Ring A Ring O' Rosies
The Evils Within
Location: Deck 5 - Daycare
If Emilie Temple’s mood could have manifested into reality, it would have appeared as a dark, stormy cloud over her head. There would be thunder claps and lightning strikes. Gusts of wind that would knock even a brick house down to nothing. And it seemed to only get bigger and stronger with every step she took away from her quarters and towards her destination.
“The nerve of that man!” She suddenly grumbled at an unsuspecting Ensign in the Turbolift. The officer just raised his eyebrows, too afraid to speak. “Thinking he could.... UGH! And all the while I’m here... UGH!”
The Ensign was relieved when the lift reached Deck 5 and Hurricane Emilie stepped out. She stormed off towards Daycare, leaving him to rapidly push the ‘door close’ button.
Arriving at the Pandora’s school, the doors parting just a little too slowly for her liking, Emilie looked around with eyes withered to see where her children were located. The sooner she had them, they sooner she could pack to leave. She also knew the only thing that would melt away the dark clouds would be to see her children’s faces.
While the baby was quietly napping in a quiet space reserved for such, Katrine was playing with Aoife on the jungle gym under the watchful eye of Rebekah Davies. The ever diligent nurse didn't notice Emilie enter because she was watching Aoife with a hawk-like gaze; Aoife seemed to be keeping up with Katrine today, but only just, her steps not carrying her usual pep, causing Rebekah to think that it might be time to a trip to Sickbay to make sure that Aoife wasn't overly exhausting herself. But kids would be kids, and at least the girls were having fun.
"Kat-y, mama," Aoife said to Katrine as she pointed to Emilie, informing her friend that her mother was here. Two simple words, a name she could not yet fully pronounce and 'mama', were a welcome sign of her growing ability to communicate, and it seemed every time she played with Katrine, the little fox-child grew more and more willing to use more words instead of her usual chirps. "Mad," she then observed, her furry little ears drooping slightly.
"Oooh." Katrine breathed out, watching her mother's face in full anguish. It upset the girl to think she might have caused Emilie's mood, and she began to wonder if she'd left her toys out again, or if she'd misbehaved in some way. She couldn't think of anything.
When Emilie spotted her daughter, her face changed. She smiled again, a small moment of relief passing over her. But then she felt a deep pang of regret seeing Katrine playing with Aoife. If they did indeed leave the Pandora, Emilie would be taking Katrine away from her only friend. Katrine loved Aoife, always filling in her parents with every little detail of their play time together, their adventures and conversations. In order to leave Pandora, Emilie would have to break her daughter's heart.
With a sigh, she walked over to where the girls were playing, "Hello my darlings. How are we doing?"
"Good." Katrine said warily, still watching her mother's face with quiet anticipation. "We were just playing rescuers. I was trapped in a burning building and Aoife saved me!"
"Oh, wow." Emilie put on a smile. "Sounds dangerous."
"Brave!" Aoife declared, hugging Katrine with a bright and cheery chirp. "Like Mama, like Papa, Aoife protect!"
"And what a brave little protector you were!" Rebekah chimed in as she drew closer. "You look ready for a nap, so say goodbye to Katrine."
"Noooooooo!" Aoife said softly, not letting go of Katrine.
"Can we stay longer, mummy?" Katrine pleaded, gripping onto Aoife but not so tightly that she caused her friend discomfort.
"Another few minutes perhaps? While I chat to Rebekah for a moment. But then we have to go." Emilie answered with a sigh, unwilling to argue with the kids just at this moment. The girls ran off to enjoy their last moments of freedom as Emilie turned to smile at Nurse Davies, "Thank you for taking them on a play date so quickly. I hope I didn't put you out too much?"
"Are you kidding? The progress Aoife makes while around Katrine is well worth a little extra fatigue!" Rebekah declared in amusement, but then her expression sobered. "Are you alright, ma'am? I don't mean to pry, but you seem quite stressed. Are you getting enough rest? If not, I can schedule more of these playdates to give you a small break."
Emilie sighed, rubbing her eyes, "Marital issues." She said plainly, "Tell me, are you assigned to the ship itself or are you able to leave at any time?"
"Eh, that's a bit complicated," Rebekah replied sheepishly. "I'm assigned to Aoife as part of a case study of complications of early childhood development and subsequent therapies. But generally in Starfleet, you're assigned to a location with a specific job duty, and if you leave without some sort of approval then it's considered dereliction of duty. Sometimes you can request a transfer, but whether it's approved depends on a myriad of factors. Getting time off for leave is considerably easier, but even then there are times when we can't get the time off we really want."
"Hmm, you're so dedicated to her." Emilie remarked, nodding along. "You must be so proud of her progress too, she's come so far."
Rebekah got the sense that there was more on Emilie's mind that she simply wasn't saying, and after the 'marital issues' comment, she even wondered if the earlier question about leaving the ship was more about whether Nyx could leave or not, but if Emilie wasn't ready to talk about it then Rebekah wasn't going to pry. After all, it was none of her business, and she didn't want to stress Emilie more by forcing her to talk about it; if it came down to it, she could ask the Counselor to check in with the Temple family. In the meantime, Rebekah focused on the topic at hand while waiting for Aoife to tire herself out.
"Extreme cases like Aoife are rare these days, so the research opportunity is invaluable," Rebekah finally answered. "That being said, she's reached a point where she's independent enough that she no longer requires such specialized care, so I've found a replacement caretaker to watch over her while her parents are on duty, and I'll be returning to Earth soon to publish my findings. I've never been on a case study this long, so I am going to miss her when I leave, but you're right, I'm so proud of her and she'll always be a part of my heart wherever I go from here."
As the two women talked, Aoife was definitely slowing down as she followed Katrine through the jungle gym, and as they crossed a little bridge connecting one section of the play area to another, Aoife's feet began to drag, causing her to slip and fall to her knees. In that one jarring move, something wrong within the little girl broke, and with a barely audible grunt the fox-child twitched and then fell fully onto the surface of the suspended platform.
Katrine had been playfully skipping ahead when she heard the thud behind her. She turned and saw Aoife on the platform, lying face down, and frowned. "Are we playing Doctors?" She asked, quietly. She felt like there was something wrong but she didn't want to admit it, so Katrine carefully walked over to where Aoife had fallen and gently knelt down beside her. "Oh-kay, Affie, I fix you all up!" She extended her finger out and gently poked Aoife on the shoulder. "Zap goes the magic stick! It makes you alllll better Affie. You can get up now."
But Aoife did not get up, she remained still on the bridge platform.
Meanwhile, back on ground level, Emilie was still talking to Nurse Davies, "Oh so you're planning to leave the Pandora then? How soon will you be disembarking?"
"I'm still working out the details," Rebekah answered with a shrug. "I still have to train my replacement to ensure Aoife's physical therapy remains uninterrupted when I leave." As she spoke, Rebekah glanced back at the children to make sure all was well, only to see Katrine standing over a prone Aoife. "Aoife?" Rebekah called out with concern, and when Aoife did not move, she began to climb into the jungle gym to reach the children. "Katrine, what happened?" she asked as she began to check Aoife over.
"I don't know," Katrine's lower lip jutted out in an instant pout. She felt like the grown-ups were upset with her for Aoife lying down, but she didn't know why. "We were playing doctors but she won't get up!" Tears welled in her small blue eyes.
Though focused on Aoife, Emilie scooped up her daughter in her arms and purposely placed her head facing the other way, a calming hand placed gently on her back as she tried to soothe her child. The way Aoife was just lying there on the jungle gym was sending waves of panic through her body. "Is she breathing?" Emilie asked, the words coming out of her mouth in disbelief.
Rebekah shook her head slightly, her eyes looking harrowed when she realized she couldn't find a pulse either. "I'm so sorry Mrs. Temple," Rebekah said in a frightened tone, then tapped her commbadge. "Medical emergency, I need an immediate transport to Sickbay!" Rebekah called out, then cast one last terrified glance to Emilie before disappearing with Aoife in a shimmer of blue light.
Once they had disappeared, Emilie let out a deep breath. She could hear Katrine's soft whimpers on her shoulder. "Sshh, honey, she's going to the Doctors now."
"Will she be okay?" Katrine asked through sobs.
Emilie didn't know what to say; the frightening vision of the girl just lying there was still fresh in her mind. She put a gentle hand to her daughter's head and tried to soothe her, "She's got the best doctors in the galaxy on this ship. They'll look after her."
Katrine nodded a little, trying to stop her tears from flowing. "But... will she... be okay?"
"I hope so." Emilie replied in a whisper. "Come now, let's go get your brother and return home. We can wait to see what the Doctors tell us there, okay?"
"Oh-kay," She replied, still burying her face into her mother's shoulder.
Emilie left the play centre with a sense of dread in her stomach. She held onto her two children just a little more tightly than usual, feeling a need to be closer to them at this time. Her issues with Nyx paled into comparison with what poor Aoife was going through, and she wished that she could reach out to Shae and Cailus to tell them. She didn't want to think what it would be like to have a child fall ill while they weren't there to comfort her. She could only hope that they would be back on the ship soon so that they could tend to Aoife and help her recover.
In sickbay, Aoife and Rebekah materialized and Rebekah scooped up the lifeless child and placed her on a biobed where the waiting staff immediately surrounded her. Too emotional to be of any help, Rebekah was reduced to answering questions about what had happened while the team got the child intubated and hooked up to life support. With Doctors Alves and Jameson on Hesiod Green, the on-hand staff did not have the necessary skills to handle such a critical patient, so the EMH was summoned to take the lead. Rebekah stood by, her hands cupped over her mouth as tears streamed down her face while she watched the EMH and nurses work. With the life support systems in action, a weak heartbeat was registered from the child, but no neural activity, and alarms were sounding off one after another as Aoife's various bodily systems began to fail in rapid succession, like a string of dominoes toppling over; it was like this child simply wasn't meant to live! Then Rebekah heard the verdict: aneurysm.
"No no," Rebekah mumbled as a grav stretcher was brought in and the child transferred to it. "No no no no no!" she pleaded softly, silently begging the universe, or god, anything, to not take this little girl away! Then the stretcher was moved, the EMH and nurses still swarming around the child as she was taken to the surgical bay. Rebekah felt ready collapse; Cailus and Shae were going to tear her a new one for letting this happen to their daughter, even knowing as a medical professional herself that no one was ever responsible for an aneurysm. Following the team to the surgical bay, she stayed out of the room and parked herself in front of the observation window to wait for news of Aoife's condition, or for Cailus and Shae to return to receive the awful news...