The Convolutions of Language

Characters: Klevetati Yoshino, Terry Hale

On the the shuttle back to her White Star, Terry glanced at her reflection in the viewport with some disgust. It had been only two days before she beat a hasty retreat back to the Rangers, and her duties as a captain. Away from the past she’d been hoping to find again but now couldn’t handle. Somehow she would have to make one life of two paths. It was a cruel problem she couldn’t work out instantly.

So the white star was now her haven again, and she turned to work to occupy her hands, while her mind tried to sort it out. Her presence was greeted with some surprise when she arrived. They hadn’t expected to see her for a couple weeks at the least, at her own instruction. It did not mean she found anything out of order in her absence. The truth of it was, she’d organized herself out of a job for the duration.

After a few hours staring at the ceiling of her quarters she gave up and went about making work. After giving a cursory look to the runs of medical equipment and general supplies to the Phoenix, the reassignment of several new and old crew members, and overseeing the resupply of the White Star they occupied now, she directed the computer to make a contact to the shipyards just beyond Minbar.

Yoshino sat in her office, studying a datapad of Centauri text, in between compiling the latest reports on the Phoenix’s status. She murmured a few Centauri words, sounding them out. Learning the language, especially its written form, had not been as difficult as she’d feared. At least it didn’t have two different sets of kanji to contend with.

She looked over at the comm as it chimed, seeing with surprise the message was coming from out of the Minbar system and was for her. The only outsystem messages lately had all been for Katia, and all scrambled. “Receive.”

Hale’s face appeared, looking up from some work. There was something out of sorts about her, but Yoshino didn’t know her commander well enough yet to guess at what it might be. “Yoshino. Good. How goes the repairs?”

She made a bow from the shoulders, enough for Hale to see. “Very well, Captain. And what is happening on Earth? Since the outcome of the battle, we’ve not had much news.”

“We have our steps backward, but all in all, the progress is good, and in the right direction. It’ll take more than a battle to untangle a few things, you can imagine.” Hale glanced down at something out of range of the vid, and abruptly changed the subject. “I realize you and Santiago would be sending out reports soon to update, but I’d like to hear what you have to say directly. Have you the time?”

“It would be a pleasure, Captain. Anla’shok Santiago is preparing to take personal leave, but the Phoenix is still in good hands.”

Hale’s eyebrows rose. She hadn’t expected that somehow. “A replacement has been found then,” she said, a slight lift of tone making it a question.

“Her new assistant, Anla’shok Dana Gentry, has proven most able. She has had extensive engineering training on Minbar before joining us.”

Hale nodded after a moment. Though the name was unfamiliar, she reminded herself that Minbar had the skill to know who to appoint. “And the progress then. What kind of completion date are we looking at?”

Yoshino suddenly dived out of the vid pickup to rescue a data crystal. “Kuri, stop that!” As she came back up, she said, “We are still on schedule, Captain, and expect that thePhoenix will be ready for full service in two months.”

Hale’s glance was curious, but she didn’t ask who or what Kuri was. “Two months… this is with the upgrades as well, I take it.”

The Ops officer glanced at the rescued data crystal then dropped it into a reader. “The upper deck superstructure and hull are still regenerating, and once that is complete, the rest of the system repairs will go very quickly. The upgrades are considered in that estimate too, yes…. There was a wide variety of damage to take into account, but it seems well in hand now.”

“I imagined there was some we weren’t seeing. Any unexpected problems that need authorization or consultation?”

“I do not believe so,” Yoshino said after a moment’s thought. “Oh. I should mention that the special request from yourself and Anla’shok Darquin has been taken care of.”

Hale looked confused. “My special request?”

“Yes. The ‘Shadow’s Corner’ — the bar — is no more. In that deck section, we have included several additional meditation and observation rooms. The Minbari were most relieved.”

“Ah, yes… that.” Hale shook her head, still disbelieving. “They aren’t the only one. I wonder if a Centauri slipped a thing or two in the plans that day. Not even a human warship tempts fate like that.”

“Indeed, it struck me as quite a mystery,” Yoshino agreed with a nod. “It always struck me as a reflection of military anime, more than of reality. Still, its absence should make things a little easier on our Security staff.”

Hale nodded. “If any such service is still required, it can be pursued by individuals on their own conscience and in private.” She looked down. “Did the new shuttle and fighter replacements come in as well?”

“Still in work, but expected by the time the rest of the repairs are completed. Our fighter wings will be restored, and we will have one Minbari shuttle and one Earth-type atmospheric capable shuttle as well.”

“If you can, see if we can add a third. We’ve the room for it, and may just have the need more often,” Hale said, considering what use they were put to in just the past while for the White Stars.

Yoshino nodded, making a note on her datapad. “Understood, Captain. Any further requests?”

“None I can create, it seems,” Hale said with an enigmatic smile to herself. “Thank you, Yoshino. I’ll let you get back to your work.”

Yoshino paused a moment. There were certain signs of distress in the captain’s demeanor which she had noticed, but it was not her place to ask about them, unless Hale brought it up first. It was becoming more and more unlikely that would happen. “May I ask when we can expect yourself and the rest of the crew to return?”

Hale considered. “I expect we’ll gather up in… let us say six weeks. Seven weeks then, we should reach Minbar, and the Phoenix will have all hands for the final repairs.”

“Understood. We will be prepared to welcome you.”

“Good.” Hale lifted a hand, ready to close the line. “We will see you all then. Should anything arise you wish to speak to me about, feel free to contact. I should not be far out of reach.”

Yoshino bowed again. “Sayonara, Captain,” she said with a smile.

Hale found a smile to return. “Clear skies.” She closed the channel.

(c) Copyright 1999 Jamie Lawson and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.

Have your say