Characters: Katia Santiago, Klevetati Yoshino
Katia, freshly back from her EVA, stepped into the corridor of the quartermaster deck, glancing around for the temporary office of the Operations Officer. A large number of workers, mostly Minbari but a few Humans among them, passed back and forth along the corridors. The Chief Engineer veered down the left corridor, moving in and out among the repair crew. She finally passed Yoshino’s makeshift office, stopping just outside, waiting to be noticed.
Yoshino was leaning back in her chair, holding a data crystal up to the light, trying to read the label-code. The large table she sat at was thickly covered with paper, crystals, porta-comps …. and a large wicker-like basket. Clearing her throat softly, Katia tapped lightly on the doorframe, trying to get the Ops officer’s attention.
Yoshino looked up at the tap, and smiled. “Hello, Katia! Come in, please.” She gestured to another chair in front of the table.
“Thank you,” Katia replied as she moved quietly to the chair and sat down, enjoying the feel of solidity under her after several hours outside the ship.
Reaching up and over into the basket, Yoshino said, “What brings you to my little corner?”
“I wanted to give you a full estimate of a few more repairs I feel will be necessary in order for the Phoenix to become fully functional again,” she began grimly.
“Well, we knew it was going to be more than the price of a few bandages,” Yoshino said, unruffled. “What do you have, then?”
Katia ran a tired hand over her face before glancing up at the other woman again. “Well… We have to replace the whole outer superstructure from Deck 5 up. And, possibly the infrastructure as well. I haven’t had a chance to do a thorough diagnostic on that area.”
“Well, since one to three are gone completely, that would make sense. Is consolidating the ship, rebuilding her without the top three decks, an option?”
The Engineer shook her head. “No. There is a huge fissure in the superstructure right at the main juncture at deck 5. I think it would have to be a total replacement. Truthfully, we are actually lucky she held together to get us home.”
Yoshino nodded. “I know. Between the bombs, the timeslips, the aliens and a microjump…” She turned toward the basket, responding to a strange sound from within. Her voice abruptly shifted from businesslike to gentle. “There, Kuri-chan? Yes….”
Katia blinked a bit, craning her neck to see what was in the box. Inside the basket, curled on a cushion, was a cat — though a cat in a somewhat sorry state, with most of her fur gone, broad tape around her midsection and one foreleg in a cast. Yoshino was gently scratching one of the cat’s flanks.
“Oh…. poor Kitty. Is she okay?” Katia asked with genuine concern, shifting topics.
“Yes,” said Yoshino. “Thanks to the good work of Doctor Trassano.” She gave the cat a scratch behind the ears, and said, “Kuri, this is Katia, Katia, this is my friend Kuri.”
The Chief Engineer smiled at the poor pathetic looking cat and inclined her head in greeting, “It is nice to meet you Kuri.”
The cat lifted her head — about the only part of her body which still bore its fur — blinked her almond-shaped amber eyes, and mewed quietly. “Kuri’s been with me since I left Earth,” Yoshino explained. “Definitely a survivor.”
“I would have to agree if she survived this last battle. I take it your quarters were intact then?” Katia asked, sort of envious, thinking about the cot she had been sleeping on for a couple weeks now.
“Sort of.” Yoshino shook her head gently, shuddering. “There had been a hull breach…. Kuri escaped the room before then, but I didn’t know that for a while. You have no quarters?”
“Well… no. I don’t. They were blown with Kordieh’s bombs,” she answered, wishing she could even have a Minbari bed to sleep on at this point. “I have been sleeping on a cot in my office.”
“Oh, good grief. Come and share mine then.”
Katia’s eyebrows furrowed at that and she shook her head slightly, “No, I couldn’t possibly put you out like that.”
“It’s hardly that. I’d enjoy the company. And it’s bound to be more comfortable than what you’ve been dealing with.”
Katia snorted a little, unconciously rubbing the small of her back a bit, “Anything would be more comfortable then where I am sleeping now, I think.”
“Then no more arguing. I’ll see you tonight. Now then, where were we?”
“But, even still.. I couldn’t possibly…” Katia stopped in her argument, seeing she wouldn’t get anywhere, and nodded slightly with a small smile. “Thank you.
“The superstructure replacement on the upper decks,” she said, switching back to the subject at hand, “I want to get the Phoenix back to her original specs. I know there will be a few rearrangements in individual departments, but I think it would be worth the work to replace the whole upper deck systems.”
Yoshino nodded. “Right. That’s fine. Arven’dra and I will get you whatever materials and people you need. I think there was only one major request from the Captain, seconded by Darquin.”
“Okay, good. I think if we up the personnel, we will be able to get her done in the same timeframe of three months.”
Yoshino nodded, stroking her chin. “For now, anyway, I think it can be done.”
Katia smiled, “Thank you. I had hoped you would feel that way! I do appreciate the support.”
Yoshino bowed her head. “We have our mandate from Ranger One herself. There are still plenty of dangers out there, and she wants the Phoenix to be there to meet them.”
Katia stood and smiled once down at the poor kitty in her basket. “And, thank you for the use of your quarters as well. I am sure my back will appreciate it too!”
Yoshino rose and bowed deeply. “I’m honored to give you what hospitality I can.”