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So Much Tension...

Posted on Tue Jan 26th, 2021 @ 1:17pm by Karen Dawson MD & Niamh O'Donoghue
Edited on on Fri Jan 29th, 2021 @ 1:26am

Mission: Fortune & Glory
Location: Echo's Passenger Dorms
Timeline: Current

Ideally, tomfoolery was good for a small crew. More so after a disastrous caper such as the one that took Noah. Karen would prescribe light-hearted fun to anyone needing time to decompress.

...No matter how much she decompressed, Karen's thoughts were right back on her malpractice and how much she wanted to be away from Hera.

The infirmary had been her place of zen since she came aboard. Now? All she saw was Noah's young face and how they suffered. Noah must have waited close to an hour before she came. A shock so bad it was too dangerous to sedate him. How could anyone on this ship trust her now with their lives?

Karen was about to climb the ladder up to her room before she noticed footsteps. Instantly brought back to her last spat, she turned very heatedly.

"I told you to back off Ali-" Karen stopped, turned red, and immediately went into apologies. "I'm... I'm soo sorry Miss Niamh. Th-thought you were someone else."

Niamh smiled, "Niamh is fine," she said, "I hope you don't mind me coming after you, wanted to make sure everything was okay, as daft as that sounds all things considered," she attempted to joke lightly as she processed the outward signs of stress Karen was putting out. She'd had an eye on her for most of the day and likely would have reached out sooner had she not decided to keep James under lock and key for most of the day.

"I barely knew Noah," Karen confessed with no issue and no hesitation. "...My issues are more professional and personal, though I do wish I'd of known Them better. Afraid Noah's quirks and personality were never a draw for me to form a solid friendship with."

“That doesn’t matter, we don’t need to be close to someone to feel grief in their absence,” Niamh replied, “regardless of how close you were, you shared the Fortune, you ate meals together, he was part of what was normal on the ship,” she offered with a sympathetic smile, "If you don’t mind me inquiring, I wouldn’t mind talking with you about the professional and personal issues, it might help to share it with someone who used to abide by the very same oaths?” she suggested though her tone made it clear that Karen was free to reject her offer.

Truth be told, she imagined James would be the first to snap today. Given her freshness among the crew, she was still working on building a psychological profile of everyone she met, given the day she’d opted to join she had no information but that the Alden had shared with her. She trusted the kid but he tended to think the best of people, Niamh liked a good dose of ugly with the good.

Karen wished it were grief. Did she miss Noah? Yes. Mourn or grieve for them? Not really. She'd already done most of the grieving. No... what she felt were guilt and remorse.

"I was headed to my dorm room to get away from all the shenanigans goin' on in the dining hall," Karen admitted after a long, tense moment to discuss. "So long as nothing I tell you is spoken to Chloe, then yes. I suppose talking to another in the medical field may help some."

"Confidentiality is the most important tool of my trade," Niamh assured with a confident smile, "Want to lead the way? I imagine it would be private where you were headed" she suggested politely in an effort to express her respect for Karen's request for privacy. Plus, she figured the Doctor would be much more comfortable in a space that was her own.

"I learned early on," Karen began as she ascended the ladder up to her room - which used to be a storage area. "...that Alison eavesdrops. So I made this place my room to keep her and others from invading my privacy."

With the clangs made by touching the metal ladder and the vibrations that followed, it made a perfect alarm system against snoops.

In her right hand, she deftly carried her plate of danishes and the cold bottle of beer with her. And once she was at the sliding door, she used her head to push the door aside. Placed her food in the room, and crawled inside like she'd done this often.

"I've a single bean chair if you want to sit," Karen called before her, moved her food to her trundle bed, and then came back to the ladder to offer Niamh a hand.

After she’d climbed a few rungs Niamh happily accepted the outreached hand Karen was offering. Truth be told, this way enabled the older woman to enter Karen’s hideaway with much more dignity than had she have done it on her own. Age aside, the elderly woman hadn’t been living her most active life propped up at Kev’s sipping endless Shandy’s as she absorbed the woes of her clients. She made a mental note to start working on that.

Once she was in the space she made short work settling herself into the beanbag, “Thank you for letting me into your space,” she said sincerely before diving in, “you strike me as a lady who likes to get straight to the point, so shall we?” she asked, gesturing towards Karen with an open palm.

Karen nodded, sat her danishes on the nightstand, and pulled a bottle opener from her nightstand drawer to open her dark beer. After a few sips of the bitter beverage, she made a face. Like she was not all that into the taste, but the effects somehow counterbalanced it.

"I use to only drink alcohol at campaign fundraisers for my parents, back in The Core," Karen explained with a half-smile. "Hate the stuff... but I saw things durin' The War that, once in a blue moon, I find myself needing this stuff to help me not see those things in my dreams too often."

“Me too,” Niamh admitted easily, “It started with the loss of my family, but it was definitely amplified when I began volunteering my services in the field. There was just some things that couldn’t be unseen or unpackaged, even for a counselor who specialises in trauma,” the older woman shared with a warm smile despite her vulnerability, “People forget about us when they talk about the war. Why would it bother us as much as them? We were used to the blood and gore,” she shrugged, her eyes fixed on Karen.

“Was there a particular patient that proved to be too difficult to get over?” she asked curiously, “For me, it was Thomas Williams, a young private who’d stepped foot onto the battlefield expecting it to be a heroic venture. Two weeks later he was sat with me as we worked through the shellshock. I thought we were making good progress, he was smiling and eating and just living.” Her smile retreated slightly, “then one of the CO’s came and found me, he’d passed on, it was just too much,” her smile was sad, “Sometimes it’s just out of our hands.”

"Maggie Johnson. 19," Karen instantly answered when she thought back. "Alliance's Army Medical Corps landed on Serenity Valley few days after it was bombed... Place was a gorram wreck. The POW camp was under construction by the Army Engineer Corps."

Karen's eyes watered and her breathing became slightly shallow as she was forced to speak it aloud. "...She and the other Browncoat prisoners were rounded up under packed, holey tents surrounded by chicken wire and little shelter from the sun and rain. Maggie was no different from the other 2-day old burn victims I treated, except that she wanted to die, she was in so much pain...

"Alliance only wanted important Browncoat officials treated, at the time, for their sham war crime trials. So Maggie and about 400 others I was charged with, were in very bad shape. But she was ready to die, and she recognized it, despite being covered in 60-percent firebomb burns," Karen paused for another bitter, massive gulp of her drink. "...She was the first I euthanized on-request because my bosses would have rather seen them all die slowly and in a lot of pain."

Niamh was quiet for a moment, giving herself and Karen a beat to allow the confession time to settle. No matter the outcome, Karen was proof of something the therapist had acknowledged a long time ago. There was good and bad on both sides of the conflict. In truth, she'd met many a prisoner of war during her time assisting the browncoats and throughout that time she found most of the people she had met with had been painfully ordinary people who had found themselves wrapped up in a conflict they had no true passion for.

"What you did was a kindness," she finally replied, perhaps more firmly than she normally would, "it's true that your oath bound you to protect and preserve life, but it also asks of you to protect the dignity and humanity of your patients and that's just what you did," she added resolutely, "you prevented her from experiencing an inhumane amount of suffering and the fact you feel the way you do emphasizes that your decision came from a place of compassion. Your feelings are valid, yet I hope you acknowledge the humanity of the act you carried out, thank you" she finished earnestly, looking Karen square in the eyes.

"I was never really given time from the frontlines. Not a long vacation, at any rate," Karen sighed, took another sip of booze, and then set it down so she could lay on her bed. "In my old clinic, my associate knew the PTSD triggers. He knew to take fire-related burns and malnourished cases off me... But seeing Hera again just awakened so much anger and frustration. I was as helpless as I was the day the POWs became my patients."

"I could help you in the medbay if that would help?" Niamh asked after a moment's consideration, she had basic medic training from her time spent with the Browncoat's during the Unification Wars, "I ain't no expert, but I picked up enough to be of use to you if you need to step away and take a moment. I'm always here to talk if you need to. Scream at me if you must, I won't take it personally, I'm a big girl" she joked, trying to take some weight out of her suggestion. She didn't want Karen to suspect she was forcing herself upon her.

"I appreciate it," Karen conceded, but then countered, "there were others on the crew with similar training... Noah still died. Suppose I'll have to come to terms with the fact I can't be everywhere."

"Nobody can, what's important is that you're present where you can be, that's all anyone can ask of you," Niamh replied, "that's all anyone should ask of you."

"Not sure if I feel better or worse now," Karen admitted with a confused frown. "Basic psych rotations in medical school rarely scratch the surface for medical docs like me to grasp."

"Just feel. It can take a while to finish unpacking what you've just spoken about, it's normal to feel unsettled so soon after," Niamh explained calmly. "Allow yourself the time to process. When you're done, if you think this helped I'd be happy to help" she offered.

"I think... for the moment," Karen pondered, "maybe I'll self-medicate this bottle tonight to help me get to sleep. Not ideal, but better than sleeping medication and the dependency that comes with them."

"Maybe don't be making a habit of it, ey?" Niamh said before gently slapping her hands on her thighs before making it to her feet, "I'll leave you be, thank you for sharing your story with me, I appreciate it," she said earnestly. Every experience shared with her offered a new perspective that helped her help others. She also greatly respected how difficult it was to share traumatic experiences. Despite her profession, it was something she struggled greatly with.

"I'll come to you, should it not pass in the few days or so," Karen promised, then sprawled out on her bed to relax - or at least try to.

"Okay then," Niamh said before beginning to descend the ladder. With only her head remained she paused, "Thank you for talking to me, Doctor. I'm glad I could help" she flashed a smile before she finished her descent and headed for her own quarters. Glad to have felt useful for the night.


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