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Miss Bright Side

Posted on Sunday June 13th, 2021 @ 11:14pm by Cleo Ortega

Mission: Out on Bad Behaviour
Location: Cleo's Quarters, Loki
Timeline: MD01, 0500 Hours
1408 words - 2.8 OF Standard Post Measure

Cleo yawned as she woke to the unfamiliar buzz of a new alarm. She’d never been a morning person, and as always, she was loathe to crawl out from under the warm, cozy covers. And why not? It was, after all, just another pointless day in her pointless life. No day, not even the best day she could remember, felt that much better than her time asleep. And even though the memories of good dreams always faded quickly, Cleo often found that it was hard to remember the bad ones too. Bad days, however? Those were much harder to forget. A hungry stomach was usually the deciding factor, however, in convincing Cleo to open her eyes. If she took too long to get up, she wouldn’t get to eat breakfast.

It wasn’t until Cleo sat up that she realized that she wasn’t in prison. Her room was larger, significantly larger than any prison cell she’d been locked up in, and it actually had a window… or view port. The view or space was fairly unremarkable, but that was beside the point. She had never had a room before that had any view of anything.

As she stared out of the view port Cleo couldn’t help but still feel lost and disoriented. She now knew where she was, but she was having difficulty trying to figure out who she was. Of course she knew her name, but was she Cleo the doctor? Cleo the fugitive? Or was she still a prison inmate? Her mind quickly settled on the first, but she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that she was always going to be all three. She couldn’t have said how long she sat there, still half in bed, trying to figure things out. All morning it felt like, but a glance at the clock said differently—only a few minutes.

Cleo got dressed quickly, not wanting to waste any more of the day. If she wasn’t in prison, maybe she would be able to spend her time doing something that actually mattered… either to her or someone else. It was a place to start. Another reason for her haste was the fact that Cleo really only had one choice of outfit to wear—the same outfit the resistance group who’d liberated her had given her a few days earlier. She had run the clothes through the sonic shower with her the night before, but it would be nice when it was finally her turn to replicate something more appropriate for her profession than ancient canvas sneakers, tight jeans, and a nearly threadbare long sleeve shirt. At least the sneakers didn’t smell, and actually fit. It was important to look at the bright side of things from time to time. She completed her look with a white lab coat that she’d found hanging in a closet in sickbay, and a pair of variable enhancement glasses that transitioned her look from refugee to mad scientist quite nicely.

Even though she was ready to go, Cleo found herself waiting there, staring at the door for what again felt like a considerable length of time. It took her a while to fully realize, again, that she was no longer in prison, where all the doors were locked and only the guards were able to open them. Theoretically, the door to her quarters would open for her, and she wouldn’t be punished if she tried to open it. She stepped towards the door, and nearly jumped out of her sneakers as it slid open without her even touching it. For a moment Cleo just stood there in the open doorway and cried, not because she was happy or sad, but because she was embarrassed to be reminded of the kind of person she’d become.

Eventually Cleo gathered her composure and made her way to the mess hall and found that it was still pretty quiet. Apparently, 0530 hours was still pretty early for the non-former prison inmates to be getting their start to the day. Or maybe she was just the one who was late. There were only three other people in the room with her. Two were guys who looked like they’d just finished running all over the ship. She found herself starting at them, mainly because she’d never actually seen men her own age. They were way too sweaty though, and Cleo thought she could smell their body odor from halfway across the room. Or maybe she was the one who smelled. She fought the urge to sniff at her lab coat and walked to the replicator instead. The mess hall’s other occupant was a girl who clearly hadn’t brushed her hair, and looked fully prepared to show up for her shift still wearing her pajama onesie. Every prison had at least one girl like that, and now it seemed like every ship did too.

Cleo quickly ordered her meal—yet another bacon, egg and cheese sandwich—and took one of the many unoccupied seats. She’d successfully fought the urge to order two sandwiches, and pocket the other in her lab coat for later… just in case. Aside from the obvious sanitary considerations, she didn’t want to develop a reputation among the crew for being… well, crazy.

As Cleo sat down and ate, others began to filter into the room one by one, sometimes in pairs. The physician in her couldn’t help but appraise their physical traits. They all varied in age, gender and species, but almost all had at least some small issue that she could detect just from a few seconds of watching them move. Some had guarded limbs, hinting at past trauma that may not have properly healed. Others were visibly malnourished. She couldn't count the scars she saw on both hands. Many were young enough that their bodies would become healthy and strong with a sustained, proper diet. She wouldn’t have to worry too much about them. But there were others who were older, and nearing the edge of their prime years, if not already past them. They would need her help, though most would probably not realize or want to admit it.

As she considered her future patients and what their needs might be, she couldn’t help but think about the few she’d already met. Tia, the El Aurian, was likely still on the mend. Cleo had not wanted to bring it up during their earlier meeting, but her cursory scans had detected a low leukocyte count, or weakened immune system. Though a combination of poor nutrition, sleep deprivation and high stress could cause this, Cleo was worried that the culprit could be something more problematic. There was also the fact that during Tia's treatment Cleo had detected a not-insignificant blood alcohol content in her blood, but had observed no overt signs of intoxication… a textbook indicator of sustained alcohol over-consumption if there ever was one. Cleo wasn’t exactly sure how to broach that topic next time they met, or if was even her business to do so.

Sargon, or Wraet, as she’d later learned was his name (or at least another name), was the other she’d met, though he was not yet a patient. She’d performed no scans or examinations, so she couldn’t even begin to speculate on his health. There was something though… Cleo wouldn’t be willing to bet on it, but she suspected that Wraet had a bad tooth. She couldn’t explain it, but during her time in prison she’d become good at detecting when someone was either trying to ignore or hide problems with their teeth. Bad teeth would probably be her most common problem with the crew, by far. She imagined it was hard finding qualified dental care while one was a fugitive on the run. Plus, people tended to avoid toothaches until they became positively unbearable. She had yet to determine why this was the case.

As if on cue, Cleo detected such an individual, showing all the clear signs of dental distress. The woman groaned with a sour disposition, favoring the right side of her jaw as she took pained slurps of lukewarm oatmeal at a tedious pace.

Cleo stood up from her table, lowered her mad scientist glasses, and moved to meet her first patient of the day.


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