2020-02-25 - Mid-flight Checkup


Dr. Kelsey checks on her recalcitrant patient as they return to Germany.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Feb 25 00:00:00 2020
Location: Chartered Plane — Airspace Over Eastern Europe

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Theme Song



Ava lays back in her bed resting but not fully unconscious in the small room she's been granted. The TV in the opposite wall is still off and the water bottle at her side - courtesy of Tamara - is by now almost empty. Tucked back under her blanket with her armor and pressure suit standing like a statue nearby, the white-haired woman looks less intimidating than usual - and to almost all appearances fully human except for the glimpse of a metal shoulder that peeks out the top of her sheets. An attention to detail has allowed the bedding to contour in a natural fashion across both halves of her body - the original and the replacements.

Seeing Tamara return to the main cabin, with over an hour of flight yet ahead of them, Veronica does eventually unlock and unstrap herself and roll back to the back of the plane to the room set aside for Ava. She checks each of the other occupied rooms along the way, checking on Ava's men, certain she will ask after them if she is conscious when Roni rolls in. Which she eventually does, quietly. Her intent, at least to start, is just to check the very subtle readouts on Ava's vitals. But she also just wants to see her. See her privately, without others around. Just so that she can be alone with her profound guilt and self-loathing.

As quietly as she comes in the doctor's entrance isn't immediately noticed, and as Roni's already observed the bed faces left - she's approaching from the cyborg's blind side. A tensing of the eyes and breaths out her mouth betray that Ava isn't fully relaxed but her attention at the moment is elsewhere. Turned internally, her thoughts are making up for what the TV doesn't provide.

Realizing, after a bit, that Ava isn't asleep Roni rolls further into the room and turns her chair so that she is now parallel to the bed on that left side, then rolls around towards the foot. She makes a point of precisely rolling around the foot and up the right side of the bed, so that she can be facing Ava. Then she squares her shoulders - more mentally than physically - and lifts her gaze to meet the one live eye of her friend. The one she let down. The one she failed. "I am sorry, Ava. I really let you down."

The cyborg starts and looks around at the sound, first craning her neck towards the door, then panning the room until she lands upon the brunette doctor. Her brow lifts in surprise. "Oh! That's a quiet wheelchair you've got. Say again? I caught half of that," she asks with a surprisingly normal frankness.

"I said, I am sorry, Ava. I really let you down." Veronica offers a bit more loudly, with more definition and force. Then she lowers her gaze away from Ava's eyes, done with her confession for now. It visibly pains her; the weight of her guilt is palpable, even for the dismissive Ava.

The white-haired chief of security furrows her brow at the apology but not in anger. Confusion reigns in her verdant eye. Both find Roni's face but only one truly focuses in on her. "And how is that?"

"I wasn't smart enough, or thorough enough. I built your tech, and it wasn't ready for what we faced. It was fried by that EMP, and that could well have killed you." Veronica answers. She doesn't mince words, and it's pretty harsh. "And that's my fault. No one else's."

It takes Ava a few moments to process the doctor's words, whether from hearing or a clouded mind is difficult to tell. Turning onto one side, she leans onto her elbow and drags her body backwards up the bed until she can rest sitting slightly up and look towards rather than down at Roni. The simple movement takes conscious effort and the cyborg is still breathing a little heavy - but without any signs of being short of breath. The symptom may be mental as much as physical.

"Well good for you, that belongs in the after action review," she dismisses casually, as if all she'd just learned was how many spare blankets the plane had in inventory. Ava looks down at herself for a moment and then back to Roni with her normal calm gaze asserting itself in one of her two eyes. "I can't feel the left half of my body, so as far as I can tell all I had was a stroke."

Roni was pale. Now she's quite literall bone white and looking positively faint. "Oh God, I hope not." Terrified, she immediately starts checking the vitals. "Can you really not feel anything on your left side?" She starts tapping along Ava's ribs and tummy, where her nerve endings should have been unaffected by the failure of the cybernetic systems.

The corner of Ava's mouth twitches imperceptibly as she bows her head. As much as she can begin taking them, the cyborg's vitals are steady if a little elevated for laying on a bed - her muscles twitch instinctively under the doctor's skillful touch. "I'm joking," she replies quickly and firmly. "Relax already - deep breath, doc."

Ava confesses, and Roni looks up, grimacing, and swats the buff woman on the stomach. "Damnit, Ava! This isn't funny!" She shakes her head and puts her hands back in her lap again. She's done poking and prodding for now.

"Oof!" the cyborg vents at the reprisal before leaning her head back with a deep sigh. "That would have been if you hadn't over-reacted. 'Sides if you can walk a stroke'd barely slow me down."

Her eye turns to focus on Roni again as she continues more slowly, admitting to her fatigue. "Tamara said no other casualties and objective achieved - we got our super-bird?"

Veronica frowns at the cyborg and shakes her head. "I was not - am not - overreacting, Ava. At the very moment you most needed your cyberware to obey you, so that you could help your men and save lives, they failed you. Because of me." Still, she does not belabor the point beyond. "She is correct. No permanent injuries, save for you. And hopefully we can fix those. Henry is already helping me to plan possibilities to improve the interfaces and avoid this in the future. And yes, we got the Bearcat. Or rather Nadia did. Shrunk it down to a bracelet charm, in fact." Which Roni finds amusing and amazing both.

Ava's eye admits relief at having her thoughts confirmed. "Good. The rest we can save for the AAR. We both ed up and I lead a shit sandwich off our bird. SOP is not surviving this one…" the chief of security reveals as she lets her eyes rest.

"This wasn't your fault, Ava. It was mine." Simple enough. Roni isn't taking any argument. "All I can promise is that we'll be doing everything we can to make it better, next time. And, hopefully, without having to replace the units themselves, except to repair anything burnt out." Ava would hate having to go into serious retraining.

Hate perhaps, but the soldier's cavalier attitude towards her own body may be rearing its head again since her earlier rehab. Ava huffs the start of a laugh then nods. "That's the way to think. Wallow on your own time but we've both got a job to do." Her eye reopens again to seek out her doctor. "So what's our ETA?"

"A bit over an hour to our landing in Germany." Roni answers. "From there, we'll finish the work on the Bearcat, and use some of that tech to take a scan of your hardware, check for any faults created. Then we can plan for their repairs and part replacements more thoroughly. But all of that will be back in the Wellspring, and that's likely to be another twelve to fourteen hours, with the layover and work in Germany."

"Fifteen hours from now," Ava deduces. "I hope there's an in-flight meal service."

Veronica smirks. "I'm pretty sure we can provide some food. Maybe even some company while you eat, given that I doubt Tamara will be much use in the tech fabrication stages." Hey, even Roni can tell the two of them are close, and she's being supportive.

"Speaking of that, why did you leave my parts on?" the cyborg asks, oh so expertly evading the subject of the albino.

"Because they're yours." Veronica answers honestly. "When last you were conscious, you were whole. You had all of your parts. The last thing I wanted was for you to regain your consciousness to find them gone." She doesn't add 'again' aloud, but it's not hard to guess it's there in her head. "Besides, we had plenty of folks present more than capable of moving you even with all the extra weight."

Ava's gaze softens appreciatively though it doesn't quite rouse a smile from the stoic cyborg. "That was thoughtful of ya', doc. You can have 'em back until they're fixed - let the gear-heads work on them in peace." Reaching across with her arm, the bionic soldier pats her metal shoulder before grinning. "Just maybe lend me an eye patch so I don't scare the kid."

Veronica nods. "If you're sure you do not mind?" She confirms with Ava, before leaning over to start the process of disconnecting and removing parts, starting with Ava's arm. It'll be a good while, as the arm, then one leg, then the other are removed. The eye will be last, and of course Roni has an eyepatch. It's not rakish and black and piratey, though; it's a white adhesive bandage in eyepatch shape. Because doctor. "The 'kid' has issues of her own. She was severely traumatized by all of her techno friends 'dying' horribly while she was connected to them."

True to her word, Ava makes no resistance and even pulls back her blanket to make Roni's job a little easier. Pragmatic as ever, the cyborg seems less attached to her limbs than their function. "I noticed," is all the cyborg says on that. "What happened after I went tango unresponsive? All I remember is a suit of armor."

Veronica purses her lips, even worrying at her lower lip with her teeth as she continues working on each limb in turn, detaching carefully, then doing an inspection of the site after removal. Her words have a distracted, distant air to them as a result.

"I cannot say entirely for sure. What I do know is that there were three opposing suits of armor. The EMP set off shut you down, and even shielded by the concrete of the bunker walls it made a hash of communications signals, which rendered me unable to walk Augmenta. The crew did what they could. There was an entire detachment of Ukrainian rebels, apparently, and there were over two dozen casualties amongst there numbers. Four of the Major's men were also killed."

Veronica worked hard trying to save them. She's a doctor, and she gave it her all. It is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow that so many were lost. "We managed to drive off the suits of armor. Beast was wounded, but is healing. Toni has a serious concussion and some pressure injuries. The team was able to keep them from getting off any attacks at the refugees."

"Tamara's a liar then," Ava frowns darkly at the news, insensate to Roni's work at her arm. It's far from the first time she's had the doctor within her personal space. "Two dozen with four fatalities…" The cyborg trails off, her mind stewing before she adds, "When you say 'detachment' how many rebels do you mean?"

"None of our people were killed, Ava. Tamara did not lie." Veronica answers. At least, not that she knows of; she doesn't know everything, of course. Veronica frowns as she works at one of the legs a bit more intently. "MMm? I … I am not completely sure. Nearly fifty, from my counts. Most of their casualties were the result of friendly fire on their part: I paralyzed a lot of them, and then one of the suits deployed a mass-launch missile system that detonated ferociously. There was a lot of shrapnel."

"…That is foxtrot umbrella." It's the first thing the cyborg can manage in reply. Taking a deep breath and shutting her eyes, Ava sighs while thinking, and in thinking Roni is granted a reprieve of silence.

"How were the rebels armed and what took down the suits?"

Veronica finishes with that leg and moves to the other as her story continues in that distracted manner. "They were armed with standard gear. Tactical light field armor like you used to wear before we met, but - I assume - Russian in manufacture. Standard military firearms, mostly assault rifles with underslung grenade launchers." Once that leg is off, she again checks the site very carefully. Then she lifts that leg with a grunt - it is the largest and heaviest - and puts it to the side in a case for examination and repair. "I did what I could. But many of them had blend out before I could get to them, and we did not have the blood reserves to hand to try reviving them in time. I intend to ask Nadia about shrinking down a cooler of blood with our other emergency supplies."

"Did my squad all shutdown too? And did your suit go down for good?" Ava asks in a measured evenness, her tone inscrutably flat.

Veronica responds less distractedly, now that she's not doing anything else but talking to Ava, answering her questions. "The rest of your squad's weapons went down. They pulled your backup and did what they could, yanked you onto one of the carts and started evacuating into Warehouse 8, where the rest of us were. My suit did not go down, only my ability to drive the legs. Once the EMP faded, I was able to move again, which is when I got into the fight in the hallway. Neuro-disruptor darts. And screamers."

"And all rebels came through one doorway, from the middle hangar?" Posse presses as she gradually completes the picture in her head.

"I do not really know? But I believe so, from what little I could tell." Keep in mind, Roni was in Warehouse 8 at the time and quite busy. "Sorry, I really don't know any more."

"No, you're debriefing well," the veteran assures as her eyes reopen and search out the doctor by her bed, hanging on her with a silent note of gratitude. "This gives me enough to start. I'll question others later and get their perspectives." A hand goes to Ava's head and rubs her temples. The cyborg grunts. "Maybe when my head clears."

"Headache, or dizziness?" Veronica queries. Of course the doctor needs to know. "All of your squad that are conscious have already started typing up their reports. The two that are not, currently, should be soon. I'll be sure they start once they have recovered enough." Of course those reports would be instantly available to Ava from where she is if everything was working properly. But it is not. So.

"Headache," Ava assuages as her eyes shut again. It may have been telling that her television was off when the doctor arrived. "Don't press them. They will have the reports by the time I'm ready for them."

Sighing tiredly the cyborg's thoughts turn naturally to the next matter. "Prioritize bringing our weapons back online ahead of my suit."

"No." Veronica answers, as she taps her penlight, adjusting its wavelength, then raises it to test Ava's reaction to light. She nods and adjusts a bit as she determines most of that headache is from the strain of overworking the only eye she has left right now. "My priority is your care. Period. Once you are back in fully working order, my next priority is working out plans for your upgrades to prevent this from happening again. I will let Roni and Hank spend themselves on the Bearcat's airframe based on our existing plans, with Nadia's assistance. Then they can help with the plans for your upgrades. Once we are home in the Wellspring, we can put staff on the task of weapons. We have more weapons available in Germany anyway." Another squad of personnel are still there, after all.

Ava takes the mid-conversation diagnosis in stride - it's not the first time and honestly, the doctor's expedience is part of her charm. Her jaw sets however at Roni's priorities. "Do you think it's an accident while we were visiting and in that hallway three armored suits and a /platoon/ of enemy soldiers attacked us, after infiltrating an active military base? We need to be as combat-capable and aware as we can be, without over-taxing our remaining resources. If anyone but you and Toni could pilot your suits I'd want you topside monitoring air traffic and watching for an intercept, but we'll have to pray this is incognito enough to rejoin our main element."

"Our LZ needs to be cleared in advance…" the chief of security murmurs in realization, thinking as she speaks, "and whatever smoke grenades and conventional anti-armor they can scrounge."

Veronica eyes the other woman intently. "I have no idea if it was an accident or not. But those people were not there for us. They were there for the base. And they're gone. Our landing zone is secure. We secured it before we left for the Ukraine, and we have been in constant communication since we boarded this plane. They are fine, and watching very carefully. For now, you're going to have to trust that your people can do their jobs. I promise, once we land and I can get a better scan of your condition, I will make time for you to catch up with the squad on the ground and your people here on the plane." But that's as far as Roni is willing to be pushed on this.

"Is our ground force aware of what transpired in the base? Including armaments of that opposing force?" Ava asks firmly, as unwilling to back down as the doctor herself.

"They are aware of what happened. That an EMP was deployed, that you are down, that others are injured, that multiple suits of powered armor were on site and that they escaped the scene." Veronica answers in a 'so there' sort of tone. See? She isn't completely useless!

"Good," the cyborg concludes with a tone of finality. She pauses and… actually smiles a bit at the brunette doctor.

"Now. Would you please lie back, close your eyes, and let the one biological one you have left rest, some? That's most of your headache." Roni does offer water and some Tylenol, though. Hydration and some mild pain relief.

"Sure, I'll let it rest," Ava relents, reaching over slowly with her hand and, with a little help, taking the pill into her mouth and reaching a second time for the water. A few sips and a firm swallow, then the cyborg's face contorts in telltale fashion as the cloying, papery taste registers along her tongue. More water quickly tries to wash that away and the white-haired sergeant smacks her lips.

"Thanks," she asides before shifting her weight back onto her arm and worming her way back down the bed so her head can rest level on her pillow. The missing weight and bulk of her parts are noticed in how much quicker and lighter the old warrior moves than before. "Any questions for me?" Ava offers

"None more important right now than your rest." Veronica answers, smiling gently. "You've told me what you can of how you are feeling, physically and emotionally. That will have to be enough until we can do more. Take care, Ava, and rest. We'll get you back on your feet as soon as we can. I promise."

"Worry about that more once we're at Wellspring. Remember we're at risk until then," Ava cautions as she her eyes drift shut. "I know I'm in good hands. You already rebuilt me once."

"Better, stronger, faster." Roni quips. She gives her friend's hand a squeeze and then rolls her chair around the bed and out the door, closing it softly behind her.

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