Duty’s Shield

Characters: Terry Hale

Terry Hale rubbed at gritty eyes and worked to focus again on the viewscreen. It was not the direct view of White Star 24 that splashed it filmy surface, but the simple architectural lines of a standard White Star Class ship blueprint. Its transparent breakdown of decks shimmered with blocks of color as sections were reported as cleared, and drifting markers showed roughly where her people were.

Her people. It was enough to clench her stomach with nausea. The moment Tylo Narsh had been found in his drifting tomb, Hale became the highest ranking Ranger in the sector. She was answerable to no one but her conscience here… and her oaths. Both tore at her down to the bone.

Leaders in the Anla’shok considered her to hold may of the qualities desired of command. And is one of them, the capacity for pain? Hale wondered bitterly. To remember every death and wonder if I could have done something more? You’re in over your head, Terry. This is no place for a small town, provincial officer…

For an indulgent moment of self-pity, the conversations of the bridge washed over her in a babbling mess.

“…I have encountered a small problem that makes me realize–”

“This is team two requesting–”

“Phoenix to Desell Two, what happened? You–”

“–and get a section of the hull, I think it will–”

“–thought I saw something, then my controls–”


Terry straightened and blinked at the Ranger that had seemed to appear at her elbow. Automatically she accepted the print outs he offered. Reports, requests and updates; she went through them all and ignored how often she had to reread them to get it through to and exhaustion-dulled mind.

She couldn’t help remembering the words of another, long gone. “Your body is going to make you sleep some time, it’s just your choice whether it be in your bed or on the floor where you finally fall on your face.”

She’d laughed at the time, but right now it would have been nice if her memory and everything else would just shut up. She was trying to think.

“Good, thank you,” she said quietly and returned the sheaf. Leaning back, she dispensed with a couple commands. “Morgan, when the last team’s back, see that the ship’s grappled securely and let’s get moving. See that a course to rendezvous with the Hellfire. We’re daring a trap to happen squatting here like this. We’ll tow the White Star 24 with us….” Terry voice trailed off before it could choke on the enormity of it all. She couldn’t break. Not here. There was her duty to her crew.

With a sharp push she was out of the chair and kept moving. It was all she could do. “Until I return, you have the bridge. I’ll be about on some inquiries,” she called over her shoulder.

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

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