only at the dying end of 02's scream, when breath was too precious to spare, then the interrogator heard that his sanctuary had been penetrated.
Animal instinct ruled his mind and blood in that moment, returning so vividly now, as if he lived the moment for the first time now, with a bleeding, sobbing Alin chained to a wall. Jody's body shifted, one shoulder slightly dipped, hands poised, ready to strangle or dismember. Slight air disturbance touched his ear and he blocked, knocking an arm away from his ear. Actual targeting sights aligned over his vision as he glared at Ann, his primary medical assistant. A voice he hadn't heard in years designated her as a non-combatant.
Alin's voice spoke in his ear, through the headpiece that Ann had just activated, "Mark! What the hell are you doing? If you needed to go to Maui so badly, you really shouda said."
"I recovered a memory," Jody said, finding himself Jody again, the Jody who was a doctor, who didn't remember the war, who wasn't a weapon of war, who was a husband, a house owner, who loved children and even wanted a child, he was just Jody. "He tortured you. I saw it."
"Wullll," Alin said, "That could be a few people. Those were shit times, Jody. Shelf it until I get there. Can you completely do that? You've got trauma victims, right? Can you work?"
"You always ask so many questions," Jody complained, curious fingers feeling the wet running down his cheeks. "Hai. I can work."
The hospital administrator, Sylvia Diego, beeped into the call. "So you say, you just threatened to kill a patient."
"He is a wanted war criminal. His real name is Herbert Sanders."
Alin hissed in his ear and Jody knew he was barely suppressing a string of curses.
"Are you absolute about this Jody," Diego asked.
"Yes. His injuries are not life threatening, but I believe this accident was caused by an attempt on his life. His arms are burned by a chemically triggered explosive."
"I'll get a couple teams down there," Alin said, deceptively calm.
"Jody, are you absolutely sure you're safe to work? You've never recovered memories like this."
"I am okay to work, but I want a leave of absence starting tomorrow."
"Yeah," Alin chimed in. "We're going to Maui and we ain't coming back."
"Fine. Whatever. Get these people taken care of."
Jody touched his ear and closed the connection. The man who'd tortured Alin stared up at him. Jody stared back as if he weren't even there.
"Move people! You had your treatment plans before they even got here!" Ann commanded.
Jody gave a nod. He regretted the five minutes that episode had cost him. If his patient died, he was really going to regret it.
As soon as he moved on, headed towards the OR he had assigned himself, Ann leaned close, looking into this man's face. "Who the hell are you?"