Out of the Woods
Characters: Terry Hale, Jordan Toussaint
Confusion. Pain. Noise. Quiet. Lighting. Burbling, sometimes close, but never as constant as the drip. Tap tap tap tap… Annoying. But it was a bad storm. Something leaking. Didn’t they patch that roof? Going to flood. Better move. Move!
But it only took one to run the place. Trying to pad the budget, hm?
“Fourteen beams need replacing.”
“Anla’shok I must insist this isn’t appropriate.”
No kidding. Christ, it’s a roof not a stadium. Requisitions like this is why we aren’t taken seriously–
“And I’ve no idea how we feed the regrowth of that much skin. Hide? I don’t know what to call it. Never fixed anything quite like this before. I mean come on. A living ship.”
“Mr. Toussaint, this is not an acceptable form of treatment.”
“But her eyes are open.”
Her eyes were open. Terry looked up at a ceiling that wasn’t leaking and wasn’t like any she was familiar with. Crystalline and lovely and way too damn bright for her eyes. She closed them again and watched the lighting move. No storm but a migraine zapping around beneath her eyelids. Somewhere nearby machines kept time to her heart.
“Her eyes were open.”
“Please shut up,” Terry croaked and peeked between her eyelids.
Jordan and a slight Minbari woman with medical trappings exchanged a narrow-eyed look that both said “I told you so.” The Minbari went on with a stiff back to check the instruments while Jordan proceeded to ignore what everyone else was telling him to do.
“Took you long enough,” he said. Terry might have snapped at him, but her eyes were working well enough to see the dark puffiness under his eyes and the lines. He took one of her hands in both of his and rubbed, reminding her of her body. It lay heavy, reluctant to move.
“That blast was bad then,” she said, after taking a tally of the situation.
“You remember it then.”
“I think I remember everything. I hope.” She looked around. “I know we’re on Minbar. The air’s different on a world, even indoors. I thought I was back on Earth for a bit there. In a park maintenance budget meeting.”
“Er, I suppose my techniques weren’t great. But cripes, their techniques were putting me to sleep, not waking you up. I could tell Dr. Lanconi was worried, too, though he wouldn’t talk to me about what sort of treatments he was hunting down…”
“How long has it been?” She twisted her hand and his until the face of his watch turned up. And cursed, a little too loudly.
Jordan hurriedly spoke over her noise, and still earned a look from the nurse. “Yeah. Well… we were able to limp home to Minbar on our own power, once we got the job done. Close thing though. The ship’s in dock being worked on those more experienced with her than I am. You should’ve seen the dirty looks from the shipyard crew.”
Terry flopped her head back against the pillow. Her eyes roamed the room – could still roam the room thanks to the incline of her Minbari style bed. She had to admit the angle made her feel a little closer to active and alive. But it didn’t mean she felt able. It was a long time to be laying around. All the muscle toning and circulatory machines couldn’t substitute for real movement. She opened and clenched her free hand. Had to start somewhere.
“Tell me what’s happened.”
“Hell of a business. The attack took out the main bridge — almost took you and Carlacci with it. We patched the Phoenix together and tracked the attacking ship to its home system — which wasn’t a planet. It was a Dyson sphere under construction.” Jordan’s voice betrayed his awe. “Turns out they didn’t have a homeworld any more. The Vorlons wiped it out after the Uzael — that’s the species — talked back, apparently. We proved our good intentions by shutting down the sentinels the Vorlons had left in system.
Terry muttered something inaudible to everyone except the man beside her.
“Yeah, I know. More Vorlon leavings. At least we won’t have to worry about scavengers getting these. And the Uzael just want to be left alone. They’ll make reparations to the Huka, on the quiet. And that’s about it. We’re back on Minbar, the President and Entil’zha are home too, all’s right with the Alliance.” He gave her a wry smile. “At least for the moment. So you can take plenty of time to rest and heal.”