Down the Rabbit Hole

Characters: Terry Hale

Like the tide, the crowding from the funeral ebbed, until the bridge was again a quiet hub of activity. The mood was thoughtful, and Terry Hale was no exception to this as she paced back to her seat. Dogged by a lingering sense of unreality and seeking meaning, she was tangled in the memories of the past.

Settling into her chair, she watched the field of stars as the Phoenix came about on it’s new course. What was it with this sector of space? She half-expected to find the Mad Hatter had set up his tea table in the conference room. It couldn’t have been any stranger than the tragic confusion of their time here. Hale would’ve liked to know just what hole they’d fallen down to get where they were.

Shaver… he’d have to know something about what was going on, from his time with the Vorlons. Hale turned in her chair, just about to link in when she was confronted by the confused expression of one of her bridge staff. Hale arched a questioning eyebrow.

“The Slayer, sir. It’s gone from the shuttle bay; just reported in.”

Hale opened her mouth to ask a half dozen stupid questions, then promptly clamped her teeth down on them again. Demanding this place made sense was as futile as seeking a straight answer from a Vorlon. Fancy that, around here, Hale thought sarcastically. She was getting heartily tired of it all.

“Find that ship, sensors at maximum. And get me Commander Shaver,” Hale ordered, standing to pace the decking.

A few moments ticked by, and then the silence was broken with disappointment. “I can’t find it, sir. And the Commander… he’s not answering his link.”

“Then all-call the ship. Track his link,” Hale snapped. This just wasn’t happening. Ships do not vanish into space, nor people with them.

There was a quiet murmur of questioning voices on the bridge, but silence from the communication channels.

“Sir, the link is in vicinity of his quarters.”

“Scan the ship for life signs. How many are aboard?”

“Seventy-four, sir.” It didn’t take a large leap of logic to find where Hale was going. She was answered before asking. “We are one crew member short.”

Why? What the hell was going on? “No time for this,” Hale muttered aloud to herself. Louder, “Open us a jump point!”

“But– aye, sir.” There was a flurry of activity as hands moved to the sudden order. “Do we leave?”

Hale’s shoulders squared and she stalked back to her seat. “No. We get to that planet today, not tomorrow.”

“Opening a jump point will–”

“Make us easily detectable, yes, but enough of this war of attrition. Enough creeping about, letting our battles be called for us.” Hale drew in a long breath, slowing the angry stream of words. “Time for a reckoning.” She said more quietly. “And so, a jump point and maximum speed, please. It is well past due.”

Copyright (c) 1998 Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.

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