I curled up in a ball on the floor protecting my baby or at least trying to. When my comm peeped I activated it, listening to the Doctor’s voice. He seemed very far away. I had no idea what he was saying to me. In a voice that sounded ragged to my ears I told him to come quickly, that something was very wrong and that he had better hurry. Everything was a blur and when he and the med droid arrived. I was not sure what was real and what wasn’t. I heard the door to our quarters open and I heard his voice call my name. It was the med-droid who found me first and alerted Doctor Thracer. He knelt on the floor beside me and did a cursory exam. He didn’t say anything, he just gave orders to the med-droid hovering at his side quietly. The small scanner in his hand peeped and he read the information it gave him without comment or change in his expression.
“Okay Merly we’re going to get you to the medlab.” He said gently as he and the droid helped me up to the hover-chair he had with him.
“I want you to breathe slowly; can you do that for me?” He asked calmly without answering my question.
I nodded and tried to do as he asked but the pain kept getting in the way. “What’s wrong? What’s happening?”
He lied to me to try and keep me calm, “I can’t say for certain until I get a more detailed scan, I need to get you to the med-lab now.”
I was terrified and Doctor Thracer’s avoidance of my questions was more frightening than anything else. By the time we reached the med lab I was in tears and irrational with fear. The transfer from the hover chair to the exam bed was awkward and when I realised then that there was blood on my dress any grip I had on my panic was lost.
“Merlyn, you need to breathe and I need you to calm down, I know you’re scared and I know it’s difficult to do but you have to try. I don’t want to give you any sedatives until I have a clear idea of what is happening so please try to breathe and try not to panic.” His voice was calm, careful and utterly terrifying.
“But I’m bleeding.” I looked at him in horror as if he could not see this for himself. An irrational part of my mind wondered if the Emperor in my dream had somehow been real and in trying to tear my baby from my womb with his bare hands was responsible for what was happening now but when I looked at my abdomen all I saw was smooth, unblemished skin.
“I know.” He said in a serious tone of voice all the while never stopping what he was doing. “Have you felt the baby move today?”
“What?” I shook my head trying to process his question, trying to remember. “Yes, maybe?” Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. I couldn’t think straight, “I don’t know. I thought he kicked earlier but maybe not, it felt strange but it was hard to tell…I don’t know.”
He nodded. “Was there any spotting, anything unusual at all?”
“No spotting but unusual?…I don’t…I don’t…,” I shook my head, panic was clouding my ability to think straight. “I don’t know, no I don’t think so.” I was suddenly so afraid. “I just felt off today but I thought it was normal.”
He nodded, “Well an off day isn’t unusual, especially given the circumstances that you live with here.” He said calmly, “I meant did you have any unusual pains?”
“No… well my back hurt but I thought that was just me…oh no…I should have come to you but I didn’t want to be a pest…this is my fault, I should have….”
He didn’t let me finish my sentence. “No, you did nothing wrong.”
“But this isn’t right, is it?” My voice trembled.
He looked at me for a moment but he didn’t say anything and I understood through his silence that my worst nightmare was coming true.
“It’s too soon,” I shook my head in denial, “It’s too early.”
“Yes.” He replied all the while never pausing in what he was doing.
“Can you stop this?” I asked as the med droid at his side helped me to undress and redress in a gown that tied at the back.
He did not answer my question. He just gestured for me to lie down. And I did so I winced as another wave of pain undulated through my abdomen. He set the auto scan in motion, the expression on his face was both neutral and grim all at the same time. I stared up at the ceiling, wiping the tears off my face trying to will myself to wake up except I was awake and there was nothing I could do about it. A sudden and tearing sensation and the terrible need to push made me cry out in pain. I struggled to sit up and was shocked when I did to see red spreading quickly beneath me on the sheet.
“Doc?” My voice sounded so small and far away to my ears that I wasn’t even sure it was me that was speaking.
He swore under his breath. “Prep room one now!” He barked at the medical droid while guiding me to lie back down. Now he was no longer calm, now he was agitated and worried. The tension in the room had ramped up several notches.
“How bad?” I looked up into his face as he worked and saw the answer to my unasked question in his eyes when he glanced away from the readout to look at me.
“I’m sorry.” He said gently as he prepared a hypospray. “You need surgery right now.”
“No, please no….” I shook my head and began to fight against him as I succumbed to my panic. No amount of words, gentle or firm, from him could calm me down. He did the only thing left to him so that he could work, he sedated me fully. I felt the warmth of the drug spider its way into my system and within a few seconds the bright medlab lights, noisy machines and the hovering droids slid away into a dark void along with any hope I might have had that this would turn out okay.
*** *** ***
The world came back to me in bits and pieces, the steady bleep of a machine, the hum of a droid’s servos and the swish of the main door opening and closing. I let the sounds wash over me. Slowly I became aware of voices speaking in low, hushed tones near me but I my eyelids were so heavy I could not open them.
“How is she?” It was a woman’s voice, Syal’s voice.
“She’s doing well all things considered.” The doctor answered her. He sounded tired.
“What happened? Voss was not specific in details, he just said it was an emergency.”
He sighed, “She went into preterm labour with complications that required emergency surgery.”
“There was no chance. He was stillborn. There was nothing I could have done for him.”
“Oh no.” Syal’s voice was full of sorrow. “She’s going to be devastated.”
“You’re her best friend. I thought it might be good if someone other than me was here when she woke up.”
I listened to the words being spoken around me but they didn’t really sink in. I was still too dopey to register everything that had happened but I knew I had lost the baby.
“Will she be …alright?”
“As I said, there were some complications and she lost a lot of blood but she will make a full recovery physically. How’s she’s going to cope mentally, Syal, I can’t tell you.” He sounded terribly sad.
“Does Thrawn know yet?”
“I sent word to the Chimaera as soon as she came out of surgery. He was already en-route to the base; he will be here as soon as he can.”
“Can I see her?”
“Don’t expect much.” He said. “She’s heavily sedated.”
The curtain around the bed moved and I felt the warmth of someone’s hand taking mine in theirs. “Merly?”
I moved my head and opened my eyes a little to see Syal sit next to the bed. I opened my mouth to speak but Syal hushed me.
“Shhh,” She whispered, stroking my hair.
“Just rest, everything will be okay.” She said quietly, telling me the lies that all best friends tell when nothing would ever be alright again. So I closed my eyes and allowed myself to fall backwards into the abyss what ever sedatives where still in my system, comforted by the touch of her hand.
Time spun outwards, allowing me small, strange glimpses of a reality I didn’t fully understand. A dream world stole me away but nothing I saw made sense. I awoke feverish and delirious with some sort of infection. Pain and sorrow mingled with delusion and resentment leaving me bewildered and unable to stay coherent. The doctor, the med droids, as well as what felt like too many other people, hovered around me but it was all white noise and a blur. I knew that I wasn’t well and people were worried but I did not care. The drugs I was being fed intravenously swept all the anxiety and fear away leaving only a strange sense of being out of time and space.
The next time I woke the fever had broken and my mind was clear. Everything that had happened came flooding back and the memory of it was excruciating. My hand went to my abdomen and I choked back a sob.
“I’m here, you’re safe.”
I turned my head to see Thrawn sitting near the bed, half in the shadows. He had been watching me sleep and by the looks of him he had been there for some time. He was out of uniform and he looked tired. He got up and sat on the bed by my side. He stroked my face with the backs of his fingers.
“How are you feeling?”
“Empty.” I said, “Exhausted, and thirsty.”
“The last part I can help you with.” He said as he poured me a cup of water and helped me sit up to drink it. When I was done he set the cup aside and, pulling the chair closer, sat back down in it. There was a long silence I didn’t know how to fill it. It felt to me that Thrawn was also unsure of how to proceed. I looked into his eyes wondering if hated me, if he blamed me for what happened.
“I am so sorry.” I whispered when I could no longer stand the heavy quiet.
Thrawn shook his head. “You have no need to apologise. This was not your fault. Thomas said the problem lay in incompatible genetics; the baby’s heart stopped hours before you started to miscarry. There was nothing you or he could have done to change that.” His jaw muscles tightened as he clenched his teeth. “You are lucky that it was not worse. If you had waited before calling for help things could have gone very badly for you.”
I heard his words but they were meaningless. “I was his mother, he was growing inside of me I should have known something was wrong, I should have seen it coming. I should have protected him.”
“How?” Thrawn asked, clearly puzzled by my words.
“All those terrible dreams I had, they were clues….”
Thrawn sat back from me and scrubbed at his face with his hands. “They were dreams nothing more. You are not a seer or a goddess with infallible powers. You are….” But I didn’t let him finish.
“I was his mother.” I said again as if it would make any difference.
Thrawn nodded, “Yes and I was his father and I, too, was powerless to prevent this tragedy.” He spoke quietly. I looked away from him fighting back a sudden anger I didn’t understand. He reached over and gently guided my chin so that I faced him again. “I am also sorry that I was not here for you. I am so sorry you had to go through all of this alone. We both feel loss, we are both mourning. Our child is dead, yes, but none of this is your fault.” The sorrow in his voice was real and painful to hear.
“Our child is dead.” My voice shook as I repeated Thrawn’s words. It hit me then and I could not stop the terrible knot of pain that suddenly stuck in my gut. I felt as though I could not breathe and clutched at my chest gasping for air. I felt as though I were drowning.
Thrawn shifted again to sit on the bed so he could pull me to him and hold me tightly. His hand held my head to his chest while he rubbed my back with the other. “I know.” He said quietly.
I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. All my emotions caught in my throat and I could not let them go. “I can’t… I can’t….” I gasped, “I can’t….”
His hand never stopped caressing my back as I hyperventilated. “Breathe out slowly, just breathe.”
I shook my head trying to get the words out, trying to find release for the terrible anguish bottle-necked within me. “I can’t….” I couldn’t finish any sentence I started. The ache of loss was overwhelming but there was no way to let it go.
Thrawn kissed the top of my head as he pulled me even tighter. “I know tekari, give it time, just give it time.”
He held me in silence until my breathing returned to normal and I began to drift back to sleep, laying me gently back against the pillows, handling me as though I were made of fragile glass. “Rest, I will be here when you wake up. I promise.”
I nodded, closing my eyes, feeling him shift off the bed and move away. The curtain moved as he closed it behind him to give me privacy.
“Thomas, how long does she need to stay here?”
There was a moment of quiet. “I see no reason why she cannot return to your quarters in the morning. It will do her good to get out of this medlab to a more private, comfortable place.” There was another moment of quiet and then the doctor asked, “Was there something else?”
“I’m moving the time frame the Wayland project ahead. I need you to finish what we started tonight so that we can move on to stage two as soon as possible.”
“Tonight? You cannot be serious?” Doctor Thracer asked.
“The schedule has changed. The priorities have changed. I need you to set it up now with no more discussions and no more arguments. I understand your feelings on this matter but they are irrelevant. The current project must end and the new one started before I return to the Chimaera at all costs.” Thrawn’s voice was low and hard.
“And when will that be?”
“Just as soon as I have concluded my business here, Thomas.” Thrawn’s reply was sharp but the doctor’s tone matched it.
“And Merlyn, is she part of that business? Have you told her what is going to happen? What you have planned? What about her future? She needs you now more than ever.”
“I am aware of her needs and her future is not your concern at this time, her health is.” Thrawn’s voice was as hard as stone. “When the time is right she will be apprised of the situation.”
“She has friends on Coruscant. I hope your plans include keeping them alive too because right now the last thing that young woman needs is another loss.”
“I am well aware of that Thomas and you need to learn to trust me.” Thrawn replied icily, “Now you have your orders, please carry them out.”
If there was an answer I never heard it as sleep mercifully claimed me.