The quarantine warning turned out to be a lucky break in an otherwise shit-tastic op. The cruiser, Scotland Yard, with both the shuttle Baker Street and its crew safely aboard, were spared being discovered and boarded by Conundrum reps looking to capture Oracle. The fabricated bastards had taken Lost Comet Station while the Yard was on the dark side of the planet, oblivious to the situation.
Or almost oblivious.
The darlings might have managed to get themselves invaded by the enemy, but at least one boffin over there had the brains to get the word out--literally. She'd found a way to amplify her brainwaves to contact and alert the crew of the Yard to the situation. Only her scheme hadn't quite gone as planned. She'd been expecting to reach Oracle--the brainiest brain on board. Somehow she'd ended up reaching Lestrade instead. And now he was stuck uploading data as she sent it, like a human dongle. Like Oracle.
"This is gonna fucking wipe me," complained Lestrade. He reclined in a sickbay couch, IV stuck in one arm, wishing he had a blaster to shoot out the goddamned lights. His skull felt as if it were being cracked open like a bloody gourd, centimetre by centimetre. Any minute now it'd be wide open and Doc, currently hovering somewhere out of his line of sight, would scoop out his brains like so much muck and seeds.
"Try to relax," said Oracle. His expression was intent, earnest, cold. "We need all the information you can hold, and you can hold more if you don't fight the influx."
"Easy for you to say. You do this shit all the time."
"Yes, and maybe now you'll have a little more empathy for my situation in future. Concentrate, Commander. Don't speak--you won't be able to at some point anyway. She's downloading everything she thinks we might find useful in order to retake the station, but she's a boffin, not a soldier. You'll have to pick through the data--filter it--for what we can use."
"Can't we just...download it...and sort it out...later?" Oracle was right. It was beginning to be tough speaking. He didn't like it one bit. Not any of it. This was not his forte. Give him something to shoot, someone to protect, and he was in his element. Not this connector-in-a-wireless-network bollocks.
"Your brain, believe it or not, can work faster than a computer if you simply let it. You're a soldier. Focus on what you know on an instinctual level." Oracle's voice was low and soothing, and Lestrade let his eyes close. He immediately felt better without the harsh sickbay lights glaring down at him.
"That's it," Oracle went on. "Locate the enemy reps from the internal sensor data. Note positions and counts. Find our people, too. Are they scattered or contained? Where's our boffin in relation to them all? Is she free, hidden, or held?" He went on, but Lestrade didn't need his guidance to work the op. And now that he had the rhythm of the upload, it was reasonably smooth sailing.
Upload. Sort. Discard. Store. Upload. Sort. Discard. Store.
How much more was she going to send, for fuck's sake? It felt like he was getting every message from every automatic system on the station dumped directly into his brain. It was too late to ask how to terminate the connection from this end; his speech centre would no longer respond. Then, when he thought he would explode from all the data, it stopped.
His eyes flew open and landed on the concerned faces of Doc and Oracle.
Doc leaned in, looking into Lestrade's eyes, quick-scanning his vitals. "Commander? Can you understand me?"
"Good. I'm showing that transmission has ceased. Correct?"
Another nod. His head throbbed despite the IV drip. Data and pain went hand in hand and he was eager to be rid of them both. He had to get the data out of his head and put it into action. That was where his skills lay.
"I'm ready to begin the download. Do you have all we need?"
One more nod, fervent and impatient. He couldn't say that if he didn't have what they needed, there was no fixing it now. The boffin--Hooper; he'd picked her name out of the influx of information--had ceased transmitting and he had neither the inclination to reconnect nor the slightest clue how to go about it.
"Excellent." Doc moved out of sight again and Lestrade heard clicking and humming from somewhere behind him. He suddenly regretted never sitting in on one of Oracle's download sessions. He'd have had a better idea what to expect now.
"Just remain calm, Commander," Oracle reassured him. "Don't speak until Doc gives you the all-clear. Do you understand?"
Yet another nod. It was getting seriously annoying not being able to speak, although a small part of him appreciated the others' skill at asking only yes or no questions.
"Beginning the download now," said Doc.
Lestrade wished he felt as calm as Doc and Oracle sounded. He could go a lifetime without ever doing this again. How did Oracle stand it? If this were Lestrade's regular job, he'd go mad in three ops. Or less.
The download took half the time of the upload, if that, thank balls. He was that close to losing his shit completely. He couldn't speak, but he was certain he could still vomit, and he damned well might have if it had gone on any longer.
"That's it. You're clear," Doc announced.
With the removal of data, Lestrade's speech centre reactivated or whatever-the-fuck, and he let out a groan to shake the decking.
"Commander? Are you all right?"
He must look in bad sorts. He'd never heard Doc so solicitous before.
"I'm not dead, if that's what you're asking," he moaned. "Wish I was. My head's fucking murdering me."
"I'm upping your IV. Hang in there and try to relax."
Much as he hated to argue, Lestrade said, "No. I need to get moving. Work out a plan. Put together a team. Infiltrate. Rescue--" He tried to rise from the couch, only to be pressed back into it by Doc's strong hands.
"You're staying put. First time in the data-stream, you're not fit for anything but rest at the moment. Besides which," Doc went on and Lestrade could feel the drugs beginning to dull his senses as well as the pain. "They're still in quarantine on Lost Comet. That's my territory. I trust you didn't delete that data." The last was said wryly, Lestrade noted, and was glad. If Doc really doubted him on that, he'd have been furious enough to strike, sick headache or no.
"As if," he huffed. He was fading. "Do your job fast, Doc. The darlings and boffins need us to rescue their sorry butts."
"I'm on it, Commander. You rest now."
Lestrade felt consciousness slip away…
John took the chart that hung at the foot of Greg's hospital bed and read it over carefully. He shook his head and looked back at his unconscious friend. Tubes and wires connected Greg to a bank of monitors--blood oxygen, heart rate, brainwaves. Everything was within a reasonable range of normal, and yet...
"No change, I take it." Sherlock's voice was low behind him. The aroma of coffee came with him and he handed a cup to John who took it gratefully.
"Ta. No. No change. There's nothing else we can do. Waking up is up to him now."