Mission 4: Letting the Hair Down
Statzia leaned her crutches against the wall of Sickbay. Ensign Lyras was scheduled to do the next round of scans, supposedly her last before they fitted her with new-and-improved prosthetic--something that the doctor seemed far more enthusiastic about than she did.
"Lieutenant," Lyras greeted formally as he gestured towards one of the beds, "if you please?"
Statzia nodded, slipping off her single shoe and her pants before hopping up on the biobed. "Ready to be turned into Frankenstein's monster, Doc."
"Into who?" the doctor queried as he pulled the privacy screen closed. "How have you been feeling ma'am? Have you experienced any discomfort since our last session?"
Statzia sighed, swinging her one and a half legs up onto the bed. "Besides the tingling in the phantom toes that aren't really there? They itch, and there's nothing there to scratch." She waved her arm in the empty space where the lower leg should have been.
"Besides that," the Vulcan acknowledged, "it is my understanding that phantom feelings may never cease, but that they will diminish over time."
Statzia shook her head, rubbing the bioneural ports on the two sides of her knee that would be the beginnings of the rebuild of her future leg. "Whatever you did last time when you took out the cybernetic inlays took the edge off of my desire to carve more of my leg off."
"That is because we removed damaged nerve endings," Lyras explained patiently, "those damaged nerves were.. misfiring signals, if you will... it should get better now, however if you still experience issues we may need to further examine your leg."
Statzia didn't answer. Her fingers were tracing along the cool metallic surface of the bioneural implants she had received during the previous surgery.
"Ma'am?" the Vulcan prompted, arching an eyebrow at her.
"Hmm?" Statzia looked up, her mind seeming to come back to present.
"Are you experiencing further issues?" Lyras queried, concern creasing his brow. "You seem distracted, why?"
Statzia blinked a few times, letting out a breath and shaking her head. Verbally, she still didn't answer.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Lyras asked, hopping up on the bed across from her, laying the open tricorder next to him, but facing the wrong way so it wasn't taking any scans.
Statzia let out another breath, seeming a little embarrassed about becoming so emotional. "This is going to happen, isn't it? My leg, I mean."
"You do not wish to be pain free and comfortable?" He asked curiously, "your new leg would help you to be more mobile too." Now he nodded towards the crutches. "You would not need those anymore."
"But I'm okay with those." Statzia swung her legs over the edge of the biobed. "I'm okay with never having the leg replaced. I--I don't know if I want it replaced."
"What are you afraid of?" Lyras leaned closer to study her, unable to understand why she wouldn't want to be whole and painfree again. "Where is the logic in not wanting a new limb to help your freedom of movement?"
Statzia's brow furrowed in a scowl. "I'm not afraid. I cut the leg off myself. But I left it behind on that planet, and I seem to be the only person in the whole damn universe that wants to leave it buried there!"
"But your actual leg is not coming back," Lyras explained patiently, "we are giving you a replacement, so you can function properly and not be reliant on crutches, which will hinder your performance as Starfleet officer."
"If you think I can't walk onto the Bridge right now and faithfully and effectively fulfill my duties, then discharge me from Starfleet right now," she snapped, folding her arms across her chest.
"I cannot do that ma'am. I am only here to ensure that you are fully functional. As you are now, you are not. You are incapable of performance during emergency operations or even an away mission. You are a hindrance instead of an assistance." It was harsh, but to him it felt like the truth.
Statzia scoffed. "I fought in hand-to-hand with the Borg when my transport to the Orion was taken down. When they beamed me aboard, I modified a laser scalpel and killed four Borg hopping around the ship on one leg and a single crutch! And now you want to modify my body like one of those...abominations." She spat out the last few words in anger.
"People have had replacement limbs and body parts even before we ever heard of these... Borg. In my time, we did not know of the Borg, yet we made people whole again by substituting what was missing with something that they could live with." He reached out to touch her arm. "Your leg will be nothing like these Borg. It will be as real as we can make it, as part of you, as your own leg was. It is quite possible, no-one will ever be able to tell it is bionic."
Statzia pulled her arm away. "I will know." She blinked, trying to hold back tears. "And it will never replace what I've lost, and everyone in the whole of Starfleet seems to be so keen to try to plug the holes and patch over everything like it never happened! Like everything I lost is as easy as slapping on a new leg and pretending like that will fix it all." By now, tears ran down her cheeks. "Because it's not the damn leg that I care about losing!"
Startled by her sudden burst of tears, Lyras was at a loss for words, at least for a few seconds. Then, in a very un-Vulcan fashion -as he had seen Humans do- he hopped over to sit next to her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "Then what is it?" He asked softly, " what are you afraid of?"
Initially, Statzia flinched at the comforting touch. "No amount of replacing body parts can replace the only person who ever made me whole."
"You lost someone you care about?" That he somewhat could relate to, having been only one of a handful who survived thanks to a transporter buffer. "Who did you lose?"
"Tallin, my--my partner." Statzia bit her lip to keep it from trembling. "He was my roommate on the Mercutio--nobody else was willing to bunk with a Ferengi...and with him, the world just made sense."
Just what was a Ferengi? Lyras mused as he listened. "Would he not want you to live?" he asked, "live and be happy? And as whole as medicine would have you be, physically? Would it not be logical to honour his memory, by being whole, physically? We must first heal the physical, before we can heal the psyche, but doing so may be the first step for you to accept what has happened, and give it all a place. I am certain the ship's counselor will be able to help too."
Statzia let out a breath. Gods, she hated talking to Counselors, with all the platitudes and proverbs and placated sympathies. At least Counselor Stepanova on the Merc had been on a mission-gone-sideways ten years before hers, and seemed understanding about the nightmares that continued to rip her dreams apart. "Look, I--" She wiped her hands across her face to clear the tears, then wiped her hands on her tank top. "I just want to get this all done. The less I have to think about all of this, the better."
"We are working as fast as we can," Lyras assured her, "but we do want to do this right. We do not wish for you to have any residual discomfort." He shifted, moving his arm away from her shoulder. "Think of this as a healing process, to give this all a place. In honour of your fallen friend?"
What came out of a Statzia's mouth was a mix of a laugh and a sarcastic huff. "Honor is for Klingons. But, Rule of Acquisition number 23: Nothing is more important than your health...except your money." She gave a gesture with her head for the Doctor to hop off the bed.
"I do not know what rules of acquisition are," Lyras answered as he hopped off the bed, "but the question is..are you feeling better?"
Really, she wasn't. If anything, she was embarrassed. "I'm fine, Doc. Just get the test done." Statzia took a deep breath and wiped her face.
"The test is done," Lyras told her, nodding towards the tricorder. "There was not much I needed." Though it had been facing away at first, somewhere during their conversation he had turned it back around and had taken all the readings he needed, while the bed she sat on had registered her presence and correlated the readings taken. "There is also no point in lying, I can tell when you are." Not quite the truth but given their conversation, and her body language, he knew she wasn't telling him the truth.
The sound that Statzia made might have been a chuckle, but it was hard to tell. "It's the kind of lie that Humans tell when they aren't really up to talking about our feelings anymore. Usually it just means that we would rather deal with our emotions over a few potent drinks and a long stare out a viewport into the endless abyss of space, or we'll go down to the gym and deal with our feelings by exhausting our bodies." She reached for her pants and shoe. "And before you offer suggestions, doc, all the procedures and surgeries I've been through, and whatever else is yet to come--none of it ever fixes the thing that hurts the most."
"I understand," Lyras conceded, "but even if it does not fix things, perhaps it will help start the healing process?"
Statzia laced up her singular shoe and reached for her crutches. "Whatever helps you sleep at night, doc." It was hard to tell if her intentions were truthful or sarcastic. She gave the Vulcan a nod, and she and her crutches made a somewhat hasty exit.
Lyras watched her go, a look on his face that could only be identified as concern.
Ensign Lyras, M.D.
Medical Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant JG Anastatzia Liski
Chief Operations Officer, USS Orion