Embers, Part 1

Characters: Terry Hale, Margaret Morgan, Nesaan

Captain Hale addressed the Drazi commander’s holo-image with a glare. “Major Nodak.” He only nodded. “We believe that your people destroyed one of our long-range probes. Explain.”

“Fleet at full alert.” Nodak said it carefully as if addressing a child. “Patrols fired before scan.”

“Fire first and ask questions later?” She hadn’t planned to lower the boom on him until Nodak put a smug look on his face. “Your pilots should be more careful. You might have lost them the same way we lost our probe.”

Nodak blinked and frowned, too startled to growl.

“We came to investigate and pick up our fighters,” Hale said, “nothing more. Unless you need something from us, we’ll be leaving. Phoenix out.”

She turned her back on the dissolving image of Nodak baring his teeth. “Open jump point and get us back on course for Zagros 7.”

As the Phoenix ran through the burning red-orange jumppoint, Captain Hale eased herself into the command chair and sighed.

Morgan left her Tactical station and brought the Captain a datapad. “Recon data, sir. You should see this.”

“If it’s about the Narn attacking our probes too….” She read the datapad and sat up, staring at the numbers. “We can verify this?”

Morgan nodded. “Fighter recon confirms it. And several White Stars.”

“And they shot down our probe to keep us from seeing it.” Hale shook her head. “Look for beacon ID’s. Find those ships. Put Science and Security on it, and make them check each other’s data. We need proof.”

She steepled her fingers, tapping her nose, thinking. “And put in a call to the Ranger Council.”

Hale couldn’t have timed it better. As soon as she finished the joint report from Science and Security, the Ranger Council contacted the Phoenix. When the holo-projection flowed and revealed a female Minbari, Hale recognized her. “Nesaan, thank you for responding so soon.”

“Shok’na Hale.” Nesaan smiled, bowing her head in greeting, before adopting a more serious tone. “Do you have new information?”

“No, only analysis. The numbers are the same. We still can’t account for two percent of the Narn and Drazi fleets. Jumpgate beacons record some Narn and Drazi military codes, possibly on their way through Rolui Sector.”

“The Rolui system was a major trade center for the Non-Aligned Worlds. Ships from the Alliance member worlds would be a common sight there. Including Narn and Drazi.”

“It does make sense,” Hale said, “especially they’re trying to surround Centauri space. But that’s all we have. Drazi and now Narn ships are destroying our long-range sensor probes. It’s turning into quite a habit with them.”

“And a strange one, given that we are allies.”

Hale exchanged a glance with Morgan. “We think they’re hiding those missing ships.”

Nesaan exchanged a nod with someone out of view. “Entil’zha Delenn is traveling to Minbar, so it may be some time before we hear from her. We shall inform Mr Garibaldi and leave it in his hands. In the meantime, go to the Rolui system. You will still be near Centauri space, should we need you. And if there is trouble, you can reach Minbari space quickly.”

“Understood,” Hale said. “Please give my thanks to the Council. Phoenix out.”

She didn’t wait for the holo-image to melt away. “Helm, best speed to the Rolui system.”

Phoenix–“Embers, Part 1” (c) 2003 Alida Saxon & Joe Medina

Babylon 5 TM and (c) 2003 Warner Bros.

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