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The Signal – Chapter 2: Anjira

Last updated on May 27, 2024

Triage bays are intentionally uncomplicated. A big red line in the floor marks where med techs bring their patient-loaded liters—up to ten of them. If they have a green triage tag, the med techs leave them and go back for more. They’ll get a bed when and if they are free. If they have yellow tags, they get moved up immediately to stabilization beds or the medics stay with them if all five of the beds are full. If they have a red tag, they pass straight through triage to critical intake. 

Ideally triage teams won’t be treating the most seriously injured or sick patients in a mass casualty scenario. Those patients just pass them by so that they can continue to take care of the slightly-less-serious patients. Those could be bad enough, but not needing massive blood transfusions, multi-system trauma surgery, or extra-corporeal cardiopulmonary support. 

Each bed had two medics and a med tech, and the whole bay had a couple of assistant physicians or medic practitioners and one staff physician, usually a junior trauma surgeon. Medics were expected to autonomously assess and begin care of patients, with the advanced providers only stepping in on the sickest patients or following them through to critical intake. 

Almost every piece of equipment you could need was within arms reach of either side of the bed. The beds themselves were the most advanced medical beds ever built into a ship in the Fleet. Between their sensor-laden patient surfaces, overhead ultrasonic and millimeter wave scanning systems, and a host of other diagnostic and treatment technologies, there wasn’t much they couldn’t do. 

Anjira Bajwa knew every system and piece of equipment in her trauma bay inside and out. She had checked it all just about 16 hours prior, and no one had used it, but it didn’t stop her from checking everything again. 

The last update she received from hospital control was that the fighter wing that was scouting out the planet-facing side of the moon had yet to engage with any kind of resistance but that the destruction they had found was significant. They were told to expect a large number of casualties as Albatrosses started reaching the mining station and derelict ships in orbit. 

Her friend and roommate Addie Forrester was on one of those Albatrosses. Their third roommate was scheduled to come on board in a little over a month, meaning she and Addie had their berth room to themselves, and had come to know each other very well. Anjira had four brothers, and Addie had started to feel like the sister she never had. 

Sam Brunner was her partner for that bed for the current emergency shift. They were already on shift when she got there. In non-emergency operations just two medics and a couple of med techs staff the triage bay, mostly intaking patients with minor work-related injuries, stomach viruses, the occasional allergic reaction, and things like that. That night and morning Sam was on duty.

Sam was a talented medic with an odd sense of humor. They had been a assigned to an ExFor company before being injured in fall during a boarding action against a pirate ship. After that they had decided to settle down into the somehow-less-stressful job of being a triage medic, but their experience made them unflappable in a crisis, which Anjira looked forward to. 

“Everything good on your side, Sam?” Anjira asked.

“Oh yeah. All good over here,” Sam responded, trying to make eye contact with Anjira, who’s eyes were nervously darting around the trauma bay. 

“We’ve got this. You’ve got this.” Sam was trying their best to reassure Anjira, and it was almost working.

“Heads up, triage 1!” Doctor Ephra Santos yelled out to gather everyone’s attention. 

“New orders. We have a frigate… uh…” he started, trailing off as he looked down at his tablet. “UEFS Spirited. It was part of the defensive fleet here. It took heavy damage but was trying to get out of the system to get the word out to Fleet Command. It has twenty four aboard, eighteen total casualties, unknown severity or injuries. Twenty five minutes out.

“Triage 2 is going to back us up but we’ll take the first batch. Fleet’s here!” Doctor Santos pumped his fist in the air as he yelled out the Fleet’s familiar battle cry. Anjira thought Santos was being a little bit of a try-hard.

“The Fleet is here!” Anjira and everyone else responded with a small measure less enthusiasm than Santos. She looked around. Everyone knew what was about to happen, whether or not they had experienced it. Until the first patients ruled in—an hour sooner than they expected—it was all anticipation and nerves.

Medical technician first class Jess Nagoya was the tech assigned to their bed. Like Sam, she’d been around for a few years. At some point in her years of service she had dated a comms tech whom she was able to convince to unlock certain ship-to-ship frequencies that she wouldn’t normally be able to access on her handheld. 

This meant that Anjira and Sam, and most of the rest of the triage bay staff were gathered around her handheld listening to the Spirited talk to Acon’s flight controller. As far as she could tell Spirited was finishing it’s docking approach.

“Aconcagua approach, Spirited helm… we finally have lidar contact at zero-five kilometers.”

“Copy Spirited. LLS for bravo seven active for your approach.”

“Zero three kilometers Aconcagua. LLS capture.”

“Roger Spirited. Zero two decimal seven. Heading adjustment relative zero-zero-four mark triple-zero.”

“Zero-zero-four mark zeroes. Roger. Beginning forward decel thrust.”

“Roger that Spirited. Clear for docking bravo seven.”

“Bravo seven. Roger.”

The professionalism in the voice of the helmsman of the Spirited was a testament to the quality training that fleet helmsman and pilots received. With what sounded like his ship crumbling around him, he sounded like any pilot doing routine docking communication that she’d ever heard.

Of course Anjira didn’t understand the bulk of what the helmsman and the flight controller were talking about. She gathered that they were getting very close to docking and would be doing so at docking bay B7, which was on the same deck and essentially just down the hall from triage 1. It wouldn’t take long for the first casualties to arrive. 

Almost as soon as she finished the thought she felt the slight jolt and heard the creaking grown of the Spirited docking. The responding med techs were already running down the hallway towards the interior docking doors. They would be just out of sight. 

“Incoming casualties. Triage 1 and triage 2 standby. Incoming casualties.” the voice of the ship’s AI announced over the PA system. Anjira threw on a pair of gloves and moved to the red line alongside Sam and Jess. 

As the first casualties rolled around the corner on the med tech’s liters, her brain shifted into an entirely different mode. It wasn’t quite autopilot, but a lot of the things she would do now were nearly automatic, the response of her years of training to the reality of her role in this situation. 

The first five casualties were brought forward. All yellow except for one red. Red was what appeared to be an engineering technician with significant full-thickness burns along the left side of her body and her left arm missing from the upper arm down. Must have been an explosion. Santos and a medic practitioner whose name Anjira couldn’t remember were already wheeling that patient back to CI as soon as she rolled in. 

The first yellow patient belonged to Anjira and Sam. His name was Dimeki. He had a deep laceration running the whole length of his left leg that had been packed with trauma foam and wrapped in bandages. He also had a scalp evulsion that had thankfully been stapled in place by the medic on the Spirited. He was conscious but disoriented and repeating the same questions. Whatever tried to scalp him also gave him a fairly significant concussion.

No sooner had she noticed and assessed his injuries than Sam pointed out the man’s name badge: Dimeki Wakoma – Medic – UEFS Spirited. He would have been the only medic on the ship, which meant that he most likely foamed and bandaged his own leg and stapled his own scalp. Anjira couldn’t imagine doing all of that. Adrenaline is one hell of a drug, she thought.

“I need help over here!” the voice of the medic across the bay cut through the air like a knife. Anjira, Sam, and Jess looked up from their patient to see the two medics and med tech at bed seven seemingly fighting subdue their combative patient. 

She hadn’t even noticed that the second group of patients had arrived, let alone that one of them had been combative in the first place. Maybe he hadn’t been until they got him on the bed? 

“I got it! Go help them out!” Anjira admonished Sam as she attempted to refocus on the patient in front of her. As she attached an access line to his  vascular port and began to provide him a cocktail of medications to treat his pain and protect him from brain damage, she continued to hear the sounds of her teammates attempting to subdue their seemingly very aggressive patient. 

She looked up just in time to see the patient clim off the bed—screaming like an animal—grab Sam by the neck, and throw them to the floor across the room.

The Signal is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents in this book are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

The Signal © 2024 by Taylor Sloan is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Published infictionThe Signalwriting

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