Beating a Path


Characters: Terry Hale

It doesn't mean much.
It doesn't mean anything at all.
The life I've left behind me is a cold one.
I've crossed the last line.
From where I can return.
Where every step I took in faith betrayed me.
And let me fall, my heart.
Sweet surrender. 
Is all that I have to give.
          – Sarah McLachlan, "Sweet Surrender"

Music, deep and rich, soared out as if it would breach the walls of the room and beyond to dare and push back the silent vacuum of space. Terry Hale bent her head over steepled fingers and contemplated nothing but the music that pressed against her senses. Data crystals rattled in their trays on the broad expanse of her desk, chiming in counterpoint.

Red hair, dulled to rust in the dim, cool, light spilled over her shoulders, laying strands over the delicate artistry of her Ranger pin. She was attempting to cover –bury– more than that in the surging sounds. Knowledge, Though, Emotion; her own ruling Triad. Some days it could give her the peace to rest, but most times they were the making of her private torment. Knowledge brought doubt, though sharpened it’s edges and emotion took the blade in hand.

She’d always had good aim.

Terry sighed and bowed further to rub at her temples. Her usual methods of distraction just weren’t working. Duty would not let her slip the harness this time, even for a few moments. Her fingers brushed a panel inlaid in the desktop and ringing silence fell. As she moved to relay another command, the quick chime of the comm stopped her.

“Yes?” she called out to the air.

“Captain. White Star 24 has come within sensor range. Captain Narsh is hailing us.”

Finally, Terry thought, standing to leave her office even as she spoke. “Thank you Arienn. I will take it on the bridge.”

Terry settled back in the Captain’s chair and looked forward just as the viewscreen shimmered down. The honeycombed curtain of energies settled and revealed the highly individual image of Captain Tylo Narsh. In the night colors of black through pale crystal on the identical bridge, his artificial eye gleamed hot red. He was an infinitely recognizable man, even if Terry had not bothered to study up on the mission’s new members.

Automatic courtesy brought her hands together in proper greeting. “Greetings, Captain Narsh.”

“Captain Hale,” Narsh returned, but made no attempt to ape the Minbari fashion of greeting. Terry wasn’t particularly surprised. “I’ve been briefed.”

Then I am not the only one who desires a quick end to the wait, Terry thought with grim satisfaction. She glanced aside at her XO, waiting for a nod, then back to the screen. “Good. How far behind is the Phoenix and Hellfire?” she asked.

Narsh frowned, not liking it, and neither did Terry when she heard. “They had not left yet, at my last transmission. We will not seen them then for at least four days.”

“I see.” Terry collected herself. “Very well. Ready for this?”

,” Narsh said, his English slipping with distraction. “Hace mucho tiempo, capitán.

Terry nodded and called the order. “Come about. Standard sweep formation. Sensors at maximum. Good luck.”

Terry just barely caught the snippet of Spanish that Narsh said before closing the channel and Terry couldn’t decide if she she’d rather be fluent or go blissfully ignorant. It was not the kind of reminder she wanted. By what little she knew of the language, it sounded like he’s said: “We’ll need it.”

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