The weekly meeting went as it usually did, right up until the end.
The supplies were in good order, though they needed to order more Bleepstuff from HFA and . Immac had to be told again why "furry therapy" was not a good way to describe the inclusion of dog- and cat-visiting rooms in the ward, but other than that the new program seemed to be going well. They hadn't had any more than the usual attempted escapes, faked recoveries, or raids on the storeroom.
And then the Kudzu said, Now, about this game that everyone's talking about.
The nurses looked at each other.
"Game?" Suzine was always the first to be suspicious of anything that sounded like it might take her people away from their work. "What game?"
Why, the Australian Indoor-Rules Quiddich League, of course. Surely you've heard people talking about it?
Jenni scratched her head. "I've heard of it—some people were involved with it a couple years back. Isn't it some kind of really rough team sport? That has nothing to do with Australia or Quidditch?"
"Silly, she clearly said Quiddich, not Quidditch," Immac whispered. "What's Quidditch again?"
Nathonea shushed her. "This, the Indoor-Rules thing, it's the one with bats, right? Dark hall, light-up rubber ball, last team with conscious members wins?"
The Kudzu clapped a pair of fronds together in delight. Yes, that's the one! It sounds like just the sort of thing to bring people closer together, don't you agree? We shall put up a team!
That got instant reactions from everyone; several went "What?!" all at once, and in the Cafeteria a few interrobangs popped up in the daily soup (ostensibly minestrone, but the only noodles available at the time had been alphabet-shaped).
For once, Suzine and Jenni found themselves on the same side of the ensuing argument. "How am I supposed to schedule that?" Suzine demanded; "We'd get killed," Jenni cried.
Alex the Intern and Parwill nodded at the back of the group. They were, to use the technical term, squishy.
Elms was the first to take up the Vine's cause: "Hey, I'd do it. I'm not afraid to get bloodied up a bit." She grinned.
Nathonea nodded. "We wouldn't necessarily get killed. We've survived worse than other agents, you know?" She gestured with her Borg arm to drive home the point, and also handily demonstrated that she wasn't easily killable.
"Sir!" Suzine appealed to Dr. Freedenberg.
He had watched the exchange with only his ever-present enigmatic smile, and now he shrugged. "I believe this is a matter for you young people to work out amongst yourselves. I'm too old to be of any use in such things myself, of course."
Jenni tried a different tack. She turned to the Minbari. "Mirrad, you might be the last sensible person in the room. Tell me you agree that this is a terrible idea."
The former Ranger laced his fingers together, looking thoughtful. "For myself," he said after a moment, "I am not averse to a little strenuous physical activity—"
"Mirrad for team captain!" shouted Elms.
Jenni threw up her hands.
Suzine tried the doctor again. "Phil—sir—!"
Now, now, no more fighting, the Kudzu cut in. Working together for a common, immediate reward will strengthen your mammalian social bonds, and you're going to do it, because I said so. In addition, it will be good for the department. I've heard your complaints: no one knows who you are; you need to get out more; you have names, not just 'the nurse.' Exposure to your fellow agents is just the ticket. But don't worry, you needn't all participate: only six are allowed on a team. Y'all choose amongst yourselves now.
Suzine left in a huff.
"Mirrad. Team captain," Elms repeated, unruffled.
He bowed. "I humbly accept your nomination."
Jenni folded her arms. "Count me out. Someone will have to put you back together again when you come back with broken fingers and brain damage, and I have Henry to think of besides." She blinked, struck by a sudden thought. "Oh, shards, I hope nobody told Su about this . . . ."
"I'll do it," Nathonea said. "I'm pretty sure being able to see in the dark would be cheating, but I can turn that off." She tapped her eyepiece. "And I've got a built-in bat! Just have to get some foam rubber or something for padding."
Elms high-fived her. "Warrior women! Okay, three more, right?" She looked around and spotted Immac gazing up at the ceiling. "Hey, Immie!"
"Hm?" Immac's head swiveled around. "Oh, did you need me for something? I was trying to remember what Quidditch is. It's got broomsticks in, right?"
Elms' mouth hung open for a second, but she shook it off. "Never mind. You wanna be on the team?"
Immac's face lit up. "Sure I do! What are we playing?"
"Great! And that pretty much leaves you two." She grinned at Parwill and Alex.
The latter paled. "I'm a pacifist."
"You can be defense. Parwill, you're not gonna wuss out on us, are ya?"
Parwill took a deep, fortifying breath. "Starfleet regulation physical fitness training has to count for something, I suppose."
"Yeah! Okay, name! Go!"
"Loquacious Immac!" said Immac.
Elms facepalmed. "Team name, bright spark."
"Ooh, I like that!"
"Immac, shut up."
Of all people, Jenni's hand shot up.
They looked at her, puzzled.
"Oh, believe me, I got this," she assured them. "It'll describe you perfectly." Her mouth twisted to the left in a devious half-smile. "Call it Team Physical Therapy, and don't let anyone say I didn't contribute."