The Jornissian patient’s name, since he had not been properly named by any human yet, simply defaulted to JOHN DOE. This was both for medical privacy reasons, and because having people name other people in the midst of trauma would inevitably backfire in horrible ways. Weeks, or even months after your hospital stay, who would want to be known as “Druggy McScreamy” the Karnakian, or “Adventurous Butt-stuff Steve” the Dorarizin? Better to default it to something nondescript and figure it out later, once the patient had been properly identified.

However, one thing that no human at the trauma theater could figure out was how their current JOHN DOE was making that sound. If you could somehow force someone to play a didgeridoo by screaming through a steam whistle and blow all that out of a kazoo at the other end, you might get a close approximation to what JOHN DOE was currently screeching incoherently as he was wheeled into the hospital. Translators at the best of times worked instantaneously, and at the worst of times gave the user a close approximation. When it came to incoherent babble, it would kick out an “[?ERROR. UNDEFINED.?]” a couple of times before just giving up. Usually.

In this case, the translator beads for the humans working at Caring Touch Hospital and Clinic gave the Jornissian in question about three solid seconds before giving up and refusing to translate that particular portion of speech – which meant it reverberated throughout the room, unfiltered, echoing in the eardrums of everyone present.

“[Jornissian Male, JOHN DOE, Between 300-350 years old.]” A Karnakian EMT started to rattle off, taking a lanyard and handing it to one of the waiting doctor’s open hands. Instantly everyone’s tablets, charts and screens were updated with the latest information, real-time biometrics, and what personal information the EMT could gather.

Dr. Solid, who had somehow appeared out of nowhere, began to immediately run triage. “[Nurse, Get me a 470 broad-spectrum cleanser intravenous pump into-]”

“[-Call came from his roommate about 30 minutes ago of irritability and irrational, obsessive-compulsive behavior. By the time we arrived-]” rattled the Karnakian EMT, a Dorarizin nurse joining the huddle to transfer the patient from the temporary bed to a more permanent one… while keeping the restraints on. Intermingled with the larger triage group were the human medical professionals, doing their best to assist with producing equipment, tightening straps, or just getting out of the way when necessary.

For his part, JOHN DOE made sure to make his displeasure known via a very impressive jet engine impersonation.

The trainees, of course, watched.

“[-presenting with altered mental state, possible encephalopathy – physical neural jack has shown early signs of necrosis-]”

Dr. Silver finished attaching a single headset to his ear, a plastiglass overlay covering one eye as it began to overlay AR vitals of the patient. “James, go corral MEDIBOT, we need his sensor suite-”

Wordlessly, RN. Wilson excused himself between the xenos doctors and lightly jogged out of the swarming waiting room, the mass of people slowly making their way to a theater to the side of the atrium. “Dr. Solid, are you good with the 470? His heart rate isn’t declining-”

“[We’re decreasing cleaner temperature by two degrees.]” Dorarizin nurse Stringbean said, messing with a boxy device she attached to JOHN DOE’s bedside. Dr. Solid responded with an affirmative grunt, wrestling one of JOHN DOE’s writhing arms to the side to cuff it with another biomedical tracking device.

“[-necrosis of a neural jack; what does our patient do for a profession?]” Dr. Solid asked no one in particular, assuming the answer would come forth from someone while he tried to wrestle the patient into position.

Than mo scrolled furiously through his tablet at the foot of the bed, the Jornissian’s small tail tip thrashing impotently in his direction. “Says here an ‘E BOY’, whatever that mea-”

“[Wait, like one of those AI engineers?]” Tipo piped up, before remembering himself and snapping his jaw shut in embarrassment.

“[Close enough.]” Dr. Solid murmured, giving a light nod to the input from the peanut gallery. “[Which would explain the analog connection to his implants; your theory, Dr. Silver?]”

“If he’s anything like our nerds, probably tried doing some after-market modifications to his implants, probably screwed something up, probably thought he knew better and could fix it on his own. Analog plug-ins are rarer – an elective surgery – but civilian heavy duty, right?”


“So then we’d need to get him scanned and see what fried and died and where; full spectrum antibiotics to stop the worst of it and then remove his suite, with additional reconstructive therapies where necessary-”


“Ah! Speak of the devil-” Dr. Silver said, waving over RN. Wilson and his trusty sidekick, MEDIBOT. The Human Medical Robot had not changed too much since Tipo last saw it, save for the fact that one of it’s manipulator hands had been replaced with something that looked very inappropriate.

“I went ahead and attached the sensor probe. It’s lubricated and ready to go.” Rn. Wilson said, placing a hand on MEDIBOT’s back to usher him over to a very vulnerable part of JOHN DOE’s Jornissian biology. “Is he restrained?”

“[Restrained, yes, but is this really necessary?]” The Dorarizin nurse said, looking at the human… probe with a slightly green face. “[That seems a little too intrusive, even for my tastes-]”

“MEDIBOT.” Said MEDIBOT, his probe arm beginning to vibrate. The robot and the nurse stared at each other, and to Tipo’s unpracticed ears, it sounded like the probes’ vibration sped up.

“[Nurse Stringbean, we agreed to observe and advise. We’ll let the human medical technology take the first pass at it, and if necessary, we’ll follow it up with a OBS Scan.]”

The Dorarizin nurse in question gave the side-eye to the human robot. JOHN DOE let out another scream and continued to thrash under the restraints, the human nurses continuing to add more and more straps to the table to immobilize the Jornissian … probably a bit too much. MEDIBOT just took in the whole situation, vibrating exponentially more aggressively as time passed.

“[Well, Doctor, none of that matters if the patient continues to struggle – with something like that-] Dorarizin Nurse Stringbean clicked, tilting her head towards the now glowing-eyed MEDIBOT. “[-you’ll cause more internal damage if the patient doesn’t calm down!]”

“[I’m well aware, but we need to know what we’re dealing with before we start applying depressant or muscle relaxers-]”

As if on cue, the Jornissian stopped thrashing.

The team paused, for a moment, and looked at the head of the bed, where a forgotten Nurse Laverne Roberts was…

= = =

JOHN DOE, the E-BOY, was not having the best of days. Quite honestly, this would go down as the worst day of his life so far, only to be topped another 3 times. But those are sadder stories for a later time, and quite honestly he should know better than to fully fund a rogue human engineer when he says that accelerating two meteors into each other at an appreciable fraction of c will turn them into gold because of fusion. I mean, it does, but it also makes a gigantic explosion, and the fusion is only a few atoms at best and the paperwork is really not worth it-

Anyway. Point being, to JOHN DOE, today was a bad day. It also kind of ran together to the past and to the ever-present future; his mind could not grasp such things as time, or the progression thereof. Everything, every single sensation melded into an overly hot wave of burning, of skin melting like wax yet being so cold, so very cold, like ice in his veins, gripping his heart. His breath was short – impossible to catch, due to all that screaming that was happening, and everything just got so tight before he shivered himself free. His skin, frozen solid, shedding all at once; an exposed blister covering his entire body!

‘<Turning brightness under under can’t breathe water breaks the surface joke it’s playing on me darkness and the eyes shifts my skin it writhes it stings my spine I can’t when when my back my pad I can’t feel-> JOHN DOE thought, if we wanted to generously call what he was doing that, his addled and damaged brain getting more confused as symbols played across his eyes – things his ancient brain could never understand, but his higher functions knew, and knew that he knew but he couldn’t grasp, couldn’t think right now, frustratingly just out of his reach. Somewhere deep inside him something hurt, suddenly, and he screamed again.

He knew, in his core, that if he fell down he would die, so he needed to go up. The problem was that he was drowning – a pool? Lake? No. Ocean, of course – but he couldn’t float cause he just couldn’t catch his breath and there was nothing there, nothing to focus on, nothing to grab in the ever expanding darkness that was surrounding him, pressing him down, forcing him to fight-


There was a little droplet of heat on his head, and then it disappeared. The ocean was mocking him-


There was that little droplet of heat on his head, and then it disappeared. JOHN DOE arched his neck, his back, trying to force open his screwed shut jaw to bite the heat, to take it into himself, to become


There was that little droplet of heat on his head again, and then it disappeared. JOHN DOE stopped, just for a moment.

Warm. There it was again. And there it went again. It was a pattern – of what, JOHN had no idea. For why? He did not know. But it was something, and as esoteric symbols flashed across his vision and the thing inside of him hurt again, and he screamed again, he waited. And the droplet of heat came again. And left. And came. And left.

It gave him something to focus on, and his mind – what was left of it, what disparate parts of it could muster together to form a sense of will, decided to make that pattern his whole world.

= = =

RN. Laverne Roberts really did not have anything additional to add to the conversation, or to what was going on. She was more pediatrics, but was trained when it came to general trauma, knew how to find a vein, how to intubate a patient, and how to choke someone out if the medication just wasn’t working fast enough.

…that last procedure wasn’t codified as standard practice by the United Terran Medical Association by any degree, but sometimes what works ain’t on the books. Yet.

But the point being, RN. Roberts was stuck at the head of the bed, between a Dorarizin nurse and a Jornissian Doctor who were busy restraining the patient with the rest of the team and working triage. Laverne had no access to anything, was not needed to support the neck of the thrashing Jornissian – according to her training, until the patient was properly restrained she’d be putting herself in harms’ way if she attempted to help – and so was doing nothing of any real importance.

So in times like this, when you’re an extra hand, bedside manner kicks in. If you’re not stabilizing the patient physically, it’s a good idea to stabilize the patient emotionally. Although you can’t do that with your words when the patient in question is currently in the active throes of psychosis, you can do so physically with just a gentle touch.

“There there, child. It’ll be alright…” So RN. Laverne Roberts reached out and gently rested her hand on the top of JOHN DOEs’ head, giving him a gentle pat. He thrashed, so she removed the offending limb, and then replaced it once he forgot. “Sssh, calm down now, calm down.” Another pat, another writhe – but this time, less so.

And so Laverne Roberts continued to pat the head of the Jornissian JOHN DOE, not realizing that the patient had stopped thrashing for the most part, eyes fixed straight up into the middle distance.

“[That’s… incredible.]” Dr. Solid murmured, and RN. Roberts looked up.

“What? Oh, sorry, do I need to-”

“[No, please, continue-]” Nurse Stringbean said, checking JOHN’s vitals. “It seems like it’s relaxing him enough to-”

MEDIBOT” MEDIBOT so helpfully said, and with a very loud squelching noise (and a murmured “this is for great-uncle Bowdenfrom Than mo) the human medical probe disappeared into the previously-relaxed Jornissian.

As one, the entire peanut gallery flinched, with a few of the more … adventurous volunteers forming pointed questions in their mind.

There was a few second pause, and then the thrashing – and headpatting – began again with vigor.

= = =

“[So, Dr. Silver, what is ah… Your mechanical assistant telling us?]” Dr. Solid said, a few minutes after the probe was inserted properly and with concerningly little resistance. The human doctor, with that same professional mask he would always wear while on the job, continued to scroll through his tablet as more data came in.

“Looks like he’s got BIG CHUNGUS in his system, if I’m being honest.” Dr. Silver murmured, reading the continuously-scrolling chart.

“[I’m… sorry. What.]”

“Bilateral Intercranial Gyroscopic Chiral Undulating Necrotic Gastrointestinal Staphylococcus, also known as BIG CHUNGUS. Had a rash of that go through the IO moon colony a couple decades back once NVID-IBMD released a quantum-threaded processor and all the script kiddies thought they knew better than the manufacturer. I think it’s been cleared for all species, but for humans we’d probably prescribe some Onomatopolamipam-”

“[Doctor, is my translator working?]” Nurse Stringbean said, shaking her head from side to side.

“Yeah, it should be – it’s the medicine that sounds the same coming out as it does going in.” RN. Wilson said, touching a few buttons on MEDIBOT’s front panel. “We can apply it either as oral medication or a rectal suppository-”

“[Oral. For the love of Sotek, Oral.]” Dr. Solid said, sighing. “[Is the diagnostic AI kicking back any sort of toxicity warnings for administering, what was it?]”


“[Negative, Doctor.]” A Karnakian nurse said, messing with a few controls at the foot of the bed, JOHN’s tail tip still thrashing impotently at anyone within range. “[The 470 has also apparently reduced inflammation, as his core temperature is now dropping steadily.]”

Dr. Silver smiled, slapping the rail on the bedside. “Great! So all we need to do is-”

“[I’m sorry to interrupt, but…]” The trauma team turned to the peanut gallery, noting that the group of volunteers had varying expressions of interest, confusion, concern, fear, disgust – and a slight sprinkling of animalistic lust. The volunteer in question, a young Karnakian male, raised his hand questioningly. “[I’m sorry, but are we going to have to do that?]”

Dr. Solid flattened his hood slightly, the equivalent of pursing his lips. “[Maybe. Depends on how many licenses you qualify for.]”

“[And… to be in the desk over there?]” The same Karnakian male said, pointing to the now slightly smiling Jornissian behind the welcome desk.

“[Well, no, but paperwork is-]”

“[Absolutely fine by me.]” The male said, and he was quickly joined by a chorus of a few other eager voices.