Carlye's son joined her at the rail behind Hawkeye in the center chair. "My god, Carlye," Hawkeye said, "look it it." No one else had anything to offer but respectful silence.
Finally it occurred to Hawkeye that, if the main engines were online, so probably was the comm. He thumbed the controls on the arm of his chair, and it came on. "Bridge to engineering," he said. "Good work, B.J."
"Hawkeye," came Margaret's voice, "you and the Admiral better get down here."
"Margaret?" Hawkeye looked over at Potter, who seemed as surprised as he was. Margaret never called him Hawkeye. Something must be wrong - her voice was odd too. Hawkeye looked at the communications station to see what Radar's reaction was. Radar wasn't there.
The mains had been offline.
Radiation, B.J. had said before the comms went down.
An irradiated intermix chamber took much longer than four minutes to clear.
Radar wasn't there.
"You better hurry," Margaret said.
"Soolik," said Hawkeye, "take the conn."
The lifts still weren't working.
Hawkeye slid down the ladder from the upper engineering deck. Catching sight of the intermix chamber brought him up short, and Potter caught up with him. In retrospect that was good, because it seemed to take him, B.J. and Margaret to restrain Hawkeye when he tried to rush to the chamber controls.
"No!" Margaret shouted as he struggled, "you can't! You'll flood the whole compartment!"
"He'll die," said Hawkeye tonelessly, still struggling.
"He's already dead!" B.J. said in his ear.
"It's too late, Hawkeye." The sorrow in Potter's voice almost convinced him. He looked at Margaret, for her professional medical opinion, and her eyes finished the job. He relaxed, and they released him, and followed him to the transparent wall of the intermix chamber.
Hawkeye called Radar, twice, because the first time he'd forgotten to activate the interior speaker. Radar was collapsed against the instrument panels on the far wall, but now he climbed painfully to his feet. As he walked carefully toward Hawkeye, Hawkeye wondered what was the point of radiation gloves when there hadn't been time to suit up entirely.
When Radar reached the transparent wall he walked into it. "He's blind," Hawkeye thought. Remembering Srank's temporary blindness at Deneba and the secondary eyelid that had saved him, Hawkeye had a momentary surge of hope. Then he noticed how much of Radar's skin had been left on the inside of the wall where he'd hit it.
"The ship," Radar said, in a croak, "is it safe?"
"Yes," said Hawkeye. Furiously he tried to think of something he wanted to be the last words Radar ever heard.
"Oh, good," said Radar, as if that were his last burden in life. Well, it was. But Hawkeye knew that it wasn't from relief that Radar sank to his knees now, leaning against the wall between them for support. Hawkeye dropped too, to keep level with him. "I never took the Kobayashi Maru test. Until now. Whaddya think?"
"Radar ..." said Hawkeye.
"Don't be sad," said Radar. "It had to be done. After all, I learned ..." He coughed.
"From the best," Hawkeye finished for him.
"Still not arguing with me, huh?"
"Radar," said Hawkeye.
Radar had been pulling at a glove, and now it came off. He pressed his right hand to the airlock wall, in the Vulcan salute he used so rarely. "Live long and prosper," he said. Then he turned around, settled himself himself in a sitting position, and died.
"No," said Hawkeye.
It seemed to be a very long time before they were able to get Radar out.
Back to T*R*E*K index
Back to Paul's index