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[Round 2] Emergency Surgery, Pt. 3

FltCapt. Sidney Riley

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((Decompression Chamber, Sickbay, USS Tiger))

Solok: Your mind to my mind, your thoughts to my thoughts.

::Although the physical pressure of Solok's fingertips on Z'Leah's face did not change in the slightest -- it remained a very gentle touch, almost a caress -- the connection forged by that exceptionally light pressure grew increasingly intense by the nanosecond. Her body lay there, rigid in paralysis, but her mind was overflowing with chaos and motion. Chaos and emotion.::

::The decompression chamber had almost approached an atmospheric pressure comparable to that in the shuttlebay during the event. The pressure was low enough to cause Solok some discomfort, but seeing as he had been expecting the drop, and that he was a Vulcan, the discomfort did not effect his state of mind or his competence as a physician. Naturally, the experience would be even less comfortable for Z'Leah, an Orion untrained in the disciplines of the mind. Nevertheless, even an undisciplined humanoid individual could survive nearly two minutes in the so-called "vacuum" of space. Z'Leah and the others had spent far less than that amount of time, and had Shelley not initiated surgery, Z'Leah's condition would be relatively minor.::

::With an open wound of the magnitude of Shelley's incision, however, Z'Leah's body had to be prevented from allowing the blood, water, and spinal fluid from boiling and evaporating from the body. Were it to do so, the Orion would almost certainly die.::

::This is where the mind meld came in.::

::There were clotting agents, and there were temporary fixes that might prevent Z'Leah from bleeding out on an operating table, say, or rapidly dehydrating due to fluid loss. But in the very low pressure of space -- and, now, the decompression chamber -- those treatments would be mostly ineffective. Having trained as a Healer on Vulcan long before he had become a Starfleet medical doctor, Solok did not have to resort to the sort of crude thinking that had compelled Shelley to begin major surgery with a phaser alone in a non-sterile environment. Infection alone could have killed Z'Leah, even if decompression sickness had not been a factor.::

::Best, however, to keep his thoughts on the matter at hand.::

::The oxygen levels in the decompression chamber were very low, so low that Solok would have been unsurprised had Z'Leah entered into unconsciousness. In many ways, that would have been a preferable state of affairs -- at least from the point of view of the patient. Solok had adjusted the rate of his own respiration after shutting the chamber door and before beginning the mind meld. And now, reaching through Z'Leah's consciousness -- through the pain, and the fear, and the confusion, and the uncertainty -- Solok let himself slow Z'Leah's respiration, as well. At first, the Orion woman resisted the invasion of her mind -- a natural and logical response, Solok thought. But he had communicated to her -- very briefly -- the danger of her situation and, fatigued not only physically but mentally from her ordeal, Z'Leah had quickly relented. Laying on her face, Z'Leah's chest was not visible to Solok, sitting above her. But he felt her lungs working, slowly but

efficiently, and at the very same rate as his own. He felt her lungs as he felt his own lungs, breathing inside his/her chest. Her lungs were his lungs, there, in the Tiger sickbay.::

::And her heart was his heart, a feeling to which Solok was accustomed but with which Z'Leah seemed to have some trouble coming to terms. Through her mind, as her mind, Solok slowed the production of the hormones in Z'Leah's body that would increase stress -- and thus respiration, and cardiac activity. He calmed her as he calmed himself, as if her self was his self. As if they shared a self.::

::They were, for a moment, one.::

::Solok closed his eyes. Z'Leah's closed, as well -- their eyes, closed, saw only the soothing darkness of the mind's eye. The next part would be difficult, not only retaining but expressing his individual self while sharing selves with his Orion other, Z'Leah. It was, however, necessary. Still inhabiting Z'Leah's mind, as she inhabited his, Solok spoke.::

Solok: Increase atmospheric pressure to fifteen kilopascals.

::The standard atmospheric pressure for humanoid life in the galaxy was approximately 100,000 Pascals, with minor variations depending upon the planet of origin. Starfleet vessels typically maintained the standard atmosphere. Solok and Z'Leah would have to increase the pressure in relatively small amounts, 15-20 kPa, until they reached something close to the standard -- perhaps 75 or 80 kPa. They did not need to stay in the chamber through the full sequence to 100 kPa, and likely could not. Despite the mind meld and Solok's control over Z'Leah's autonomous physiological functions, it remained the case that she was a woman in desperate need of surgery.::

::Ninety seconds lapsed.::

Solok: Increase atmospheric pressure to thirty kilopascals.

::The process continued unchanged until midway through their stop at forty-five kPa, when Z'Leah regained something like consciousness. She remained prone, her eyes closed and her body immobile. Solok saw to that. But her thoughts began to ... wander.::

::Solok remembered her childhood on Earth, her desire to please and become like her father, Zoran. He remembered what it felt like to be admitted to Starfleet, to have enlisted, to have donned the uniform for the first time. The crispness of the fabric. The Starfleet communicator pinned neatly to her chest. He knew that the Tiger was her first assignment, and how proud she was to have served aboard the vessel. How desperate she was to live, and how willing she was to die in such service. And Z'Leah could see Sabek's face, could feel Sakorra's hand upon his cheek -- an intimacy he shared with no one, would not even speak of with Sakorra, his wife. Z'Leah craved the truth about Spivak, Solok's father, and felt the gaping wound where Solok's emotions might once have been. She came just to the verge of remembering the violence and humiliation the Vulcan had undergone at the hands of his torturers, what seemed like a long time ago but which was ever at the

surface of Solok's mind, and then ... ::

Solok: Increase atmospheric pressure to seventy kilopascals.

::The Vulcan withdrew, and the Orion felt herself being withdrawn. Solok's mind -- his thoughts, his memories -- began to separate itself out from Z'Leah's mind, and the one they had been was once again becoming two. Solok, and Z'Leah. Colleagues again, nothing more.::

::Solok allowed himself a brief moment of nostalgia -- what Z'Leah might have called melancholy -- at the parting.::

::He removed his fingers from Z'Leah's face. The compression blankets prevented her wound from bleeding, but the gap left by Solok's withdrawal was filled almost immediately with the pain Solok had been keeping from her. Z'Leah screamed.::

::Solok rushed to open the chamber, and a gentle wind -- caused by the difference between the pressure in sickbay and that in the chamber -- blew across his face. Waiting at the chamber's entrance was Ar'i, with a gurney. Operation Room 1 was prepared for surgery, and Ar'i and Adams were prepped to assist. Farther away, Solok saw Wittburn and Estrane treating one of the members of the away team -- Whale, perhaps.::

::Solok and Ar'i removed Z'Leah gently from the decompression chamber and onto the gurney. No sooner was Z'Leah out of the chamber than someone began shepherding others suffering from decompression sickness into it. Solok trusted that they were expert enough in the field to know what they were doing without his instruction. He was exhausted, from the pressurization and from the mind meld, but he marshaled his energies to perform the surgery on Z'Leah.::

::By the time he was in the sterile surgical suit, a thin mask dividing the lower half of his face from the rest of the world, Z'Leah was on the operating table, under general anesthetic. No doubt the woman welcomed unconsciousness again as a relief.::

Lieutenant Solok

Chief Medical Officer

USS Tiger

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Darn it!

You beat me to it, Captain, I was about to post this sim up myself.

It's an excellent piece of writing giving a great insight into both characters and Vulcans in general.

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