Characters: Katia Santiago, Miina Awenata, Dr. Robert Evers
Katia sat there with Bobby and Catriona for some time as he continued to do everything possible for the injured woman to make her more comfortable. Katia felt the dreams, in the other woman’s mind, trying to flow around the block she had placed around the other’s sleep. The images were enough to make her want to pull back, but the Engineer had given her word, and would not go back on it now. Why she had even considered such an option was still grating at Katia’s well placed defenses and making her berate herself mentally. It hurt her head to consider that she was using the powers she had so shunned for so long. It was like opening an old wound and pouring alcohol directly into it and then rubbing salt into it to boot.
“Well, I have done all I can do for her down here. We have to get her back up to the Phoenix for me to get the bone regenerator to that leg of hers, but I think she will be fine,” the doctor said, breaking into Katia’s mental battle.
“What?” Katia asked, being pulled back from her thoughts. The emotions raging within her not showing on her composed features, having learned that kind of control from spending her life growing up back at Earthgov watching her Uncle.
Bobby smiled slightly at Katia’s attentiveness to his patient. “I think I have done all I can do until we get her back to the ship. Do you have a plan to do that yet?”
Katia shook her head, “Not as of yet, let me go now and take care of that.”
With that, Katia reached out and touched Morgan, hiding the involuntary shudder that was associated with physical contact with others and weaved a link between herself and the injured woman. This way they would be in constant contact, and if something tried to grab a hold of her mind, Katia could deflect it easily.
The fear and confusion from Catriona threatened to mix with her own chaotic feelings and she quickly closed down the emotions looming just on the edge of her mind. Katia’s mind quickly returned to the last time she had linked with anyone, allowing her constant access to another’s emotions and mind. That last time had ended with William’s mind being ripped from her own when he had been killed in a battle with Clark’s minions when she was back on Minbar. The feeling of part of yourself being ripped from you suddenly had almost been more than she could handle. It had taken the healers several days to pull her back from the depths of her own mind and only with the help of another telepath had they been able to do it. That moment in time had been the deciding factor in her closing herself off from any further use of her abilities, and having decided to open at this moment and in such a way threw Katia into a whirlwind of emotions, many of which were not even identifiable at the moment.
The link worked, and Katia felt the other in her mind so she quickly let go of the woman’s arm and the presence in her mind lessened considerably. The Chief Engineer vowed to herself to sever the link as soon as they were back on the ship and close herself down yet again, but part of her whispered that that would never happen. She had opened herself up again and it was time to deal with that, but that was something she would not even consider at the moment. With that, she turned and quickly headed toward the door and a little fresh air.
Meanwhile, Miina, having kept one ear tuned to the goings on inside the shuttle, knew her talents could be better used in examining the shuttle from the outside—at least for the moment. The hull of the small craft was like nothing she had ever seen before. It had been marked pretty badly with carbon scoring over most of the hull. But the marks appeared to be disappearing even as Miina watched. The hull wasn’t even warm, and as Miina ran her fingers over the hull, she got the impression that she wasn’t touching any kind of metal. She remembered coming into contact with the inner hull on the Phoenix, but this was nothing like that.
She was intrigued as she noticed that the smaller pock-marks on the hull, that she had seen initially, had all but disappeared. And in some places where the damage was the worst, the hull-substance, whatever it was, seemed almost to shudder at her touch, as if she was disturbing some kind of “self-repair” mechanism. She had observed a large gash in the engine compartment which now was covered over by a filmy webbing, that was beginning to give the appearance of a myelin sheath.
Katia stepped out of the shuttle, wondering how in the world they were going to transport the unconscious woman to their shuttle to get her up to the Phoenix, pushing all other considerations out of her mind to focus on the tasks at hand. That they would be taking her with them went without saying, but it was the how that had Katia confused. It was possible to fly their shuttle over to this one and pick her up. And whether this shuttle was able to fly to the Phoenix was up for question as well, although it didn’t look toobeat up.
Bobby stayed inside the shuttle, not wanting to leave the woman’s side, and Miina was outside checking on the shuttle’s systems to see if she were flight worthy or not. The Chief Engineer walked up to her assistant and smiled, “I don’t know if this is good or not, but the person we found in there is from the Hellfire.”
Awenata nodded. “I heard…”
“Pretty strange,” Katia said, “but that will all be sorted out when we get back to the ship. She is in no condition to talk at the moment. Evers has her sedated.” The presence in Katia’s mind shifted a bit, reminding her yet again of what she was doing and it took an almost physical effort to keep her mind on the present. “What is the status of this shuttle?”
“Well, considering the beating she took entering the atmosphere, she came through it better than I would have expected. The one who piloted her in knew what she was doing. And, the self-repairing systems are kicking in as well,” Miina said with a note of something in her voice Katia couldn’t decipher.
Katia blinked and looked over at her assistant, “Self-repairing systems in a shuttle of this size? That isn’t possible!”
The other woman smiled slightly and replied, “I thought that too, but it is very apparent when you look at the engine and hull.” Miina led Katia over to the engine compartment and showed her the organic membrane covering the hull at a weak point evidently caused from the impact.
“This is amazing! I didn’t think they could make vessels of this size with the organic connections to induce self-repair like this!” Katia exclaimed.
Miina nodded, “Exactly, but that is precisely what she is doing. “If this shuttle continues at its current rate, it will be able to make the flight to the Phoenix in approximately one half hour, that is, once I repair the tracking systems.”
“Get on it then. We can have Evans pilot it back and I can pilot our shuttle back. I want to do some intensive examinations of this thing and the sooner we get back, the sooner I can get into this things innards and find out what she is all about. I have never seen a shuttle of this configuration before, have you?” Katia asked a bit enthusiastically.
“No, I haven’t. She is totally new to anything I have seen before. It will be interesting to see how it works,” Miina replied eagerly.
“Okay then, let’s get this thing fixed and ready to go. We are going to go get our shuttle and pilot her over here so we don’t have to trek with Catriona and can get her up to the Phoenix. I am going to leave you with Evers and Nerin as guard while Koren and I get back to the shuttle. We should be back in approximately 90 minutes. If you don’t hear from us, get into this shuttle, get back to the Phoenix, and coordinate any searches from there,” Katia ordered.
Miina nodded. “Yes, Katia. We will make sure of it.” The two smiled at each other and then finally turned, making their way into the work at hand.
Copyright (c) 1998 Judy Caswell and Tamara Friese. All rights reserved.