Characters: Terry Hale, Miina Awenata

Hale leaned her head on her chin, only just awake enough that she could appreciate being able to do that. They had just gotten the ship’s drive up enough to provide gravity again and a little extra to put a stop to their spin. The thrusters and communications were also being worked on and both would be tentatively ready to test in a few hours.Just enough time, Hale thought, for a little rest…

If only her mind would stop spinning.

The previous morning she’d been out again with all the others, adding her hands to those who were working to patch up the ship. They had lost too many, either to death or injuries that left them incapacitated in Medlab. Every hand that could hold a welder up by its right end had been put to work by the remains of the engineering crew, and the others wrapped bandages and helped clear the cluttered hallways.

Hale could not only use a welder, but she actually new a little about the construction of the white stars. Well, sort of. She’d been quickly reminded about how much she didn’tknow listening to one of her engineers go on about the hull…

Engineer Miina Awenata shook her head. “It has ceased to func…” She stopped. She was doing it again. Translating the Minbari in her head into formal, lengthy prose. “It’s dead,” she corrected herself, trying to slip back into her native tongue. It was not easy.

“What’s dead?”

“The structural… this beam, here… and thirty percent of the hull. The… material… will have to be replaced.”

Organic technology. Hale rubbed her tired eyes and stared at the dull column they had exposed for repairs. The inorganic threads of power conduits and computer channels were already repaired, but the engineers were frowning over the rest.

“We’d have to go back to a repair station to do that. Can we get by–“

The engineer sighed, not wishing to offend, and Hale stopped. “Captain, we can ‘get by’ if we are not engaged in another fire fight, but if that were to happen, the hull would not provide us with any protection. It’s usefulness would be comparable to that of… common steel.” She sought to make her conclusions a bit more concise. “We would have a hull breach of epic proportions with a direct hit to any of the ‘dead’ sections.”

Hale nodded with acknowledgment and waved everyone back to work. She’d have to think about it. Awenata gave her Captain a slight bow and resumed her work.

And Hale was still thinking. They had no idea what had become of Narsh and White Star 24, there was… something out there, and the Phoenix would need all the help its fellow Ranger ship could give. But neither could she consign others to death. Even if the ship were completely repairable, there was still wounded that desperately needed to get back to the facilities that Babylon 5 could provide. There was no way the Phoenix or Hellfire was going to turn about and do that for them.

You step down as Captain when you can’t do the best for your crew. You know that Terry. Hale sighed, closing her eyes, and didn’t open them again for three hours.

“Captain! Captain?”

Hale stirred groggily, dragging herself up from the pillow of her folded arms. Cheek marked with the creases of her uniform, Hale looked blearily for the speaker, then realized the voice was coming over the comm!

“Captain? Damn… I thought this thing was working…” The voice began to mutter off.

“No, no, I’m here!” Hale answered quickly. “You got communications up? Good work!”

Hale could hear the grin on the other end of the channel. “Even better, Captain, we’re just about to bring the sensors online.”

Hale scrubbed some color back into her face and stood. Finally, they could try and find out where they were… and how long it would take to get to the Phoenix and Hellfire before they walked into this mess blind.

Have your say