The characters and situations of Space: Above and Beyond depicted in this story are legal property of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Hard Eight Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Television, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.


Casualty of War


Peter Hua

Routine Patrol-Planet Helios
14: 45 hours.

Marine Lieutenant Shane Vansen stared quietly into outer space as her hammerhead glided by one of the planets in the Solaris system, her mind devoid of all thoughts other than that of her beloved Captain Oakes. Only a short few weeks ago, he was killed while risking his life for her and her squadron mates of the 58 Squadron.

She missed Jon and wished to God that he could be here today but he wasn't. She felt his loss even more as she sped through the vastness and serene quiet of space. She hadn't had time to grieve after Jon's death. The men and woman of the Saratoga were extremely busy and to take their minds off all the deaths incurred during the entire week, Commodore Ross had them on a tight patrol rotation.

Spending all this time thinking of Jon, Shane quickly lost all sense of self consciousness, but was quickly brought back to life when she heard the crack of her intercom. It was Nathan West, "...Shane? You there?"

"Yeah, Nathan."

"I thought we had lost you back onboard the 'Toga'," joked Paul Wang.

"Nope," she replied. She looked at the timer on her radar screen. Damn...she had forgot to report in. "Saratoga, this is Wildcard's. Repeat, this is Wildcards."

"Acknowledged Wildcards. What took you so long to report back? What is your current position?"

She looked at her screen. "Saratoga, we're around the perimeter of the planet Helios. There seems to be no activity. All clear," she said as she turned her head to the right and saw Nathan give her the thumbs up. "Hey 'Phousse', how about a game of darts tonight?"

"'Sure, why not." replied Vanessa. "We have nothing...."

Vanessa's sentence was interrupted by that of Cooper Hawkes, "What the?..."

"What's wrong, Coop?" Nathan asked.

'Coop' has been awfully quiet today. That's strange for him,' Shane thought to herself. Usually Cooper was the one person in the squadron that you couldn't shut up.

"My LIDAR's gone....I don't believe this shit," he replied in a frustrated tone of voice.

"Recalibrate your settings. They could just be misaligned," Vanessa suggested.

Paul Wang, the 58th's electronics expert, seemed to like the idea. "Yeah Cooper, 'Phousse' is right."

"I'm doing that right now," Cooper Hawkes replied. Seconds later he was back on the intercom. "No go! My LIDAR's gone. This sucks! I've got the crappiest hammerhead in the fleet"

Shane lightly laughed responding to Hawkes' growing state of agitation. "Hey Cooper, you sure it isn't you? All of our systems are working."

She was startled by Hawkes' tone of voice, which had risen to a new level. "It's not me! I'm not blind. It's this damn...!"

Shane cut him off before he could finish. "Fine Coop, relax. I was just..." All the sudden, her alarm went on. She looked at her screen. An object was fast approaching right behind Cooper Hawkes' hammerhead. It was a Chig fighter! Her heart raced. "Coop, bogie. Repeat bogie....behind you....behind you!"

She heard a loud boom a crackling sound on her intercom, "....hit, repeat...I'm hit. They've taken out my aft railguns...losing altitude...I need some help here!"

"Evasive maneuver, we've gotta cover Cooper," Nathan said with a tone of anxiety.

"Fire all weapons, fire all weapons," Shane put in. She moved her hand to the joy stick and prepared to fire her railgun as she waited for her hammerhead to turn around. When she was in position, Shane moved her thumb over the firing button as fast as she could, hoping to ward off the Chig fighter. "Saratoga, this is Wildcards. Under attack...repeat, under attack..." She looked out the window and saw that Coop's hammerhead was still being bombarded with shots. "Cooper? Cooper?"

It was a madhouse. She heard Paul's voice over the intercom, "firing space-to-space missiles." She also heard the radio operator on the Saratoga, "Wildcards...situation report. Repeat, situation report..." In fact, she had heard everybody's voice except for Coopers. They had lost radio contact. "Saratoga, this is Wildcards...we're under attack! Repeat, we're under attack!"

In the midst of all this Shane suddenly felt light headed and dizzy. She leaned back in her seat and shut her eyes for a brief second trying to regain her composure before looking up.. "What the...?" she muttered to herself as a Chig fighter sped directly toward her. "I've got a boggie on my six! I need some help here!" she called out anxiously as she banked her hammerhead hard to the left. All the sudden Shane felt a huge jolt as her hammerhead fighter shook uncontrollably and out of control. She instantly knew she had hit something...but what?

"Fir...," Vanessa's voice was interrupted by a loud boom. Shane looked out the window. Before her eyes she saw a small explosion, one that lit up her cockpit. It took a few seconds before She had realized what she'd done. 'Oh my God!' Shane thought to herself as alarms sounded and sparks ignited in her cockpit. She'd accidently hit one of her squadron mates...Cooper Hawkes!

A smoke trail followed as Hawke's hammerhead drifted uncontrollably down toward the planet Helios. "Coop's down! Coop's down! I'm going in..," she heard someone say over the intercom. All Shane could do was look out of her cockpit window in shock.

Colonel McQueen's voice came over the intercom, "...negative! Wildcards disengage! Repeat, disengage!"

Saratoga Loading Bay
15: 15 hours.

"Damn!," Shane Vansen cursed as she slammed her helmet on the floor.

Just then she felt a hand on her shoulder, it was Nathan. "Shane, we'll find him. Don't worry" he said trying to re-assure him.

"Yeah, he's a survivor," Paul added.

The bay doors opened and she and the other's watched as McQueen stormed in. "What the hell happened out there?" he angrily asked.

"Sir, We were attacked! We..."

Shane interrupted before Vanessa could finish and immediately confronted McQueen, "Why'd you call us off! We could've gone after him!"

McQueen ignored her and moved past her towards Damphousse, "It was a routine patrol! Routine! You let your guard down! I told you NEVER TO LET YOUR GUARD DOWM" he yelled.

Colonel McQueen was right! They did let their guard down; they weren't paying any attention! This would have never happened if they had paid any attention to their LIDAR screens instead of doing whatever it was they were doing in their various hammerheads. "No, we didn't! I want to know why you stopped us from going after him..."

Colonel McQueen ingnored her and continued to tear a strip off his team. "I've told you many times that you have to keep your focus. You can't for one second..."

"God damnit, I asked you a question!" Vansen yelled at McQueen, interrupting him. Shane briefly looked over at Vanessa, who shook her head sensing the growing tension in the room.

Colonel McQueen stormed toward Shane and grabbed her flight suite as she shoved her against a hammerhead. "When I am talking to you I want your undivided attention. Am I making myself clear?" Shane glared at him before trying to fight back to now avail. Once again, Colonel McQueen shoved her back against the hammerhead. "AM I MAKING MYSELF CLEAR LIEUTENANT?" he asked again, his face becoming beet red.

"Sir...," Paul Wang put in as Vanessa and Nathan tried desperately to get McQueen off Vansen.

"Get your hands off me," he snapped at them both, his anger becoming more intense by the second. Both Wildcards smartly let go of him. Colonel McQueen was about to say something more when a lieutenant walked in and handed him a report of some sort. He let go of Shane and grabbed the pad out of the lieutenant's hands. McQueen quickly read over the report before turning his attenion back to the Wildcards.

"Commodore Ross has ordered Marine infantry and search-and-rescue teams to prepare for a rescue mission," Colonel McQueen informed them. "I want you ready in half and hour. We're going after him." He glanced over them and then changed his orders. "Correction, the 58th will remain onboard the Saratoga and will help out on the bridge"

Nathan looked up at McQueen, "Sir, we want to help. Please. Cooper's our..."

"Negative," McQueen replied. "I said the 58th will remain onboard the Saratoga. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Sir" Shane replied almost sarcastically as she stepped away from McQueen and headed off the flight deck as Nathan, Paul, and Vanessa followed. After a short while they got to the bridge, just in time to see off the last search and rescue team leave.

"Saratoga, this is SAR 10...we are clear."

"Positive SAR 10. Good luck. Saratoga out," the radio operator replied.

Saratoga Bridge 17: 17 hours

The members of the 58th squadron sat around helpless for two long hours of bridge duty manning radio stations, awaiting news of their squadron mate. As Shane sat at her station she glanced over at Commodore Glen Van Ross, the Saratoga's commanding officer. Judging from the gloomy look on his face, she could tell it was not looking good.

Shane needed to do something! All this time waiting around helplessly didn't help take her mind off Cooper or Jon for that fact. It was like it was deja vu all over again. She flashed back to how helpless they were following their sortie when Jon went down. They sat around the tavern waiting for the SAR teams to report back. This was no different, however, it this case, they were on the bridge instead of the tavern. She turned her seat around, facing the commodore. "Sir, I..."

"What is it, lieutenant?"

She took a deep breath before continuing, "Sir, I have to do something!" Shane threw out her hands. "They can sit around and do nothing but I have to do something! All this waiting! It's..." She briefly glanced around the room only to realize that she had caught the attention of the entire bridge crew who by now was staring at her.

The commodore looked at her and then slowly maneuvered around the bridge before addressing the entire crew. "I know how frustrating this can be Lt. Vansen, believe me, I do. How do you think I feel, being forced to sit on this bridge, while you young people are out there in all sorts of danger?" The commodore tried to put things in perspective, even if it was a harsh one. "These past few years have been tremendously hard on all of us. We have lost a lot of good young men and women. Their deaths have spared your lives. This is a war folks, and as sad as it is, deaths do occur. You were told to expect this when you signed up for the military."

"But he's not dead," Shane muttered through clenched teeth. The commodore caught a hold of what she said.

"Excuse me, Lieutenant. Did you say something?"

"No, Sir," Shane replied and returned her seat to it's regular position as she continued to study the large radar screen in front of her. She looked at her watch, it was getting close to 17:30 hours. Cooper's been missing for almost two hours!

"Commodore," one of the radio operators called out. "SAR team 4 reporting in. Awaiting orders, Sir."

The commodore opened a comm link from his seat, "SAR 4, this is Ross. Current situation report?"

McQueen's voice came over the intercom. "So far we haven't found any signs of Lieutenant Hawkes or his hammerhead, Sir. Recommend increasing search parameters."

"Positive SAR 4."

"Acknowledged Saratoga. Search parameters increased," replied McQueen.

The colonel's words replied itself in Shane's head over and over again. '...haven't found any signs of Lieutenant Hawkes or his hammerhead..." It was beginning to look like they were never going to find Cooper Hawkes. She heard the doors of the bridge swoosh open and turned around. Shane didn't know why she turned around, but she did. Maybe she was expecting Cooper Hawkes to show himself on the bridge. Who knows.

As soon as bridge duty was over Shane went straight to the firing range where she practiced her target shooting over and over again. In an attempt to rid her mind of things, she fired off shots from her rifle non-stop until her fingers began to hurt. During that time, she had lost all the concept of time. She looked at her watch and it read 19: 49. She had been on the range for almost two full hours! Shane quickly 'put' away the last Chig and returned to the 58th's quarters.

As soon as she walked in, the other's stared at her. All of them stared at her. She had an eerie feeling that she was going to be receiving bad news and seeing the other's stare directly at her didn't help make her feel anymore at ease. "What?" She asked them as she moved to her locker and removed her flight suit, which she still had on.

Nathan was the first to answer, "Nothing. We were worried about you. Where've you been for the last two hours?"

"At the firing range," she stated. Shane dreaded asking them but she had to know. "Any news?" She paused, standing still in front of her locker, before turning around to face her squadron mates.

Vanessa shook her head, "Nothing."

"Hey, have you guys had supper yet?" Paul asked.

Suddenly Shane got angry. 'Supper?' Did he (Paul) remeber that Coop was missing? Does he ever care? How could he think about anything so stupid? "What?"

"Yeah supper. You know, food? Eat? That's what people do when they're hungry."

"I know what supper is, Wang!" Shane snapped. "Can't you see Coop is missing? How in the hell can you think of food at a time like this?"

"Relax," Nathan interjected. "Paul's right, it'll take our minds off things."

She snarled at Nathan, "I am relaxed! You three can go have supper if you want. I'm not hungry!" Shane was lying. She was hungry! They've been on duty since eight in the morning and hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast.

Ship's Galley
20: 02 hours

After the other's had left, Shane found herself all alone in their quarters doing nothing but staring out in the emptiness of space, so she went followed the other's to the gallery. They were serving her favorite, beans and wieners. She took a seat beside Vanessa while Paul and Nathan sat facing her.

Shane couldn't eat much. She had too many things on her mind. She thought once again about Jon and how much his loss has really hurt her. She thought about Cooper Hawkes, and how much she would miss him if he were gone. She thought about their relationship and how sour it had gone recently and relatively quickly. She and Cooper had not been on the best of terms lately. Shane didn't feel that Coop was there for her after Jon's death. He was one of her closests friends, and he should've been there for her but he wasn't. Even if he had a bitter resentment of Jon and considering that fact that they had almost broken into a fight in loading bay a day or so before Jon's death. She resented the fact that he questioned her loyalty to the 58th and resented overhearing him tell Nathan and Paul one night that he was glad Jon was dead, although she never confronted him about it.

After that night, their relationship seemed to change. She became distant with Cooper, occasionally snapping at him. Cooper responded by pulling himself away from the rest of the unit, especially her, although she expected it knowing too well his behaviour. The tension between them had been building since Jon's arrival and unfortunately peaked following his death.

Shane picked at her food and occasionally glanced up at the others, who also ate in silence, all except for Paul who was talking to one of his friends, a Captain Stroud.

She heard the doors open and glanced over that direction to see Colonel T. C. McQueen standing there. 'Finally some new,' she thought to herself.

As McQueen approached, the 58th squadron members stopped eating, put down their untensils, and looked up at him.

Nathan took the initiative and broke the silence. "Sir?"

Shane looked on as McQueen glanced over each member of the 58th, hands clasped behind his back. She was getting anxious and once again, she had a bad feeling about the entire situation.

He took a step closer. "All search and rescue teams have returned to the Saratoga. There is no sign of the Chig fighter or Hawkes."

Instantly, she could see the faces of the others drop. "We've got to go back! We've got to find him," Shane said in a frenzy as she stood.

"Negative," McQueen replied. "Commodore Ross has ordered a stop to all search-and-rescue missions. Its too dangerous and risky." He pulled his hands from his back and laid a letter on the table.

She had seen a similar letter before. It was an official notification of Coop's death. It was addressed to the squadron and read '58th Squadron. United States Marine Corps.'

"There will be a mission briefing at 07: 00 hours tomorrow in the briefing room" he coldly informed them before heading out of the galley.

Nathan picked up the letter and read it out loud, stuggling to keep his composure. "...sadly regrets the loss of Lieutenant Cooper sufficient evidence to resume search-and-rescue operations...Lieutenant Hawkes is herein classified as missing in action." Devastated, Nathan placed the letter in the centre of the table before walking away.

Shane froze in her seat, her mind filled with emotions. She was saddened by Cooper's death. She was angry, at herself, for not being there for him and felt stupid the way she treated him after Jon's death. She was resentful of McQueen and Ross for making them sit around while they could be have out searching for him. 'How could this be happening?' she asked herself.

Shane got up and left, tears streaking down her cheeks. The situation, her emotions, everything... It was too much for her to comprehend. First Jon died, then Kelly, and now Cooper. "I can't take this anymore," she said to herself as she walked away from the table just as Nathan had done before her. More importantly, perhaps the two guys she cared the most about in her life were now gone. Viciously taken by a ruthless enemy.

Next : Part Two

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