Gauze rolls, gauze pads, tape for both. Pack it in an easy to reach pocket. Celox pads and tampons stuffed here. Iodine, saline solution, Hydrogen Peroxide, Isopropyl alcohol, all sealed in sturdy plastic bottles, get strapped on the side. Simple plasters of varying size stuffed in a blue case, marked as such, stuck right in the outside pocket. Antibiotics, morphine, surgical tools such as sheers, scalpels, forceps. All that gets a special spot inside the bag. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, anti-dirareals and antihistamines, herbal remedies for pokémon go right next to that special spot along with the general potions. Orange C-A-T Tourniquet and trauma shears stuck in an orange pouch, which is...

Pinki scratched her forehead.

...strapped into place in the MOLLE on the bag where she could see it.

The audino crashed on the couch and propped her feet on the coffee table. There was more stuff to go through, like CPR masks and nasal breathing tubes. She will need to get them inside the medical bag. The bag, a medium-sized orange duffle, was designated with the Star of Life badge: a blue six-pointed star over a white background. For Pinki, a twenty plus year veteran in the medical field for pokémon, it was her mobile pokémon center. Wherever she would go when she was needed, she would take that with her if it was somewhere far from civilization or in a hospital camp. Trainers would bring their pokémon to her and she would treat their wounds on the spot. Bandaging them. Cleaning them. Providing anti-venom or an antidote to their poisons. Giving them herbs to make them feel better. Pinki chuckled, feel better. Some herbs were mere placebos, nothing more. Only the real high-grade herbs would be used for treating the more severe illnesses.

The only reason why it all worked was because of faith. Faith and trust in the practitioner. Reality was that some of the drugs just trick you into feeling good. A simple pat on the back with the words, "You're going to be okay," would provide the same effect. Pokémon look up to her. Her peers rely on her. Her friends loved her. All because she was successful in treating pokémon and making them well again, while comforting those who are beyond hope in recovery.

Pinki unscrewed the coke bottle, raised it up and drank it down. She got about half of the contents into her stomach, breathed, then downed the other half. She tossed it in the recycling bin that was starting to overflow with coke bottles from that morning. All in a day's work, she thought.

She slapped her hand on her belly. Years of excess went straight to her abdomen, so much so that her belly draped over her lap. Pinki was fortunate that not all of it went to her arms and legs, especially the rear like a lot of audinos. She closed her eyes. Memories of the skirmishes in Unova resurfaced. So much blood. So much death. Pokémon came from all over, banding together to form the Pokémon Resistance Army. The PRA were made up of pokémon who had spent an array of time in the hands of criminal organizations or poachers. The result of using violence to spur a movement resulted in a botched insurgency. The Unova Regional Guard went in and put the whole thing down, but the PRA put up a fight. Lots of casualties on both sides. Everyone caught in between were either trying to survive or trying to treat the wounded.

Long story short, it ended, and Pinki had enough. The Nurse Joy she used to serve had to retire and she was ferried to other pokémon centers around the region. Stressed and overworked, Pinki couldn't perform her duties. There were treatment attempts. Plenty of them as a matter of fact. Some medication was prescribed, such as beta blockers. The beta blockers were a godsend but everything else was just a waste. While high on the beta blockers, she got on a computer and surfed the web. News articles from Faraday Island poured in. Tesla Westinghouse, the old pikachu whom she treated during the skirmishes, had bounced back and formed a pokémon community on the island. Pinki's eyes lit up. She sent him an email, and not too long later he replied. After an exchange of more emails, arrangements were made for her to start a new life on the island.

The end result was something she kind of half-expected. The PRA had been reformed and now Mr. Westinghouse controls them. Most of the original members had perished. Those who remained were now good friends with her. The newer recruits respected her for her work. They always put her on her guard, but over time she managed to get used to the thought of being among them. Her new employer, Tesla's granddaughter Featherbelly, was something she had not expected at all. The rikachu, this evolutionary mutation of all three variants of the electric mouse pokemon, had set up a place of debauchery just down the street from the largest pokémon hospital in the world. Food and sex were the name of the game for pokémon. Lots of her Dixierat mice pokémon got fat. Even Featherbelly got obese within a year. Pinki wasn't sure what to make of it then and she sure as hell wasn't sure what to make of it now. All she knew was that rikachus were one of the leaders of the Dixierats, the clan of electric mice pokémon who lived on the island. That was all she knew.

Pinki's day job at Featherbelly's shop was to be half-janitor and half-practitioner to the pokémon who were coming in. However, she found herself taking part in the activities. Her room was just a single studio. No bed, just a couch, and it was always filled with food since she got here. Fruits, vegetables, meats, all sealed in cans and lining the walls. Simple junkfood lined everything else. Coke cans and bottles everywhere with pre-packed poképuffs. At first she refused to eat any of it, but then she had one, and then two, and then she just stuffed her mouth. She lost control, letting herself go.

She leaned forward and checked her medical bag. Okay, what was it that she needed again? Breathing tubes? Pinki checked on the clock. Twenty-one hundred hours. Bedtime. Before she packed up for the night, she reached into the bag and pulled out her armband. The armband was about seven centimeters long and wide enough to stretch around her arm. There were two sides to it. One was green with a white cross in the middle, the flip side was white with a red cross on it. Pinki pressed it against her nose and smelled it. This armband held the symbol of her mission.

Both the human and pokémon governments of Faraday Island had a law in place to backup the Viridian Convention, AKA, the rules of engagement during war and armed conflict. Part of the code was for all medical practitioners to wear the red cross to signify that the wearer is a non-combatant, and that his or her purpose is to treat the wounded and sick while providing no assistance to the war effort itself. The idea was to limit casualties and cut down on the amount of death. If memory comes to serve, the Convention placed ALL pokémon center assistances to the Nurse Joys in a life tenure for medical servitude. Even if that pokémon were to either retire or resign their position, they were still required by law to assist in treating the wounded and sick no matter what.

Pretty much no matter what she does or what career path she would take, any government could drag her back into full-time employment in a medical setting. The pokémon with those kind of skills were invaluable and can do pretty much what a Nurse Joy can do, maybe even more when given more training. For Pinki, she had twenty years of training and experience, enough so that she might be even a doctor. Pay was high, of course, but the stress of the job was what brought her down in the first place. The whole reason why she moved to Faraday Island in the first place.

The only way to get out for good was for that pokémon to be physically or mentally incapacitated. Pinki only knew of one Nurse Joy assistant who had been disqualified from being a reservist. Her mentor, Medica, who just so happened to be Tesla's longtime friend back during his pokémon battling days. Med was and still is the most trained and experienced pokémon in the field of medicine. She even went through training to become a surgeon for the ER. A few of the toughest, if not the hardest cases, ever to be recorded by the WHO were handled by her. Med inspired a lot of people and pokémon to join the medical field to save lives and was still talked about in medical schools today.

The only reason why she was disqualified because she was a glutton, had been since an early age. Her late trainer had encouraged it. Beer, parties, and orgies to go around. She loved food, so much so that she gotten so fat that she couldn't walk. Pretty much Med had gotten old and wanted out, so she sabotaged her own health to make it happen. When she found out that her old friend was not only still alive but had established the pokémon community on Faraday Island, she went back home. Now she spends most of her time sitting in the confines of the first floor of Featherbelly's commune, just three floors below Pinki's studio.

It was an easy choice for Med because she wasn't born into the medical field. Pinki was, however, so she often go to her for guidance and advice. "Live a little," she would say, and that was it. And Pinki took the advice, but promised herself never to end up in the same situation as Med. She wanted to live, sure, but didn't want to destroy herself.

She put the armband over her left arm, then made sure the off-duty side was facing out. Pinki closed her eyes. It was hard for those who spent their entire, ENTIRE, lives to the Hippocratic Oath. She couldn't just walk away like Med did. It was ingrained into her deep. She couldn't just leave, it would make her literally sick. Ever wonder why you never heard of cases where pokémon center assistants defect and abandon their mission? This was why.

Pinki flung her legs over the couch and dropped her head over the pillow. Sacrifices had to be made in order to save lives. At least she had people who cared about her, and pokémon too.

. 2 .

"Pinki, you're awake?"

The audino stirred and sat up. Mark's land rover bounced up and down. The sky was just a white sheet. Trees and shrubs sailed by as Mark navigated the two-way road. Pinki sat up and nodded.

"We're nearing the PRA camp," Mark said. "We're going to go off-road soon so sit back and hope the suspension doesn't jar you too much."

The camp was a PRA-controlled temporary medical center. Tesla had it set up when the fighting got too bad. From what Pinki recalled in the briefings, both PRA and Dixierat forces clashed with rogue pokémon in the deepest wilderness areas of the island. Pinki cringed. Rogue pokémon, the kind of pokémon were no amount of good would save them. Too far gone from their years being caged and tortured by the various criminal teams of the globe, they will stop at nothing to cause as much destruction as they could. What made things worse was that some of them had acquired firearms, and as a result of using weapons made for humans, there were more accidental shootings and friendly fire among their own ranks. Tesla, furious, sent Mark out to survey the damage.

Before Mark left to pick up Pinki, he pressure-washed his land rover, cleaning off all the dirt and dust. The glass had been cleaned with alcohol from the inside-out. The massive trunk space in the back had been vacuumed and disinfected. Mark even draped a thick moving blanket underneath before placing a thick tarp above that. After duct-taping the edges, he wiped the whole thing down with soapy water, then dried it with a bit of alcohol. Once that was all done, he covered the whole thing with a biodegradable plastic film and got in there to fill up the compartments with medical supplies. Dr. Andrew Westinghouse, one of the leading surgeons in the Faraday City Pokémon Hospital, acquired a massload of consumable medical supplies and had given them to Mark about a week's prior. He pretty much turned his land rover into a mobile field hospital, something that Pinki felt reassuring. She wouldn't have to use the camp's own supplies, and that meant there would be more to go around. It also meant higher quality treatment for the wounded.

Pinki couldn't say no when Mark gave her the offer that morning. She'd been cooped up indoors for about three weeks. She needed to get fresh air and stretch her legs. However, the wounded and sick pokémon out there needed a medic with veteran experience. Few healers possessed her level of skills and experience, reason being she had risked her life, even almost dying, to acquire all that knowledge. It earned her respect from all of her peers and a tripled salary from Tesla. That was his policy: healers who worked to treat and save others while bearing through incapacitating wounds themselves receive a reward similar to a Medal of Honor, except the reward was a permanent raise. Such an honor was hard to get because healers needed to acquire way more knowledge than the level of training required to reach that status, and then go through a near-death experience while doing her job to get it. Those healers were so far and few in between and she was one of them, which was why Mark handed her the offer in the first place.

"I hope you're up for this, Pinki," he said as he cruised down the road. "I'm not forcing you to tag along. Tesla's got plenty of healers out here. However, what he doesn't have is a mobile field hospital. I thought of you when he mentioned the term."

"Aud?" Pinki asked.

"The healers are made up of chanseys, other audinos, and a handful of wigglytuffs. Problem with these healers is that they are neither as trained nor experienced as you. Most of whom haven't seen mass suffering, let alone a lot of blood. I would be out here helping the Faraday Red Cross move the wounded to the pokémon hospital, but DOD says that would be breaking the Viridian Convention. Military conflict, they said. Only the most severe cases, they said." Mark snorted, "Shit, I expected Tesla to fight it but he agreed. Besides, there are too many wounded to move to the hospital. So the Faraday Red Cross is bringing the hospital to them."

Mark slowed down and turned onto a gravel road. The forest got tighter. The bushes got thicker. It almost felt claustrophobic. What would happen if they get stuck? Would they have to hike it or get a tow truck? That would cost time. Three pokémon lives could've been saved if they hadn't had any delays. Pinki leaned back into her seat. Stay calm, girl. No need to get worked up over imaginary things.

Imaginary, who was she kidding? It was always a very real possibility.

The vegetation gave way to a wide open field, and in it were multiple white tents of a variety of sizes. There were three big tents surrounded by smaller tents. Perhaps the big tents were the community gathering areas or for mass casualties while the smaller tents were for field operations or for higher ranking injured pokémon. Regardless of what they were used for, each one had the red cross marked on them, which was important as it designated the camp as a field hospital. Flying above the field hospital itself were two flags. One had a simple white flag with the red cross on it. The other flag was purple and marked with a pichu, which wore a set of goggles. Pinki gazed on. This was it. A tent city designated for wounded and marked with the appropriate authority. Who knew how many sick and wounded pokémon were inside?

Mark pulled around the tent city and found an open tent. He backed the land rover inside and killed the engine. "Okay, Pinki. I'm going to be on guard duty. If you need me for anything, wave me down."

Pinki nodded. "Audi."

Mark took the audino's hand. "You should take a walk around the tent and survey the wounded and sick. After that you should find the camp commander in one of the big tents. She's going to be a wigglytuff if I recall. Old, weathered. You'll know here when you see her."

"Audi," she nodded.

. 3 .

Whoever was the camp commander had a sense of organization, which was a good sign that she was medically trained. Wounded and sick were lined up in rows within the big tents while the smaller tents held pokémon that were ready to be operated on. Pinki had no problem finding the camp commander herself. Her tent was stuck in the middle of the camp next to one of the giant tents. The wigglytuff had a light blue surgeon's outfit. She had a green bandana with a white cross in the middle of it, even though her armband was white with a red cross. Maybe she wasn't a stickler for neatness, as her desk was covered with paperwork and mobile devices with no sense of order. The wigglytuff held up her head, her big eyes locking on to the audino's. "You look familiar? Are you Pinki?"

"Yeah, I am."

The wigglytuff came around and shook her hand. "Name's Tac, sometimes they call me Dr. Tac or Dr. T, but call me Tac, and don't ever call me Tic-Tac."

"Good to meet you, Tac."

"Good to meet you, too. I heard about what happened to your sister back at Unova. I'm sorry about what you went through. The medical community says you are one the most experienced, if not the best veterans in the world."

Pinki blinked. "I don't know what to say about that, I perform my duties like any other healer."

"Yet you perform your duties without breaking down or getting overwhelmed. That is recognized among us because most healers couldn't physically handle worst-case scenarios. The honor is yours."

What an honor, even though she hadn't done much serious patching as of late. Well, until now that is. "So what's your status on the mission here?"

Dr. Tac threw up her hands. "The last of the wounded just arrived and the chaos had died down. I kid you not, Pinki. It was bad. We were hoping the conflict would last for an hour or two, but it just kept on going and going because some nutjob commanding the rogue factions just got his tail in a knot. Pokémon on both sides collapsed from all sorts of injuries. We send in helpers to go out and evac them here. Should be all well in good, however, I got a call about a severe case of a pokémon who got shot in the lung. I have to send in a field medic to perform a real med-evac."

"Who's the field medic?"

Dr. Tac said, "Whisper, a young spry audino with a sense of humor. She had experience from treating wounded from the Team Plasma and PRA skirmishes in Unova and assisting disaster relief efforts from the Team Flare Crisis in Kalos. Healers would treat a handful of patients before resting. Seeing pokémon suffer degrades them. But not Whisper, no. She maintains a record of treating thirty-three consecutive patients within a fourteen hour period during the Team Flare Crisis. Get this, the twenty-eighth patient took four hours to treat because that pokémon was on the verge of dying from a nicked aorta. I'm not sure if this part of her story is true or not, but right after the thirty-third patient, she crawled up on a park bench and slept there for ten hours straight. Then got up, downed what seemed to be a whole liter of water in one sitting, then resumed work. Nobody ever recalled seeing her eat within the five days she was there."

Pinki said, "Wow, I don't think I can pull anything like that off. She should be recognized."

Dr. Tac dropped her hand on her shoulder. "Pinki, I would never send our healers out into the thick of battle. Their lives and the years of skills and training they hold are too precious to put at risk. However, having a marked medic on the battlefield gives the fighters a morale boost. A reassurance that they will be okay if they go down. Makes them fight harder. So the troops saw Whisper covering ground, dodging incoming fire. They all rallied up and pushed on. Problem was that the rogue forces knew Whisper and they too got riled up.

"Now here's what happened that turned the whole conflict into a shitshow. Whisper got to the wounded pokémon, one of the Dixierat raichus. She stabilized the raichu's condition on the spot and hauled him over her shoulders. Now the raichu is one of ours and a member of the rogue faction saw Whisper hauling him away." Dr. Tac popped a mint into her mouth, chewed it up, and slammed down some water. "Now some of the PRA forces on both sides managed to get a hold of firearms that were stolen years ago from law enforcement agencies and criminal organizations around the world. Some of these weapons found their way onto this island. One of these weapons happened to be a .308 rifle. Said rifle was in the hands of that rogue pokémon who raised that rifle and shot Whisper in the end within two hundred meters."

Pinki covered her mouth. "Did he kill her?"

"No, worse, it stirred up a shitshow. Whisper got a quarter of her face blown off. She got knocked down, yet got back up, wrapping some gauze over the wound before picking up her patient and continuing on her way. When both sides saw what happened, they got pissed and unleashed the bowels of Agartha. Both sides ended up turning on the sniper and turned him into Swiss cheese."

"Oh my Arceus, did Whisper make it back okay?"

"Yeah, she just strolled in about an hour ago. Her patient is being treated and in stable condition. As for Whisper herself," Dr. Tac pointed out the tent door, "she's waiting to be examined. You should go check up on her and make sure her wound doesn't get infected. I hate to admit, but we can't lose a healer like her."

"Hate to admit?"

Dr. Tac frowned. "You'll see."

. 4 .

Pinki stuck her head into the tent. Whisper was lying over a cot in the casualty position. She was small for an audino, but was quite robust. Whisper still wore her arm band, even though she had flipped it to the off-duty side. Gauze bandages were wrapped around Whisper's head and left eye with the left side being bloody. Pinki took a closer look. A patch job. Someone just stuck bandages on it just to keep her alive. She reached out and touched Whisper's shoulder. The audino's one eye popped open. "Oh, I guess you're here to perform an autopsy?"

"What, no. Umm, I'm just here to make sure you're okay?"

Whisper asked, "Wait, I'm not dead?"

"No, you're not."

"Well that's very disappointing. I've been laying here for an hour waiting to die. Infection's not running fast enough, I suppose."

Whisper cradled her pillow and tried to go back to sleep. Pinki groaned and shook her shoulder. "Whisper, my name's Pinki. Dr. Tac sent me to treat you."

"Tic-Tac sent you? I guess she didn't forget about me afterall. Staff's pretty low here, by the way. I would be out working on patients and bringing some in from the danger zone but I got this oozing maw on the side of my head. You can fix that, right?"

"Yeah, I can, but not here."

"Where then?"

"In the back of a car."

Whisper attempted to sit up. Pinki took her hand and pulled her upright. "Air conditioned?"

"Yeah, it's air conditioned."

Whisper grabbed her pillow and tucked it under an arm. "Okay, lead the way. Is it alright if I hold on to you? Head wounds make me all woozy."

Pinki pulled Whisper's arm over her shoulder and got her to her feet. She was just a few centimeters shorter than her, making it awkward for her bag. However, Whisper showed no sign of falling over, although she had trouble walking straight. She was atypical. Very atypical. Pinki met a lot of healers in her twenty-year career and she met only a handful of them who weren't fazed by trauma. Most of the new recruits would pass out from massive blood lost while the veterans just went mad. Those who stuck around do so because they were able to handle their emotions. However, those who shrug off the stress of the job and just do it are rare. Like, extremely rare. Medic was one of them, but Pinki couldn't remember ever seeing her in a stressful situation. There were two other stories of healers who went through pure carnage and came out unscathed, though she had no way of verifying if they were true or not. Whisper, the new case, was without a doubt one of those apathic healers. How much so? Only one way to find out.

Another helicopter flew by as Pinki neared Mark's car. Someone broke down crying somewhere behind her. There were arguing, yelling. Isopropyl alcohol and copper would drift past her nose on occasion. Down time of a field hospital, she supposed. The worst had yet to come. When they reached the tent, Pinki opened the back of Mark's car and helped Whisper inside. She threw down her pillow and dropped back into the casualty position. Pinki sealed up the car and turned on the Lithium battery. She started up the air conditioner and air began circulating.

"How long will the batteries would last?" Whisper asked.

"Long enough."

Pinki unzipped her medical bag and pulled out her surgery kit, she then sat aside some saline and 70% isopropyl alcohol. She donned a surgical mask and slipped on some gloves, then sterilized it with alcohol. "I'm going to undo your bandages, you'll be alright?"

"I should be, I think it stopped bleeding a while ago."

Just as she reached over, she stopped. Her belly was just a hair's away from touching Whisper's back. Pinki took a deep breath and reached over, her gut pressed against Whisper's shoulder as she began removing the used gauze.

"Do you enjoy yourself, Pinki?" Whisper asked.

"Um. Yeah, I guess."

"I can sure tell."

Pinki pushed her gut away. "Oops, sorry."

"Naw, don't worry about it. Just do what you need to do."

. 5 .

And she did, sort of.

The bullet entered through Whisper's left eye, shredded part of her skull and temporal plate, before blasting out by her ear. The temporal lobe itself was exposed. Bits of bone fragments and shrapnel from the bullet coated the wound. Had she been a centimeter forward, she would've taken it on her right temple and would be dead. With a pair of forceps, Pinki extracted every bit of dead tissue and metal she could find, then patted the pooling blood with some gauze. Once she was sure it was clean, Pinki ran an alcohol swab around the edge of the whole wound, then wrapped the whole thing in fresh gauze and taped it down. Finished, she prepped up a herbal remedy and had Whisper nibble on it. She was lucky to be alive. More than lucky as a matter of fact. She had saved a life despite her's was at risk of ending.

Pinki leaned back and relaxed. The old familiar strains of stress were trickling up her nerves again. However, not as bad as it used to be. A good thing too. She might've cracked if there were other healers losing their marbles or screaming into her ear. At least she didn't have to report in to a Nurse Joy like she used to. Whisper stirred and sat up, then flexed her arms and legs. "That feels a whole lot better than before, was it bad?"

"It was pretty bad, you need to go to the pokémon hospital."

"What a shame, I should report in to Tic-Tac and ask her for medical leave. It might take me months to get the bone fixed and a new eye in place. I hope this doesn't jeopardize my career. It's not that healers are hard to train, but it's hard to get one that has nerves of steel. I had patients curse me out, expecting more out of me even though it was beyond the resources I could muster. And then I have patients who are pretty much terminal, and my co-workers would make futile attempts to save them or cure them on the spot. I would try telling them, but that wasn't something they want to hear." Whisper's one eye locked on Pinki's. "In the end it destroys them from the inside out."

Pinki said, "It is so common."

Whisper placed a hand on Pinki's belly. "Is that why you let yourself go?"

"It's why I moved onto this island, to get away from it all. Instead, I discovered that I have more control over it, and the stress isn't as bad as it used to be."

"Sounds like you found what you were looking for."

Pinki nodded. "I guess."

"Tell you what, after the conflict is resolved, you and I are going out to party."

Pinki blinked. "Wait, are you under the Faraday City Pokémon Hospital's staff?"

"Yeah, full-time. But my boss is not telling me what to do and Tesla's giving us a voice in this mess. You know that the humans are constantly complaining about pay? We pokémon get paid more than the doctors, and most of that money comes from Tesla and the institutions he set up."

Pinki scooted over and opened up the trunk door. "Here, I'll walk you back to your tent."

"Good idea, I still feel woozy."

"You're not feeling any pain, right?"

"All I feel is a splitting headache that's making me woozy."

Pinki slid out of the truck and Whisper climbed up onto her back, she then set the injured audino down and offered her shoulder like last time. "My grandmother used to volunteer her services for the EMTs," Whisper said, "then she got advanced training and became an emergency surgeon. She always told me to live my life to its fullest, and also to have my cake and eat it too. I don't share her appetite. Stomach's too small. Not everyone can abuse themselves and live to an advanced age, and for good reason too. I honestly think they live that long because they don't overtax their minds. Nobody understands how it works with this mind over matter crap, but in the end not everyone can pull it off and it always ends in disaster."

Pinki said, "Well that's good to know."

"I think you can pull it off though, you seemed to be keeping yourself together, even though you're out of shape. But don't let that get to you and don't let anybody tell you different."

"Well, thanks, Whisper. No other healer had told me anything like that in years."

Whisper gave Pinki a hug. "Whatever I can do to help a fellow medic like you. Everybody in this field hospital will be glad you're here with them. Believe me, give them enough time and they will see your unique abilities, and they will love and respect you for it."

. 6 .

With Whisper taken care of, Pinki cleaned and disinfected the back of Mark's car before eating lunch. He packed a load of hot pockets for her. Four as a matter of fact. She told herself she would eat one, but in the end she ate all four. Each one was a different flavor, which made sure she didn't get bored. She packed away the lunchbox before kicking back and napping in the trunk.

After a while, Mark came knocking on the door. "Heads up," he said. "The next wave of casualties incoming."

Pinki sat up and yawned, time to get back to work.

Dr. Tac sent her some of the more moderate cases that were bordering on severe. What was convenient for Pinki was that all of the pokémon coming in were all small pokémon, the largest no taller than Mark. Most of the wounded had conventional pokémon battle wounds such as burns and blunt force trauma. However, the wounds looked much nastier than she would like. Pinki did the usual. She checked their vitals, listening to their heart with her ear lobe, then checking their pulse. After determining they need no further treatment than the obvious, Pinki patched them up. For the most part, she just wrapped the wounds up with gauze and burn ointment and having the pokémon place a cold pack over the bruising. That went on with four pokémon until a gardevoir came in, who bled from the side. The healers slid her onto the tarp and Pinki cut away the gardevoir's clothes to access the wound. Judging by the bloodiness of the wound, someone must've taken a spear or something and stabbed her with it. Pinki cleaned out as much debris as she could see before washing it out with saline. She then stitched it closed, cleaning the area with isopropyl alcohol before patching it up with gauze. Pinki then told the gardevoir to come back if she still feels pain and if she gets lethargic.

The tenth pokémon who came to her was one of those chespins from the Kalos region. The little guy wouldn't stop screaming, so Mark came in and gagged the guy. Pinki asked what was bothering him and he held up his knee. She frowned, it was just a minor scrape. Pinki pretty much washed the area with saline, then patched it up with petroleum jelly and a roll of gauze. The chespin then ran off, mumbling to himself about his misfortune.

The chespin was a good sign though, as the lower priority wounded were coming in now. Just minor scrapes and cuts, some burns here and there. Looks like these were the kind of pokémon who just fallen over and cried uncle. For Pinki, this was a break in the action. She patched them all up like she would in a normal pokémon center setting and sent them on their way. She was just finishing up with the twenty-second pokémon when her toughest challenge came in yet.

A gallade was hauled in with a messed up leg. The letter T was marked on his forehead. Pinki checked the tourniquet and saw it was stuck on there about 45 minutes ago. She checked the gallade's vitals and asked him what else was hurting him. Nothing else, just the leg. Whoever stabilized the gallade did a very good job too. The bandage was neatly wrapped. Pinki injected a blood thinner into the gallade and had him chew aspirin, then begin to unwrap the bandage. Seemed that someone had stuffed the wound with Celox. Good stuff, except she have to remove it in order to get in there. Pinki pulled it out with a pair of forceps and it came out in a big chunk, which was lucky. She then shined a light into the wound and surveyed the damage. Residue and bits of lead, gunshot wound. Pinki began pulling out the debris and chunks of lead. Once that was done, she then began the hardest part. Reattaching the blood vessels together to save the gallade's leg.

This shouldn't even be done by her, it should've been done by a surgeon at the pokémon hospital, performed under a microscope with plenty of aids. Why wasn't he airlifted to the pokémon hospital? She didn't know. Pinki peered closer. It wasn't like stitching flesh. Blood vessels can be spongy and flexible. Vessels that were torn apart tend to shrivel up. They could be stretched back into place and sutured as long as they weren't too damaged. Otherwise, she would need to get a graft that would act like a vessel substitute. Pinki hoped the gallade wouldn't need that. She didn't have them on hand and even if she did, the blood vessel will wear out after twenty years, indicating by the limb turning blue.

. 7 .

The sun was just setting as word reached the camp that the conflict had just ended. The final batch of wounded reached the tent hospital. There were so many wounded that more tents had to be set up. In the end, Pinki took care of a large portion of the more seriously wounded. It was a killer workload. She was doing the same amount of work that would normally take five healers to do when treating them. Pinki cleaned up the gunk off the tarp for the final time and threw it all in the biohazard waste been. After cleaning her hands with rubbing alcohol, she drunk down a mouthful of cola before dropping it back into its cooler. Ugh, her hands were raw from holding instruments all day. Well, at least the worst was over. Time to check in with Dr. Tac to see what else needs to be done, or to see about getting an official dismissal.

However, she could make out Dr. Tac throwing fits of rage as she neared her tent. Pinki stuck her head through the door and found Whisper hanging on to her desk as Dr. Tac stood there, waving her fists. "For shit's sake, Whisper! You need to go to the pokémon hospital!"

"So do a lot of these injured, but they need to see that I'm alright."

"We've reassured them that you'll be fine."

"Reassuring? They watched me get shot. You can't just reassure them, you have to show them!"

"They'll get upset if they see your head bandaged up like that!"

"They'll get upset if I cry like a little bitch. I may be a little, but I'm not a bitch. I'm amazing."

With that, Whisper held up what looked like a light-syrup coke beverage and drunk it down, the end of the bottle pointed high. Dr. Tac blinked. "Wait a minute, give me that!"

She swiped the bottle out of Whisper's hands, the audino back-pedaled while the wigglytuff smelled the contents. "Alcohol? Where did you get alcohol?"

"Knew a guy who knew a guy. I think there might be IPA in there, though."

"IPA? You put IPA in a coke bottle? What the crap is wrong with you?!"

"Nothing is wrong with me, Tic-Tac. I'm just retarded."

Pinki swore she could make out steam coming out of Dr. Tac's ears. Like superheated steam. And to add insult to injury, Whisper pulled another such bottle out of her small medic bag, cracked it open, and downed a mouthful of it as she spun around and walked out the door.

"Evening, Pinki," she said.

Pinki raised a hand, but said nothing as Whisper walked off. She wobbled on her legs a bit, then kept on going until she was out of sight.

Well, that was one of the most, if not funny, unexpected arguments she had ever stumbled into yet. Dr. Tac threw the bottle into the trash and slumped down into her chair. Pinki walked in and held her breath. Dr. Tac buried her face in her hands and sat there for a full minute. "You know," she said, "It is prohibited for me to swear while in a hospital setting, either on duty or off, and I fucking swear that fucking Whisper is the most insubordinate healer ever to breathe life-giving air."

Pinki bit her lip, tasting blood. Dr. Tac slammed down her fists and sighed, "Sorry you have to see all that. There's a reason she's one of the best, and it's because she's not afraid of her work environment. You won't expect her to complain about safety standards, that's for sure."

"She's been here all day?"

"Yup, just wandering around, seeing patients. Wouldn't be a problem if she hadn't had a fucking wound taking up half her face. She lost an eye for crying out loud." Dr. Tac glanced up at Pinki. "When you were treating her, had she ever complained about how much pain she was in?"

Pinki blinked. "Ah, I forgot to ask her. I should've asked her for a rating."

"Well, whatever answer you're getting. It must be enough for her to self-medicate. Arceus, she's at risk for IPA poisoning. Did you just let her go after you treated her?"

"I escorted her back to her tent, she said she was going to see you about getting her an airlift."

Dr. Tac closed her eyes. "That was before the wounded started coming in. She must've changed her mind. You know, I think the conflict got exaggerated because both sides started turning on each other like school kids in a playground. All because they saw Whisper went down."

"She said that she knew pokémon on both sides personally."

"Please don't tell me you're joking."

"I'm not, and I'm bad at making jokes."

"Oh you gotta be kidding me. Shit, shit, shit! That's what happened. She had friends on both sides and they went defensive. The nature of the conflict changed from a battle to a riot. I shouldn't have sent her. A hundred pokémon got injured so one raichu's life could be saved."

"You don't know that, she was doing what she was tasked to do."

"Yeah, I know. That was why I was pissed earlier because I'm responsible for Whisper's actions. If only-"

BOOM!

Pinki let out a squeal as Dr. Tac kicked back her chair. "What the-"

BOOM!

Pinki and Dr. Tac rushed out of the tent. Healers and patients screamed all around them. Several walking wounded were running away. One of the growlithe helpers rushed in. "Dr. Tac, someone-"

Dr. Tac grabbed the growlithe by the collar. "SHOW ME!"

The growlithe led the two into the heart of the camp. There, within a big tent, they found Mark pinning down a meowth to the ground while Whisper was over a downed healer. Patients and other healers just stood around them. Bug eyed and frozen in place. The meowth on the ground groaned and screamed while Mark slapped flexicuffs over its wrists and ankles. "All clear," he announced. "We got this!"

Pinki peaked passed Whisper. The healer, another wigglytuff, had a stab wound right in the ribs. She was crying, mumbling to herself. Pinki wasn't sure what to make of what happened next, as Whisper ran her hand up the wigglytuff's side, tracing it up to the wigglytuff's mouth before clamping it shut. The healer's eyes bulged as Whisper placed her finger over her mouth. "Shhh, I doctor now."

And then she slapped a butterfly valve bandaged over the stab wound.

Dr. Tac ran up to Mark and spat out profanity. Mark flipped on the safety of his shotgun and slung it around his back. "I heard screaming and rushed in," he nodded to Whisper, "I found this audino holding this meowth wide open, presenting me to him. He was fighting her, so I shot the meowth in the stomach, then in its nuts with a couple of bean bag rounds."

Mark then took one look at Dr. Tac. "Oh wait, are you Tickity Tac?"

She was about to unleash another earful when Pinki dropped her hand on her shoulder. "Don't, Tac. Just don't, he'll instigate you further."

"Oh great, he's like Whisper. Just great," Dr. Tac glanced around at the other healers. "Well, care to explain to me what just happen or are you twats going to just stand there?!"

One of the healers crept up to her. "The meowth was one of the rogue ones, stabbed Iso in the chest with a knife. He was about to stab her again when Whisper just strolled up behind him and grabbed his arm. I couldn't believe how strong she was, but I heard the meowth's wrist pop and the knife fell. And then she grabbed his other paw and held him out for the guard to shoot him. And, uh, she threw him down and checked on Iso. That's what happened, all in that order."

Dr. Tac breathed. "Okay, excuse me, uh…"

"Engie, ma'am."

"Excuse me, Engie. I'm just worked up because Whisper here gave me a hard time moments ago. Whatever happens, Whisper's gotta go to the pokémon hospital. Either restrain her, or sedate her. We need to get her out of here."

Engie blinked. "Ma'am, she didn't even struggle restraining the meowth. She's a small audino, yet she has the strength of an onix! I'm not going to pin her down, I want her on our side!"

Whisper got up and spun around. "Alright, you want me to leave. Fine, but I'm taking Iso with me. I owe her a favor."

Dr. Tac said, "Deal, and uh, thanks again for your assistance, Whisper."

. 8 .

The healers played a game of charades in attempting to persuade Mark to take Iso and Whisper to the ER. However, they weren't good at sign language or acting, but they were good at amusing him. It wasn't until Pinki grabbed a piece of paper and wrote the message down and showed it to him where he got into gear. Mark loaded Iso in the back of his land rover while Whisper and Pinki strapped her in place. They then drove out of the field hospital and back to Faraday City as night crawled in. The island looked so different in the dark. Spooky, scary. Not that Pinki was afraid of the dark, she was just paranoid that something might be hiding in the shadows. Mark turned on the radio and tuned in to the local RPR station. News from the conflict spilled through. It seemed that the Faradian Guard had went in and squashed the rogue after fighting got a little too intense. Pinki pulled the seat back and closed her eyes, listening to Iso moan as Whisper soothed her.

When they reached the hospital, Mark's phone chimed. He pressed the call button. "Hello?"

"Mark," said Tesla's voice. "How are you doing?"

"Fine, we're just wrapping up a final job. You need anything?"

"Is Pinki still with you?"

"Yes, she is?"

"Could you bring her back to the house? It's important, but not crucial."

Pinki called out. "Don't worry, Tesla. I'll be there."

Tesla said in his pikachu pokéspeak. "Good to hear, finish whatever you're doing and stop by. I'm not going anywhere."

Mark killed the call and chuckled. "Well, looks like there's more work to be done, but at least the hardest work is over."

He pulled up in front of the emergency entrance, got out and went to get a stretcher. A team of hospital healers rushed in with a gurney and transferred Iso onto the stretcher. Mark then got back into the land rover and drove off to park it as Pinki and Whisper went to relay what had happened to one of the lead emergency healers on duty. "What about you," the healer asked Whisper. "You need medical attention?"

"Pinki here had treated me, but I do need to check in because I have an infection risk."

"What happened?"

"I got shot while trying to evac a collapsed lung patient."

The healer's eyes went wide. "Holy moley, how bad's the damage."

"Left eye is gone and brain is exposed."

"Yeah, you need to see a doctor right away."

As the emergency healer went to find the doctor on duty, Whisper gave Pinki a hug. "Thank you, Pinki. I'll give you an update once the worst is over, just remember to hang out with me after I'm all fixed up."

"I'll remember, I always remember."

Whisper patted her shoulder and hiccuped. "Take care, friend."

. 9 .

Mark drove Pinki out of Faraday City, again, and they pulled up at the Westinghouse Household. Her employer and friend Tesla sat on the couch downstairs. The old pikachu was leaning against the arm of the chair while his mate was sleeping right beside him. Pinki sat her medical bag down on the coffee table and pulled out a 10mL syringe and needle. After a day's worth of emergency treatments, this was one treatment she enjoyed performing. Stress-free, not demanding. Just a simple drainage procedure.

"Hey, Pinki," he said. "Good to see you here. Not too much trouble back there, I hope."

"No, we've got it all taken care of."

"How many pokémon did you treat?"

"Twenty-four, half were just minor injuries. One however took a bit of elbow grease."

Pinki sat the syringe aside and checked Tesla's knees. "Okay, which knee is it?"

"Left one."

"How long has it been hurting?"

"Since afternoon, wasn't that bad at first. I would have Andy take care of it but he's in the middle of performing a complex surgery at the Pokémon Hospital."

Pinki swabbed Tesla's knee with isopropyl alcohol, then felt around the joint. The pikachu didn't winced or seethed, instead he twitched his joint. Tesla adjusted himself and groaned. "Get moving again, they said. Get your blood flowing, the said. Next thing I know, fluid started building up in my knee. I'm surprised it hadn't happened sooner."

The audino took the needle and felt around with her fingers, she found the spot where she was looking for and stuck the needle into the gap. Yellowish fluid started oozing out in a constant flow. Pinki sat down gauze and screwed on the syringe, then pulled the plunger back. She managed to fill up seven out of the ten milliliters of the syringe before it started fighting her. Pinki unscrewed it from the needle and pressed on the joint. A couple of drops oozed out of the needle before going dry.

Mark said, "Hope it's not infected or anything."

Tesla said in human speech. "Better not be, because damn there's such relief now!"

Pinki removed the needle, capped it, and dumped them in a bio bag. She handed it to Mark so it could be trashed as she packed up her things. "I'm going to need to sterilize all my instruments when I get back home. I think I used every single tool here."

"You can use Mark's pressure cooker to sterilize them, save you time for other things."

Pinki blinked. "That's very convenient! Thank you!"

Tesla turned to Mark and said in human speech. "Hey, Mark, could you drop all of Pinki's medical tools into the pressure cooker? Sterilize them for her?"

Mark nodded. "Yeah, I'll do that."

"Use the distilled water so there wouldn't be any calcium build up."

"Got it."

As Mark took Pinki's EMT bag, she taped down some gauze over the injection site. She then slumped into the couch next to him and sighed.

"Was it rough?" Tesla asked.

"They just kept coming, but at least I had some time to clean everything between each patient. Good thing Mark packed a lot of gauze and alcohol."

"So what was your toughest case?"

"I had to stitch a femoral artery back together in a gallade's thigh."

"Shouldn't he be in the pokémon hospital for that?"

"That's what I asked Dr. Tac, she said somebody goofed somewhere. Mislabeled priority tag or an inexperienced rookie. I don't know. The procedure should be done under 50x magnification and done in a more sterile setting. The vessel was big enough for me to stitch the vessel back together. I don't know how I pulled it off, adrenaline was rushing through me the whole time."

Tesla said, "But it was a success."

"Yeah, I patched him up and I don't want to pull that stunt ever again."

Mark came back and handed Pinki a bottle of coke, she popped off the top and drunk it down. Rich, carbonated syrup coated her throat. She coughed and capped the bottle. "I'm leading a bad example, Tesla."

"So do I."

"Yeah, but I'm a medical practitioner. I've gotten so fat that I had to be careful not to press my belly against my patients when I'm working on them. One of them happens to be another healer who got shot."

"Who's that?"

"Someone named Whisper, a young and brave one."

Tesla blinked. "Wait, Whisper? Where was she shot?"

"Shot in the head, lost an eye and part of her face, and yet she dismissed it as a minor flesh wound while joking about death."

"Shit, that's Medic's granddaughter. Has to be. She spoke about her the last time she was here."

Pinki sat there for a second. Med? Her Medica? Whisper's grandmother was the aging audino living in the garage of Featherbelly's shop? Well, this was going to be awkward. Whisper didn't say she had seen her recently and Pinki hadn't known Whisper until this morning. What was she going to do when they first met after an extended period of time? How will that family reunion turn out?

"Oh no," Pinki said.

Tesla asked, "Is she going to be okay?"

"Well, Whisper sounds okay. In fact, she wants to hang out with me after she recovers."

Tesla said, "Better take the opportunity then, it would mean a lot for Med."

Pinki popped the cap off the coke bottle again. "Well, why not? She understands me within the first five minutes of us meeting. The environment we were born in giving us a lack of elbow room to have some freedom, and then we have to deal with the trauma that our patients suffer from. I need a friend outside of Featherbelly's social circle. Sounds like Whisper's it. However, I don't think she had seen Med in a long, long time."

She took a swig of the coke bottle and scratched an itch on her thigh. "Seems that if we enjoy ourselves, we destroy our bodies in the process. They say balance it out, sure, but I found that area of balance to be very thin."

"I hear you, it cost me my liver from all my decades of drinking."

"And your kidneys, you got those replaced with synthetics as well as your liver."

Tesla said, "Amazing that this Island doesn't want to let me go. Is it because of the culture I provide, or my skillset?"

"I want to believe it's the latter."

"I think it's the former."

"Naw."

"Pinki, pokémon battling is quite a taxing career. I was lucky I managed to retire when I did. I miss it, sure, but I sure don't miss the fame. The newer generations see who I really am, but I will forever be known for my late trainer and shit."

"Quite the immortality, don't you think?"

"Yeah."

. 10 .

Mark cooked up some pizza and sat it on the coffee table, he then grabbed a few more snacks and took them upstairs where the younger pokémon were playing. Pinki downed three slices while Tesla managed to have one. His mate woke up and managed to grab a slice. She didn't say much of anything, though she did snuggled up by Pinki's side while she ate her pizza. Pinki reached down and rubbed her ears. What was her name? Polly? Had to be Polly. She wasn't as old as Tesla but was old enough to be considered old.

Tesla fell asleep after an hour and Polly snuggled beside him. Mark took them to bed, he then came back and gave Pinki a pillow and blanket for her to spend the night. Pinki laid there on the couch and listened as Mark put the pokémon upstairs to bed. The ruckus died down and the whole house went dark. Pinki closed her eyes and pulled the blanket up to her chin. Images of the whole day flooded her head. Lots of blood, tears. Even crying. Life was hard as is, but saving lives was stressful. There was no way to keep a positive attitude after all the crises she had seen. She scratched the underside of her belly. A bad example? Sure. But maybe, just maybe, she was a testament to showing the nature of the job and what it could do to you. Everybody had their way of coping, and so did Pinki. And for Pinki, it works. What she did before she came to the island didn't work because she couldn't sleep at night. Well, now she was able to get some shut eye. Something she managed to do every night.

Or maybe it was because couches were more comfortable than beds because they support her lower back?

Pinki closed her eyes. Who knows? She got through the end of the day after having a few scares. That was something to have pride in. Whisper was right, she needed to enjoy herself. That being said, why did letting herself go seem to give her the most sense of control?

Come to think of it, nobody told her otherwise. The pokémon center institution always made the schedule for her. What she did, what she ate. Now that was gone, she just did nothing and ate when she felt like it. Of course, she had to consider that it might be her imagination about the whole institution thing. Not once had an instructor or a Nurse Joy ever given her a drill sergeant lecture.

Pinki yawned. Note to self: seek out Whisper. Unlock her secrets. Assuming she had any?