Characters: Miina Awenata, Klevetati Yoshino
Awenata’s link chose just the wrong moment to chirp. “Operations to Engineering. Can you hear me, Anla’shok Awenata?”
Awenata muttered under her breath. “Yes, Anla’shok Yoshino, go ahead.”
“Can you give me the status on power for the jump engines and plasma nets? We’ve got to get out of this system, and fast.”
“A moment, Anla’shok Yoshino…we…are…still engaging in minor, but necessary, repairs….” Miina turned her attention back to the task at hand, but kept her voice low. “Now, Tass? Did it seal?” They could not risk using the jump engines without the safety protocols in place, and she had to be sure of proper closure of the conduit they were repairing before she let go.
“It looks like it,” Tass answered.
“Is the locking ring in place?” Miina asked him. “It doesn’t feel secure.”
“Let me see…”
Yoshino could hear muted whispering over the channel, and frowned. “Awenata? Is there a problem down there?”
Miina only halfway heard Yoshino as she concentrated her whole being on her fingertips where she thought she felt a tiny gap. She felt Tass press close against her trying to insure that the locking ring inside the narrow housing was in place. Now how could she move her fingers so that he could see what she felt? Damn! This was a one person job.
Suddenly Grandfather’s voice whispered in her ears as clear as the song of a distant meadowlark. Faint, but strong. Here, yet just beyond her reach. “The ability to see is always there, but it is a far different thing to have been given sight…” She breathed deeply to clear her mind, and then moved her fingers carefully around the locking ring, feeling every subtle nuance of the closure joint. And she felt the ring move into place with a satisfying click.
“I’ve got it!” she whispered. “Now quick, get me the status for Ops!” Then speaking up, she said over the channel, “No, Yoshino. Simply… in the middle of something… the status reports… a moment….” She waited nearly an eternity until Tass whispered in her ear. “The jump engines will have full capability within approximately two minutes,” she announced. She turned back to Tass, whispering again. “Plasma nets! How long???”
She’s depending on someone else there, Yoshino thought, trying to understand exactly what was happening with the assistant engineer. Over the link, she did her best to sound businesslike. “Standing by.”
“Plasma nets are at 30 percent, and rising.”
“Excellent, thank you.” Yoshino’s voice became gentle as she made her gamble. “And your status?”
The part of her which was Lt Cmdr Gina Winters offered to say ‘My status is irrelevant,’ but Miina heard the change in Yoshino’s voice, which immediately endeared her to her Ops counterpart, and the words stuck in her throat. She realized that she hardly knew Yoshino, and felt the need to acknowledge her question with more than a curt comment. For a moment, her cool, formal speech pattern broke. “I am…” she paused, searching for the right words to explain quickly, “… needed here.”
Yoshino kept her voice careful, confidential. “And I presume neither the medical staff nor Anla’shok Santiago knows of this?”
Immediately, Awenata resumed her former tone. “That would be a correct assumption, Anla’shok Yoshino.”
Yoshino suddenly flashed on the image of Awenata at the wake–could it have been less than twelve hours ago?–in a brilliant Minbari costume. Sometimes she is more Minbari than the Minbari, she thought. She paused only a moment before saying calmly, “Then they shall not hear it from me.”
“That is understood …” her voice dropped low, “And welcomed. There shall be time for… other matters… once we are safely away.”
“Time for a great many things,” Yoshino agreed. “Entil’zha himself would admire your courage, Anla’shok Awenata.” She resumed her brisk tone and volume. “Carry on, Engineering. Operations out.”
Copyright (C) 1998 Jamie Lawson and Judy Caswell. All rights reserved.