Security Chief Darquin led an armed detachment down to the auxiliary bridge on Deck 20, deep inside the cylindrical primary hull of the Phoenix. They broke into two columns, flanking on either side of the sealed hatch. When Darquin keyed in his access code, the first two Rangers from each column charged in, taking positions on the low gallery arc overlooking the dormant chamber.
PPG rifles ready, the rest bolted in on his signal, sprinting down the ramp into the shallow well of the control room while the first two covered their entry. With a gesture they declared the area clear and secure. Going straight to the long, multi-station console, Darquin punched in his access code again. Monitors and consoles all around them came to life.
He tapped the intercom. “Darquin to XO.”
“We’re in. Aux bridge online.”
“Good. At least we know that area can take another pounding. Call bridge crew to stations. What’s our status, overall?”
Darquin rolled his hand over a panel. “I’m reading hull integrity at 73 percent. The auto-repair system is at full power now. Starboard astern and the upper levels took the brunt of the attack, including the main bridge.”
Two more Rangers, Yoshino and Rafell, entered the room. Rafell went to the navigation panel of the master console.
Yoshino joined Darquin on the opposite side. “The star of our ship is still undamaged and undisturbed. I checked on my way in. And nothing amiss in here, it seems.”
“Sounds good,” Darquin muttered, distracted. He took a seat at the master console, checking readouts before he stopped to survey the room. “This is a lot like the patrol cutters we used on Minbar for training flights.”
“Yes.” She made a quick circuit around the console table, bringing other stations online. “Typical of the Minbari — not to throw out anything that is genuinely useful, even if it’s been eclipsed by something new.” She returned to look over Darquin’s shoulder. “I need some direction from you.”
“We had several groups on expeditions planetside at the time of the attack,” she said. “Should we recall them to the ship or give them any new tasks down there? Also, Science Officer Matsumoto has not reported in. She may not even know what has happened. Should we recall her?”
Darquin frowned. “Make contact and get their status. That includes Kim. She can take it up with me if she has to. Morgan’s gonna be busy.” He sat up and got back to work. “Fill me in on the status reports, so I can flag anything that goes up to the XO.”
Yoshino hesitated a moment, then gave him the briefest of pats on the shoulder before moving to take a seat at the station opposite. “One moment, while I pull everything together.”
“Thanks, Marina-chan.” His gentle response was the first glimpse she’d gotten of his usual warmth since the battle.
She blew out a long, slow breath as she settled into her seat, allowing herself to relax a little as she started combing out the data she needed. “It appears that Kim has just reported in and is en route back to the ship now. She was about the second farthest out, so it may be a little while. I’ll see if I can get a more precise ETA. The team farthest out, Awenata and Beltrann, are traveling overland to Uvew. They’re reporting a 24-hour ETA.
“I also have a request, from a couple members of Storm Squadron, wanting to know if they should be setting up a patrol rotation.”
Darquin sighed. “Yeah, they should. Request granted. And make sure they copy. Then get someone to check Tactical’s comm. I told Storm to start patrol, but the message must’ve gotten trashed.”
“Acknowledged.” Yoshino turned her focus back to the board.
“Chief Darquin,” Rafell said, “I have some fresh data coming in from one of the hyperspace probes. It appears to have located a mass of debris.”
“Show me.” Data graphs and Minbari script materialize over the hollow center of the console. Darquin sat up and studied them. “Whatever happened, it was pretty recent. That junk’s still hot. Do we still have the enemy’s track?”
“Yes, it is a strong trace on a very similar vector,” the Minbari replied. “Should we send one or more of the fighters to attempt a retrieval of the debris?”
Yoshino suggested, “Perhaps one of our maintenance bots? I can pull one from the external hull repairs.”
“Let’s give it a shot,” Darquin said, working at his console. “Set it for a deep active scan of the debris field. Then go for a capture. If we’re gonna do it, do it now before we lose it.”
“Acknowledged,” Yoshino said, her hands working the console in front of her in an elaborate dance. As she worked, her lips moved, singing to herself.
A few minutes later, as Yoshino sent the bot through the jumpgate, the central console’s holographic display changed to the manic fiery reds of hyperspace.
They waited for new data from the probe, preparing the secondary bridge for full operation. At the computer’s chime, Yoshino stopped to call Darquin’s attention to the probe’s holo-feed. He was already watching. Gaping. Glancing up at the hologram above the console, Yoshino gasped at the sight. The maintenance bot was angling for a better view of the islet of hull fragments, including the blistered remains of a large, pale Greek letter “psi.”
“Get Morgan,” he said. “Tell her we’ve got a situation.”
ISA Phoenix–“The Gates of Delirium, Part 2” © 2005 Jamie Lawson & Joe Medina
Babylon 5 tm and © 2005 Warner Bros.