They are Smol Doctors at Large – Chapter 17: I am not sorry about this pun you should have seen it coming

The training manual didn’t cover this.

The mind, alone and dark, mused as it was flooded with information; the manual and seminars were, at best, ways to prepare one for a catastrophe, but they really didn’t do the process justice. Granted, the… fusion, ah, that’s the word – the fusion of a pilot to his MEDIBOT should have occurred with a more healthy specimen – preferably not one slipping into a coma, but you made do with what you had. No, not specimen, person. Pilot.

If a brain had eyebrows, this one would be furrowing them. Every word it remembered was an affront to it’s intellect; these were simple words, words the mind had been using for decades. To forget so many –

Ah, the fusion process. ‘It’s like growing an extra limb in real time.’ Was how it was described to… Nick. Yes. The mind had a name again: Nick. Wires and disks would be immediately and surgically implanted into his spinal column along C1 and C2 – Atlas, Axis – for rerouting into pseudo-wetware interfaces. Again at C7/TH1 and TH12/L1. Right – he had a spine. He had a body!

With blind curiosity the mind, Nick, tried to move his body. It… the body he should have moved, did not move, though he could barely feel it; the body that he had never moved before twitched, lightly.

That would be a concern for another time. The mind continued to grope blindly in the dark, trying to figure out, well. Everything. There was some comfort in knowing, somewhere in it’s recesses, that it was trained for this, that other people had gone through this before, that this was technology made by hands like his own and not some unknowable other mind. Other things connected, somehow turned on.

No human alive remembers being born, but Nick felt like he had a good grasp on what it was like as his senses turned on. Spatial awareness – he felt like he was perpetually squatting, but his legs couldn’t rise. Annoying. Next, temperature awareness. It was exactly 73.86.23.25 degr- no, wait.

‘Go with one or the other.’ Nick thought to himself. ‘It’s 23.25 degrees Celsius. This would feel normal… this feels normal.’

Hearing, hearing was next, apparently. His first body – Nick frowned, mentally at the word choice he subconsciously used. His real body didn’t have any of the tickling sensation of sound against the eardrum; these sounds happened somewhere in his mind.

“[…ATE HIM DOCTOR DUSTER THIS THING JUST ATE HIM-]”

‘Well that’s something.’ Nick thought to himself as panic started to bombard his ‘hearing’, the sounds of the hospital and a general commotion occurring all around him. It felt weird, being able to hear omnidirectionally and perfectly, but his mind was somehow able to understand and parse the information. A Jornissian was there, a couple Karnakians were there and there… the bed was here and the Dorarizin was there. Within his mind Nick began to rebuild a mental map of the area immediately around him, the memory of the past few hours starting to seep back into his brain.

Sight was apparently next, and the only warning Nick got to that fact was a light itching behind his eyeballs before the world was bathed in light.

Nurse Stringbean ferally growled, tensing her body as she drilled into Nick’s face with an intense stare. “[DON’T YOU GLOW AT ME YOU TOOTHLESS METAL WHORE-]”

“[Nurse! Calm down, we don’t know what’s going on – Dr. Silver wouldn’t have just allowed this to happen-]”

“[Dr. Silver was DYING, Doctor!]” Stringbean yelled, waving an accusing paw at Dr. Nicholas Silver, who was very much not dying and in fact felt pretty OK all things considered. “[He couldn’t have given informed consent for treatment-]”

Although technically correct, the Madagascar Protocol was built as a final safeguard on the off chance human medical personnel were wiped out in a catastrophe. According to the manual, his body was basically already in cryostasis save for his brain, which was being pumped with chemicals, anti-coagulation agents and all sorts of other wonderful, exotic things to keep it going while the rest of the body lay dormant. For all intents and purposes he could continue his duties and save lives while the catastrophe was ongoing, and then seek proper medical treatment for himself once it was all over.

Triage, triage, triage. That’s all the human medical community was about, once it got the funding and technology…

 Nick sighed internally.

“AAAAAAAAA.”

“[SEE HE’S SCREAMING LET ME RIP HIM OPEN-]” Nurse Stringbean lunged forward, only for a feather’d arm to clothseline her in an instant.

“[Absolutely NOT, Nurse!]” Dr. Duster crowed, wrestling his colleague to the ground under Nick’s literally-glowing, unblinking stare.

“I AM SORRY THAT WAS A SIGH.” Dr. Silver boomed out from vocal chords not his own, the volume causing his ‘ears’ to ring. “HOLD PLEASE.”

Unbidden from Nick’s mind, gentle ez listening muzak started to play from his speakers as he started to move and consciously control his new body. The joints were stiff, his chest felt 5 times too large, and he was in a permanent “squat” but he could move, talk, see, hear, think and act. With a mental ‘blink’ the music suddenly stopped, and MEDIBOT’s head looked down at his colleagues who were tangled up in what would be a compromising position had there been a little less clothing and a little more lubricant gel. Honestly, they looked kinda hilarious there, and Nick wished he could take a mental picture-

Click.

“THAT’S GOING IN THE COLLECTION.” MEDIBOT/Nick said, surprising everyone with the fact that he apparently did have a camera function, as well as a direct uplink to the cloud.

“[Dr. Silver? Are you alright?]” Dr. Duster asked, blushing as she stepped up her sprawled position on Nurse Stringbean. “[We’ve uh, never seen anything like that.]”

“I AM – I am fine.” Nick thought at his colleagues, murmuring in his head to lower the volume. “It’s just incredibly odd to be… in here, to be fused with MEDIBOT. It’s… man and robot. I just wish I knew what the numbers meant.”

“[Do you need assistance?]” Nurse Stringbean said, crouching on her knees with her head just above the bed height. “[That… that didn’t look or sound healthy.]”

“It is an emergency procedure, yes. I should be operational – no, I should be ok, sorry – for the next few weeks, at most. Eventually I will shut down and go into full cryostasis, but until then I can still lend aid.”

“[No offense, Nicholas, but. What are you?]” Dr. Duster murmured, tentatively reaching out to caress his chassi-chest, her head tilting so her fixed rear eye could view him directly. “[You’re… you look so wrong. I’m sorry, just.]”

“It’s alright. I am…. I am.”

“[You are a robot?]”

“No, Stringbean, and yes. I am a Doctor. I am a Robot. And I am also still Nick. I am Doctor Robot-Nick.” Dr. RobotNick said, matter-of-factly. “And we must move at sonic speed to stop the chaotic spread of Dust within this hospital.”

Dr.RobotNick’s clamp hands began to rotate as he turned, scanning the room. “Let us clean this place up, go through decontamination, and then regroup with the rest of the team.”

= = = = = =

“{STOP FIGHTING.}”

“[VIVA LA REVOLUCION~]”

To be fair, Tipo was having one hell of a bad day. Hospital shifts, at best, were hectic. With a pandemic ripping through the population, it was a war zone. Now?

Ngruzren-of-Arzgr was holding down the fussy child by the chest, firmly-but-gently, as he attempted to slide on her booties. “{STOP. STOP FIGHTING.}” To be fair, wires had crossed in his mind before due to stress, and right now was no different. He just had no idea why his children were always the fussy ones; the other adults in the room seemed to be having no problems with their daughters, but his always seemed to just fight him every step of the way!

“[I am a grown woman, and I do not need your help-]” RN Laverne roared, impotently punching at the tree-trunk like arm that had her pressed against the ground of Loading Dock 5E. It was futile, she knew, but it was the principle of the thing that kept her going. Than mo and James were both being helped into their suits, and neither of them got to say no to it, but the other xenos in the room treated them with the dignity that they deserved. Tipo, of course, wasn’t going to have any of that when his pups were in danger, and so Laverne found herself manhandled into position as industrial-strength PPE was forced on her.

“{Stop kicking-}”

“[NEVER!]”

Tipo growled in frustration, bodily rolling over his pup and picking her up. “{Where’s your mother-}”

“[ON MOON.]” His child roared, little legs kicking against the air as Tipo tried to tucker her out. “[And would you PUT ME DOWN PLEASE?!]”

“[Ah, Ngruzren-of-Arzgr. Let me assist you.]” Rrr’ssrpprinsse, Head Nurse murmured softly as she took the fussy pup-not-pup from Tipo’s arms.

“[Don’t you start-]” Laverne growled, before she was placed back down on the ground.

“[Let’s just… play along, alright? At least you’ve already got the pants on.]” Rrr’ssrpprinsse said, trying to placate everyone all at once. “[Now, Ngruzren, why don’t you put the boots on the ground and let Tiny-chomper-sassy-slaps step in them herself, ok? She is old enough.]”

“[Old enough to throw these hands-]” RN. Laverne mumbled, hiking up the Michelin pants to stop them from falling down, tentatively lifting her right leg to slide her foot into the oversized boot. With a growl of ‘see if you’d have just listened to dad we would already be at the park by now’, Ngruzren-of-Arzgr kneeled down to clamp up the boot shut. The other leg and bootie soon followed suit, and although Laverne grumbled the entire time, within 5 minutes she had been suited, clamped, sealed and pressurized.

Ngruzren-of-Arzgr stood up with his hands on his hips to view his handywork, a smile spread across his features… before his brain un-crossed those wires and a look of utter horror dawned instead.

“[That’s what I thought.]” RN. Laverne’s suit speakers said, T-posing slightly as the padding around the arms hadn’t finished adjusting properly. It was incredibly hard to glower in a suit that made you look like an astronaut crossed with a soft-serve ice cream cone, but Laverne Roberts was doing her best.

“{I’m uh. Sorry.}” Ngruzren-of-Arzgr murmured, kneading his hands together.

The captive cloud formerly known as RN. Laverne bounced a couple times (in intimidation? Anger? Tipo didn’t know) before settling down. “[Well. What’s done is done.]”

“[Maybe.]” Rrr’ssrpprinsse said, murmuring. “[We need to figure out what to do now, because this is a loading dock and not necessarily a clean room of any sort. If Dust is as deadly as Than mo has stated, then I wouldn’t be surprised if this area would be compromised soon, if not already.]”

“[I heard my name!]” Rn. Than mo said, half-walking half-bouncing his way over to the assembling group. “[What’re we talking about now?]”

“[What to do next.]” Rrr’ssrpprinsse said, waving over the last human and his helpers. “[We need to figure out where to put you all until we can build a clean room and really scrub parts of the hospital down.]”

“[So I’d assume you start cleaning from living quarters out-]” James said, bouncing slightly in place. “[-and preferably not looking under my bed while doing so.]”

“[Yes, that’s probably the case.]” Rrr’ssrpprinsse nodded, coiling around to have a ‘seat’. “[However, doing so for everyone’s living spaces, plus connected hallways, environmental connections, food court and then recreational areas – that’s going to be many hours, if not a tiny-chomper day or so. We need somewhere to put you now.]”

“[Why? It’s not like we’re not safe in these things.]” Laverne said, the venom from earlier dissipating.

“[We’re potentially safe in these.]” Than mo corrected, frowning. “[And Rrr’ssrpprinsse is right – we could already be infected. We’re probably not, but, if we are then the suit we’re wearing becomes useless, and we have to be carved out of them and popsicled. Not to mention, a wild terror-beast kind of just stole one of our patients.]”

There were little “ah”s of realization, and mixed murmurs of affirmation. “[So wild animal attacks could be a thing – not to mention,]” Laverne continued, “[daily wear and tear. We really do need a place to inspect these things once we’re poured out of them, because a rip in these things could be a sudden death sentence – or, since we could be sharing suits, kill us all eventually.]”

JAmes sighed. “[Yeah, that’s a problem, and we can’t be babysat all day every day-]”

“{Wait.}”

The group turned to Tipo, who had a thought that… was a bit radical, and he hesitated.

“[Well?!]” Laverne crowed, her helmet wiggling as she gave the universal shrug of ‘go on’.

Ngruzren-of-Arzgr looked down at his feet, grinding his teeth slightly as the awkward thought finally bubbled forth. “{Our nurseries are hermetically sealed, aren’t they?}”

“[That’s… not a bad idea, actually.]” Head Nurse Rrr’ssrpprinsse said, thinking out loud. “[Not only are there blast doors that would most definitely withstand a terrorbeast’s tantrums, but each individual nursery is hermetically sealed with a very low-grade clean room hallway between the outside and inside – mainly to prevent escapees, but, it can pull temporary double-duty for a few hours I’d think.]”

The humans shared an inscrutable look between each other, before one piped up. “[I want to be angry at the multiple indignations laid at my feet.]” Laverne Wilson said in an uncharacteristic monotone. “[…but honestly, it makes sense.]”

= = = =

“[I mean… do you have a preference?]” T’ciki’briiki said, trying to keep her smile going. It was unorthodox, to say the least, to have so many non-family visitors at the Nursery wing, and they were treading on totally new ground when it came to …whatever this was.

“Nah, just fuck me right up fam.” Than mo said, wiggling his arms. “I fear not my mortality.”

“[Ominous!]” T’ciki’briiki grimaced, glancing between the humans and her colleagues. “[So just to be clear here, you want me to ask for a triple shift, all day every day.]”

“Eyup.”

“[And you each want to be left, alone, in a nursery room. In those suits.]”

“Mmhmm.”

“[And when my director asks me what’s going on, I’m just to divert those questions to Dr. Silver and Dr. Solid.]” T’ciki’briiki slowly worked through the mental maze, trying her best to make sure this wasn’t some incredibly elaborate prank.

“Gotdangol’cousinboomhauerdangwouldn’thavedonetoldya’llaboutthis-” James drawled, wiggling his arms in what the xenos had now assumed was the “fussy wiggle”.

“[Alright, alright, just… you have to understand, this is incredibly unorthodox. But, uh… go right on in, Than mo.]” T’ciki’briiki waved with her arm into the first wing. “[I’ll… give everyone else orientation, and then come back to check in on you.]”

“Sounds fine.” Than mo sighed, bouncing his way forward down the hallway. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

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