In Transition

Characters: Klevetati Yoshino

RS Phoenix, Flight Deck

By the time there's nothing left to choose
One man has the answer, the other looks for clues.
     – Steve Winwood, "Split Decision"

When she had finished reading the first damage reports off to Captain Hale, Klevetati Yoshino felt as if she was beyond despair. It was a curiously liberating feeling, one that allowed her to confirm the presence of the three alien warships without any of the fear that she had felt as they had appeared, moments before the Phoenix had exploded.

Rather, her mind turned toward the source of the explosion. Had it been Dunstan Kordieh, as she had heard the Captain suggest to Darquin? Did Darquin’s call to evacuate Decks One through Five, sent a few minutes before the explosion, mean he’d found Kordieh? Her transmission log showed that Darquin’s link had been sending from somewhere on Deck Four. Had he survived?

In her mind’s eye, she saw Darquin as he had been in the docking bay of the dead WS24, humming old rock music. It had been through him that the revelation came to her that the Anla’shok were not the same as the Yakuza clan she had left behind, that her life truly had changed, and that her thinking would have to change along with it.

Another set of sensor indicators suddenly flared to life under her hand. She fought down shock to relay what they told her. “Captain. We’re getting another power surge from the planet. It’s massive –”

TranSystem Transit Terminal, San Francisco, Earth

And like the cat I have nine times to die.
     – Sylvia Plath, "Lady Lazarus"

The first thing that hit Yoshino, even before the light flash faded to reveal her surroundings to the eye, was the smell. There were many places she had been that bore this smell — from the back alleys of the Ginza to Downbelow on Babylon 5 — but only one that combined the smell with the twin pains in her stomach and her left hand. Looking down at the heavy bandage that was now brownish-grey with grime, she knew. She had somehow been brought back to the first and longest stopover on her desperate flight from the clan.

She pressed the length of her back to the wall against which she was lying, and felt the jab of her swords’ hilts with reassurance. She could have sold them and gotten more than enough money to get off planet, but she would have rather sold her body. Again. Or starved to death…..

A weight landing on her lower legs startled her, until she realized it was Kuri, and then she jumped again at what the cat was carrying. It was a grey-black rat, half as big as Kuri herself. The cat dropped the dead creature at her mistress’ elbow and looked up at her with a gentle meow.

Managing a smile, Yoshino stroked the furry head. “Thank you, little one,” she said. “Kind of you to share your food with me.” She compelled herself to pick up the dead rat by the tail, admired it, then set it back down again, with a nudge to the cat. “Sure you don’t want it for yourself?” Kuri merely purred and licked her chops, indicating she’d already eaten quite well.

She stood and picked up the dead rat again, managing to drop it in a wastebasket without Kuri seeing. As she did, she looked around. Somewhere nearby, she remembered, there was a man who was about to attack a woman traveler. He had the money she needed to get off planet, out of this hole and away from the clan.

Perhaps, this time, she could get to him before that woman shared Yoshino’s own fate — she was halfway there as the blaze of light came again —

RS Phoenix, Flight Deck

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
– Carl Sagan

As she came back into herself, Yoshino looked quickly at the sensor indicators that had jumped a moment before. As she watched the readings plummeting as rapidly as they’d risen, all the pieces fell into place.

“Then why aren’t they firing? Get our weapons online,” she heard Captain Hale say. “And I want to know what the Hell’s been hitting us. ASAP.”

Yoshino now knew the answers — definitely to the second question, and probably to the first as well. But would Hale believe it? If she had experienced anything like what Yoshino had, probably. Still …..she would need something objective to go on. Yoshino’s hands began flying over the console, playing back the sensor logs, copying the data. The tachyon emissions from the planet had been massive from the moment the Phoenix had jumped out of hyperspace. And those emissions had massively spiked ….twice now …..

“Captain,” Yoshino said at last. “I believe we have been experiencing time distortions, caused by something on the planet. Possibly, the aliens have not fired because they are experiencing them as well. Come and look at these readings…..”

Copyright (c) 1998 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.


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