Slipped Through the Cracks

Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto

Sometimes the “gift” of Telepathy was about as useful as trying to open a can with a broadsword. There was no denying it had important purposes, but hardly the cure-all one would think.

Ever since leaving the sudden conference with Katia, she’d had her barriers down to some degree, and while she was “hearing” things with embarrassing clarity around her, none of the minds she brushed past in her labs, or in her medlab visit, held the instability Katia described.

More often than not, passing through the ship was like stepping between the cells of a living thing. Little bubbles of life with their voices and moods, each separated from the other by walls that beat and sang with life, just beyond the edge of understanding. Now was one of the few times Kim wasn’t glad of the barriers, knowing that those comforting walls also cradled a madman and murderer beyond reach.

With the Red Alert, Kim rushed for the bridge, pressed to trust the safety of her labs to Moir and Niall. There were enough horrors behind the triple-sealed doors to the biohazard labs for worry, should they be put to use. Not to mention the various innocuous supplies that could be mixed into a destructive soup of chemicals. And above all, she knew it could be very well a case of closing the barn door after the horses had gotten out. How could a being … a Ranger … be such a danger to one of their own? That assumption of nobility could very well be the death of them all, Kim bitterly understood. How many others cursed their own trust?

The Bridge was a stirred hive of activity, and by the faces that were turned to the lift she walked from, Kim wondered who had she had arrived in the wake of. There was anger in the room, brightest around the captain despite the rigid control Kim saw there in the older woman’s face.

Kim didn’t address it however, until she was safely behind her station, and leaned confidentially toward Margaret. The tactical officer, and now the ranking Ranger second only to Hale, seemed absorbed in her inspection of the weapons’ systems, but her attention was nearly so narrow as that.

“Sleeping?” Margaret asked, by way of greeting.

Kim shook her head. She’d never gotten around to sleep. “Just further away, down at medlab. A favor,” she added, with the momentary look of concern on her friend’s face. “What happened?” she asked without preamble.

“We’ve a Ranger gone mad…. I see you know. Well the Captain seems certain who, now.”

“Who?” Kim asked sharply.

“Kordieh, is the name, from Engineering,” Margaret said. Both were unfamiliar with it. Even on a closed ship with a crew that didn’t number even one hundred, it was possible to miss making a few acquaintances. “Darquin and his people are out hunting for him.”

It was all reduced to simple, brief terms, but what it amounted to was more than anyone wanted to contemplate. Here was someone with intimate knowledge of the ship, the knowledge and means to bring about massive destruction, and hours … even days? … to make his plans certain.

And then there was hyperspace. Kim lifted her eyes to the forward curve of viewports. Bright and dark in the red flux, it was as unstable as it appeared. If they lost their coordinates in that shifting in-between, or the Jump Engines were damaged, there was little chance they’d make it out again.

“How long till we’re in Normal Space?” she asked quietly.

“43 minutes,” Margaret answered. She’d already been there in her worries, and tracking it with grim understanding.

“That’s a long time,” Kim said.

Ie,” Margaret agreed. “Ie….”

Copyright (c) 1998 Leslie McBride and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.


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