Mira wandered through the MedLab again. A flash of white gauze peeked out from under a bed. She picked it up. It was a small doll created by tying knots into a spare square of gauze. Smiling, the CMO tucked it into her pocket and continued her rounds. She was not inspecting the MedLab or its patients so much as she was inspecting her staff. She had already sent two nurses to bed. The others were still confused by the odd events. She wandered past the isochamber and realized that Lynne was still in there with the Abbai girl.
Frowning, Mira called out, “Daniel? What shift does Lynne work?”
A nearby nurse looked over to his CMO and then to the isochamber and back.
“She works a swing shift between first and second.” Daniel replied from the Nurses’ Station. He opened his mouth to say something more and then snapped it shut when he saw her frown intensify.
“Do you speak Abbai?”
“No, but Makkier does.”
“Good. Go find Makkier for me. He’ll be staying with Reeakiss for a while.” Mira pressed her link. “Lynne, please step out here.”
Lynne’s head came up. She looked over to Mira and nodded. A few seconds later she was standing outside the isolab with Daniel and Makkier coming up behind her. She looked tired, but cheerful.
Mira smiled. “You seem a bit tired, Lynne. Isn’t this your second shift of the day? Why don’t you declare it an evening and go to bed? Makkier,” Mira nodded to the Minbari, “will take over this watch.”
Lynne blinked. “I’m not all that tired–”
“Yes, you are. Don’t look at the mouth of a presented horse, as you humans say. Now, go on. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Lynne knew when she was dismissed. She nodded and wandered slowly out. A few of the nurses (all of whom had been shamelessly eavesdropping) exchanged glances. One whispered, “I’ve never heard any human say that.” The others in earshot giggled.
Yoshino had been hovering in the background for the last half of this conversation. Despite her fatigue and somber mood, she found it somewhat difficult not to giggle too.
Mira turned around to watch Lynne leave and noticed Yoshino. “Ah! Yoshino. Are you well?”
The Ops officer managed a smile. “A little tired, perhaps, but then it is late. I trust I am not troubling you by being here.”
“No, not at all. What can I do for you?”
“I have some information I need to show you, if we can use your office’s terminal?”
“Of course!” Mira looked around at the nurses, who quickly scattered under her gaze. “That probably would be best,” she said with a rueful smile, leading the way.
Yoshino lost no time, dropping into Mira’s chair and quickly calling up a copy of the report she had produced on Doctor Brannon’s schedule — and Darquin’s. “I found this information by going through the Medlab duty logs and reports, as well as those from Security. Chief Darquin has already seen it, but I thought you should as well.” She rose from the chair and moved to another on the opposite side of Mira’s desk, a ghost clad in deep-forest browns.
Mira read. The words on the screen were simple and straightforward, spelling out a problem that was far from either. Closing her eyes, Mira let her head drop against the back of the chair. It only confirmed what she had already guessed about Carter and Brannon — though it made painfully clear that the problem had metastasized far beyond the walls of Medlab.
Yoshino’s voice made her eyes snap open again. “I’m sorry, Doctor,” the other woman was saying. “I should have seen this myself, some time ago.”
Mira’s eyes opened a little wider. “Why you?”
“As Ops, I’m responsible for all the systems which control the Phoenix. That includes her crew.”
Mira’s doubts began to fire salvos at her confidence. After several moments, the Centauri shrugged. “I’m not convinced that leaves you to blame any more than me. After all, I think there’s more than enough blame to go around — if we wanted to waste our time with it, that is. I just wish I knew what to do about this.”
“If there is any way I or my people can assist you –” Yoshino’s voice was abruptly cut off from the sounds of a commotion outside.
“Now what?” Mira cried, leaping to her feet and rushing out the door. Yoshino followed quietly.
Outside, one of the nurses — Daanike, who Mira suddenly remembered had a set of medical board exam results waiting to be read — was blocking the path of the Head Nurse into the room.
“You are not supposed to be here now, Mr. Carter,” the Minbari was saying to the human who loomed over her. “And no matter what you say, I won’t let you stay.”
“Daanike,” Carter began to growl. His intended words and tone changed instantly when he saw Mira bearing down on him, “I only need to grab a book from my drawer. I didn’t feel like reading anything I had with me.” He turned a wry smile to Mira. “Gosh, Doc, you aren’t going to be up too much longer, are you? It’s getting late.”
“Actually, Carter, I was just going to ask the same thing of you.” Mira’s lips were pressed into a thin line.
Carter decided to beat a hasty retreat. “Yeah, well, I couldn’t sleep. So, I thought to run in here for a book I’m reading.”
“Well, by all means come into the office to fetch it.” Mira gestured invitingly and led the way to the office. Carter and the other nurses kept small items in the cabinet with the scrubs at the back of the office. As she passed Yoshino, Mira nodded at the Ops Officer to follow. A few moments later, the three of them were in the office with the door closed.
Carter went to the cabinet and got his book out of the bottom drawer. As he turned around, he realized that he was standing behind Mira’s desk with a clear view of the report that Yoshino had written. His own name caught his eye. Mira leaned against the closed door and waited until he looked up.
She caught his gaze easily. “I would like to know if perhaps this was all a mistake.”
Carter darted a look at Yoshino. “I’m not sure what you mean, Doc. Do you think maybe Ops has misconstrued the information?”
Yoshino met his look with an icy stare from her snow-white eyes. “It is always possible for people to make mistakes, Mr. Carter,” she said. “So I will choose not to take what you’ve just said as an insult. However, I would also add that it is difficult to misconstrue the fact that you materially altered Doctor Brannon’s work assignments, without her knowledge, or Doctor Trassano’s.
“I personally find it difficult to misconstrue all the reports of discontent coming out of this Medlab. The staff is on the verge of self-destructing, and anyone who will talk about it says that you’re behind it, sir. They can’t all be mistaken.”
She turned to Mira. “Doctor Trassano. I think it’s best that I leave now. If you wish to see the source material from which I created this report, I can facilitate that. I will be in my quarters, but please call on me any time you wish.” She offered a deep bow to the doctor, a barely visible one to Carter, and quickly left the room.
Mira watched Yoshino leave MedLab through the office window before she opaqued it. She knew that the rest of the staff were going to try as hard as possible to accidentally overhear something. This is going to be all over the ship tomorrow, she thought. I’d best be careful how I say this. I wish Yoshino had stayed. She would have pulled me off his unconscious body before I completed disemboweling him. Then, she turned an icy glare to Carter. “So, can I safely assume that you have an explanation for your actions?”
Carter put his book down on the desk. “Of course. I was helping Doctor Brannon back into the swing of work. She seemed to be wallowing in self-pity. I thought that giving her something else to think about would stop her from doing that.”
“You gave her assignments with my name.” Mira’s eyes were deceptively cool, like boiling mud.
“I didn’t want to bother you. You’re a very busy person.” Carter began to wonder if he was losing control of the situation.
“I don’t appreciate having my authorization forged. No matter how busy I seem to be, it is my job to delegate duties to my doctors. Your job was to delegate duties to the nurses. I suddenly find myself wondering how capable you are of doing even that.”
Carter straightened suddenly, as if someone had expanded a fighting pike under his skin. “I am more than capable of doing my job. I’m the best damn Head Nurse you’ll ever have and you know it. In fa—”
“I know nothing of the sort.” Mira snapped, suddenly moving from the door to stand toe to toe with him in less than a heartbeat. Her head craned back to stare him in the eye, but her tone was one used on naughty children. “I suggest you take your book and go rest for a while. You might even want to rest until we return from this mission. While you are resting, I will have one of the other nurses take over your duties. I’m certain you could well use the time to meditate on your career choice. Or, at least, your methods of staff motivation.”
The CMO spun on her heel and snapped, “Door open.” She planted herself in her chair and cocked a cool eyebrow at Carter. “I’ll call you when you’re needed. Enjoy your time off.”
Carter blinked and closed his mouth. Somewhere along the way, he had seriously misjudged the diminutive woman. He had lost control of the situation and that made him storm out of the MedLab.
The other nurses on duty looked at one another with stunned expressions after the main doors closed. The office doors slid shut as well hiding Mira from view. Everyone suddenly remembered important things that they needed to do in clumps.
Copyright (c) Mona Hinds and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.