Fires In the Dark
Characters: Terry Hale
Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies.
There was no sound in space to carry war’s cries, but it did not mean the silence reigned. Death found it’s way to be heard, in the scratchy broadcasts of exploding ships, in the desperate cries for help and revenge over the communications channels and the commands that piled together in a crash of noise that could strike a person senseless.
“… we lost ’em. Going in, cover me.”
“Dear lord, they’re turning in Earth!”
“Form up on my wing, we’ve got to take out that platform.”
“Watch your ba— Oh hell….”
“Not the Agamemnon…”
“…. did we win?”
“So many dead.”
Slowly, with the guttering fires and extinguishing lights, the noise weakened to a soft rumble; the stillness of shock, moans for the wounded and dying, and channels once alive hissing low now with static. It was impossible to tell how long the battle had lasted, but Terry was sure no more than a few minutes. As it was, any time was too long for the dead.
“Fire on the bridge! Get it out, now!”
Thick, acrid smoke billowed up from the secondary Ops station faster than the ventilators could take it away. Terry pushed her sleeve over her nose and blinked watering eyes as two rangers rushed over with fire extinguishers. She didn’t panic — to the White Star 21 the damage was more cosmetic than anything this time, and well in hand — and there was more than a little luck to that as she looked upon the blackened, drifting wrecks around Earth. Even as she spoke Morgan netted another fighter from the drifters close by. Their duties were turning quickly from destruction to rescue. They could only hope that was soon enough for some of the ships’ wounded.
Terry shivered under her uniform. The damage was already terrible, but it could have been so much worse. S-C-O-R-C-H-E-D E-A-R-T-H. She pushed it back from her mind as well she could. There would be time to think on it with sleep. For now there was only the moment.
The fire was put out quickly, and Terry waved away the lingering wisps of smoke as she left her seat to stand by the windows. A few lights still burned on the drifting ships and fighters, struggling to hold on as the surviving ships wove their careful way through the wreckage to help. It was time they joined the effort in earnest.
“All right people, we’ve got survivors to collect. No matter the ship, no matter the side, we bring them in safe. Let’s get a move on.”
It didn’t take long for the docking bay of the WhiteStar 21 to look just as the Phoenix did a week earlier with the wounded and the dead. Terry could only imagine what Dr Trassano and the other doctors thought of it. The only consolation was that the emergency medical teams of a whole world would soon be up to assist in the task.
So much had happened. In less than 48 hours, Mars and Earth had been retaken, but they were still trying to calculate the losses.
Some of it would remain a mystery, and perhaps that wasn’t a terrible thing.
Mars, with it’s strangely disabled ships drifting in space. Terry had seen the look of horror on Matsumoto’s face and decided then not to ask what the telepath had sensed. There was always a price for victory.
Earth, with it’s defence platforms turned upon itself, the goal the violent cleansing of the lives they were designed to protect. The echo of a mad mind that had already finished the path of self-destruction before the resistance efforts could reach him. Clark was dead, but his legacy would not be so quickly extinguished. The asylums held plenty of the mad. The only difference between them and Clark, as Terry saw it, was that he’d had support. People were catalysts, not the be all and end all of an act. They would be flushing out the supporters for years to come.
But they had made a start. Sheridan and Delenn would be on Earth by now, and there were whispers of something coming, a change that would encompass not just Earth, but the Council and the Non-Aligned League Worlds as well.
But it was something to be worried on by other people for another day. Now, it was time to heal, for those that could. And maybe for a little while, put aside war for a chance to go home.