Characters: Katia Santiago

Katia hurried away from Captain Hale, the effort to move seeming to be more then she wanted to bear. Her outer face again showed a calm she did not feel. She didn’t miss the questioning looks and thoughts that were directed at her. She did her best to block it all out as she finally entered the lift, her inner turmoil yearning for the solace she could find only in one place … Tuzanor.

As the lift door closed, the Engineer turned and leaned against the back wall, her arms instinctively wrapping themselves around her body protectively. Katia realized that she should have expected the Captain to address her shore leave escapades, but it had been long enough that she actually had thought perhaps Hale would let it pass. She obviously had been wrong.

A dark room … two girls huddles together in fear … a desperate call of terror …

The Chief Engineer shook her head, clearing away the flashing images as they replayed themselves through her mind. She couldn’t allow herself to dwell on what had happened or her heart was liable to explode from knowing the pain she had caused her girls. A tear slipped silently down her face as the darkness threatened to overcome her yet again.

The lift opened as it stopped on the Engineering Deck. Katia, lost in her emotions, had not sensed the echo of voices grow louder in her mind as she neared the populated deck. She felt suddenly exposed when the lift opened to reveal the hall with a couple of her Minbari Engineers passing by, deep in conversation. She quickly straightened, reaching with one hand to swipe away the moisture on her face. As she exited the lift, it appeared once again as if she was totally in control, without a care beyond work.

No one stopped her as she walked to her office, everyone too busy with their duties to notice as she passed. The lack of interruption was a welcome change. She entered her office and gratefully allowed the door to close behind her. Katia leaned against the door for a moment, before quickly stepping over to her chair and allowed her body to slump into her chair.

“If she only knew how desperately I wish I could return to Minbar,” Katia mumbled into the air. To return to Tuzanor and Dunstan would be too easy, she realized; but she knew her place and her duty lay not back on Minbar, but on the ship she now served. Her future with Kordieh was just that … the future. Her present was the Phoenix and all that her duties there entailed.

Katia sat there, staring into the air for what seemed an eternity before she pulled herself out of her inner contemplations and realized she hadn’t responded to Kordieh’s last letter. Perhaps if she did that, she would be able to focus on her work and less on the past and what those around her thought about her.

“Computer, begin recording:

My Dearest Dunstan, I received your latest letter and am sorry it has taken a few days to reply. We have been preparing the ship for her latest mission and are now on our way. I am glad to hear that your project is going so well, and I truly hope you are able to get the permission needed to leave Tuzanor, if only for a short time. I hope all goes well for you.

I find myself missing you more then I ever thought possible. And you are right, though it has been such a short time since we were together it seems much longer. What will we do when it has been months?” she said as she smiled slightly at the light teasing tone she tried to get into her voice.

“Anyway, I seem to be having a problem letting the past remain in the past right now. My daughters’ fear and pain is with me all the time. I see them in my dreams and think about them constantly. It doesn’t seem to help that those around here do not want to allow me my time to grieve and move past that.

Morgan has asked me to thank you for the gift. I am not sure what you sent, but she wanted me to at least extend her appreciation for what it was your sent her. Thank you, Dunstan … I assume you sent it to them all.

“The Captain does not trust me nor my service here on the Phoenix. I think she fears that I am a time bomb waiting to go off. Perhaps she is right, but I know that this is where I belong and I refuse to leave willingly. I don’t know how to convince her otherwise. I will just have to wait and see what the next few months hold,” the stress from the recent encounter with Hale caused Katia’s voice to take on an edge as she recounted her feelings.

“I am going to concentrate on the ship and making sure that nothing happens during this first mission. It appears we are not to have a shake down period, and that worries me. Modifications were made to key systems and if one of those fails at a critical time, it could mean disaster for the ship. I spend most hours here in Engineering monitoring everything. Perhaps I haven’t had enough sleep and that is why everything seems worse then it necessarily is, but I find that sleep is a commodity I can’t afford at the moment. And, when I do try to catch a few hours sleep, the dreams come unbidden.

“Sometimes I want nothing more then to be with you. The dreams seem to lessen when you are with me. Staying here on the Phoenix is sometimes the hardest thing I have ever done, yet the easiest as well. I feel called to stay here … to watch over her. I know it makes no sense but there is a connection between the ship and I that just won’t let me go away just yet.

“You take care, Dunstan. I am with you always … remember that. And I think of you all the time. You are what helps me to keep going … knowing that one day we will be together. I will speak with you more soon. Take care, my love.”

“Computer, save prior recording and send to Dunstan Kordieh … Tuzanor, Minbar.”

By the end of the recording, her voice sounded more relaxed and the muscles in the back of her neck were not as tight as they had been. It was strange how even when he wasn’t there, Dunstan had a way of relaxing her and helping her work through her emotional chaos and calm her mind.

She turned to the screen in front of her and began pulling up the reports from the bridge, ready to tackle another days work.

© 1999 Tamara Friese. All rights reserved.


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