Legacy, Chapter 10 – Courage

By C. Lear



Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,

                The soul that knows it not Knows no release from little things...

— Amelia Earhart



Jessica coughed softly and Hardly released her from his tight embrace.  She felt the warmth of his hand on the side of her face, and she closed her eyes, leaning into it. 


“Ah'm gonna' to get you someth'n to drink.”  His voice was soft and soothing.


He started to stand up, but she clung to his hand.  “Don't go... not yet.”


“Fahv minutes.”  He smiled as he stood up. 


“Why does everyone keep trying to feed me?” she whispered to him.


“ Fahv minutes,” he repeated, holding up five fingers as he backed out the door.


Jessica pulled her legs to her chest and rested her chin on her knees.  The site of Wildstar's awkward sleeping position in a nearby chair made her smile, but her smile faded quickly.  She remembered the task looming before her.  Hardy was a pleasant distraction, but one she could not afford at the moment.  With him, she had an excuse to neglect her obligations.  Now, with Wildstar asleep, it was the perfect time.  She had no choice.


She reluctantly pulled the blanket from her body and slowly stood on unsteady legs.  Grasping her backpack, she slowly lifted it from the floor.  All the while, carefully watching Wildstar for movement.  He seemed to be sleeping soundly. 


She started toward the door, but she stopped after a few steps and looked back at Wildstar.  She couldn't help herself.  Setting the backpack down, she crept back to the couch, retrieved the blanket, then gently placed it over him.  She carefully backed away to the door and picked up her backpack.  She cleared the hallway with a quick glance from left to right and slipped silently out of the room.  



Wildstar felt the weight of the blanket as Jessica placed it over him, but he didn't stir.  At least, not until Jessica left the room.  He opened his eyes when he heard the fading sound of her footsteps in the hallway.  Pulling the blanket away, he got to his feet.  He reached the door just in time to see her disappear around a corner in the distance. 


She was headed away from the surgical observation room.  'Peter is still in surgery...' he thought as he straightened his uniform and pushed his hair out of his eyes.  'Where is she going?'



Wildstar caught up with Jessica as she slipped through a side door of the medical facility.  It led to a narrow street of the underground city.  She stopped before the sidewalk.  Kneeling with the backpack, she retrieved a baseball cap and light jacket from it.  She tucked her braided hair into the cap and pulled it snugly over her head.  Pulling on the jacket, she zipped it closed.


After she stood and slung the pack over her shoulder, she headed down the street in the direction of the military base.  Cory was still under the watchful eyes of Conroy's squadron.  She wasn't going that way to find him.  Wildstar's curiosity overtook him, and he shadowed her. 



It was early morning.  Hours before sunrise on the surface.  Yet, the streets of the city still hummed with activity and celebration.  Energized by the return of the Argo and her crew, the city and its inhabitants refused to sleep.


Revelers in the streets motioned to Jessica, urging her to join them in drink and song.  The purpose of her journey, and her brother's fragile circumstances, left her with no stomach for celebration.  She was too deep in her thoughts to acknowledge them.  It was one foot in front of the other.  As she weaved a path through multitudes of people in the street, she kept only her memories for company.   


She remembered walking the streets alone, not so long ago.  Had it been years?  More?  She couldn't remember the timing, but she remembered how she felt. 


It was a particularly dark day in her memory.  She was alone, she was angry, and she was simply too tired to sleep.  The city was dark and the streets were quiet and empty.  The buildings around her seemed to stifle her more than usual. 


Peter was in the final stages of his advanced flight training.  He was awaiting his first combat assignment.  The entire family was on edge. 


Then, Cory, with his miraculous sense of timing, declared his intentions for his future to their father.  He wanted to follow in the path of his older brother and apply to the academy.  As Jessica silently predicted, a fierce argument ensued.  Because there was no hiding from the volley of shouts and painful words flying about their small, crowded apartment, she left. 


Even after many hours had passed, she still didn't want to go home.  Instead, she walked the halls of the military hospital.  The equipment was interesting and advanced and there was always someone around, willing to indulge her curiosity. 


She inspected the new bandage on her forearm.  The abrasions she suffered during her latest rescue were still painful.  She was grateful another medic offered to clean it and re-wrap it for her.  She didn't want to ask her father.  He would only chastise her for being so foolish as to climb into the wreckage of another collapsed building.  “There are too many ways to die in this world,” he would say.  “Stop trying to increase your odds!”


The underground cities were built very quickly to save the lives of those on the surface.  Ironically, more lives might have been spared if the cities were constructed with less speed and more care.  Structural collapses were fairly common now.  The radioactive bombings on the surface only aggravated the problem, sending violent tremors through the earth for miles, undermining foundations and crumbling structures.


Jessica's technical skills as a climber were valued more than ever.  Her skills as a medic were equally valuable.  However, it was her petite stature that served as both a blessing and a curse.  She could squeeze into small fissures in debris where others could not.  Unfortunately, she was often the first to witness the tragic plight of victims and survivors alike. 


She stopped giving into her emotions a long time ago.  They simply got in her way.  They slowed the process of rescue and eroded the confidence of the survivors. 


She knew, every incident hardened her just a little.  Each frightening experience chipped a small piece from her soul.  She used to feel things... really feel them.  Now, each passing day, she grew numb and angry... and it frightened her. 


She walked slowly through a room, lined with hospital beds.  Most of them were occupied by injured soldiers.  She marveled at the modern equipment and the white, gossamer, privacy curtains draping from the high ceilings.  Everything was shiny and clean. 


Curiosity drew her to the bed of one soldier.  Half of his face was hidden by bandages.  She glanced at the electronic chart and whispered the name.  “Jefferson Davis Hardy.”  She smiled.


He was intubated.  Mechanical ventilation regulated his breathing.  It was soft, rhythmic, and constant.  She regarded him for a moment, then approached the side of his bed.  His hand rested at his side.  She touched it gently, carefully tracing along his fingers with her fingertips.  She grasped it, remembering how it felt when his hand held hers. 


He was in such pain.  Yet, he was solid and strong in her presence.  His calm kept her focused and kept her moving.  She was silently grateful for his strength, and she wished she could feel it now. 


With gentle resolve, she placed her hand over the bare skin of his chest.  He was cool to the touch.  His chest rose and fell with each steady breath.  She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. 


His heart was very strong.  She felt its comforting rhythm against her hand.  In the next moment, the sound pounded softly in her ears.  When she listened more intently, she heard the rush of blood through his vessels, through the chambers of his heart.  It flowed with such strength, with such undeniable purpose. 


Air flowed into his lungs, adequately nourishing the blood and the tissues.  Yet, the balance... the sound... the air didn't flow smoothly... there was roughness... damage.  The inhalation of smoke and chemicals burned fragile membranes in the lungs, but the body was gaining strength and working to repair it.  If she tried hard enough, she could almost... 


Jessica was shaken from her concentration by footsteps.  She heard the nurse return to the nurses' station at the end of the room.  She quickly withdrew her hand and restored her focus to her immediate surroundings.


“Hey, Doc!  How are ya'?”  The nurse placed his hand-held computer on the desk and approached her.   “We don't see you around here often!”  He jerked his head at the patient.  “One of yours?”  Jessica responded with a nod.  “You come by for a visit?”  He noticed her bandaged arm before she could reply.  “Ah, patched up again, huh?  Girl, you and I are going to have to compare scars someday!”


“Not if it involves getting naked with you, Dave.”


He grabbed his chest.  “You're such a heart breaker!”  He paused and acknowledged her smile with a wink.  “Can I answer any questions for you?”


“No...  I was just...”  Her words trailed off.  She didn't know what she was doing.


Dave dismissed her hesitation and continued.  “He's doing very well!  He came through surgery like a champ!  He's in what we call a drug-induced coma right now.  You know about that, right?  It shuts down electrical activity in the brain and the body diverts the energy to healing.  It also discourages cerebral edema.  That explains the ventilator.  The more we can reduce the work-load for the brain and the body, the better.”  Dave glanced at her.  She was staring at the young man covered in bandages and tubes, but she diverted her eyes when she felt Dave's eyes on her. 


“You okay?”  Dave waited for a response, but Jessica could only manage a nod.  “They say people in coma's can hear things going on around them.”  Dave glanced around and found a rolling chair nearby.  He retrieved it and rolled it to Hardy's bedside.  “His grandmother comes each day during visiting hours.  Take a seat!”


Jessica shook her head.  “I... don't...”


“C'mon!  Talk to him a little.  You look beat!”  He pointed at the chair.  “Enjoy it!  Just think, you'll finally have a man that listens to you!”


Jessica smiled and sat down.  Dave rolled her close to the bedside until she pressed her hands against the bed to stop the movement.  He walk away backwards, smiling at her.  “I promise, anything you say is just between you and him and me... and the next shift!  Do you want some coffee?”


“So I can be as wired as you?  No thanks!”  She watched Dave return to his chair at the nurses' station.  He turned his back to her and started tapping away at the computer terminal. 


She released a deep sigh and leaned on Hardy's bed.  “So, Jefferson Hardy... what shall we talk about?”  She spoke softly, whispering her words so as not to disturb the other patients around them.  “You said you liked the sound of my voice.  Let's hope you haven't changed your mind.”   She placed her hand over his, gently knotting her fingers through his.     


She was silent for a long while, contemplating what to say.  Her thoughts drifted back to her family and the bonds they shared.  Slowly, painfully, they decayed a little more each day.  She lifted Jefferson's hand and grasped it within both of hers.  She was physically exhausted, but it was the emotional fatigue which took its toll.  Bowing her head, she pressed her forehead against the intertwined mesh of their fingers.  She hid the tears welling in her eyes. 


“I miss my mother...  I miss her so much...”  Her voice trembled as she whispered.  “If she were here... my family wouldn't be falling apart.  She would know what to say...  to keep them together.”  She closed her eyes and a tear rolled down her cheek.  Rather than brushing it away, it felt good to let it flow down her face and fall upon the sheets. 


“There's an old observation balcony above the government building.  It's the highest place in the city.  It's not really safe anymore, but I go there sometimes...  because it's the closest I can get to heaven without going to the surface...”  Jessica hesitated and swallowed hard.  “You would probably think this is foolish, but I try to talk to her up there.  I've done that since I was a child...”


She hesitated, gathering her thoughts; drawing upon her memories.  “I remember when I was five.  We still lived in Castlerock.”  She lifted her head, still holding his hand within hers.  “Our mother passed that year.  My brother, Peter, was determined to find a way to talk to her.  He wanted her to come home.  He drug me up some high, rocky outcrop in the Garden of the Gods because he wanted to get closer to heaven.  He thought she might be able to hear us up there. 


“Dad would have killed us if he knew, but Peter was my big brother.  I would have followed him anywhere.”  Jessica caught herself smiling.  “There was a storm moving in that day.  It was a cool front.  The clouds were dark, and they were moving very fast.  I could see lightening in the distance.  Thunder echoed around us.  I remember putting my hand against the stone.  I could feel the vibration.  I still remember the smell of the electricity in the air.  It was terrifying to me, but Peter wanted to keep climbing.  So, I watched him climb as high as he could get. 


“It seems crazy, now that I think about it... Peter could have been killed if he fell.  He could have been struck by lightening, but he never seemed afraid.  He just kept climbing until he reached the peak.   


“The wind picked up.  There was this... sudden rush of air.  I remember it so well because it was suddenly cold!  It rushed over me, almost through me.  I looked up at him, and he was standing up, his head thrown back, his arms outstretched, welcoming that storm like it was his best friend. 


“I thought the wind would have blown him right off that outcrop, but he stood his ground in its wake.  He stood  straight and tall, like he was part of the stone.  Then, he moved his arms in the wind, like he was a gliding bird.  


“I wanted to call out to him.  I wanted to tell him to come down, but I didn’t.  I just watched him...  


“What kind of seven year old isn’t afraid of lightning?...”  She looked at Jefferson's face, almost as if she expected him to answer her.      


“I always think of him in that way.  Facing down that storm without fear.”  She rested her cheek against their clasped hands.  “It makes me afraid for him... The more my father wants to keep him here, the more he struggles to break free.  My father doesn't see it, but Peter is a stranger to the ground...  He doesn't belong here...”



Security was at a minimum in the underground hanger, which sheltered the Argo.  Sandor's endeavor to unload and position the alien hardware for a rapid evaluation fascinated and engrossed most of the staff.  Wildstar observed from a distance as Jessica gained access to the hanger with her brother's security clearance.  She must have obtained it from his body during his rescue.  He hoped she was only going to retrieve her brother's belongings in the barracks.  Such an offense might be forgivable under the circumstances.  However, it would have been more appropriate, and more respectful, to request an escort.


Most of the power to the ship was shut down for safety.  The corridors were quiet and dimly lit.  He followed her, carefully staying in the shadows, keeping his footsteps just beyond her earshot.  


Jessica accessed a monitor near the elevators and retrieved the Argo's directional schematic.  The pale blue light from the monitor illuminated her face as she studied the map.  She traced over the screen with a finger and moved her lips as she read.  She removed a hand-held device from her backpack and manipulated the touch-sensitive screen. 


Wildstar was surprised to hear the sound of doors sliding open in the distance.  He even heard the sound of an elevator as it stopped at their floor.  She knew how to manipulate the on-board computer.  After clearing the monitor, she walked passed the elevators and continued down the passageway.  The barracks were on a higher level.  'Where is she going?' he thought.


He was confused when Jessica entered the infirmary.  He watched her silently, from the hallway.  She placed her hand upon a nearby wall.  Her touch was gentle, almost tender, as if her fingers stroked the face of a frightened child.  She whispered something.  Wildstar wasn't certain, but he thought he heard her apologize. 


Things became somewhat clearer as he witnessed the liberation of a fire extinguisher from its cradle in the wall.  She turned, lifted the heavy object over her head, and plowed it firmly into the safety glass of a secured medicine cabinet.  Wildstar was horrified.  He wanted to lunge forward and scream at her to stop, but he bit his tongue, enduring the torturous sound of repeated, damaging blows. 


The safety glass failed to yield, so she swung the fire extinguisher again.  The wrath of frustration fueled her swing.  This time, it hit the safety glass with one loud smack and webs of hairline cracks sprawled slowly through the frame.  She used the base of the fire extinguisher to chip through the compromised glass.  Pulling the sleeve of her jacket over her hand, she punched away more of the jagged pieces.  She grasped at something inside the cabinet and pulled it free.    


Vials and ampules spilled onto the floor, mingling with the shattered glass.  She cursed under her breath and knelt to retrieve them.  Sliding the backpack closer, she dropped handfuls of labeled bottles into the bag. 


Wildstar was done.  The Argo had been through enough...  He finally understood why she was here.  He stepped into the room, but all he could utter was,  “What the hell...” 


Jessica gasped.  On her hands and knees in the midst of broken safety glass and scattered medicine vials, her eyes were fixed on his shoes.  She slowly looked up at him, as if she couldn't believe he was standing before her.  Shocked and visibly frightened, she scrambled for her backpack.  After an awkward tangle, she pulled a weapon free from it.  Before Wildstar could say anything more, she was on her feet, juggling the weapon until she finally had the dangerous end pointed at him. 


“Jessica…”  He crossed his arms, calmly observing the unsteady grip she had on the weapon.  The gun was standard, military issue.  It trembled in her hands.    


“Derek…”  Jessica whispered, breathless in her surprise.  “You're following me?”




“Why?”  Her reply seemed fearful and desperate. 


“I think I should be asking the questions here,” he said softly, then he suddenly shouted at her.  “Why the hell are you on my ship without authorization?”


She opened her mouth to speak, but her words were caught, strangled by her loss for words. 


“Jessica?”  he shouted again and took a step forward.  “Answer me!”


“Stop!” Her eyes widened.  She stiffened her arms and pointed the muzzle at him with force.


He hesitated, suddenly remembering there was a gun between them.  He took in a breath, releasing it slowly to quell his anger.  He could hear her trembling as she breathed.  A display of his anger wouldn't separate her from the weapon.  It was time for a different approach.   


Wildstar lowered his voice and spoke his next words with calm indignation.  “Are you really going to shoot me with that thing?”  He raised his hands, indicating his submission to the situation.  When she didn’t reply to his question, he eased forward a step, hoping his movements would distract her.


Jessica stepped back and pleaded with him,  “Please… stop!  I don't want to hurt you!”


“I know,” he said calmly, inching forward again. “If you wanted to hurt me, you would've turned on that gun.”


Jessica caught her breath.  It wasn't difficult to surmise, she didn't have training on the weapon.  Her unsteady, novice’s grip gave it away.  The fear in her eyes confirmed it.


Her eyes traced over the weapon in her hands.  Wildstar knew she was carefully considering what to do next.  He hoped she had some desire to set it aside and explain things to him.  Wildstar moved toward her again and her eyes met his.  He reached out his hand, offering to take the gun from her. 


She began to lower the weapon, but she suddenly tossed it at him.  Wildstar's eyes followed it as it went airborne.  Jessica grabbed her pack and bolted for the door.  The gun bounced twice in Wildstar’s hands before he got a firm grip on it.  He only caught a glimpse of Jessica’s foot as she disappeared through the doorway.


Wildstar ran to the door and looked both ways.  He couldn’t see her, but he heard the fading sound of her footsteps.  He launched toward the echo.  It didn’t take long for him to catch up with her.  He was the stronger runner.  He approached her in time to see her manipulate a lock on a pressure-sealed door with surprising ease.  It hissed and opened only partially, just enough for her tiny frame to squeeze through the narrow opening.  She reached back through the opening and snatched her backpack, pulling hard to force its bulk through the opening.


Wildstar reached for the backpack and nearly snatched a handful of dangling leather straps, but Jessica pulled it free, with only a moments to spare.  She donned the pack and started running again, briefly glancing over her shoulder in time to catch Wildstar wedged between the doors.  He struggled to squeeze through the opening sideways, pushing at the door wedged in his chest.  His body finally made it through, but the doors snapped closed on his ankle.  He fell hard and it fueled his anger.  He growled as he twisted his leg and pulled himself free.  Finally, he jumped to his feet again and ran. 


Moments later, he caught up to her again, only to see her come to an abrupt stop.  She bent forwards, then swayed backwards, arms outstretched and violently circling backwards, as if she was balancing precariously on a tightrope.  She caught her footing, then turned abruptly to face him.


Light streamed into the dark corridor from behind her.  He realized, it was the familiar lighting from the hanger.  Most of the passage was destroyed with the bowels of the Argo in their final battle.  There was nothing behind her but several hundred feet of stale air and the floor of the hanger.


Wildstar took a moment to catch his breath and assess the situation.  She stood at the very edge of the jagged opening and he saw her glance over her shoulder.  He put up his hands in an attempt to soothe her.  “Take... it easy!”  He spoke softly between breaths. 


“You shouldn’t have followed me!”  Jessica shouted at him.  “Leave me alone!”


“I can’t!”  Wildstar shouted back at her.


“Why?  You don’t know me!”


“I made a promise!”


“I don't need your he...!”


“Peter!”  Wildstar cut her off.  “I made a promise to Peter!”


Jessica hesitated.  The pain she seemed to feel for her brother briefly crossed her face when she heard his name.  Only briefly.  She bowed her head slightly, glaring at him.  The tiny movement allowed a narrow shaft of light to illuminate the rage in her eyes.  “If he wanted to protect me… he should have stayed…”  


“Maybe...”  Wildstar paused, taking a moment to calm himself and reassess his strategy.  Disagreeing with her would only provoke a reaction, but maybe her reaction would keep her talking.  “You're wrong...  I do know you...”  He took a step towards her, but stopped when she inched backwards.  “I know how your mother died and how hard it was for you...  I know about the arguments between Peter and his father, and how you tried to hold the family together...”


“Stop it!”  She shouted again.  “That little girl Peter knew before he left... she’s dead… I’m what’s left…”


“Jessica, it doesn't matter.” Wildstar’s voice was soft, but firm.  He extended his hand to her.  “Come away from the edge.”


“No...”  She slowly shook her head.  The movement seemed ominous in the pale shaft of light. 


“Then talk to me!”  He didn't know whether to be amazed or terrified.  She stood there, confronting him with defiance, seemingly more comfortable in her precarious position than within his reach.  ‘If I can just keep her talking,’ he thought, 'keep her distracted!'  Wildstar glanced at her feet.  Her heels were near the edge.  He feared the integrity of the compromised floor would fail beneath her weight.  “You're not going anywhere.  Let me help you...”


She raised her hand and defiantly pointed at Wildstar.  “I have two brothers already!  I don’t need another one!  Especially one with rank!”  


“That's fine!  Just come away from the edge, Jessica!”  He moved forward slowly, his hand still extended.  He gestured with it, urging her to take it.  “Help me to understand…”


She moved back slightly.  “You don't want to go down this road, Derek...”


Moments of silence passed.  He was losing his patience with this stand-off.  In Wildstar’s mind, Jessica’s stubbornness inspired the impression of a obstinate child.  His soul was battle-weary and somewhat numb.  However, the young woman's proximity to a deadly fall was fraying what remained of his nerves.  Before he could catch himself, he shouted at her.  “Come away from the edge, Jessica!”


Jessica's body jerked in surprise.  She seemed momentarily taken aback by his firmness, but the fury in her eyes quickly returned.  “My father is dead!”  She shouted back at him and her words echoed into the cavernous hanger behind her.  “I don’t need another one of those either!”  She shook her head again.  “I'm done with talking!”  She emphasized her words with the angry motion of her hands.  “I’m done with asking!  I’m done with begging!”  The movement shook the platform beneath her feet and it creaked with the strain.  “I’ve tried that!  All I get are excuses and hours wasted in deliberation!”


“Maybe I can help you!  People respect you!  If you will just tell me...”


She cut him off and stepped toward him, but only a few inches from the edge.  “I had to beg, borrow, and steal for every ounce of that respect!  I’ve done everything… everything… short of selling myself…” Her voice caught in her throat and she looked away as she swallowed hard.  The anger on her face softened, as if a painful memory seemed to overtake her.  “And I’ve come pretty close to that!”


Wildstar nodded in response to her words, trying to appear attentive.  At the same time, he evaluated the probability of successfully grabbing her away from the edge.  He was so very close now.  “I can’t understand if you don’t talk to me!”


After a moment of heavy silence, she lowered her eyes and shook her head.  Her voice trembled when she spoke.  “You don’t want to know me.” 


“Jessica...”  He took a step toward her, reaching for her. 


She seemed to shrink away from him.  Her body leaned backwards.  He stared into her eyes as she fell away from him.  His fingertips brushed her clothing, ever so slightly.  When he failed to grasp her, he caught his breath. 


He couldn’t remember exactly what happened in that moment.  Did he crowd her too soon?  Did she slip?  What lingered with him later was that he didn't see fear in her eyes.  He didn't see fear, anger, or determination.  He saw nothing.  Nothing is what frightened him the most. 


“Jessica!” he screamed as he frantically stepped to the edge.  He collapsed to his knees, desperately hoping to find her clinging to something, but terrified he would find her sprawled and broken on the hanger floor. 


Only a tangle of cables and twisted metal draped from the jagged opening of the corridor, framing the empty floor of the hanger.  Like the shadow of an elusive stranger... like the fleeting form a ghost... she was gone.



Wildstar was anxious as he watched Nova inspect the damage to the storage units.  “I'm sorry to interrupt your time with your family, Nova!  I didn't know who else to call!”


She moved slowly, carefully balancing as she stepped over broken bits of safety glass on the floor.  “It's alright, Derek.  This is important!  I'm glad you didn't call security.”  She reached down and retrieved a vial from the floor.  Her expression was one of deep concentration as she read the label, so Wildstar remained silent.  “She knew what she was looking for.”  Nova forced open the bent and shattered cabinet door.  “She took anything that might have some intrinsic value.”   


“Why would she come here?”  Wildstar asked.  “She's in and out of hospitals and medevacs all the time!  She's had every opportunity to take things from those!”


“Most likely, she has...” Nova replied thoughtfully,  “but in smaller amounts.  Hospital and medevac inventory is carefully monitored.  She can request medication, but only in quantities which match the procedure.  She could probably get an extra vial or two, but nothing like this.  It makes sense.  We haven't reported what we used during the mission, so it's difficult to trace.  The fact that she knew that, is a little disturbing.”


“What could she be doing with it?”


“I'm not sure... she's a civilian medic... She didn't go through the standardized military medical training.  I have no idea what she knows.  Perhaps she's selling it.  She's taken anesthetics and analgesics primarily.  I see some antibiotics missing...” 


“She would have taken those too, but I interrupted her...”


Nova whispered her next word.  “C-Corps...”


Wildstar overheard her.  “The Civilian Medical Corps?  You think they're for real?”


“I know they're for real.”  Nova glanced at him.  “I've probably worked with some of them.”


“What do you know about them?” 


“There's a great deal of talent there.  They sometimes supplement our rescue operations, but they lack our sophisticated equipment.  They refuse support from the military.  Their focus is on the civilian population.”  Nova sighed thoughtfully.  “There are conflicting interests... between the military and the Corps...  The Corps want autonomy and the military wants control over their talent.”  Nova touched her chin with the fist grasping the vial.  Wildstar watched her eyes carefully trace the empty spaces of the cabinet.  “Conroy's father is a surgeon...”


“Conroy's father is dead,” Wildstar replied flatly.


“I see...”  Nova hesitated, while taking in the details of the damage.  “Most of these drugs can be lethal in the right dosage...” she said thoughtfully.  “Derek,” Nova paused, as if gathering her thoughts to make a delicate request, “did she seem particularly unbalanced to you?”


Wildstar sighed in frustration as he pushed his hand through his unruly hair.  “She took a dive out of a blast hole in the side of the Argo!  I'd say she's certifiable!”


Nova's focus returned to him.  He knew he couldn't hide his rising anxiety from her.  She seemed to sense it without effort.  Carefully navigating the debris in her path, she approached him slowly.  With her familiar, soothing grace, she gently touched his arm. 


“Peter asked me to...”  Wildstar shook his head.  Devastating possibilities were racing through his mind.  His voice trembled as he spoke.  “He trusts me...  What am I going to tell him?”  He met Nova's eyes.  They looked upon him with compassion. 


“We'll find her, Derek!”  She pulled him close and embraced him.  “We'll find her...”



To Be Continued

Chapter 11 – Guardian


Disclaimer:  Star Blazers is owned by Voyager Entertainment.   

Beta Reader:  Thanks again to Ms. Sybil Rowan! 

Date Written:  December, 2010

Word Count:  5354