Characters: Katia Santiago
Katia walked through the ship, preparing for an EVA to do a thorough check on the out hull repair. She felt stupid, smiling almost ear-to-ear as she was, but she couldn’t seem to stop. Dunstan had replied to her letter, and it had lifted her spirits probably more then it should have. It had been humbling to hear him speak of the time she had entered his mind, for it only brought back her primary purpose in going in after him in the first place — to kill him for the atrocities committed against the ship. But, her elation at his genuine concern about her well-being overrode even the puzzlement as to how he had heard that last bit about her daughter. There was a certain bounce to her step that hadn’t been there before the call had come in, and everyone on the Phoenix could tell there was something going on with her.
It was stupid to experience things as a giddy schoolgirl would whenever she thought of him, but that is exactly how she felt whenever he came into her mind. She had never encountered feelings like these in either of her prior relationships and it made her feel refreshed. “Wait,” she thought to herself, “are you actually referring to what you have with him as a relationship?” She shook her head, actually, in no relationship had she ever felt this way. She felt younger and sometimes as if she was lighter and better able to handle the problems at hand. That didn’t mean she wasn’t pushing herself just as hard, she just had a better way of coping usually. Then again, no major crisis had entered the scene lately to take up her time either.
Katia chuckled lightly to herself as she stepped into that airlock and Renell glanced at her with an impassive expression. The Minbari who would be accompanying her on her outside tour of the ship was suited up and ready to go, so she hurriedly shrugged on her EVA suit and they exited the airlock into vastness of the dry-dock that the Phoenix was currently residing in. It was large enough to accommodate five White Stars under construction at once, but at the moment, the Phoenix was the only ship there.
The Chief Engineer heard her Comm click on as Renell spoke to her, “Katia, the outer hull breaches themselves have pretty much been repaired. It is the major construction of the upper three decks that we are focusing on completing within the next three weeks. Once that is accomplished we will be able to move on with the internal systems.”
“How is that larger section near the bridge? We are lucky we didn’t lose that in all the damage,” she said through the open commline.
“We have found a patch and bridged the gap so there is no danger of further splitting or the bridge separating from the superstructure.”
“Good. Now, what about the damaged biostructure. How long with that take to respond to the multiplying systems?”
“4 weeks. The total integration should be complete in 5.”
They began powering their suits up and over the main hull and Katia gasped as she got her first, true, external glance at the damage the bombs had caused to the upper superstructure. The gaping gashes caused by the explosion has pushed out the main hull in several places causing a ragged edging around massive chasms of charred metal. The jagged borders glinted like stars in the light reflecting from the bay. It was as if the Phoenix had opened up her heart and bled everything she had out into space. The area around the Bridge was still blessedly intact, although, the stress fractured in some places could be plainly seen darting through the metal. All-in-all, it was definitely damage that could have proved fatal if all of Kordieh’s bombs had exploded. Thankfully, they had not.
“This is all the bomb damage isn’t it, Renell?” she asked, inquiring to what the results of the tests had concluded.
“Close to 95 percent,” the Minbari answered quietly, sobered as well by the sight.
They fired their packs and moved slowly forward so Katia could see the damage from close up. It was worse then she had feared, and better in some respects. The main coupling was still intact, which was almost more then she could have hoped for.
“Well, I think we should go ahead and replace the whole superstructure from Deck 5 up. Including the Bridge,” Katia replied grimly.
Renell looked at her askance, as if she were a crazy woman before replying, “Why do you say that?”
She pointed to a small, hairline, jagged crevice that almost totally encircle the main bridge portion of the hull. It stood out plainly, but only to the trained eye…as a spider would stand out on her web to one who knew what to look for. “See that right there? There is no way she can survive opening a jump point of her own. Even if we were to seal that, it wouldn’t have the integrity of the original specifications, and would probably fracture the instant we opened one on our own.”
“You are talking about adding several weeks onto our initial repair estimate,” he stated.
“I know, but we don’t have a choice here. It is either do that, or lose half the ship the next time we go out,” Katia assured him.
The Chief Engineer chuckled a bit before stating, “Just think about how Yoshino will react once she sees the requisition request for this one.”
Glancing over at her, the Minbari raised an eyebrow slightly, wondering how in the world Katia could find that amusing. Then, he nodded, realizing it for what it was, a joke. She would definitely have to lighten up, her own crew wasn’t sure when she was making a joke or being sarcastic anymore, that wasn’t a good sign, she told herself with a sad smile.
At that thought, her mind couldn’t help but return to what Kordieh had told her in his last dispatch to her, “I can hear the weariness in your voice. You will do no good for thePhoenix 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.” Maybe he had been right. She was pushing herself way too hard in an effort to repair the Phoenix quickly. Why was she pushing so hard? What demons was she fighting against to get the job done? Was it all so she could get to Mars? But, if the war weren’t over, she couldn’t go there and try to retrieve her daughters, could she?
The questions continued to swirl in her head as Renell and she worked their way around the outside of the Phoenix estimating damage and creating the requisitions list to forward on to Yoshino for the necessary equipment to repair the ship. As the list grew longer and longer, it became apparent that maybe requisitioning a few more bodies to help aid in the repairs might not be such a bad idea either. They already had so many people crawling all over the ship, that Katia barely recognized anyone she saw in the hallway, but maybe, if she were to get more help, the repairs could still be done in the timeframe she had originally estimated. It was a idea that warranted some thought.
As they finally made their way back into the Phoenix after three hours of EVA, Katia was ready to escape the confines of the restricting suit. It was okay for a few minutes, but after an hour or so, one felt as if they were going to get lost in the vastness of space, even if they were within the confines of a Dry-dock facility. It definitely gave one a taste of what it felt to be claustrophobic.
It also gave Katia time to contemplate what she truly needed to do to release some of the tension that had been steadily building to a crisis. If she didn’t do something about it soon, she may just blow her top yet again at the wrong person. She had to get away. And, she knew just the place to do it, even if she was wary to look upon the ruins of Tuzanor yet again. She needed to see Dunstan. He seemed to have a way of helping her to relax, of making her feel needed and special. Now, how was it one person could do some much for her? She didn’t know, but she knew it was time to find out.