Trojan Horse #8 - "Next time I'll do better..."


Regulus Black had finally done 'the unthinkable' and called upon vacation time accrued over the past years. He took an entire week off. He hadn't been able to get much done lately anyways, worrying about the daughter he had never gotten to know well. It was one thing for her to be growing up happy and healthy among his parents, in the same warm home where he'd spent his youth. It was quite another for her to be a Chief Engineer on a starship, lost and likely facing death.

So he'd taken the time off and returned to his parents' home in time to stay with them as his father underwent the scheduled leg operation. His mother was, of course, thrilled to see him home. His father was quiet and gruff, but Regulus could tell that the old man was pleased. Regulus spent his time helping his parents through the surgery and recovery process, running errands and sweeping the floor without complaint. He spent his spare time in his daughter's bedroom.

That room held clues to the rather complex person who had been a picture and a vague memory for so many years. He examined the trophies and ribbons on her shelves, the well-worn books, the childhood projects and pictures all set into place. The room was like a shrine, showing him parts of her personality that were hauntingly familiar - hints of his mother's optimism, his father's quiet determination, and the fighting spirit of that pilot he had only known for a single night.

His mother knew why he'd come with that women's intuition of hers, and she was glad to tell him all the things about his daughter that he'd never asked before. "Well, you don't find these things out by sitting and watching a birthday celebration, you know," she chided him gently, watching his amazement over each new piece of information revealed. "You find out by taking long walks together and eating ice cream. You find out by sailing in the early mornings and swimming at sunset. Some things just take time." Regulus's surprised response amused her greatly. "She can sail?"

In the early morning of the fifth vacation day, the silence of the house was broken by the computer sounds indicating an incoming call. Regulus hadn't been able to sleep well and had finally dozed off on the living room couch, a fierce late-summer storm whipping spray across the curved windows. He dragged himself to the terminal to find that he was marked as the recipient. Accepting the call, he found himself talking to one of his co-workers back at the starbase where they conducted their secret research.

"Thought you'd want to know... the USS Pegasus has reported in. She's been in a fight, badly damaged with reports of casualties, but she's found, and the closest ship is on its way to tow her in."

"Casualties?" Regulus felt a stab of fear in his stomach. "Who? Has the list come out? Do we know the status of the section heads?" "Not yet," the co-worker replied, frowning a bit. "But I'll let you know as soon as there is a status on Lieutenant Black." "I appreciate that, thanks," said Regulus. When the call ended, he spent the rest of the night wide awake, watching the stormy sea.

. . . . . . . .

Meanwhile, a long ways away, Kathleen Black paused for a moment to take stock. Engineering was eeriely silent, the engines dark, the only light coming from a few lamps that contained their own power sources. One of the lamps had been hung overhead, suspended from a partly-fallen piece of structural metal. It cast a pale light over the damaged room. Every single terminal was black and featureless. Here and there the engineers who had remained could be seen as dim shapes, removing panels, checking circuitry to see what could be repaired. The rest of the engineers and technicians had spread throughout the ship under Lake's direction to see what could be salvaged.

Pausing in that pale light, Kitty looked rather unlike that lovely young woman who had made her cautious way to the casino in hopes of meeting her 'almost-father'. There were black smudges on her face, hands, and uniform that looked almost like burns, but were in fact nothing more than burnt insulation rubbing off on anything it touched. Her bangs, which had been cut so neatly to fall attractively around her face, were now slightly damp and stringy. She'd pushed back most of them against her head and secured them there with a small clamp used as a rather geeky barrette. There was a little dried blood on her face from a small cut and she knew she would soon feel sore from having been tossed to the deck a few times, but she was not seriously hurt. At least there was no radiation leak this time.


Lt. Kathleen Black Chief Engineer USS Pegasus