And So It Begins

Characters: Katia Santiago

“Katia, the extra personnel have arrived,” Simpson said as he stuck his head into her open door.

The Chief Engineer glanced up with a smile of happiness that now they could get down to the massive reconstruction of the upper decks of the Phoenix. “Are they ready?” she asked.

He nodded before replying, “They are ready and waiting, Chief.”

“Good,” she stated as she placed her hands flat on the desk in front of her and stood. “Let’s get started then.”

As the pair moved out of Engineering and through the halls toward the makeshift conference room, her mind was elsewhere, split between two planets for two very different reasons. Her daughters, back on Mars, so vulnerable to the lies and manipulations, would one day be with her.

Waiting for the war to be over so she could save them from the corruption was tearing her up inside. Katia knew she had to wait, but the longer she did that, the longer their twisted teachings would have to penetrate and indoctrinate her own daughters to their ways. That was something she could not accept.

Even as she contemplated the fate of her daughters, Katia could not keep her mind from turning toward Minbar. Dunstan was there, serving his sentence. The fact that the Minbari had embraced him as a soul lost, in need of salvation, did not surprise her in the least. The Minbari looked upon life…and death, totally different then humans seemed to. Humans’ ability to quickly judge and condemn was evident by looking down through their history. Yet here was one, who was responsible for the deaths of many, and he was embraced and aided on his road to recovery from the insanity that had plagued him his whole life. Katia knew the horror and pain that now filled him with remorse. Her heart ached for him, especially when the words from his letter returned to her about his dark moments. It was when she thought about what he was going through that she wished she could be there with him… to listen… to lean on… to offer a shoulder. Her needed someone to be by his side… even if only for a while.

Katia forced her mind back to the Phoenix as she stepped up to the podium. She smiled at the additional personnel, glancing around at the humans and Minbari who were staring back at her, waiting for her instructions. She took a deep breath and began, “As all of you know, since you have been assigned to help out with the repairs, the RSPhoenix has had some hard times lately. The whole of the upper decks is almost nonexistent. I have made the determination that the whole superstructure and possibly the infrastructure need to be replaced. It is not going to be an easy, nor quick job to perform. There will be a lot of EVA work involved, and labor intensive projects to perform.”

The Chief Engineer paused there as she pushed a button and a 3-dimensional image of the Phoenix appeared on the screen behind her with the fissures and damage she had noticed earlier outlined in red. Then she continued, “This is the damage as it has been noted to date. If we can’t find a way to repair the major breaches in integrity, the next time this ship goes out, she will probably fall apart. Now, my proposal, which I have gotten the go ahead to do, is to totally replace the upper decks and hull down to the original specs. We have those on hand, and I have created a schedule for the work that needs to be done. All of you will be receiving a copy of that schedule with your individual orders on it.

“The repairs should be able to be completed over a three month period, with the majority of the outer work taking approximately seven weeks. As you can see here, there is quite a bit that needs to be done. This is the progression for the work as I see it, please feel free at the end to give me any ideas you may have to make this an easier job.”

As she finished her talk, the picture of the Phoenix changed slide by slide to show how the work was going to progress according to her plans. First the out hulls were to be removed, with the infrastructure coming close behind. Then the infrastructure appears again, only to cover the entire area, not just parts of it like it had been before..then the hull.

“The internal systems will then be put into place as well as any other options that are necessary. Now, are there any questions?”

She noticed that no one raised their hands as of yet. She was sure that would change once the repairs were underway and the minor glitches came up, that always seemed to occur during major work like this. “Well then, you are all dismissed until tomorrow…grab a data crystal on your way out with the repair schedules on it. I look forward to working with each and every one of you as the days go by.” At that, she stepped down from the podium and slowly made her way out of the “conference” room.

It was then, her mind returned to all the other issues that had been pushed to the back of her mind when she had stepped up to the podium. Who was that man who she had seen when she had jumped forward? She had had that dream again, and he was in it. Katia felt as if she should know who it was, but her mind seemed to slip everytime she thought she was going to figure it out. It was haunting her. That man would be her husband, she knew that much. So, what is she messed up something along the way and that future didn’t come to pass? What was she going to do?

Katia shook her head as she entered her office, trying to push all those thoughts to the back of her mind so she could get back to work, but it didn’t work too well. Her daughter, Dunstan… the mystery man… they all whirled through her mind as she sat down at her desk. Maybe what she needed was some time away.

She took a look at the her calendar and realized right now there was no good time to get away for a while. If she wanted to do that, she would have to make the time.

“I am allowed much time to meditate, to think and to rest and refresh myself. You, my dear friend, should try and do the same. I can hear the weariness in your voice. You will do no good for the Phoenix if you rebuild her by destroying yourself. The Shadows have gone, the renegade Clark will soon be gone too. There is time. Take some of it for yourself, I implore you.” Dunstan’s words came back to her as if she was listening to the letter from him yet again. They kept repeating themselves over and over again in her head….”Take some of it for yourself, I implore you.”

It was then she made a decision… closing out her files, she stood and walked out into Main Engineering, looking around for Simpson. Once she found him, she walked over to him and said, “Simpson, I am going to be taking the night off, and most of tomorrow too. You take care of everything while I am gone. If you need me, I will be down on Minbar… in Tuzanor.”

At those few words, she turned and walked out of engineering, planning on taking that time Kordieh had asked her to… planning on surprising a friend.