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Ithaca

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ITHACA
by Laura M. Appelbaum

 

“And then, that hour the star rose up,
the clearest, brightest star, that always heralds
the newborn light of the day, the deep-sea-going ship
made landfall on the island … Ithaca, at last.”

“Pause,” Catherine Sakai directed her book reader before checking her navigational display to make sure she was still on the right hyperspace beacon. Three hours, she observed; after two weeks away on a survey run, she was only three hours from home. She smiled to herself; when exactly in the last eight or nine months had she started thinking of Babylon 5 that way, as home? Sinclair had slipped back into her life with such finality that it was hard to believe they'd spent most of the previous fifteen years fighting or broken up. Now they were living together again and didn't seem to argue about anything more serious than Sinclair's continued propensity to plunge headfirst into danger, but then she really couldn't talk given the risks in her own job. There were still issues left silent between them, as Sinclair remained a man who kept a lot of emotional secrets, but she'd finally come to realize that if she wanted him in her life, she'd have to accept that.

Her reveries were abruptly broken by a computer alert.

“Proximity alert! Approaching unknown vessel.”
“What? Where? Show me.” Against the swirling red currents of hyperspace, she could see a small bluish dot. “Magnify.” As the image of the ship grew on her screen, so too did her surprise. The ship was some six-hundred and seventy meters wide and eight hundred meters long, with a sinuous shape and a light blue skin mottled with the turquoise dots and dashes associated with Minbari ships. But it was unlike any Minbari ship she'd ever seen. Perhaps half the size of a Minbari Cruiser, it was on the other hand far, far larger than any of their flyers or transports she was familiar with and of an unknown configuration. Maybe Minbari and yet not quite right. It just seemed to be hanging there in hyperspace, floating along with it rather than heading on a clear course. “Computer, match unknown vessel to any Minbari ships on record?”
“No match found.”
“Does it match any ships on file?”
“Negative.” Sakai frowned.
“This is Catherine Sakai of the Earth survey ship Skydancer to unknown vessel, do you copy?” Silence. She tried another channel. “This is the Earth ship Skydancer to unknown vessel; do you need assistance?” She repeated the message a few more times but got no response. She logged its location figuring she'd report it once she arrived at B5, where Sinclair could decide whether or not to investigate it and shrugging, turned back to “The Odyssey.”

 

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