THE NEXT DAY (ELANOR PLUS EIGHT)
Voldojo prodded his unbandaged shoulder. Sparek looked at where he prodded for a second and then up at the doctor. His eyes were revealed to the colonel when his eyebrows raised significantly up his forehead. They stared at each other for a moment.
Sparek took another drink, finishing the canteen.
“That doesn’t hurt?”
“The arm? No,” Sparek said. That was something at which Voldojo hummed at, furrowing his brow again. He licked his teeth. Sparek went back to his drink – his now empty canteen. The clinical lights above shone, still in the plastic cover. He put the canteen down on a nearby pull-out with a clink.
Voldojo sat back down in his own chair, he gave up with a creak. The two were seated and hidden away in a closed off area. It was hardly a separate room but it had clinical curtains that were drawn away from other patients. Other patients which were dwindling in numbers all over the mobile hospital and the other patients on the base were completely absent from this ward.
The room, as it was, was clean with the smell of disinfectant that had mellowed since the morning. With no patients to actually hide them away from, what the curtain actually hid them from was a block unit specifically made for use as a hospital ward. Vacuumed, plastic wrapped bedding stood in the walls where the cot chassis had folded up inside them. Roller shutters stored away monitors in cavities with surveillance sensors hanging segmented from the ceiling in the middle of the room in a singular, glossy black half-globe.
On his multiple visits to this ward, Sparek guessed that it was broken. He had no evidence of this but he imagined that it, like the cleaning systems and the water closet door in the office that he – from little choice, slept in as well – was in need of repair.
“They’re busy.” Voldojo nodded his agreement to this out of the blue statement in his seat. He let Sparek continue, thoughts to himself. “Higher commands usually are.” He paused. “I usually am too.” He paused again. “I’ve had to speak to their auxiliaries three times now. I can’t get messages through,” he said, matter of factly.
This was all true. Sparek had spent the last five day cycles trying to get in touch with any form of a higher commanding officer about current orders. From here, the 9th were being wasted. Those who were here – those who were recently part of Operation Elanor – had long since healed up their cuts and bruises. Even their inoculations against Demetian diseases were pushed forward in schedule. It was almost pointless in their being here. They were all fit for duty. They should have gone back into rotation days ago. They were restless now but some claimed to enjoy the rest more than others; Sparek knew that these opinions were waning though. They secretly longed to start complaining about being back on the front line. The last of them who hadn’t before had now taken up the range too, just as Saethwyr had.
He was on the verge of giving up and commandeering transport to Penan, taking his marines with him and demanding action from commanding officers. Illegal, yes, but tempting too. It had been only three day cycles since the 32nd and the 502nd had liberated Penan. The firing range had limited configurations and could not keep them entertained for long. Something needed to be done.
He looked at Voldojo. “What is it? What’s bothering you?” The doctor sat silently for a moment before he took an intake of breath and replied.
“Nothing.” He licked his teeth. “Nothing out of the ordinary,” he said, squinting up at the too-bright square lights in the ceiling. “Your skin has healed completely. There is merely no scarification. I had anticipated scar tissue. This is otherwise a perfect heal – as if there was no metal fraction embedded in your dermal layers at all.”
“You make it sound like a bad thing.” Sparek let Voldojo continue, but when the doctor said nothing in reply he carried on. “Are you implying that there’s something wrong in my complete healing?” Sparek stared at him. “Spit it out, Vold! I can’t be sitting here whilst something is wrong with me!” At this, Voldojo had sat up, gained his posture before standing, and strode to a nearby pullout with a faint wisp in his labcoat.
When Voldojo finally spoke he was ripping paper from plastic packaging before procuring a plastic tube. Sparek was getting agitated with the lack of response until the white coat turned to reveal the slim face of the doctor. “Samples. Blood, skin, urine.”
“More samples? I wouldn’t question it but you’re so frequent with these things.”
The colonel glanced to the raised hands of Voldojo. In one hand he held both a thick cylinder with a conical interior and screw lid, and a harmless looking device attached to a pen-like handle. In Voldojo’s dominant, right hand was a plastic tube, and from that protruded an inch of cold surgical needle.
“I keep thorough records to ensure appropriate medical treatment is affected. Your scar tissue wasn’t meant to be this healed for another three or four days. The nanobots that I applied are either working at extra capacity or they’re working in tandem with accelerated cellular regeneration.” The medic paused. “It might be both.”
The medic put the cylinder and the pen into a tub on the pullout. A moment later there was a faint prick and a damp surgical wad was placed where Sparek’s blood was taken from his veins.
It was at that moment that Clara pulled back the curtain She stood with a foot placed inside the segregated area. Her eyes quickly surveyed around the section. Sparek, Voldojo, needle. Dismissing it she said “they’ve sent a message. They’re asking for your attendance in the holounit.” She took one disdainful look at Voldojo and left, leaving the plastic curtain to fall back in place.
Sparek rushed without a word, already enthused with the word from command. Voldojo looked onwards as Sparek pulled away the curtain and left, leaving the empty canteen behind. The sergeant medic swore loudly to himself.
+ + +
– by Kier Sparey
© Kier Sparey 2015