"Hold it steady. Don't thrash around too much."
Normally they'd have a reconstruction centre doing this, but Shalem was occupying the only one they had.
Nika began to unwrap the loose dressing that was tied around the arm in haste with a sense of concerned professionalism, her fingers brushing over the rough cloth crusted with dried blood.
Jolie was sat to the side on the bed, half leaning against the aluminium headboard with her arm outstreched on a table.
She winced as Nika unwrapped the final rags of her wounded arm, the loose tail end of the bandage sweeping over her delicate skin.
Nika took a closer glance at the wound. It was unpleasant. It was an FTM Shrapnel Electrix, near point blank shot, widebore plasma round.
"Does it look bad?"
"It will leave a scar, right?"
"Not if we use a sericin covering."
"Should I... keep the scar?"
"No." Nika glanced up at Jolie's soft features, half-illuminated by the blue glow of a lamp from her right.
Jolie momentarily glanced to the side, the rustle of a used dressing hitting the bottom of a bin catching her attention.
Nika took a closer glance at the injury.
Her mind flooded with flashes of the blast.
They were running an infiltration and extraction job. Midnight, Factory to Market Greater Western Coast Research and Development Division, Seattle. They were preparing extraction for the final stretch, with a copy of the drive the operator told them to retrieve in hand. Four security personnel neutralised. Incognita had broken into enough cameras to give them a good overview of the situation. Jet was right outside waiting for them.
They had a tip off from Incognita. Enforcers were arriving.
Nika went in front to clear the way.
Banks was in the back, her implant furiously whirring away in an attempt to bring down teleportation shields that had been activated as a backup security protocol.
She wasn't paying any attention. Nika thought she was.
A lone guard burst out of a sideways passage twenty-nine paces behind Nika.
He looked just as surprised as Banks had.
She turned sideways and tried to reach for her disruptor on her belt. Nika pirouetted on a foot and lunged back. The guard went for his holster.
The gunflash burned its cruel visage into Nika's eyes.
Jolie was down, gasping for breath in a pool of blood. The guard was silent, tossed to the side with a broken neck. Nika leapt to Jolie, her cloaked figure twitching on the carpeted corridor floor.
"Hm?" Nika turned her head up towards Jolie, who was looking at Nika with a small smirk on her lips.
"You keep yours."
"Sentimental." Nika turned her head back down at the bandages.
"I'd think I would like a souvenir too."
It looked bad. There was the clear smell of plasma ballistic weaponry in the air, and the sickly and all-too-recognisable scent of burnt flesh. Nika could see bone. At least there was bone left. The forearm was a Pollock of red and crimson and black. Jolie turned over, a side of her face now meshed in the blood-soaked carpet. Her breathing was shallow, gasping for breaths as the blood continued to spill. There was so much blood. Nika could feel her heart beginning to pulse, disagreeing with her dormant regulators. This was not supposed to happen. The exit was less than two doors away. Jolie opened an eye.
A meek breath spilled out of her mouth, her words beginning to meld into her ragged breaths. Nika leant over her. She lightly reached over to Jolie's other hand. She twitched once more.
Nika interlaced her fingers with Jolie's loose hand, and held it tenderly.
Another alarm blared out. The ghastly wail of a knell. They had no medgel.
This was not supposed to happen. A tear welled up in her eyes.
The blast had nearly severed the arm.
Nika wordlessly extended her hand to retrieve to a box of skin grafts and muscle structures, both of which sat on a bench to the side.
Jolie softened, and turned back to her injury.
Nika put a hand out and checked the analgesic modulators and the connected pads placed on Jolie's shoulders. The ossification nanorepairer could only work on bone. The wound just required a final clean up. Shalem would have been more suited for a job like this, but he was in stasis.
Nika readied her tools.
It was chilly in the medical ward, and Nika could feel a cold draft swirl around he as she worked. Basic medical training, or at least the experience equivalent to it, was a hard requirement for her services as a bodyguard and mercenary. When she used to work under the Fedulovs, she had to reattach a severed arm and a foot in a muddy ditch when a vehicle convoy was ambushed. The assassins had laid explosives inside a bridge and had two snipers posted approximately two and a half thousand metres away on clifftops. The targets were shaken, but alive. She got shot twice, once in the midriff and once on the shoulder. Jolie had asked about the scars before. Run her hand over them, even.
The thew framework was on. A brush of gel, a mixture of mild antiseptic and nanobots to speed up normal cellular regeneration.
Sirens continued to cry.
Nika swallowed a howl.
She noticed it. A rounded, cylindrical tube the length of her hand, forming a bulge in the side of the coat. Nika fumbled around in Jolie's pockets There. Jolie's paralyser jab. Better than nothing. She pulled it out, flicked the switch to active, and rammed it deep into Jolie's side.
From a box Nika produced a suturekit. The skin was already slowly knitting itself back together with the help of dermacelluar regeneration, but to seal the wound for good would be the most advisable procedure.
"That should be it."
"Thank you, Nika." Jolie lifted herself from the cot and began to move her arm around.
She smiled, and wrapped her hands around Nika.
Nika pulled in close and patted her on the back.
Jolie reached back over to a tan overcoat on a hook, and put it on.
"I'll see you at the debriefing room?"
Nika nodded, and handed Jolie a sericin dose and covering sheet.
"I'm keeping it."
Jolie locked her arms around Nika once more, and kissed her on the cheek.