Mission 1: Best Laid Plans
Location: Sick Bay
Timeline: MD 4 | 1500
Having finished with her sixth patient and leaving him in the care of a nurse, Jayla motioned for the next child to be brought over. This one, a small boy of about five, was conscious and terrified, with large crocodile tears streaming down his cheeks and sobs wracking his tiny body. "Aw, it's okay, sweetie," she soothed, reaching to brush his hair off his forehead. But, he turned away from her. "I'm not going to hurt you," she promised.
The child babbled incoherently for a moment, then whimpered, "where's mummy?"
"We'll find her, don't worry," Jayla promised, beginning to scan him. Minor fractures and a very mild concussion. His injuries weren't anywhere near as bad as the blood all over his clothing suggested. "We'll get you all fixed up and-"
"Don' understand!" moaned the boy.
Jayla's brow wrinkled. "You don't understand me?" she asked.
The boy just stared at her in confusion.
"Uh, oh," she breathed. She glanced around and spotted the chief counselor not far away. "Counselor!" she called. "I need some help, if you've got a moment."
Peregrine turned towards the call, raising her eyes in the classic, "who me?" query. She took in the scene at a glance. 'Poor little,' she thought. She headed over to them.
"Who's this?" she asked quietly, "and how can I help?"
"Well, I think his universal translator is broken," said Jayla. "Or he just doesn't have one. Either way, he is terrified and doesn't know where his mother is. Any ideas on how to communicate with him?"
"Oh, poor lad. I'll try a few things. Hopefully we can get a translator for him. Do we have anyone who is fluent enough in his language?"
Before Jayla could answer, Peregrine sat on the floor in front of the small lad. She tapped her chest twice. "Peregrine." She pointed at the boy, making an exaggerated look of query. "Who are you?" She repeated this twice more, and then took his hand in hers talking in a quiet voice as she did.
"Well, you've been in the wars a bit haven't you. You are safe. But I think you're going to have some nasty thoughts for a bit. You saw something bad?"
Very carefully, Jayla pulled her own translators out of her ears and listened to the boy as he muttered to himself, seeming to demand answers of the counselor. She caught a few Trill words, a few Federation Standard, and a few Vulcan words, along with a bunch that she didn't recognize. "Just what I was afraid of," she said, pushing the translators back. "It's a pidgin language. I'll see if Engineering can get us a child-sized one programmed for his language. It might take a while, though, if they haven't got the information already in the computer."
Peregrine did not take her eyes off the young lad. She spoke quietly, in a soft tone of voice. "Can you send someone to my office? There is a large green book on one of the shelves there. It's full of pictures. If we can't speak with him directly, maybe he can show us what he needs."
Jayla caught the eye of one of the nurses, who nodded and hurried out of Sick Bay.
The binder had been something she made on their way here, for just this reason. Each page opened up to a handful of pictures, grouped together in meaning. For one page, there might be pictures of different types of food. Another would have pictures of family. Yet another showed activities that were usual in self-care and personal hygiene. It was an old trick. But it worked, and she often used it in combination with universal sign language, teaching both at the same time.
She grinned at the boy, and started talking again directly to him. She slipped questions in, here and there. He didn't seem to understand more than a word in four, or less, but his body language started to relax a little. Every now and then, he'd look around at the people in the place, and his eyes would widen in fear.
Peregrine was almost certain that his mother was badly hurt.
"Jayla?" she asked, "can you see if there were any females brought in around the same time he was? He's looking, always looking."
"I'll be back in a jiffy," Jayla replied and set off to find out if any women were missing a child.
Meanwhile, a nurse returned with the book and quickly found the counselor. "Here it is, Lieutenant," she said, holding it out to her.
"Perfect, thank you." Peregrine took the book, and opened it. She turned it so that the boy could see the pictures, and then turned each page slowly. She stopped at the section for food, and pointed to a picture of someone eating. She pointed at him, and then at the picture again.
"Hungry?" she asked. Initially, he showed no interest, still looking around for someone he knew. She gently touched his hand, and brought it to the page of the book. "Hungry?" she asked again. "Show me?"
he stared at her blankly for a moment, then turned a few pages in the book himself without really looking. Peregrine smiled, and nodded. He turned another page, and then looked down at the section.
Emotions. He pointed at a picture of a face crying and then at himself. Peregrine nodded again, slowly.
"Mummy?" he asked.
"No luck," Jayla reported as she returned. "There are several unconcious women, and she might be one of them. Have you had any luck communicating with him?"
Peregrine glanced up at Jayla. Her expression was carefully schooled, so that she did not frighten the boy, but the tiny shake of her head answered the query.
"We're getting there though, aren't we?" she said. "Now, I think it might be good to get a scan of you, and see if there are any relatives to you on file here." She flipped the book open to a series of medical pictures, showing him one of a nurse using a tricorder. She pointed to him and then the picture.
"Can we do this with you?" She asked him. She repeated the motion, then pointed to a pair of icons that were on each page. The first, a green check mark, the second a red X. She touched the check mark, and nodded with a smile. Then touched the X, and frowned while shaking her head.
Jayla added to the question by holding out her tricorder and miming scanning with it. "Like this," she said, turning the machine on herself. She showed him the readout with her heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature on it.
The boy peered at the tricorder, and touched it with one finger. He looked at the pictures and babbled something in the mix of languages he spoke. He pointed at the check mark, and mimicked Peregrine's nodding head.
While Jayla performed the scan, Peregrine continued to try and communicate with him. She opened a section on food, and started trying to get him to show her what foods he enjoyed eating.
"If we can find out what he likes, that'll narrow down what languages to try next," she said quietly. It hadn't escaped her notice that he was still looking at every person who was anywhere near them. "he's got to have family somewhere." She didn't add, and hoped that Jayla would catch, that if he didn't, there was no good plan for what to do next.
And Jayla did catch it. "I've requested a universal translator for him from Engineering," she added. "No idea how long it'll take to program, though. At least he seems healthy," she said, nodding to her tricorder. "Aside from a hairline fracture to his right tibia and a very minor concussion." She thought for a moment. "I think I'll take care of the hairline fracture and see if that earns enough trust to stick a neural stimulator to his forehead." She took out the osteo regenerator and motioned to his leg. "May I?" she asked, holding up the small device and indicating his leg, which must be aching.
Peregrine nodded. Once they knew what he was saying, they'd be able to help more. Or send help to his family if that was what was needed. She glanced around the room, and wasn't able to see anyone else that needed her right at that minute. Sitting down beside him, she gently held his hand while Jayla worked on his leg.
"Tickles," she said when he looked at her. "Feels sort of funny while the machine fixes you up!" She smiled at him, and tucked her arm around his shoulders to keep him steady, and still. The way he curled up tighter against her told her a lot about how scared he was. She didn't comment on the slight shaking she felt.
Once Jayla was finished, Peregrine touched her arm. "I can stay for a while," she said quietly. "But we need to come up with a plan within an hour."
"Definitely," replied Jayla. "Except I don't have any idea what to do. Maybe one of the engineers can look after him?"
"He can't be the only one." Peregrine looked around the mayhem going on around them. "Alright, I need Cassandra. She's got a specialty in paediatrics. We give her some space, some food for the kids. Figure it out after things quiet down. How does that sound?"
"That would be great," replied Jayla, now taking out a neural stimulator and motioning to the boy's head. "Can I put this on you?" she asked, then demonstrated on herself. "Makes your head feel better."
While Jayla worked on him, Peregrine hurried away, and found Cassandra. It did not take long to explain the situation, and the nurse quickly took over with the young lad. As Peregrine watched, he began to relax, and was soon yawning. She smiled at him when he looked over at her. "That's good," she said to him gently. "Time to rest."
And, she hoped, by the time he woke up they'd have figured out a translator for him so he could tell them where to find his mother. She hoped, with the sort of deep down sense that it was futile, that they'd find a family looking for him and not the cause of all the blood on his clothes.