Sam had been waiting by the gantry hatchway for about ten minutes now. The Manhattan had docked about an hour ago and the two of them started getting the crew of the Isabella ready to depart. He wasn't looking forward to facing the Captain again, he was sure she'd still be displeased with him. His heart sank when he saw her look through the hatchway window and signal she was ready. Swallowing his pride, he opened the hatch and she stepped through, "Hey there Lieutenant, you guys miss us?"
Her greeting eased his nerves somewhat, nodding, he let himself smile somewhat, "Yes ma'am, we're ready to go."
She looked him over and nodded, "alright, so your report says we've got four evacuees, three of them casualties. One ambulatory with a heart condition and the other two litter-bound, is that correct?"
Sam nodded again, "Yes ma'am. We need to be extra careful moving the woman with the head injury. I did everything I could but she needs a surgeon."
She thought for a bit before replying, "Okay, we took seven off of the Patricia Long; all of them litter bound and two in critical. We're pretty crowded onboard already so I want both litter bound taken off first before we get any more bodies in the way. Take them to deck three and we'll-"
She's interrupted by her communicator, "Manhattan Actual, this is the Manhattan. You there skipper?"
She looked mildly irritated by the interruption, "Talk to me Tejir."
"The engines just went into lockout again Capt'n, I think we may have a real problem here. SAMPSON tells me we might have hit something on our first approach with the Isabella. Whatcha want me to do with it? Over."
She ran her tongue over her teeth as she thought about it before shaking her head and replying, "I want you to get in touch with squadron command; send them the data stream from the engines and let them know we haven't tried any of the overrides yet. See what they want us to do. Over."
"Will do, Manhattan out."
Sam had to grin, "Sounds like Lt. Ijan is in a good mood."
She couldn't help but sound amused by the observation, "Of course he is, he got to shoot the main battery at something yesterday. Alright, like I said, move the Isabella's crew to deck three. I don't want them mingling with the crew off the Patricia Long so nobody goes to deck four, got it?"
He nodded and she motioned him over to the hatchway before continuing, "I brought a couple of proper litters and we've rigged a cable lift to get them out. I want you to go with the woman, and then Jay will get the other litter out. I'll bring up the rear with the last two. You got it?"
Sam picked up one of the two litters from the gantry platform and nodded, "Yes ma'am. I'll have Jay help me with the first litter then-"
Just as he was turning to go she added, "…and Sam, you and I need to have a conversation later."
He stopped in his tracks as dread filled his heart again. After a moment he nodded, "Yes ma'am…"
Back on the Manhattan, Sam was busy at a workstation shutting down the Isabella in preparation for the salvage teams that would be by later to retrieve both vessels. Between lack of sleep and the low buzz from the adjacent workstation where Lt. Ijan and SAMPSON were working with command to resolve the engine trouble he was having a hard time concentrating on the task. Cpt. Pitja was quietly supervising him over his shoulder, mildly unnerving him on top of it all. She hadn't been kidding when she said the Manhattan was crowded. Normally this many people on board would have been 'cozy' but with the litters and medical equipment everywhere it gave her a 'standing room only' kind of feeling. The need to keep the ladderway hatches closed only added to the claustrophobia.
He looked down his checklist a second time before announcing, "Okay, that should do it; all they'll have to do is dock with her and haul her off."
She nodded as she looked on over his shoulder, "Good job Lieutenant. I think that'll about do it, we're just waiting on the engines now if you wanted to go and get some rest I think you've earned it."
Sam sat there for a moment; he just couldn't let it go, "Captain… about what happened…"
She shook her head, "We'll do this later Sam, too many ears around right now. Don't worry about it okay."
He sank into the workstation seat and nodded. He was just about to get up to leave when Lt. Ijan spoke up, "Hey skipper, they're giving up on this being a field repair. They've got another ship coming out to take over for us; we're to drop the evacuees off at Ares station and then continue on to Delaware station so they can get a maintenance team to patch her up."
She looked up from Sam, "I'm assuming that means you can get the engines to restart then?"
SAMPSON nodded, "Of course. Extrapolating the rate of error accrual suggests it will take eleven more thermal-cycles for a complete non-start condition."
She nodded, "I'll need to notify our flight lead, did they say who was coming out to replace us?"
Lt. Ijan checked the communiqué again, "They're sending the SCS New York under Cdr. Hamill, says they'll be on station in… Wait, that can't be who I think it is."
Pitja pushed off from Sam's workstation and drifted across the compartment to where Lt. Ijan was working. She read the communiqué herself for a few seconds before growling slightly, "I can't believe they would give that drunken idiot a command. I swear they'll give anybody a spacecraft these days."
Tejir leaned back in his seat and laughed, "Ha! So there's hope I'll get out from under your thumb yet."
She didn't smile or look away from the viewscreen, "Not as long as you keep starting bar fights in Tijuana there isn't."
Sam decided that it would be a good time to clear the deck so he only caught part of Tejir's growling response before the hatch closed, "That only happened once and it wasn't-"
No sooner had the hatch seated than his stomach growled, reminding him how long it had been since he'd eaten anything. Exhausted or not, he'd sleep better on a full stomach so he made his was up to deck three to grab a quick bite to eat. Opening the hatch he could see that most of the lights were out and he could hear someone softly snoring in the corner. He shouldn't have been surprised; everyone must be exhausted after everything they'd been through recently. He'd have to be quiet then, no sense in waking anyone.
Watching the timer on the oven carefully he made sure to shut it off before the alert sounded. He quietly opened the door, and then retrieving his meal from the oven retreated to the lower decks. Entering the barrack on deck one where he shared a bunk with Jay he quietly ate his meal in the darkness. The emotions and long hours were catching up with him quickly and his eyelids felt heavier with each passing moment. Closing them only for a moment's respite, he fell into oblivion.
It was windy, rain was pelting him as he sprinted for the rocky shore. Someone called out behind him, "What is it?! Sanj!"
He barely had time to answer, "Sanctuary's slipping her mooring! She's heading for the rocks!"
Diving into the cold water he swam furiously, if he could catch her in time he could… he hadn't really thought that part out yet. The mooring line slipped off the bow just as he reached the boat. Grabbing onto the boat's transom he kicked furiously, pushing for all he was worth to keep it from hitting the jagged rocks jutting up behind him. It wasn't enough, there was too much windage. Scrambling over the side and into the cockpit he pulled in on the mainsheet and put the rudder over. The staysail wasn't much but it managed to bite into the wind and the boat started sailing, allowing him to steer properly again. He swung the nose toward the gentler shore near the inflatable and the boat crabbed its way in away from danger. Bom was wading out to meet them, "The bowline Sanj! Throw me the bowline!"
Sam dashed to the front of the cockpit and grabbed the boat's painter. He hurled it towards her past the mast, it unwound neatly through the air and she easily caught it. She hurriedly hauled in the line and started pulling the boat upwind away from the reef. She smiled at him proudly for a moment then suddenly shouted out in alarm; just as the boom struck Sam in the back of the head.
He was seeing stars as his eyes popped open in surprise. Where was he? What had just… It was dark and he'd just, fallen? Standing up he hit his head again, this time against the bunk waking Jay from sleep, "Huh? What's happening? Sam?"
Sam staggered for a moment then sat down on the floor holding his head, that one had hurt and was sure to leave a knot, "Saint's taken… bloody… fffffffffuuuuu…"
Jay turned the lights on and Sam heard him laughing, "Sam, are you all right man? What're you doing up there?"
Still holding the forming bump on his head, Sam unclenched his eyes and looked at him, "What are you tal-"
The two of them stared at one another; Jay dangled from the restraints holding him into his bunk and Sam was sitting cross-legged on the ceiling. He gathered his wits quickly as he realized where he was and what had happened. He'd fallen asleep and must've slept right through the alert that they were debarking from the Isabella. He sat there and waited for the thrusters to shut off. Once he was weightless again he made his way into his bunk and strapped himself in, grumbling to himself the whole time.
Jay leaned over the edge to talk to him, "Seriously man, are you okay?"
Sam was in a foul mood, "I'm fine, idiot that I am. Let myself fall asleep out in the open. Useless dolt…"
Jay sensed from his tone that there was more going on than just a bumped head, "Hey, lighten up on yourself alright? Stuff happens, we're alright and you've managed some pretty amazing stuff out here since I've known you. Just, you know, calm down and let it go."
Sam really didn't feel like talking, so he just nodded. Just once he'd like to do something and not have it blow up in his face. First his inattention had put the only friend left in his life in danger, then it caused a serious incident in the process. Now Cpt. Pitja was the one stuck holding the bag for his screw-up. Why was it that someone else always seemed to be getting hurt over his mistakes? He covered his eyes with his hands, "I'm just tired, let's get some sleep."
Jay looked at him for a moment longer, "Alright, but if you ever need someone to talk to I'm here."
The lights went out and Sam lay there for a long while, angry tears stinging his eyes. He could've been hurt being careless like that, which only would've added to the trouble he was bringing down on the captain. Nobody else seemed to need to be babysat like he did. Why did he have to be so worthless all of the damn time? He was just drifting off to sleep when he heard the PA alerting them that the main engines were about to fire. Shutting it out of his mind, he closed his eyes and fell into a restless sleep.