Here There Be Dragons

Characters: Terry Hale, Klevetati Yoshino


Hale didn’t think she could have been more relieved to be aboard a ship as she was just then on the Phoenix. Taking a deep breath of recycled air, she stepped out of the Silencer, moving aside for the medical teams rushing in to deal with their two recoveries. One for the examinations in the autopsy rooms, and with luck, the other to a full recovery in Medlab One.

The others aboard the shuttle streamed out after, arrowing off without question for other tasks, or their quarters, to get their soggy clothes replaced. The latter, Hale observed with a sniff, that was more than overdue for herself.

A shower, fresh clothes and maybe a bite to eat…. She left the bay in pursuit of the first two, taking the lift not up to the Captain’s quarters, but again the smaller guest quarters she’d taken use of since coming aboard. Even though two days ago she’d seen the Phoenix’s first captain given a Viking funeral into the heart of the nearest star, she didn’t feel comfortable taking the place. Just yet, at least. She still had a ship waiting for her back at Babylon 5, and maybe if she got out of this alive, she’d be going back to it. Besides, she had enough ghosts to sleep with as it was.


 

After a quick shower and a moment’s pause before the mirror to adjust her uniform, Hale finally felt human enough to be what people expected of her. Rusty, red hair pulled back in a twist, freckled skin paled to a grave cream above the black and dun of her uniform, Hale looked capable. None could see the wealth of concerns churning behind her eyes, and she was determined it would remain that way, especially now. No matter that they all made the same oaths, it was never easy to make some orders.

She found the bridge a quiet hub of activity, calmer now, she imagined, with getting back one of the two teams. Hale had no illusions about the kind of risks that had been taken with her decision, and that it had worked may have been more of a miracle than she wanted to think about.

“Where’s our other team?” she called out, veering toward her chair. Yoshino’s reply changed her course before getting even halfway.

“Uncertain, Captain. We are still waiting on an update, and the interference of the planet may very well be blocking us as it did earlier.”

Standing at Yoshino’s shoulder, Darion added, “We lost your team as well, like this, almost the instant after you reported landing. As yet, this isn’t a bad sign, if not a comfortable one.”

“A good way to collect grey hairs, hm?”

Yoshino and her assistant exchanged a look, Darion seeing shining white tresses, Yoshino seeing gently sculpted bone. Darion replied, quite deadpan, “Not for us, sir.”

Hale’s mouth twitched in a small smile. “Well, let me know if anything changes. But in the mean time, there’s something I need you to do. It may take you both,” She said.

Yoshino turned to face Hale as Darion already had. “Name it.”

“You have been working the most with the files retrieved from White Star 21. Perhaps you even managed to get something off the 24? At any rate, I need you to update the star charts with our own and make a search for me.”

Yoshino smiled briefly. “The first is already being done. And what would you have us look for?”

“When we were down on the planet we found the area ravaged, as we expected, but some of the raiders were killed. We brought one back, and I’m almost certain they are the same ones I and the White Star 24 have encountered.

“Their physiology is very unique, and I think it will help narrow down the search for suitable planets they may have settled in the area. Maybe even their homeworld. I would like to have a course to set even as soon as Santiago’s team returns, if possible.”

When neither Yoshino or her assistant made comment, Hale pressed on, choosing to overlook for the moment Yoshino’s widened eyes and the muscle in her cheek that started to twitch, stopped by a sudden clamp of the jaw.

Her hands mimed a shape in the air. “They are an airborne species, looking much like a jellyfish and relying on both a lighter gravity and gasses to keep them afloat. And they at least breathe oxygen, as we do. Possibly they can adapt to others. You’ll have to get more information from Medlab on the specifics, when they complete the autopsy, but I think it’s at least somewhere to start?”

“Enough, I believe,” Yoshino confirmed. “And I will contact Medlab immediately.”

“Good. I’ll leave you to both to that then.”

“Captain?”

Hale glanced back, nodding for Yoshino to continue.

“The Wake, we will still be holding it?” Yoshino seemed to be holding her breath, waiting for the answer.

“Oh… ah, yes.” It had entirely slipped Hale’s mind. “Very well. But soon. You’re working with Dr. Trassano, then?”

“Yes. When I speak to her about the alien’s physiology, I can inquire how soon we can be ready.” She paused to catch her breath. “It should not take long, as we planned to hold it as soon as both shuttles returned.”

Autopsies and funeral parties. Somehow it only seemed appropriate around here. “Good, please do,” Hale said with a nod, and turned away.


Copyright (c) 1998 Jamie Lawson and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.