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objectively ridiculous medical drama premise, because no one can stop me

Lionstar expected to die young. If anything, it's surprising that he's made it this far. Nearly thirty years in the wreckage of a world that he barely remembers destroying. 

It won't be over, of course, even once he finally loses one fight too many. Not for him. For the others... Well, he hoped the new generation would outlive him - but hope isn't a planIf there's one lesson he's learned, it's that. And he can't protect them by sheltering them from danger, not in the long run. The only plan with any hope of success (and it's not good odds, he tries not to fool himself anymore) is teaching them to be strong enough to survive without him once he's...not gone, but elsewhere. And the kids know that, and the worst part is that they're protective of him and he's not sure he could keep them back from the danger even if he tried. 

(He's so tired)


- and he can't just lose, no matter how doomed it is in the end. Which is why Lionstar is currently trying to hold off a dozen Change...goats, probably? the poison-dripping horns are rather notable - with a mage-storm encroaching on them, which makes fighting with magic a terrible idea, but escaping with magic is an even worse one. Gates don't behave normally when the magic surges like this. 

He snaps at Tsashi in Mindspeech to stay back behind the shield he's holding. He can't spare the attention to look back and see if she's listening. 

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Tsashi has a knife and she's competent at fighting with it, but she also isn't stupid. The goat things are bigger than she is. She's pretty sure Lionstar is going to get hurt, and she can't shield him so really the best she can do here is not have both of them be hurt. 

(She knows they might both be about to die. That's kind of the risk you take when you go out to investigate Problems. It's just that if nobody does that then it's not like the Problems go away, eventually they come find you at home. 

Besides, Lionstar has been about to die a lot of times and he's not dead yet.) 


This time might be different, though, since Lionstar is finding out the hard way that the horns are unnaturally magically as well as physically sharp, and with the power he's putting into the shield over Tsashi, plus the levinbolts he's flinging, he wasn't reinforcing his own personal shields enough to hold off a magically-boosted attack. He manages to deflect the horn-thrust enough that it doesn't gore him right through, but it still leaves a deep gouge across his lower ribs and stomach. 

There's pain, briefly, and then numbness. There's a lot of blood. The Changegoatthings seem to be able to smell it; they're even more frenzied now. He flings three of them back with burst of barely-shaped force - not a good tactical move, the thought comes to him slow and glassy a second too late, it's a waste of mage-energies he could have harnessed more efficiently if he had time to think 


That's a lot of blood! Tsashi is alarmed and scared. 


- and she thinks can guess what Lionstar is thinking. Or what he would be thinking if he weren't distracted, maybe, because he seems kind of distracted and off-balance, which is almost scarier than the blood. But - 

(there's a way her thoughts go when the world is moving very fast, and there isn't time to think in the words you would use to tell someone else what you thought you ought to do, just - everything broken into simple pieces, like the wooden puzzle Lionstar made for her when she was very small. She thinks Lionstar taught her how to think like this, too, even though she was never able to explain it to the other children. Maybe because it's necessarily something you can't say in words -) 


Lionstar would have been thinking that it was better to fight than try to Gate, because a lot of small spells are less likely to go very badly than one big spell, and Gates can go wrong in worse ways than exploding (not that exploding is even that much of a problem when it would be convenient if the Changecreatures got exploded.) But that calculation was when he wasn't injured, and could expect to keep fighting until he ran out of reserves, which might be long enough to disable all the creatures enough for them to run away. 

She doesn't think he has very long now. He's losing blood and the horns look like they're poisonous. 

Which doesn't make Gating a better idea; it makes it a worse idea, really, because now he's distracted. But it makes staying and fighting a worse idea by a way bigger amount - it makes staying and fighting doomed - and so it's not very complicated, actually.

(Just bad. The world is allowed to be just bad. Tsashi always thinks that phrase in Lionstar's tired voice.) 


"GATE!" she screams at him. She doesn't have Mindspeech, and probably the goat-things didn't get smarter when they got more magical and it won't give away what they're doing. 


Lionstar had just been reaching the same conclusion; his thoughts are slow and muddy, but he can do this on instinct. 


He can't spare the energy to throw the Changecreatures back again, which wouldn't even buy them more than a second or two. The shield will just have to cover both of them for long enough. Lionstar is very fast at Gates when he's not exhausted bleeding and very dizzy. 

- the threads of magic twist, he tries to wrestle them straight but he's so tired - he's really not sure where this Gate is going to land but, well, nearly all places are going to be better than here - 


The Gate is....opaque? Gates are not normally opaque! That's a really concerning Gate!


The Changegoats are more concerning, though, so Tsashi shoves Lionstar through and dives after him. 


The Gate goes down behind them in a shower of disintegrating mage-energies.

The other side of the Gate is very very cold. It's...snowing? It's also windy. And dark, but it's a weird sort of orangey dark. There are strange noises that don't really sound like storm-noises. 


This is very baffling, but 'somewhere in the far north' seems like a better place to be than where they were a few seconds ago, so that's something. 

Tsashi is worried about Lionstar. He's unconscious in a heap in the snow, and still bleeding, and she doesn't have anything to help keep him warm or use as bandages (unless she takes off her shirt, which the mental voice of Lionstar is snapping at her is a terrible idea in a snowstorm.)

She thinks quickly, in simple pieces. If there are people around, the people might not be friendly. But the people almost certainly already know that someone is here, Gates aren't subtle. If they're not friendly, hiding isn't a good solution. If there's going to be a fight then it's probably going to go badly either way, but less badly if it's sooner, because Tsashi is going to get cold very fast, but probably people who live here have warmer clothes. And - one reason they might not be running to help even if they are friendly, is if they don't know whether Tsashi and Lionstar are here to fight them, and they're scared and might be less scared if they know Lionstar is hurt. 

She starts yelling for help.

(It's not until a little while later that it occurs to her that people very far north might speak a different language. She doesn't usually have much reason to think about people speaking different languages far away, but she does know that they do, she knows Lionstar had to learn when he came here.) 


The Montfort Hospital is having a bad day. The ICU in particular has been having a truly spectacularly terrible entire week

Marian is about six and a half hours into the worst kind of 16h shift; she was on the schedule for an eight-hour evening, 15:30 until 23:30, and in a moment of adrenaline-comedown-addled letting her guard down, was talked into tacking on the rest of the overnight until 07:30, at which point she'll have exactly eight hours - probably less, given charting overruns - until she has to be back for the next evening. 

It's just after 10 pm. The unit is briefly quiet, for the sole and incredibly depressing reason that 188, 196, and 202 all managed to die since the last shift change, the latter two in the last hour. 202 was Marian's and wasn't particularly a surprise - they made her DNR on Wednesday and she was spiralling for a couple of days now - but does mean that Marian now has an opening, or will as soon as the stat room clean actually happens. It would have been polite of her to hang on until 4 am or so, at which point Marian could probably have gotten through the rest of the shift without taking an admission.

She's sitting in front of the desk, charting on 201 and somewhat-guiltily savoring the lack of constant dialysis filter alarms from 188. That one was a nasty code. Marian had just been starting to get over her mild trauma about coding patients attached to dialysis machines. 


Something start beeping. The other staff nearby are apparently just as fried as Marian, since it takes a good ten seconds for anyone to click that it's the code blue pager, currently abandoned by Sylvie and in search of a good home on the central nursing station desk. 

Nellie scrambles up and almost kicks over a chair. "Jesus! I swear to God, I'm losing my mind -


"I can take it, I'm not busy." Wait why did she just say that. "Where -" 

The intercom beats her to it. Code bleu, l'Urgence...

...Well, Nellie is more behind than Marian, for once, and it would be embarrassing to change her mind now. Besides, Marian is already having a sufficiently bad day that "social anxiety about which doctor is on tonight" isn't really computing. Reasonable odds it's a false alarm, anyway, though lower given it's the ER, they don't tend to panic and call outright false alarms like 5th floor med/surg sometimes does. 

She heads off at a trot. Unhappily. 


The ER trauma bay contains:

In bed 1, a tiny elderly woman with a full face of makeup and a puff of white hair like a dandelion gone to seed, sitting up against the raised head of the gurney, apparently completely undisturbed by the heart monitor reading a slow irregular atrial flutter averaging to around 30 bpm with frequent longer conduction pauses. (Her last blood pressure is at 136/92. She must have arteries like copper pipes.) She’s watching the bed next door with curiosity and looking mildly perturbed, as though spectating an unexpectedly violent hockey match.


In bed 2: the curtains are wide open, giving bed 1 an excellent view of the drama, and probably a dozen ER staff are crowded around. The patient appears to be a man of indeterminate age; Marian can't see that much of him, there's an ambulance blanket flung haphazardly over the lower half of his body, but she glimpses deeply-tanned bronze skin and a shock of black hair. The monitor is a mess of CPR artifact. 

"Back off!" the ER attending snaps a moment later, "I think we've–" The monitor switches to...some kind of rhythm. Widened, distorted complexes, almost swoopy, but surprisingly regular; it's only a few seconds before the monitor decides on a heart rate of 37. "Do we have a -" 

    "I'm getting a femoral pulse," one of the nurses is saying. "Uh. Ish." 

"Great. Please tell me we have access -"

    "I'm working on it!" 

"I've got the epi ready to go -" 

    "Get a bolus under pressure ready - is the bleeding controlled - more pressure than that, please -" 


On the one hand, this looks more interesting than the average ER code. On the other hand, there are way too many people here already and Marian is perhaps slightly tempted to back away quietly rather than attempting to find something useful to do with herself. 


There's also a...kid? Gender somewhat indeterminate under all the dirt, but probably a girl? She's also wearing a ambulance blanket, wrapped tightly around her shoulders, and she's standing back and watching the proceedings with an alert, wary, but surprisingly controlled expression. She looks about twelve. 


(The place is very strange! Tsashi thought at first that it was somehow daylight inside the building, despite being dark outside, and that maybe they had gone through a very weird sort of Gate? She doesn't think so, though, later on they passed a window and the outside was still dark. There are so many incomprehensible objects. Maybe that's what magic artifacts are like? She's never seen a magical artifact, they don't work anymore, but Lionstar told her that they used to exist and someday he'll be able to make them again. Maybe if you go far enough north, far far away from the storms, then magic works again? Or...maybe they went to the future, somehow, only she thinks Gates probably can't do that even with storm-magic messing with them. 

She's very worried about Lionstar, but panicking won't help. She thinks the people are trying to help him, though it's not entirely obvious. If she decides they're actually hurting him, well, she did manage to hide her knife, and all the people are adults and much bigger than her but she would have the element of surprise.) 


No one else seems to be paying attention to the kid. Probably someone should be, like, reassuring her, or trying to explain what's going on? ...Which sounds much more agonizing than attempting to place an IV in a crashing patient, but. Marian is a grown adult and capable of doing things. 

She sidles over and makes eye contact with the kid. "Hi. Are you okay?" 


That earns her a hard-to-read but plausibly grateful look, and a sentence - probably a sentence? - in a language that Marian doesn't even slightly recognize. 


AWKWARD. She'll try in French anyway, but without much hope of communication resulting.

(The girl does not seem to understand French any more than English.) 

She tries to smile reassuringly, which doesn't depend on a shared language but, unfortunately, does depend on being able to do reassuring facial expressions on purpose, which Marian doesn't feel very on top of right now. 


"No idea what language she speaks," someone says in a low voice next to Marian's ear– oh, that's one of the paramedics. "Any chance you can take a report and let us get out of here?" 


Weeeeeell, that does sort of commit her to staying here until she can manage to convey her report to someone else. On the other hand, she's genuinely pretty curious. "Uh, yeah, I can." 


"It'll be quick, we haven't got much. Truck driver called it in, found them on the shoulder out on Innes Road - the industrial park area, nowhere near anything residential. No ID on him and we couldn't get any personal details off the kid, poor girl. She's a smart cookie, though - she was directing the trucker to stop the bleeding even before we got there. Tried to mime an explanation of what happened to him, which was pretty hard to follow but we think she saw someone attack him, which checks out, he's got a nasty laceration all across his trunk. Lots of blood and he'll need stitches for sure, but it's actually pretty shallow, nothing perforating the abdominal wall. Drugs might be involved, too, she seemed to be acting out him getting woozy and collapsing, and he was pretty out of it when we arrived. Initial vitals were tolerable and he was protecting his airway. No sign of a head injury, pupils reactive, but he deteriorated fast during the ride over. GCS dropped from 6 to 3, started tanking his BP, desatting and decreasing respiratory effort - I placed an oral airway and was bagging him, but didn't have a great airway and couldn't get IV access - we were like a minute away by then so we just booked it. We lost his pulse around when we were transferring him off our stretcher. Really great timing, that. Probably a hypoxic PEA arrest, he came back pretty quick once they got him intubated - or, well," vague hand gesture at the monitor, which is now displaying the same weird wide-complex rhythm at 41 bpm and a blood pressure of 37/19 with a question mark. "Questions?" 


The kid is watching both of them with a very intent focused expression, brow slightly furrowed, as though she might be able to extract some meaning from the words by staring a hole in the paramedic's skull. 

(Lionstar would be able to solve the different-language problem with Thoughsensing. It's really frustrating that Tsashi is left with trying to see if she can get anything off their expressions and gestures, which she mostly can't. The new woman seems worried and stressed, and Tsashi is fairly sure that she's worried in a wants-to-help-Lionstar way, but that's all she can guess.) 


It miiiiiiiight have been a good idea to bring pen and paper with her. Marian feels discombobulated.

She tries to make a mental checklist. Side of the road, laceration, maybe drugs, semi-stable at first but his condition deteriorated fast - but probably not from massive blood loss, it sounds like it happened after they had the bleeding mostly controlled - 

"Temperature?" It's really the obvious question to ask, for a suspected drug overdose found collapsed in a snowbank.


Shrug. "He's almost certainly hypothermic. Couldn't get an axillary reading with our machine." 


Which would make perfect sense. And gives Marian something useful to do, even, since mid-February is peak seasons for hypothermic drug OD patients showing up in the ER, which means she's pretty sure she remembers exactly where the low-temp thermometer is from the last two times this came up.

She smiles tightly at the paramedic. "Thanks. If you don't have ID on him, I, uh, guess that's probably everything we need from you?" 

     (A grateful paramedic starts packing up.) 

Okay. Focus. She's going reassuringly at the poor kid, who's probably having the most traumatic night of her life so far, and then head for the nursing station to look in the charge nurse's secret drawer. 


The kid glances at Lionstar, frowns thoughtfully at the people around him, and then shrugs and trots after Marian, looking everywhere at her surroundings. 


...Um. Okay then. Marian has apparently acquired a duckling??? She's not, uh, going to object to the scared traumatized kid following her, even if she feels kind of weird about it. 

She finds the low-temperature thermometer without difficulty and quick-marches back toward the trauma bay. 

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