Chapter 52

Doctors and Nurses

Juliet opened her eyes to the sight of bed legs and broken glass and the sounds of people scrambling to their feet. 'Alright folks, looks like we're going to get some wounded down here real soon. Let's get this place cleaned up.' The Doc's voice was confident, upbeat. She peered up to see his gray haired silhouette moving through her line of vision, still half obscured by the corner of the bed from where she lay on the floor. She took in the scene from this new angle; legs moving quickly, heads and hair coming into view as nurses bent to pick piles of bandages and blankets off of the floor. She noticed with surprise that her bed had been screwed down - a tough looking metal plate attaching it firmly in place. That would make sense if they were on a ship, she guessed.

She heard herself groan as she tried to move, her body aching and bruised. James Ford had fallen onto her. Again. She could already feel the sting of bruises all down her left side and the aching intensifying in her head. She must have banged her head again.

She pushed herself up so that she was sitting with her back against the cabinet. She didn't trust herself to stand up quite yet.

She glanced over to find Sawyer sitting a little way away from her, examining a cut on his arm. It didn't look deep but it was bleeding; she could see the red streaks running down his arm. He frowned as he pulled out a small shard of glass, wincing as he tossed it back onto the floor next to him, then he grabbed a fallen bandage pad from the floor next to him and held it onto the cut.

'You OK?' she asked him quietly.

He grunted.

She sighed and turned her attention back to the rest of the room. The place was nearly destroyed. There were trolleys lying tipped on their sides, blankets and bandages strewn all over the floor, broken glass everywhere. She could see the quick movements of the nurses as they tried to clear it all up. 'You still think all this is fake?' she asked him incredulously.

He hesitated, glaring at her like it was her fault or something, or as if she was teasing him somehow. 'You got any better ideas?' He was giving her that look again - the one that said he knew that she knew what the hell was going on. But she didn't. She really didn't. She probably had less of an idea than he had. She'd always been so stupidly naive. The fact that she'd even ended up on the Island in the first place was testament to that. She didn't answer him, but looked away, keeping her gaze steadily fixed on the movement in front of them.

It didn't take long for the nursing staff to finish clearing up the mess. It all happened surprisingly quickly; in only a few minutes the floor was clear, the bandages neatly stacked and the trolleys upright. She supposed it was designed to do that – ships rolled around in the sea and made everything fall over. Maybe they were just used to putting it all back together again. She pushed herself roughly to her feet, hissing in pain as she straightened up. The left side of her body felt stiff and stretched, making it hard to breath.

'You OK?' Sawyer asked gruffly.

She rubbed the back of her head with her hand. She could feel another lump right next to the first one. 'You fell on me again.' she said pointedly.

'You hurt?'

She searched his face. His concern looked genuine enough. 'No. I'm fine.'

He was frowning at her like he didn't believe her. Maybe he assumed that everything that came out of her mouth was automatically a lie. She felt another ripple of fear. She hadn't forgotten who he was and the fact that wherever or whatever this place was, it probably wasn't good. Sawyer was still dabbing the cut on his upper arm, checking that the bleeding had stopped before putting the bandage pad on the bedside cabinet. There was a fair amount of blood, but the wound looked clean. It was more a scrape than a deep wound. She turned her eyes away from his arm and up to his face. She could see he wasn't happy, his eyes were flitting around the room and he was chewing on his lip, thinking hard.

'Do you think the ship is being attacked?' she asked tentatively. She remembered the plane that had sunk the submarine, the sight and smell of it being blasted into nothing. She shuddered. She didn't know how big this ship was, but she hoped it was huge.

'If we're even on a ship.' He said cryptically. That caught her attention. He still thought this was one of the Dharma Stations?

'You think we're still on the Island?' she asked incredulously.

'Maybe.' He gritted his teeth hard. She could see his jaw muscles working.

She didn't see how that would fit. For a start, the beds were screwed to the floor, and those pilots had said that Galactica was a ship, so… she froze as a sudden hissing filled the space around them, like the brakes being let off a bus. There were several loud clunks and the room jolted again, the lights flickered before everything went still.

'Oh frak,' she heard the Doc cursing under his breath. She squinted up to see him frowning in the half light. 'We're on lockdown.' he muttered more loudly. His words were met by silence. 'Let's hope to frak they can sort this one out.' She felt a ripple of fear move through everyone in the room.

'Lockdown? Sonofabitch.' Sawyer's growl pulled her attention to where his face was set in panic. 'That means we're trapped?' He strode toward the hatch door, pulling on it roughly as he tried to make it open. He stayed firmly shut. She stood up straighter, holding onto the table to watch as he rattled the door angrily. 'So we're locked in now. Prisoners.' He swung around to face the Doc, his back to the door.

The Doctor stood facing him. He was looking uncomfortable. 'Not prisoners, the way this is looking we'll be the survivors.' There was a sob from somewhere across the room. One of the nurses was crying, her hands over her mouth and tears welling in her eyes.

The Doc opened his mouth to say something else and then hesitated, bending over to straighten a chair that had toppled onto the floor. 'Look, we're cut off from the rest of the ship and that means that Galactica is in big trouble.' He paused, and straightened reading Sawyer's expression, flicking his glance over to where she was standing by the bed. 'Sickbay's a disaster station – if Galactica goes down all this turns into an escape pod. We've just been isolated from the rest of the ship, so either someone from CIC thinks there's a risk of the ship going down or one of the automated systems just kicked in. Right now, you're in the safest place on this ship.' He turned away, raising his voice to the rest of the room. 'Alright, let's not panic folks. It ain't over yet.'

Sawyer shook his head, stalking menacingly towards the Doctor. Juliet held her breath. Sawyer was going to get himself killed. But then that had been his style. Rattling things around when he didn't understand them. She'd seen him do it when they'd captured him, getting himself nearly killed to probe their weaknesses. It was brave but stupid.

'Hey. No. Uh uh. You ain't doin' this.' Sawyer was shaking his head.

'Excuse me?' The Doc held his ground, steadfastly meeting Sawyer's threatening stare.

'Why don't you just tell me about the gravity mix on Picon, huh? Or let's hear some more about the planet Picon?'

The Doc turned back to him. 'Look, I know it's been a shock, but you need to stay calm, OK.'

'Alright,' he was shouting at the walls now, tossing his hair to one side. 'This is funny and all, but why don't we drop the act? This is getting old.'

His words were met by stunned silence. The nursing staff were standing stock still, watching him. None of them moved. The one on the other side of the room was still crying quietly.

'And what was the other planet, oh yes, Sagittaron. What's the gravity mix like on there?' Sawyer was flinging his arms around now, his hair flicking across his face, leaning forward in exasperation.

The Doctor sighed dramatically. 'Look son, I don't like it any more than you, but you're going to have to calm down because this isn't helping any.'

Sawyer opened his mouth to say something more when there was another loud clunk from the door. The room jolted again, harder this time, Juliet had to hold onto the bed to keep her balance.

Sawyer shook his head and went over to the hatch door, spinning the wheel and pulling the door open quickly. He almost fell backwards as he was immediately hit by a wall of sound. Screaming, shouting, yelling. He took a quick step back, his expression one of horror, frozen to the spot. And then she smelled it, smoke, the smell of burning. Sawyer was already being pushed aside as a stretcher was carried quickly into the room. She could barely make out that it was a man, the right side of his face burnt black. She stifled a cry, her hand flying to her mouth. She watched as the Doc strode towards the stretcher, then turned quickly towards the sinks in the far corner. 'Get him on the table,' he threw the words over his shoulder, already getting gowned up and scrubbing his hands quickly. She stood frozen as more wounded were brought in, the nursing staff quickly assigning beds. Ishay was directing where to put them. Most had been burned, but she saw huge gashes and red, bleeding wounds on many of them.

There didn't seem to be any end to the wounded. It was like watching some huge disaster unfolding in front of her. She stared at the door, at the edge of the corridor behind it, at the queue of wounded still there, coughing and groaning and bleeding. She doused her rising panic. She caught Sawyer's shocked face as he stood staring at the sight before him. He looked up and met her eyes briefly before turning back to take in what was happening in the rest of the room. It was all happening so fast. From silence to the screaming, stillness to frenetic, desperate action. Juliet held onto the bed beside her, gripping the covers tight.

'I'm sorry, but you need to go-' Ishay was standing in front of her, looking pointedly at the bed. Juliet pulled her hand away quickly and nodded, automatically searching to find Sawyer again. This time he'd gone. There was no sign of him. She stood back as Ishay helped heave another broken body onto the bed. She could see blood seeping from a large gash on the girl's arms, and more blood oozing from somewhere in her chest. Her face was tinged red, scalded but not so badly burned. Juliet swallowed hard, looking over to where the Doctor was still bent over the first body. She quickly scanned the room. She couldn't see any more doctors. Ishay was busy trying to calm the girl, looking anxiously over to where the Doctor was still busy trying to save his first patient. She heard Ishay swear quietly. Juliet could see what she was thinking. This girl was going to bleed out.

'She needs help now.' Juliet said firmly. 'I'm a doctor,' she added, meeting Ishay's surprised stare as steadily as she could.

This had already been her worst nightmare, but now... She held her breath and tried not to scream in fear.

Ishay looked curiously at her and then gestured for her to follow, standing at the Doc's shoulder as he bent over the body in front of him. Ishay caught his eye and he turned with a look of surprise. 'She says she's a doctor.' Ishay nodded over at Juliet.

She stepped forward nervously. 'Well, I'm a fertility specialist, mainly research, but-'

'You done your ER rotations?' he cut her off.

'Yes. It was a while ago, but-'

'Fine,' the Doc grunted, 'Get gowned up, go pick a patient and fix 'em.'

She took a deep breath and nodded, moving numbly to the sinks at the side of the room. She scrubbed up, got the gown and mask on and within two minutes was standing over the young woman again. She can't have been more than twenty. She looked so young. Juliet tamped down the fear. She hated surgery. She'd hated her ER rotations. It was what had pushed her into Obs and Gyne. She tried to stop her hands from shaking.

The girl died. Quickly and suddenly. Her heart stopped and that was that. Juliet sucked in a breath and stood back, shocked. She stumbled back to the sink, washing the blood off her hands, scanning her memory of the operation. She'd missed something. Too much blood and she hadn't sealed the wounds in time. She took three steadying breaths before turning back to face the room. Ishay was there with another patient. More burns. Male. Too young. Not much more than a boy.

She tried to hold herself together as she went through the queue of bleeding, groaning, charred figures, their bodies still full of smoke and choking fumes. Her whole world was completely filled up with hospital gowns and bleeding, dying young people. And yes, they were dying. Really dying. Whatever made Sawyer suggest that this was an illusion? She only wished it was.

As soon as one bleeding, burning body was stabilized or died in front of her, she moved across to another, slowly working her way around the room as all the beds filled up with bleeding, moaning, unconscious, dying people. And it was a lottery whether they survived or not. She felt sorry for the ones that ended up under her care. But there was nothing she could do but try and steady herself and keep going, keep watching them live or die, do her best to save them, feeling her skills stretched beyond the edges of her inadequacy.

'Give him some pain relief!' The Doc was yelling, cursing, struggling as the body under him went into spasmic convulsions. Ishay's face was pinched, concentrating on the body in front of them. Juliet tore her eyes from the drama on the other operating table. She just wished she knew what the hell she was doing. She wasn't a surgeon and some of these wounds were… well, she wasn't a surgeon.

She took a deep breath before she concentrated again on the girl in front of her. The beds were all filled now and she'd started making her way down the queue that was still filling the corridor. Thank god this one wasn't going to die. The head wound was deep, bleeding profusely, but she knew that providing she stitched it up the girl would live. She could save her. This one wasn't going to die. She shut her eyes for a moment to steady herself. The migraine was still floating around at the edges of her mind, threatening to come back forcefully. She hadn't eaten or drunk anything since that water in the rest room hours ago. And there were so many of them. So many. At least the burns cases had stopped. Three of those had died, their burns so bad that she'd almost been relieved when their vital signs had faded to nothing. Almost. In a numbed, horrified way. And now it was only those who had been injured in the blast. Cuts, bruises, minor injuries.

'Attention all hands, hyper light jump in…..ten, nine...'

'Oh great.' She recognized the Doc's voice from the room behind her. 'That's all we need.'

Juliet looked over in surprise. Was this another attack? She finished tying off the last stich in the girl's head, pulling out a bandage ready to wrap around the wound.

'...two, one…'

She squeezed her eyes shut.

'Jumping.'

Juliet's guts did a flip as her whole body turned itself inside out. Then she staggered and blinked, opening her eyes to try and steady herself. She gave a cry of surprise as she scanned the space in front of her. She wasn't in the corridor anymore, and the girl in front of her had gone. She blinked again, looking around anxiously.

'What the?-' Sawyer was standing next to her. She hadn't seen him since that first patient, the girl, the first one who died. She squeezed her eyes tighter shut as a wave of dizziness hit her. She felt him grab her arm as she swayed towards him, staring up in surprise when her body bumped against his. She winced as the bruises down her side flared to life and met his gaze with a glare. His eyes were locked on her theater gown, taking note of the mask around her neck, then back where the front of her gown was spattered with blood. He frowned before he spun his eyes away from her, staring intently at something over his left shoulder. She turned to look: a bath tub, a woman inside it, black tubes snaking out of the water.

Where the hell were they? The panic began to rise to her throat.

'You see that too?' Sawyer was hissing at her insistently.

She stared at the woman in the water, her hair covered by a black swimming hat. She was speaking.

'Adjust temperature by 0.1 of a degree. Pressure on hull decreasing by 3.2 microns. Adjusting decompression units to compensate.

Progress reports arriving.

The farms of Aerolon are burning.

The beaches of Canceron are burning.

The plains of Leonis are burning.

The jungles of Scorpia are burning.

The pastures of Tauron are burning.

The harbors of Picon are burning.

The cities of Caprica are burning.

The oceans of Aquaria are burning.

The courthouses of Libran are burning.

The forests of Virgon are burning.

The Colonies of Man lie trampled at our feet.'

She stared, mesmerized by what the woman was saying. Sawyer hadn't moved.

'The flower will open, its petals wide to the sun.

Where will the children run to hide?

Find it. Find it. End of line.'

A flash of color out of the corner of her eye made her turn quickly, her eyes opening wide in horror. Across the room, standing completely still, was a tall blond woman. She was dressed in some sort of evening wear, showing off her curves in a tight, black, slinky dress. The woman was staring with an expression of shocked surprise, her eyes flicked to Sawyer and then to Juliet, pausing as she took in the blood spattered clothing. Their eyes locked and the woman inclined her head slightly, as if she was figuring something out. Then she made a small gesture, a flick of her left wrist, her eyes still trained on hers. Juliet's eyes were held, but then she saw movement behind the woman's shoulder and watched in horror as a huge metal thing emerged from the shadows. It walked like some parody of a human being, clunking loudly with each step, gleaming silver. It was a huge silver monster, at least seven feet tall, with arms and legs. She couldn't take her eyes off it. Its movements alone were terrifying. It clanked as it walked, but it moved with a frightening grace, like an athlete. She was sure it could run. It came to stand beside the blond woman. The woman stood there, her shoulder nearly touching it, completely unafraid. It stood a little way behind her. Like it was her pet or something. Juliet could almost sense it waiting for her orders.

Silence. Then a movement from the woman in the tub and a shout.

'JUMP!'