‘So, I get to the bridge and the whole senior staff is out cold,’ said Kate, taking a medkit from the pile and opening it to check through its contents.
‘What did you do?’ asked Nurse Ogawa. She was new, young and wide-eyed.
‘Well, I look on the viewscreen and there’s a Cardassian patrol cruiser, giving us everything she’s got, both barrels. I run to the weapons console - shields down to twenty-three per cent. I check the weapons officer’s pulse - she’s alive, but barely. So I start treating her with one hand - I have a hypo ready in my pocket - and with the other hand I’m operating the phasers, targeting the Cardassian ship. This one’s ok, pass me the next batch.’
Nurse Ogawa, rapt, ticked something off on her chart and moved the stack of medkits closer.
‘Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever targeted a phaser while simultaneously saving a woman’s life but let me tell you, it’s no picnic. I was just starting to sweat when her vitals stabilised and the Cardassian ship exploded, both at the same moment!’
Ogawa stared. ‘Is that true?’
Kate grinned. ‘Well... bits of it are.’
Will Riker looked at her across the poker table. He’d have liked to call her bluff, but the pile of chips in front of her that used to be his reminded him what happened when he last tried that.
Still, he frowned. ‘Uh-uh. Before I can believe that I need to see documentary evidence.’
‘Suit yourself,’ said Kate. ‘You can believe it or not but it’s true. I once played poker with the great Admiral Spock himself. Beat him, too.’
‘Deanna?’ asked Will. ‘Is she lying?’
She shook her head with the ghost of a grin. If she knew she wasn’t telling.
Ms Kyle liked to have the senior officers come into the school sometimes to meet the children. The level of awkwardness varied depending on the officer concerned and the ages of the children present.
Doctor Pulaski’s visit seemed to be going well - in fact Ms Kyle had called recess twenty minutes ago and the children had refused to go and play. That was right after Emily Graas asked what boogers were made of and the good doctor had launched into a detailed explanation. That portion of the talk seemed thankfully now to be coming to a close.
‘Are there any more questions?’ asked Doctor Pulaski.
‘Ooh, ooh!’ Jake Potts waved his hand in the air.
‘Go ahead,’ said Pulaski.
‘What was the most disgusting operation you ever did? With blood and guts and stuff?’
Ms Kyle noticed, although probably the children didn’t, that Doctor Pulaski paused, maybe paled a little. And that was when Ms Kyle remembered that according to her personnel file, before serving on the Enterprise and the Repulse, Doctor Pulaski had been a combat medic during two major conflicts. Ms Kyle wondered if she should step in.
‘The most disgusting?’ Doctor Pulaski asked. ‘Let me see... that was probably the time I had to operate on an Andorian boy who’d gotten confused at a human birthday party and mistaken finger paints for party snacks. You should have seen the colour of his insides!’
Jake looked disappointed at the relative lack of blood and guts, but the other children squealed with delight as Doctor Pulaski gleefully explained just what colours all his organs had turned.
Kate had been balancing a large forkful of cake near her mouth since the beginning of the anecdote. Deanna was watching it with half an eye, waiting for it to crumble and fall back onto the plate.
‘... and the next morning I woke up in bed with two admirals and the vice-president of the Federation!’
With a triumphant flourish, she stuffed the cake in her mouth right as it was about to overbalance.
Deanna laughed. ‘You know I can sense when you’re telling the truth,’ she said. ‘But I don’t know how anybody else manages.’
‘What is truth, really?’ asked Kate philosophically.
‘No deep questions, I’m off duty,’ said Deanna.
‘All right, how about a shallow question - more cake?’
‘Check the ship’s logs if you want, it’s all perfectly true,’ said Kate, beaming around at her audience.
‘You really got hyper-aged and then fixed in the transporter?’
‘You honestly pioneered the technique for selectively wiping memory engrams?’
‘You actually got to participate in the Klingon tea ceremony?’
She shrugged. ‘What can I say? It was the Enterprise. That sort of thing happened there all the time.’